Boston, like New York City, ain't cheap, but that doesn't mean you can't catch a break now and then. In particular, the further away from baseball season and fall foliage touring you get the more likely you are to find a hotel room. There's plenty to see and do here; the charming neighborhoods are lined with cobblestone streets, and there's American history all over the place. With its high concentration of higher ed, the city itself and Cambridge (just across the Charles River) are chockablock with offbeat places where you can sip coffee, nose around for books or otherwise soak up the erudition -- a ride on the T (www.mbta.com), Boston's metro-area subway system, is usually teeming with residents reading all kinds of books, not just heavy textbooks. For the less bookish, one can tour such Boston institutions as historic Fenway Park, hunt for bargains at Filene's Basement (www.filenesbasement.com) or people-watch at Faneuil Hall Marketplace (www.faneuilhall.com).
Through the Boston USA site (tel. 888/733-2678; www.bostonusa.com), home to the greater metro area's visitors and convention bureau, dozens of offers for accommodations-based packages are listed that celebrate the newly remodeled Museum of Fine Arts and the Ansel Adams exhibit. At the high end, "Ansel Adams Hotel Package: Millennium Boston Hotel" (tel. 800/343-0922) offers a classic balcony room in the Millennium Bostonian Hotel overlooking Faneuil Hall Marketplace, two passes to the Ansel Adams exhibition and breakfast at Seasons restaurant. The deal starts at $289 per night through November 14, and then drops down to $209 from November 18 - December 30. The European-style Copley Hotel in Back Bay neighborhood, close to restaurants and shopping, is running an Ansel Adams hotel package, as wll, at $235 per night, and includes your stay in a superior room, two passes to the exhibit and full breakfast. The deal runs through December 31. The Boston Courtyard Marriot at Copley Square (tel. 800/228-9290), located in Back Bay, has a family-friendly package available through October 31, starting at $239. The package includes a 90-minute walking tour of Victorian architecture and Back Bay, one night stay, full hot breakfast for two, two passes for "Boston by Foot" and a disposable camera.
To help plan your trip or give you some incentive, the Boston USA site also lists a preview of events for the holiday season from Christmas concerts, theater events, a tree lighting, ice skating season dates and more. For special events and exhibitions taking place throughout the fall, the site lists items such as the schedule at Schullers Jazz Club (anyone for DeeDee Bridgewater or Ellis Marsalis?), exhibits at the Institute for Contemporary Art (www.icaboston.org/Home) and that Ansel Adams exhibition that runs through December 31 and comes from the Lane Collection, the largest private holding of the photographer's work. Other seasonal activities include the 27th Oktoberfest in Harvard Square the weekend of October 1-2 and the Boston Half-Marathon October 8-9.
The Jurys Boston Hotel (tel. 617/266-7203; www.jurys-boston-hotels.com/jurys_boston) is located in the former home of the city's police headquarters, built in 1920. Fittingly, it's now home to the Irish-based hotel chain that has only a few hotels in select U.S. cities with historically Irish immigrant populations. Located in Back Bay, it's known for its Irish hospitality and four-diamond accommodations. In September and October they're running a discounted room rate of $275 on special dates only. However, from November 20-30 and December 11-30, they're running a special called "Book Now, Save Later" (www.jurysdoyle.com/when_and_where.html) just in time for holiday getaways, from just $139, based on availability.
As for airline specials, United (tel. 800/864-8331; www.united.com) is offering one-way fares to eastern U.S. cities, such as Boston-Louisville from $79 or Boston-Seattle from $99. Travel must be complete by December 14, a seven-day advance purchase is required, and fares are valid every day except Friday and Sunday. Orbitz (tel. 888/656-4546; www.orbitz.com) is advertising a "Coast to Coast on Song" promo for departures from Los Angles or San Francisco base-priced from $244. You must book before midnight on September 29 and complete travel through January 31, 2006. There are some holiday blackout dates, of course.
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