We are planning a trip with my 83 yr. old mother who requires the use of a wheelchair. I'm wondering how accessible some of the tours in the area are i.e. Martha's Vineyard, city tour and historical tour? Also how is the traffic in Boston as we are considering renting a car? eeek! Any suggestions would be appreciated. :)
A lot, if not most of Boston, is handicap friendly. Most of the tours, cruises and attractions are wheelchair accessible.
Among the things I know are wheelchair accessible are,
Where you may run into problems with accessibility are in some of the older, historic buildings. You need to keep in mind, many of them are more than 200 years older than the Americans with Disabilities Act. They are doing there best, but it's best to call ahead.
As far as the Boston traffic is concerned, I have just one word; AARRRR!
Seriously, it's pretty bad! I lived in Boston for over 20 years. I can say with without hesitation that I'd rather have to drive in midtown Manhattan (which I've also done) five days a week, than to have to drive in downtown Boston one day a week. I've responded to Trippy questions about Boston traffic and parking in the past. You can find then in these links.
A car is not a bad idea for traveling outside the city area (you mentioned Martha's Vineyard), but in town it can quickly become a millstone around your neck. However, there is good news. Boston has a terrific public transportation system. Most of it's subway stations are wheelchair accessible. Using the subway (called the T, locally) the entire city is open to you. It may save you both time and money, opposed to using a car; any car.
You can find all the information you need at;
I really hope you decide to go to Boston. It's a wonderful place with a lot to offer the traveler. I still think of it as home, and miss it terribly.
I've included some links the may be of help with your specific needs.
Mentioned in this answer:
All the ferries to Martha's Vineyard say that they are accessible. Home Grown Tours can do a tour in an accessible van.
As for driving in Boston - the story is that the roads were cow paths and that's why they meander. I have not been there in some time, but when I was there the main problem was that the main streets were not labeled - only the side streets. It may be easier with a GPS.
This page has some useful information about Boston accessibility:
The Freedom Trail is, of course fully accessible.
Can't help with the traffic from personal experience (I didn't drive) but it certainly doesn't look any better than traffic in any other major US city. I'd suggest you think of parking outside the centre and using the subway and buses wherever possible. Details here: