Boston! Games! Fish! Frostbite!
It was a very bitterly cold weekend, but we managed to have a good time in Boston.
If you are planning where to stay, hotel location is important. Check the maps to see where the nearest subway station is. Parking is expensive, so make sure your hotel includes parking with your stay (ours charged us $40!). We were a mile away from the subway, which didn’t seem bad until we had a -10 degree wind chill factored in. So we used Lyft.
We went to the New England Aquarium in the morning. I thought it was crowded, but a woman remarked to me that it was usually worse on the weekends. They have some wonderful exhibits, including a giant tank with a spiraling ramp around it. I think it would have been more enjoyable if I wasn’t chasing my son or dodging people shoving in front of me to see things. (Yes, lady, you have a fancy camera, however, I was here first.) I would say an average family walking at normal speed could see the place in about 3 hours. It was interesting to see staff people maintaining the penguin area and main tank. The signage was great, and most of the buttons work (ask me how I know that).
From the Aquarium, it was a quick (FREEZING) walk to Quincy market, which is a huge hall full of food booths, a food court Valhalla, if you will. A perfect place for picky eaters and foodies to both get what they want. Seating is an issue, it is a busy place. I would recommend going early or late for lunch, and assigning one parent to secure a spot while the other gets food. There was live music, a trio of fiddlers, making it an enjoyable lunch.
By this point my son, who had been running at turbo, suddenly shut down, demanding to go back to the hotel. My husband and I discussed it later- we think it was the cold that exhausted him more than walking around. We attempted a bit of shopping. Newbury comics, which is in a building on one side of Quincy market, is huge and full of interesting pop culture stuff, not just comics (but they have that too).
If we had been refreshed by our lunch, we would go to the Boston Science Museum, but we all wimped out and went back to the hotel. If you do decide to do two or more places, make sure you look up package tickets- you could save 20-30%.
We had one day tickets to PaxEast on Sunday. PAX is a series of video game conventions held by Penny Arcade. It includes video games, computer games, board games and device games, and all the big companies and small independents show up to see what’s new, play demos and get swag. I read through the list of panels, but didn’t see any I desperately wanted to go to, so the family spent the whole day on the show floor. The place, about the size of two football fields, was packed with booths from places like Nintendo, X-Box, Blizzard, Dell, and more. The whole convention felt like BookExpo mixed with NY Comic Con, in that it seemed that the fans were all over the place but it was designed for business insiders (store owners, reviewers, peer-to-peer networking). Even big name fan vendors like Thinkgeek or Jinx were mostly advertising their companies instead of selling merchandise. There were tournaments for different games.
Twitch was one of the sponsors, and they were filming live. They had a lounge which was sort of like a green room, and gave out water and snacks. In one of the side halls, rows upon rows of giant pillows were laid out for people to lounge on (provided by Yogibo, I think). I didn’t take pictures because it seemed a bit invasive.
I know we barely scratched the surface of this convention. I’m more of a sci-fi and fantasy fan than a video game enthusiast, but I found many cool things on the show floor and I would have enjoyed the board games if I had gotten into them. My son enjoyed playing Minecraft, but the highlight of his day was being able to play a demo of the upcoming Kingdom Hearts game, the one that the family is planning to upgrade to PS4 to play. He played all the way through the earlier games, twice.
Then off we went home, leaving all the snow and ice behind us… well, so we thought.