Archives for February 2010

Spend Spring Break in the Hub

After a long New England winter, Bostonians know how to celebrate spring. From opening day at Fenway Park to the season’s first swan boat rides at the Public Garden, Hub residents welcome spring and warmer weather visitors in style. Boston CityPASS has deep discounts on admission to top Boston attraction, so you can beat the winter blues without breaking into your piggy bank. Attractions include the New England Aquarium, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Science, the Skywalk Observatory at the Prudential Center, and your choice of admission to either the Harvard Museum of Natural History or the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

penguins at the new england aquarium in boston

The Boston CityPASS offers nearly half-off savings, plus VIP line-skipping privileges, so you save both time and money. An adult pass is just $46 (value: $84.95) and a youth pass for ages 3 to 11 is $29 (value: $50.45). The pass is activated the first time you use it at any attraction, and it’s good for nine consecutive days afterward. Pick one up online, or at any participating attraction.

Both the New England Aquarium and the Museum of Fine Arts have undergone renovations in 2009. The aquarium unveiled an open air habitat for its northern fur seals—the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center—which overlooks historic Boston Harbor. The aquarium’s massive central tank and penguin habitats have been popular with generations of visitors. At the Edge of the Sea Touch Tank, you can touch a spiny sea star, feel the hard shell of a horseshoe crab, or hold a sea urchin.

The MFA debuted new Italian Renaissance and 20th-century galleries, precursors to the fall 2010 opening of a dramatic new Art of the Americas wing. The museum’s collection includes more than 450,000 paintings, textiles, sculptures, ancient artifacts, prints, drawings, photographs, jewelry, decorative arts, and much more. The special exhibition “The Secrets of Tomb 10A: Egypt 2000 BC” asks visitors, “What would you pack for a trip to the afterlife?” The exhibition, which closes on May 16, showcases relics uncovered in the burial tomb of a provincial Egyptian governor named Djehutynakht.

Just down the road from the MFA is the Skywalk Observatory. From 750 feet above ground, you’ll have a panoramic view of the city from rowers on the Charles River to the gold-domed State House across the river to MIT and Harvard Universities in Cambridge. (Call ahead though, the Skywalk closes in inclement weather or during private functions.) Free Skywalk admission also includes an Acoustiguide audio tour as well as admission to the Dreams of Freedom Immigration Museum located inside the Skywalk. The Immigration Museum is the perfect starting place for visits to Boston’s ethnic neighborhoods, like the Italian-flavored North End with its narrow brick lanes or working-class Irish South Boston (different from the South End neighborhood, which is home to many mouth-watering upscale eateries and night spots).

The Museum of Science is full of discoveries about chemistry, physics, weather, dinosaurs, the natural world, and more. For an extra charge, you can take in planetarium and IMAX presentations. And be sure to say hello to Cliff, one of only four complete triceratops skeletons in the entire world.

Boston CityPASS holders also have the choice to visit either the Harvard Museum of Natural History (HMNH) and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, or the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Both attractions are much more than just dusty repositories of history and science. The HMNH invites visitors to look closer and dig deeper, with thousands of preserved animal specimens, gems, minerals. Don’t miss the famous glass flower collection—thousands of painstakingly handcrafted glass botanical specimens that you will swear were just picked in the garden that morning. The JFK Library has ever-changing, dynamic exhibitions that explore the life and times of Boston’s native son, from the early years of the space program to the tumultuous civil rights era, to personal effect of life in America’s Camelot.

In Paris, Visitors Are Pinching Pennies to Extend Their Stay

Visitors to Paris are staying an average of two days longer than they were last year, according to data from the Paris Sightseeing Pass. The pass gives visitors discounted access to more than 55 museums and monuments, along with savings on shopping, dining, and entertainment. More than 70 percent of international travelers who used the Paris Sightseeing Pass in 2010 said they stayed in the city five nights or longer, up from three nights in 2009.


But longer stays don’t mean that visitors’ travel budgets have increased. Evidence shows that they’re trying to stretch their funds farther, with more than 50 percent of travelers reporting that they stayed in budget-friendly 3-star or below hotels, bed and breakfasts, or hostels. Even though they’re looking for inexpensive lodging options, 87 percent of those surveyed rated their accommodations as “good,” “very good,” or “excellent.”

“We’re finding that it’s the less romantic, more practical services on offer that are wowing international travelers,” Amanda Truman, director of product marketing for the Leisure Pass Group, parent company for the Paris Sightseeing Pass. “Tourists visiting Paris are impressed with the hotels, the transport and money-savers such as the Paris Sightseeing Pass more than French icons such as fine dining.”

Perennial favorite destinations including the Louvre, the Museé d’Orsay, and the Palace of Versailles still top visitors’ must-see lists, along with sightseeing tours like the Bateaux Parisiens Seine River tours. All of these attractions are part of the Paris Sightseeing Pass program, which more than 90 percent of users said offered good value for the money, convenience, and time saving, says Truman.

Paris, Notre Dame with boat on Seine, France

The Paris Sightseeing Pass is available online, where customers can read about all of the included attractions and special offers while planning their budget-conscious trip to the City of Lights.