We are from California too, and when we took our son to visit colleges in the northeast last spring break, we stayed in a little furnished apartment we found through the Boston bed and breakfast association (Boston bed and breakfast, Boston lodging, Boston accommodation, furnished apartment
). It was great because our whole family fit in, we had a kitchen to prepare breakfasts and sandwiches, and it was right on the T (subway) line. And all for the price of one hotel room or less! The apt. was in the Back Bay area of Boston, about 15 minutes from Medford on the T (followed by a walk or quick bus trip to Tufts) -- and it was easy and fun to explore Boston from that location. It's a shame you won't have much time on this trip, but if your D gets in, you'll probably make many trips to Boston -- I recommend checking out the B&B options in the future -- it was a fun alternative to a hotel.