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Wellesley road trips

Occasional reports on road trips from Wellesley to nearby attractions…


(February, 2013)

Visiting the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, dinner afterward

logo_icaWe wanted to get a little culture, so we decided to check out the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, located on  the waterfront at 100 Northern Ave.  To make the journey interesting, we decided to travel via public transportation and compare how that would stack up to just hopping in our car, in terms of time and cost.

The parking lot at the Wellesley Square commuter rail stop runs  $4.50 per day, and the train costs $13.50 per adult (ages 12 and up) round trip to South Station.  From South Station, cut through the terminal over to the Silver line, outbound.  The fare is $2 if you have a Charlie Card, $2.50 if not.  Charlie cards are easily purchased at the station.  Take the Silver line two stops to World Trade Center.  Exit up the stairs, get your bearings, and walk toward the ICA, visible in the direction of the harbor.

We traveled on a weekday, leaving the Square on the 3:06 p.m. train.  It took  just under an hour from parking the car in the Wellesley Square commuter rail lot  to entering the lobby of the ICA.

Should you decide to drive, Wellesley Square to parking lot to ICA  lobby takes approximately 45 minutes on a weekday, leaving at about 3:00 p.m.  Just a heads up, don’t try this on a Friday after work.  We recently posted a personal worst of 90 minutes to get into Boston on a foolhardy attempt to start the weekend off “fun.”  Scarred, we later decreed that Friday nights  shall be forevermore known as Suburbs Night.

That’s time.  How about money?

Well, here’s the financial truth:  For a family of four to park at the Wellesley Square T stop ($4.50), purchase full-price commuter rail tickets ($54.00), and take the silver line to the ICA ($8), it  costs $66.50

On the other hand, to drive the 32 mile round trip  it  costs $18 in gas and wear and tear on your car, using the 2013 Internal Revenue Service car mileage reimbursement rate of 56.5 cents per mile.  Mass Pike tolls run $5 round trip, and parking in the lot closest to the ICA was $12, for a  total of $35.

That means for a family of four, at $66.50 for public transportation vs. $35 to drive and park yourselves, it is unfortunately nearly double the price to go green.  Only you can decide if it’s worth it.

ICA admission is $15 general admission, whether you take public transportation or drive yourself there, and children 17 and under are free.

The ICA is devoted solely to contemporary art.  I copied that sentence  from the brochure because straight out, this is no high falutin’ art museum review, and I needed to ensure accuracy about the very essence of the place.  You see, we’re the type of family who looks at modern art in museums and says things like, “Pfft.  I could do that.” Then we squash our childen’s artistic ambitions with, “If you even try to make something like that and hang it up in your bedroom you’ll be in big trouble, mister.”  Still, we enjoy out-there art because how many times can you get excited over the Monets at the Museum of Fine Arts? Oh, sure,  I could’ve looked forever at Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee at the Isabella Stuart Gardener Museum, but it’s gone these 23 years now, matey, stolen away in the great art heist of 1990.  Sometimes, you just have to head for weirder pastures.

We grazed those leas in gallery after gallery at the ICA, puzzling over “found art,” agreeing that it was cool the way the immense glass windows framed the harbor as if it were itself a work of art, and avoiding those naked people on the video display.

After about 90 minutes, we’d seen it all, and headed back to South Station to grab a quick pizza at Pizzeria Regina ($30 for our pie and drinks) before we caught the commuter rail home. Our pizza was ready in 12 minutes, and we took it up to the mezzanine level to enjoy our meal and some people watching.

In an interesting aside for those of you who are well-acquainted with South Station, its only sit-down restaurant, Clarke’s, was locked up and dark, which is what left us pondering the station’s food court options at the last minute.   Readers on Yelp say the convenient, family-friendly restaurant  closed in January after more than 20 years in business. I suppose this gives us a new project:  find a sit-down restaurant in the immediate vicinity of South Station.  Our work is never done.



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