Fun and unusual things to do in every corner of Massachusetts
50 Ferncroft Road
Danvers, MA, 01923
The Largest Indoor Water Park in New England!
Make a splash with the family at the largest indoor water park in Massachusetts. A tropical indoor paradise where it’s always 84 degrees and open every day for every kid of every age. There are water slides, a lazy river, a splash pad and dip-in-the- theater arcade, private, cozy cabanas and lots more where they came from. Hold one of a kind birthday parties, group swims, or even buy out the whole park for a day. Then enjoy a night at the Doubletree Hotel Boston North Shore adjacent to the Park with luxurious bedding and jumbo pillows, flat screen television, on-demand movies and premium cable channels. Look for Coco Key Discounts and packages that include overnight accommodations, water resort access, and breakfast in the family-friendly TradeWinds Restaurant.
306 Congress Street
Boston, MA, 02210
Great events call for great reenactments
How great might it be to hop aboard a replica of one of the ships engaged in the Boston Tea party on December 16, 1773 and dump some British tea overboard? Your one hour tour of the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum will take you through the authentically restored tea ships themselves as well a series of traditional and interconnected exhibits. You’ll explore and learn about the people, events, and consequences that led up to the American Revolution in the order in which they actually occurred more than 230 years ago. Take your class on a field trip and participate in a raucous town meeting, storm one of our replica vessels, and discover the many things you may not know about this history-changing event.
Route 2 (Mohawk Trail)
Charlemont, MA, 01339
11 zip lines, 2 sky bridges and 3 rappels
Try Zoar Outdoor’s newest adventure on a Deerfield Valley Canopy Tour in Charlemont Massachusetts. Our 3-hour-long zip line canopy tour leads adventurers on an aerial trek through the woods by means of 11 zip lines, 2 sky bridges and 3 rappels suspended in the trees in the northern Berkshires and connected through platforms that sit high above the forest floor. Our double-cable construction provides an extra margin of safety and hand braking (with backup brakes on each zip) allows you to control your zip speed with a gloved hand and keep from "spinning out". Our guides are trained in both safe zipping practices and in interpreting the environment around you so you can fully appreciate this unique journey through the forest canopy.
5 Water Street
Fall River, MA, 02721
A day out you won’t forget
Teachers, students, tourists, Moms, Dads and kids will be inspired by this magnificent living history museum on the water in Fall River. A great attraction year round brings you up close to some very big players in America’s storied naval history. Ships that participated in definitive battles like the USS Massachusetts; protected the coast and brought home astronauts from their landings in the sea like the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.; and PT boats engaged in the Pacific theater are here in the world’s largest collection of US naval ships. Myriad inspiring exhibits enhance the stories told. The Pearl Harbor Experience is the only outdoor multimedia reenactment anywhere while year round maritime camps, girl scout overnights and family nautical nights make this a highly unique and memorable adventure for all.
5 Pine Street
Carver, MA, 02330
The perfect recipe for a fabulous, fun filled, family adventure
Start with a family outing. Add some cranberries, some cotton candy and kettle corn, maybe a hot delicious barbecue. Throw in a mix of carnival rides, a towering Ferris Wheel and a vintage carousel. Sprinkle in an indoor play area, a dash of Thomas the Tank Train, a pinch of the National Cranberry Festival, and a cup of the Christmas Festival of Light. Now pour all around the neatest narrow gauge railroad in the east to take you all on fantastic journeys through cranberry bogs in the fall and unbelievable light shows in the winter. Stir vigorously. Then taste one fabulous “Family Fun Park” that Ellis D. Atwood (old EDA himself) started in the 1940’s and passed along for generations to enjoy. Sip slowly. Continue until done.
Quincy Chamber of Commerce<br>1400 Hancock Street, Suite 1A
Quincy, MA, 02169
Birthplace of the American Dream
A visit to Quincy takes you on a voyage through time to the era of the Adams, Quincy, and Hancock families. Board a trolley and walk in the footsteps of John Adams at the Adams National Historical Park, where you’ll visit the birthplaces and family estate of two U.S. Presidents.
Quincy offers 27 miles of coastline that offer swimming, lifeguards, free parking, a bathhouse and more. Enjoy dining at one of Quincy's delectable restaurants. Or go on an outdoor adventure, be it by land or sea. The City of Presidents has three golf courses, including a 27-hole championship golf course that was voted a top ten in its class. Come be our guest for the day, a night or a week!
Visitor Center - 134 Court Street
Plymouth, MA, 02360
Where will your visit begin?
We have a variety of activities on land or on the water. The Atlantic Ocean itself is our playground! Trips such as whale watches, lobster excursions and pirate adventures are popular with visitors both young and not quite as young. Our beaches and parks offer families a place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors. Enjoy great seafood, fairs, festivals, the arts, a distillery, a winery or a brewery. Ride a narrow gauge train ride through acres of cranberry bogs at Edaville USA. Experience living history at Plimoth Plantation, depicting life in Plymouth in 1627. Please call 1.800.USA.1620, or visit our website to learn more about these activities and others to prepare for your trip to Plymouth.
15 Arlington Street
Boston, MA, 02116
Rooftop Sunday Brunch with spectacular views of the Public Garden and Boston
Enjoy traditional breakfast preparations, contemporary New England cuisine, and Indian specialties, alongside a bounty of dessert items made in-house by our talented pastry team.
Every Sunday, April-November, with seatings from 10:30am - 2pm. Reservations suggested.
1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Off Rte 20
Sturbridge, MA, 01566
A trip to historic, authentic and tasty
One of Massachusetts’ 50 great things to do has 50 great things all its own to enjoy when you arrive at this celebrated living history destination, one of the nation’s largest. Settle in at the Old Sturbridge Inn or Reeder Family Lodges. Savor authentic New England cuisine, cozy rooms and fireplaces, and delicious sweets from Ye Old Bake Shoppe. Then step into the 18th century and watch and participate in what people did then. Costumed interpreters will guide your visit on foot, on a stagecoach or standing beside a potter’s wheel or the blacksmith’s forge, or meeting with farmers and their animals at work. The 19th century is here, too, in 40 antique homes, buildings and water-powered mills in this most scenic town. Open year-round. Seasonal hours may vary.
138 St. James Avenue
Boston, MA, 02116
Do you miss a vigorous wag-tail greeting when you are away from home and your home-based canine? The elegant and extra-welcoming Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston has you covered. Its staff includes canine hosts Catie and Carly Copley, two beautiful black Labrador retrievers who live in the hotel, greet guests, and are available for zestful walks in the neighborhood. The concierge keeps an appointment book where guests can schedule walks or runs with them. Both dogs are local celebrities: Catie is a Red Sox fan, sausage connoisseur, and star of two children's books. Carly enjoys catching rides on the hotel's bell carts and following Catie around the lobby. Who could resist?
Bridge of Flowers Is Like Nothing You’ve Ever Seen
The Bridge of Flowers
was once a decrepit railroad bridge, before it fell into the hands to local gardeners. They draped the bridge in living gardens of flowers, shrubs, and trees that delight people from spring to fall. It’s a walk through a gorgeous garden above a rushing river with a lovely town on the side. The bridge is in Shelburne Falls
, off Route 2 (the Mohawk Trail). It spans the Deerfield River and connects the towns of Shelburne and Buckland.
Cranberry Wine is a Unique Bay State Taste
The family-owned Plymouth Bay Winery
, at 114 Water Street in
, overlooking Plymouth Bay, produces cranberry and other fruit wines. The winery is located in the heart of Plymouth's historic waterfront district, close to the Mayflower II, Plymouth Rock, and other historic attractions and great places to dine. The owners welcome the public for tastings, saying, “There isn't an event or holiday that cranberry wine won't serve as a warm embrace.” Open daily, March 1 to December 31. Free tastings, with no appointment necessary. Phone: 508-746-2100.
Jump Now at the Trampoline Park
Which of you adults is deeply envious of the little kids who get to play in the bouncy house at carnivals and parties? Yep, we thought so. Here’s your solution. Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park
at 91B Sprague Street in Boston
is a new indoor trampoline park with 10,000 square feet of bounce space, open to the people of all ages
daily and for special events like birthday parties. In addition to open jump hours, Sky Zone offers walled 3-D dodge ball courts; extreme fitness classes for kids, teens, and adults; daily Open Jump playtime and a Saturday-night SkyJam. Prices range from $8 - $18 for 30-, 60-, 90- or 120-minute jump sessions, including rental of some bounce-optimized kicks. Fun, or what? Phone: 857-345-9693.
Indoor Exercise -- Reeee-e-e-ech!
Get out of the snow and climb a rock. Yeah, you heard that right. Rock Spot Climbing
at 67 Sprague Street in Boston
is open from 10 a.m. to midnight every day and it invites people of all ages and abilities to … climb. Open to individuals, pairs of people, parents & kids (some age restrictions), and groups. Try rope climbing with a belayer or bouldering or lead climbing. Good exercise, different, challenging, and fun. Rock Spot Climbing has plenty of experienced and helpful staff members to guide and coax beginners. Try it! Phone: 617-333-4433
Broad Meadow Offers Woods, Streams, and Marshes
Within the 400 acres of woods, fields, streams, and marsh at Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center and Wildlife Sanctuary
at 414 Massasoit Road in Worcester
, visitors can hike, cross-country ski, watch birds, look for 78 species of butterflies, prowl for owls, or learn to snowshoe. The lobby of the center has exhibits, including a large 3-D model of the entire sanctuary and a wall-to-ceiling map of the Blackstone River watershed. Nature-related gifts, children’s books, assorted field guides, are available at the center, which also serves as a visitor site for the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. Trails are open daily, dawn to dusk. Phone: 508-753-6087.
Peaceful Refuge for a Variety of Critters
Winslow Farm Animal Sanctuary
at 37 Eddy Street in Norton
is a nonprofit stay-for-life animal reserve established to care for abused and abandoned farm and exotic animals. Visitors can take a tour the farm, meet the animals who live there, and enjoy the beauty and peacefulness of the season. Winslow Farm also offers a nature trail, full playground, birthday parties, perennial garden, and many activities throughout the year, like the October Festival, Sheep Shearing, Easter Egg Hunt, Green Sprouts, Renaissance Faire, Yuletide Festival, and Arts and Craft Faire. Open daily except Tuesdays, year-round. Phone: 508-285-6451.
Art’s Dune Tours Are Unbeatable Adventure
For three generations, the family-run Art’s Dune Tours
, located at 4 Standish Street in Provincetown
, has been taking spellbound visitors on tours of the dunes of the Provincelands, a marvelous, otherworldly place of sky, sea, bending dune grass, and wind-sculpted dunes. On the tours, you will travel through the majestic dunes where your guide points out the dune shacks where famous artists and writers like Eugene O'Neill and Harry Kemp became inspired to create their art. You will also pass the remains of the Peaked Hill Life Saving Station and learn how the brave "life savers" enacted their heroic efforts to save the lives of thousands from the doomed shipwrecks. Access by the public to the dunes is limited, so this is the
to see them. Phone: 800-894-1951
Bicycle Through Colonial History
Arlington is one of four Boston-area communities that hosts the Minuteman Bikeway
, which passes through the area where the American Revolution began in April 1775. Municipal parking lots are available throughout the bikeway region, in the towns of Arlington, Bedford, Cambridge
, and Lexington
. Find maps
to access points on the bikeway. Phone: 617-542-2453
Peaceful Hike in Serene Woods
Highfield Hall & Gardens
at 56 Highfield Drive in Falmouth
is a historic home surrounded by beautiful gardens and wood. Adjacent Beebe Woods has a large network of walking trails over miles of wooded ridges and steep hollows and around a pond called the Punch Bowl. The Hall is also home to several arts groups, and special events are held here periodically. People are welcome to visit April 1 through October, daily except Saturdays. Guided tours of Highfield Hall take place year-round for groups. The Hall holds a guided nature walk on the fourth Tuesday of each month. Phone: 508- 495-1878
Books, Soft Chairs, and a River View
Housed in an Industrial Revolution-era gristmill aside the Sawmill River at 440 Greenfield Road in Montague
, The Montague Bookmill
is a cozy melding of old-fashioned bookstore and the most comfortable living room you've ever known. The collection includes thousands of used books on every imaginable subject, many showling deeply slashed prices. This bookstore also housed the Sawmill River Arts organization and Turn It Up!, which delivers music and movie to the public. In the cold seasons, a movie night every week adds an opportunity for an outing, as does the book store's Lady Killigrew Cafe. Open daily, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Come and Mingle
The Lawn on D
is a new, 3-acre gathering place at 420 D Street next to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in Boston
. It’s an experiment in outdoor mingling, with lounge chairs, rotating exhibitions of art, games like bocce courts, Frisbee, ping-pong, and free Wi-Fi. On Thursday through Sunday evenings there will be rotating menu of art installations and art events, lawn games and local game leagues, performing arts, and concerts and festivals. A large tent and local food trucks will keep D Streeters quenched and full of pep. Come, walk, ad gawk!
Charming Neighborhood With Deep History
The Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association, located in the town of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, is a neighborhood of hundreds of colorful, ornate gingerbread cottages
that are a delight to the eye and great fun to see and photograph. The neighborhood has its roots in the religious revival camp meeting movement of the 1850s. Members of the campground – originally a tent community -- conducted popular Bible meetings where the cottages are now.
Cool Cosmopolitan Greenway
The Rose Kennedy Greenway
is a mile-long series of connected parks that curves through the city and connects neighborhoods of the North End, the Wharf District, Fort Point Channel, Dewey Square, and Chinatown. Whether you stroll the Greenway in one or several outings, you will encounter fountains, formal gardens, café seating and sunny lawns; images of Boston’s maritime history; urban plazas; and Chinese culture. Don't miss Rings Fountain on Milk Street in Wharf District. In September 2013, a new carousel will open across from Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Christopher Columbus Park. This Greenway unveils the finest of Boston, outdoors. Map
Beaches Are Uncrowded & Lovely Off-Season
Here’s a useful tip: Providing you are dressed warmly, spring is an excellent time for visiting the beautiful beaches of New England. Crowds are gone; colors of sky and sea dazzle the eye; strolling is fun; and the birds and harbor seals are out and frisky. Salisbury Beach State Reservation
on Beach Road in Salisbury
is a 521-acre park that stretches 3.8 miles along the Atlantic. Harbor seals often sun themselves on the jetty. The town of Salisbury has many fun activities to offer for kids of all ages; with a large amusement park and video arcades. Phone: 978 462-4481.
LEGO! Let’s Go!
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston
at 598 Assembly Row in Somerville
is the ultimate play place for kids and adults entranced with the endless possibilities of LEGOs. At the Discovery Center, kids can take a workshop tour with Professor Brick-a-Brack to see LEGO bricks are made, or they can jump into the indoor play zone, the Fire Academy or the Construction Site. These are places to climb, leap, and burn energy -- and to play with LEGOs -- while adults take a rest. For younger kids, the DUPLO Farm is the place to … what else … build a farm! Open daily. 866-228-6439
Audubon’s Drum Farm Is a Nice Outdoor Visit With Kids
Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary
, a property of the Massachusetts Audubon Society at 208 South Great Road in Lincoln
, is a real working farm and a wildlife sanctuary all in one place. The farm hosts ongoing professional education, but the public can visit for walks, daily hay rides, wildlife exhibits, and periodic Family Farm Days (see farm website for schedule). There is a picnicking area. Nice way to get outdoors and close to nature with the welcoming help of Audubon. Phone: 781-259-2200
We Give Up: What Is Disc Golf?
Disc golf is played much like traditional golf, but instead of a ball and clubs, players use a flying disc or Frisbee. The disc is thrown from a tee area to a target, usually an elevated metal basket. As with regular golf, the players’ objective is to complete each hole in the fewest number of throws. It is fun for all ages, and the folks at Pyramids Disc Golf Course
at 103 Marshall Street
are ready to get you playing. Course is open daily.
Farm Fun for Kids at Uncle Don’s Barnyard
Ioka Valley Farm
at 3475 Route 43 in Hancock
offers fun and educational farming activities year-round. Spring brings the sugaring season and pancake breakfasts, followed through the rest of the year by berry picking, picnicking, pumpkin carving, wagon rides, a haystack maze, and Christmas trees. Kid fun includes a baby animal petting area, hay tunnel and hay piles, giant sandboxes, a mechanical cow, peddle tractors, a library of farm books, a farm-themed playground and a picnic area.
'I Went to the Woods...'
Henry David Thoreau lived at Walden Pond in Concord from 1845 to 1847 and his experience there provided the material for his book “Walden.” Because of this legacy, Walden Pond is considered the birthplace of the conservation movement. Interpreters at Walden Pond State Reservation
915 Walden Street in Concord
provide tours and educational programs. The pond is open for swimming and people may visit a replica of Thoreau’s one-room cabin. A 2680-acre wooded area -- great for strolling, nature viewing, picnicking, and reflection -- surrounds the reservation. The property has a gift shop, bookstore and gallery. Phone: 978 369-3254
City Wine Tours
City Wine Tours
offers guests a chance to spend a day exploring the historic city on a fun guided tour of the best restaurants and wineries. Meet the Wine Ambassadors, viticulture experts who can answer all your wine questions. These tour guides lead groups through the Harvard Square, Back Bay, South End, and North End areas of Boston. Experience samplings of delicious wine and food as you learn about varieties of wine, food pairings, and other fun facts. These half-mile tours are made on foot. Phone: 855-455-8747
Berkshires Is a National Hot Spot for Antiquing
The southern Berkshires -- the area around Williamstown, Great Barrington, Sheffield, and Lenox -- is a national hot spot for fine antique shopping. From the earliest days, people could find Americana in this area, and the stature of local dealers kept rising after the founding of the Berkshire County Antiques & Art Dealer Association
. Experts offer antiques from England, Canada, France, Italy, Scandinavia, and China. They include porcelain and china, jewelry and collectibles, sculpture & paintings.
15,467 Plants to Enjoy, Up Close
From flowers and fragrance to fruits and textures, the Arnold Arboretum
in Boston is a dynamic landscape throughout the year. Come for a tour and experience the Arboretum in a new way. Explore the collections on a free guided tour led by knowledgeable docents. Tours are geared toward the general adult visitor and include Arboretum history and topics of seasonal interest. All tours begin in front of the Hunnewell Building Visitor Center, 125 Arborway. There is no need to pre-register. The main tour season runs from April through November on select Saturdays, Sunday, Wednesdays, and Fridays, mornings, afternoons, and evenings. Call for schedule at 617-524-1718.
Shutterbugs Get Guidance to Great Boston Images
Here's a peach of an idea: a guided walking tour that takes amateur photographers to the primo spots for taking pictures in Boston, complete with insider tips. The experts of the PhotoWalks
tours offer creative photography tips and interesting commentary about Boston and the many ways to capture it photographically. Each photo tour is designed for people of all ages and skill levels. The tours include Beacon Hill, a showplace of Old Boston and a neighborhood rich in history; Back Bay, centered around Copley Square; Freedom Trail and the North End, with many Colonial-ear sites; the Public Garden; and the Waterfront, the busiest port in America for hundreds of years. 617-851-2273.
Awesomely Original Shops Brighten Northampton
is a comfortable Berkshires town flanked by a bevy of colleges: Umass Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Hampshire. Not surprisingly, then, the town has some great dining and shopping (or even window shopping) at really interesting stores with one-of-a-kind offerings. Some of the hottest are Faces
, with a fun cards and T-shirts; A Child's Garden
, with out-of-the-ordinary children's toys; Pinch Gallery
, for handcrafted items and the perfect wedding gift; and The Artisan Gallery
, for eccentric, memorable home goods and gifts. All are on Main Street.
Sauchuk Farms Offer Spooky Fun in Corn Maze
Sauchuk Farms at 53 Palmer Road in Plympton
opens its annual corn maze
on September 20, 2014. Play Farm Scene Investigation in the big maze. Spookley the Square Pumpkin makes his appearance in the kiddie maze! Phone: 781-585-1522.
Find the Right Book at Mitchell’s
Whether you are in Nantucket in the chillier months, needing a good book with tea and a window seat, or in the summer, hankering for a beach book, you are welcome at Mitchell's Book Corner
at 54 Main Street in Nantucket
. New titles and classics. Also, the book stores hosts author talks and signings and even a taste of wine and cheese with conversation from time to time. Phone: 508-228-1080
Hold On to Your Toes!
Have you ever fall fallen from 13, 500 feet? No? Well you can, now. Take a sky ride with help from JumpTown
, located at the Orange Municipal Airport, in Orange
, for a lifetime experience you’re not soon to forget. Jumptown’s licensed United States Parachute Association instructors consider safety the top priority and offer tandem and AFF, Accelerated FreeFall jumps. Customers are invited to try skydiving as a company team-building experience or a special birthday or anniversary party. Go ahead, climb aboard; we’ll hold the coats. Phone: 800-890-JUMP
Corn Into Flour: See How It Was Done
Town Brook, not far from the Plymouth
waterfront is the Plymouth Grist Mill
, a reproduction of the water-powered mill built on the brook in 1636 and used by the Pilgrims for grinding corn. This mill, completed in 1970, has many parts from the early 1800s. The staff shows visitors exactly how the process was done by early settlers. The mill is open daily and milling is done on Saturdays and Wednesdays from noon to 3 p.m. A fun learning experienced for adults and kids. Phone: 508-746-1622 ext. 8242.
Pay a Private Visit to Myrtle
The New England Aquarium at 1 Central Wharf in Boston
invites guests to get truly up close and person with one of its star residents: Myrtle the Turtle. Participants of this animal encounter program
leave the public exhibit path and go behind the scenes to see the science, technology, and food preparation necessary to manage the 200,000-gallon exhibit where Myrtle lives. You may get a chance to feed barracuda or serve a head of lettuce to Myrtle. Offered Saturday, Sunday and holidays for visitors age 13 and older. Fee is $125 plus the cost of admission. Phone: 617-973-5206.
Wonderful Walk; Magical Marsh
The walk up the hillside is easy and the reward is magnificent. At Stavros Reservation
, at the end of Island Road in Essex
, walk up Whites Hill and then feel your breath catch at panoramic views of Crane Beach and the Essex River estuary spread out below. As you loop back down the hill, you’ll trek through a thicket of Devil's walking stick, broken only by a small hillside clearing that offers views over the salt marshes to Castle Hill
, a fine old house also on a high promontory and also worth a visit. Walks are great at any time of the year, just prepare for hilltop weather. Phone: 978-526-8687.
Pop In at Our Breweries
Tourism experts in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts are pleased to recommend great local places to enjoy tasting unique beers. Excellent beer is served at Opa Opa Steakhouse & Brewery
, offering more than 25 varieties of its own brew in a rustic setting. Kaptain Jimmy’s Restaurant & Distillery
combines a pirate motif with a cozy setting for patrons to enjoy 25 microbrews, draft beers, guest beers, and a vodka made on the premises. The Student Prince Café
has earned its status as the premier “go-to” spot for authentic German cuisine and imported beers. Phone: 413-755-1346.
Unique Knitwear at Isobel & Cleo
Isobel & Cleo
is a beautiful knitwear shop just a few steps from the dock in Nantucket
, off of Straight Wharf. The shop’s knitted designs for sweaters, pants, scarves and other items are absolutely unique. Charlotte Hess, the company’s head knitwear designer, is a graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The Glasgow School of Art. The shop is open from June to mid-October and the two women work at the studio at 2 Union Street the rest of the year. This is artistic clothing and the shop is so-o-o easy to find.
Fruitlands Is Home to Four Fascinating Museums
In 1843, Bronson Alcott, a writer and the father of Louisa May Alcott, founded a utopian community called Fruitlands, near the town of Harvard. Later, the four Fruitlands Museums
opened on the site of Alcott’s village, at 102 Prospect Hill Road in Harvard
. The 210-acre landscape now includes a Shaker Museum, a Native American museum, a fine art gallery of Hudson River landscapes, changing exhibits, and trails through woodlands and meadows. A visit is inspiring, educational, and beautiful, with lots outdoor walks on the trails. Special events for adults and kids. Open daily, May through October. 978-456-3924
Progressive Victorian Lady Left Her Mark on The Mount
Edith Wharton was born into New York high society in 1862, but she spent her lifetime educating herself and writing fiction and non-fiction in her areas of expertise: architecture and gardens. This strong-willed and progressive Victorian lady designed the magnificent house and gardens known as the Mount
at 2 Plunkett Street in Lenox
. Great tours and seasonal events. The property is open year-round, but the main house, stable, and bookstore are open early May through October. Phone: 413-551-5111
On the Road to Better Beers
Along the Massachusetts Craft Brewers Trail sit the Bay State’s best breweries and pubs, awaiting your appraisal. Download and print the Craft Brewers Trail Map for a self-guided driving tour of any region of the state, concentrating on craft breweries. The best part of this event is that it never ends – there is always another brew to be sampled! Information: http://bit.ly/1lKS2HO
Beautiful Essex Is Rich With Antiques
The beautiful Cape Ann town of Essex
is known for its Colonial history, wetlands and marshlands, and wonderful antique shopping
. The region is only a 30-minute drive north of Boston and many stores are packed in close proximity -- a boon for serial shoppers. Every shop has a distinctive character and collections. They may specialize in Arts and Crafts, period American and European, Asian, Americana and Victoriana antiques periods. (One list of shops runs a vast gamut from woodworking to ancient maps to "fins and feathers.") Most dealers can arrange delivery or shipping.
Gift Shopping at Midnight Farm
, at 44 Main Street in Vineyard Haven
on Martha’s Vineyard, is a home goods store and a joint project of Tamara Weiss and singer Carly Simon. The unusual collections of good includes clothing for women, men, and children, jewelry, shoes, furniture, bedding, art and more. Vintage textiles from Morocco, India and Turkey sit side by side with luxurious silk bedding, candles, perfumes, and books. Beautiful and exotic for yourself or gifts for friends. Phone: 508-693-1997.
Here Lies Hawthorne
Pay your respects to celebrated authors and thinkers at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
, the sylvan resting place of some 10,000 souls. Stroll the garden-like grounds on a self-guided walking tour. Literary buffs may flock to "Author's Ridge" atop the highest hill, which marks the modest family plots of Henry Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emerson, and Louisa May Alcott. "The Knoll" houses specially consecrated Jewish burial grounds. "Mourning Victory", or the Melvin Memorial, honors three brothers killed in the Civil War. While here, explore nearby Walden Pond or the Wayside, home to both Hawthorne and Alcott. Located one block east of Monument Square, on Bedford Street. Self-guided tour books available. Phone: 978-318-3233
Book Browsing With No End in Sight
The clamor of daily life in this former turn-of-the-century mill is replaced by shuffling feet and sibilant page-turning at the Shire Book Shop
at 305 Union Street in Franklin
. An inventory of more than one hundred thousand used books includes collectibles, first editions, and just about anything else you can name. Enjoy quiet browsing and reading in comfortable seating in a setting that inspires dreams of grand topics, with a complimentary cup of tea on the side. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.
Flynt Displays Early American Life in Vivid Detail
At the Flynt Center of Early New England Life
at Historic Deerfield in Deerfield
, visitors can peer into the daily lives of Colonial Americans through a range of exhibits and a visible storage area known as the Museum’s Attic. Subjects of recent exhibits include the crafting of Early American furniture; early American textiles, costumes, and fiber arts; and engraved powder horns from the French and Indian War and American Revolutionary War. The Museum’s Attic contains fine decorative arts, including important collections of English and Chinese export ceramics. Open mid-April to late November daily, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Winter hours are weekends only. Phone: 413-775-7132.
Japanese Beauty on a New England Island
The wonderfully peaceful Mytoi
garden is laid out in Japanese style in a pine forest on Chappaquiddick Island off Martha’s Vineyard. The plants and flowers include native and foreign trees and shrubs. There is a small pond with an island and an arched bridge. Footpaths take people through a birch walk, camellia grove, and hillside garden. A rustic meditation shelter offers views of the landscape. No charge to enter. Open year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. To reach the island, use the Edgartown-Chappaquiddick ”Chappy” ferry
, which runs continuously across the 527-foot water gap that separates the larger and smaller islands. 508-627-7689
Cacao Bean to Chocolate Bar at Chequessett
Opening with flair and flavor just before Valentine’s Day 2014, Chequessett Chocolate
at 8 Highland Drive in North Truro
makes chocolate delicacies (solid and beverage) before your eyes if you attend the new company’s factory tours (Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.). The owners purchase fair trade cacao beans from Rainforest Alliance Certified Farms, favoring include pure dark, cacao nib, mochachino and cherry-almond. Plan a visit to this sweet retreat on the beautiful Outer Cape to see the process and plunder the gift shop. Phone: 774-538-6249
Mission: To Surprise and Delight
at 25 Broad Street in Nantucket
, declares that its mission is “surprise and delight visitors.” This is a full-service, general interest bookstore selling new books, with a small selection of out-of-print Nantucket titles. There is an extensive children's room, card room, young adult section, and Nantucket Book section. Also, you never know what kind of eclectic sidelines might wind up in the store. The store sells and accepts ABA gift cards, good for use at more than 200 participating independent bookstores across the country. Open daily, year-round. Hours vary seasonally. Phone: 508-228-4000
Zeiterion Brings Great Theater to New Bedford
For lively, dynamic, creative entertainment of all stripes, stay tuned to the Zeiterion Theatre
on Purchase Street in New Bedford
. This historic performing arts center is located in a restored 1923 vaudeville house, and its programs include summer musicals, comedy, great American music, dance, special events, and family fun. The 2014 season includes Garrison Keillor, Melissa Ethelridge, Tedeschi Trucks Band, "The Sound of Music," and much more. Check the theater’s website for schedules. Phone: 508-997-5664.
Whaling by Sail in the Tough Old Days
Commercial whaling conveys a very different scent in the 21st century than it did in the 1700s and 1800s when ships went to sea to capture animals that helped producd the cleanest light ever known. New England’s whaling industry ended by about 1900, but the stories of the unbelievable hardy men who went to sea hundreds of years ago still can shiver our timbers. New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park
, operated by the U.S. Park Service, tells the dramatic story of the old whaling industry in the very streets and buildings where ships departed and sometimes returned after years of chasing the wind around the globe. Stroll the cobblestone streets and see the world’s largest whaling museum, a merchant’s home, a whalemen's chapel, and a 19th-century schooner. Phone: 508-996-4095.
Colonial Characters Come to Life on This Boston Tour
Few people would pay good money to hear histrionics from anybody. But Boston’s Histrionic Academy is a big help on a visit to this historic city. The Histrionic Academy
is a group of actors who bring history to life through theater. It offers a number of different historical walking tours led by costumed interpreters, including a Tour of the Freedom Trail. The day includes lively stories of the fire-breathing days of the American Revolution. Captain David Hawkins, Corporal Jonathan Hoyt, Freelove Bliss, and others are waiting to show you Boston's Historic Trail like you've never seen it before. Offered daily. Phone: 978-741-1170
Enjoy a Peaceful Visit to the Shakers
Situated on a picturesque expanse of farm, field, and woodland in Pittsfield, Hancock Shaker Village
at 1843 West Housatonic Street in Pittsfield
is an outdoor living history museum and restored Village of 18 historic buildings, heirloom gardens, 22,000 examples of Shaker furniture, crafts, tools, and clothes that depict daily life at the Shakers’ City of Peace through its 220 years. Hancock Shaker Village offers specialty tours, like a Farm Tour with a hayride, as well as tours that focus on children, off limits attics and basements, and the Village at twilight. Village is open early April through October. Stop for some refreshment at the Harvest Cafe. Phone: 800-817-1137.
Fresh Farm Products Just a Step From the City
Lexington Farmers Market
on Woburn Street and Massachusetts Avenue in
offers an outdoor shopping opportunity on Tuesdays from 2 to 6:30 p.m. In addition to the fresh produce you expect to find at a farmers market, Lexington offers herbs, flowers, herb-based products, meat, sheep’s milk, fresh fish, bakery produces and more and more. Occasional talks – from instance on the topic of raising chickens or ducks in your back yard– are offered. Even if you don’t have a shopping list or menu in mind, drop in for the sights and smells. You will end up taking away something delicious
Candles, Potpourri, Glassware, and Lunch on the Side
Yes, buying candles and related gifts is nothing new in the Berkshires region. Adding to the appeal of the formidable Yankee Candle, the younger Kringle Candle
, at 220 South Street (Route 5) Bernardston
has arrived. Kringle produces all-white candles to blend with any décor. Also, apothecary jars, floating candles, crystal pillars, and more. The Farm Table Restaurant welcomes shoppers for a lunch stop, making this a day of fun. Stop at the Christmas shop. Open daily, and longer at holidays. Phone: 413-648-3077.
PaintNite Unleashes Your Inner Artist
Paint your own happy way at the creativity-and-cocktail-driven Paint Nites
, at various locations throughout Massachusetts and South of Boston
. No experience is necessary, and all your materials will be provided for you on site. People ages 21 and up can experience a night of food, drink, and art at this sip-‘n-paint event. Paint an original work of art, or follow the guidance of a professional artist, then take your painting home as a souvenir of a relaxed but fruitful evening out on the town. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Old Ironsides Welcomes You to Its Historic Decks
Visitors seem to stand a little taller on a tour of the USS Constitution
-- “Old Ironsides” -- in the Charlestown Navy Yard. Free guided tours of the Ship of State are held year-round, daily except Mondays (hours vary by season). United States Navy sailors and take you through the ship's spar deck (top deck), gun deck and berth deck and explain the history of the ship and its crew. Adults over age 18 must present a photo ID or passport. It is a thrilling experience of U.S. maritime history. Phone: 617-426-1812
Chuckle, Chuckle, Guffaw
If you are looking for entertainment in the form of joke-telling, find Dick's Beantown Comedy Vault
(even the name sounds ridiculous) at 124 Boylston Street in Boston
The club is in an old bank and it uses the 12-foot-tall vault as a backdrop for comedians of all stripes to throw down at the audience. Boston humor is world-famous ("You like apples?") and this is the very heart of the beast. Dick's has been called the city's Most Fun Comedy Club for nearly 25 years. Open nightly. Usual curtain times are 8 p.m. week nights and later on weekends, with two shows on Saturday nights. Phone: 800-401-2221
Try Truro -- the Wine, That Is
at 11 Shore Road in North Truro
is a lovely, relaxing place where tours and tastings are held daily from May through Thanksgiving. The main house is located behind a wide expanse of law dotted with shade trees and picnic tables. Behind the house, tastings are conducted on a flower-decked patio. Inside, a gift shop offers all manner of fun gifts and books related to Cape Cod wines and the drinking and collecting of wine. Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m. Phone: 508-487-6200
Gardens Feature Wicked Plants in 2014
Heritage Museums & Gardens
on Grove Street in the idyllic town of Sandwich, on Cape Cod, defies categorization. Open daily, mid-April through October 31, the property has beautifully landscaped grounds and gardens. A Shaker round barn houses a stunning display of antique cars. An operating hand-carved carousel and many of America's most distinguished artists' works are on exhibit in the Art Museum. Featured exhibit for 2014 is Wicked Plants, a study of nature diabolical botanicals. Also, visit David Rogers’s Big Bugs
to tour giant insects like 25-foot-long ants and dragonflies with 17-foot long wingspans, all made from forest materials. Phone: 508-888-3300.
Yo, Ho, Ho …
remember, from history class, the Triangle Trade? If you do, you know that rum was one of the points of the triangle. Now, a Massachusetts-based run distiller, Privateer Rum, is reviving the New England rum tradition, producing silver and amber rums using time-honored techniques. Privateer, at 28 Mitchell Road in Ipswich
of its distillery, where people can visit the barrel rooms; see where rums are filled, sealed, labeled, signed and packaged by hand; and taste a flight of rums including unreleased batches. These 75-minute tours are offered Fridays and Saturdays by appointment for $25 per person. Leave your parrot and cutlass at home. Phone: 978-356-0477
Enjoy Polly's Gardens
Polly Hill Arboretum
at 809 State Road in West Tisbury
on Martha's Vineyard is a dreamy, tranquil place to enjoy cultivated gardens and native woodlands. Trees and shrubs are set among stone walls, meadows, and fields. Visitor favorites are the dogwood alley, perennial border, monkey puzzle tree, and the Julian Hill magnolia. Families love the Family Explorer Backpacks. Open year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. The Visitor Center is open daily and self-guided tours are available at the parking lot kiosk. Phone: 508-693-9426.
Riverwalk Is an Urban Treat
Downtown Great Barrington is known for its many boutiques, art galleries, coffee shops, and gourmet restaurants. A shopping or dining stroll in the downtown should include a visit to the adjacent Housatonic Riverwalk
. The paved path that ambles alongside this busy Berkshires waterway is an all-volunteer restoration project of the Great Barrington Land Conservancy. After your riverside stroll, take in some evening entertainment in Great Barrington at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, the Triplex movie theater, or the town bandstand, site of free concerts. Phone: 413-528-3391.
Appetites Aweigh: Food Tours of Boston
Boston Food Tours
offer expert guidance to walk you (literally) though the restaurants and food shops of Boston's North End (its Little Italy) and Chinatown. The North End tour unveils the cuisine of America’s oldest Italian community, colorful sights, tantalizing aromas, and authentic tastes. On the Chinatown tour, a guide leads you through this vibrant village and teaches the differences between regional Chinese cuisines. Tours offered regularly; book through the company website. Phone: 800-979-3370
In the Footsteps of Pilgrims
Pilgrim Spring Trail and Small's Swamp Trail
, part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, are easy loop trails about one mile long, accessible off Route 6 at the Pilgrim Heights area sign in North Truro
. The trails wind around a kettle swamp and marsh and offer wonderful views of Pilgrim Lake, sand dunes, the salt meadow, and the Atlantic Ocean. A stone marker identifies the site of the first fresh water the Pilgrims found. Trails are marked with information about local history and nature. This is a fine, easy walk for people of all ages, with views of typical Cape Cod landforms and living creatures.
Stretch Out on Cape Cod
Wellfleet Preservation Hall at 335 Main Street in Wellfleet
is a genuine town center, “celebrating arts, culture, and community,” according to its motto. Its dynamic presence in the town sometimes moves at a slower pace, though, at the many
held throughout the week and the year. Among them: Zumba, slow flow yoga, Kripaulu yoga, and Capoeira (a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music). Whether you live nearby or you’re spending vacation time on Cape Cod, you’re welcome to drop in; classes are held almost every day of the week, at morning and afternoon hours. Loosen up for an even better stay at one of the dreamiest places in New England. 508-349-1800.
The Maker Lounge Is Open to Inventors
The "Maker Movement" is all about DIY -- do-it-yourself building and creating your own fun. Tuesdays-Sundays starting March 29, check out the Peabody Essex Museum's new activity space and Maker Room
. Teens and adults in particular will enjoy interactive activities with creative modern technology and art. There will be 3D printing, games, digital art, and crafting workshops. You’ll have access to some of the best technological resources like expert demonstrations and classes, with ample tools and workspaces. Make your own music, use a computer to paint, discover 3D printing, or enjoy time building your own masterpiece. Senior and student discounts. Young adult engineering and building enthusiasts will thrive in this innovative environment! Phone: 978-745-9500
Beach & Mansion Adventures in Ipswich
The Trustees of Reservations, which manages many historic properties in New England, has many great ideas for day trips and outdoor fun in Massachusetts’s most beautiful places.
, 30 miles North of Boston, is the pristine Crane Beach
and, just up the hill, the fabulous Great House at Castle Hill
, open for tours. On the homeward trip, stop at Appleton Farms Dairy Store
for straight-from-the-farm treats.
Artist Colony Is Vibrant in Gloucester
Rocky Neck Art Colony
in Gloucester is the oldest working art colony in the country, and has been luring artists to its picturesque shores for more than 150 years. Today the area is still home to many working artists and to galleries showing paintings in all media, as well as batik, photography, jewelry, prints, sculpture, ceramics, and fine gifts. A convenient walking tour of Rocky Neck, along East Main Street, includes information about three dozen galleries and studios on the Neck. A new book about the artists and history of the region, titled Rocky Neck Art Colony 1850-1950, by Judith Curtis, is available. Phone: 978-282-0917.
Chocolate Walking Tours Reveal Boston’s Sweets
Presumable because of their popularity, the Boston Chocolate Tours
have diverged into three tasty options: The Back Bay Chocolate Walking Tour on Saturdays at 10:15 a.m.; the South End Chocolate Walking Tour on Saturdays at 2 p.m.; and the Great Boston Cupcake Crawl on Saturdays at 11 a.m. An expert guide take you into the world of exotic imports, recipes, and intimate tastings. Lots of buying, cooking, and savoring tips; plenty of tasting and opportunity to show. Website tells you where to join the tours and other details. For age 16 and older. Phone: 617-971-8436
Fateful Voyage to the New World
Visiting Mayflower II
, a reproduction of the original Mayflower located at State Pier in Plymouth
, is an extraordinary experience. The details of the ship, from the solid oak timbers and tarred hemp rigging to the wood and horn lanterns and hand-colored maps, is re-created to exactly resemble the original 17th-century vessel was like. Come aboard and learn about the 1620 voyage of the Mayflower and the perils of maritime travel. Explore the cramped quarters of the ship's passengers. Along side are reproductions of a 17th-century shallop and a ship's boat. Open from the end of March until the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Phone: 508-746-1622.
Franklin Park Zoo is Warm & Welcoming
Animals don’t turn off their antics in winter, so the zoos shouldn’t shut down, either, right? Franklin Park Zoo
on Franklin Park Road in Boston
hums through the winter at a balmy 72 degrees year-round. Enjoy the western lowland gorillas, ring-tailed lemurs, mandrills, a pygmy hippopotamus, and more. Ask questions at the daily zookeeper encounters, at Bird’s World, the Tropical Forest (complete with gorillas), and at Franklin Farm. Experience the thrilling new 6D ride, Rhino Rescue (that is 3D film enhanced by seat movement, wind, and light changes. Phone: 617-541-5466.
Charles Riverboat Offers a Window on Cambridge
Tour Cambridge from the comfortable seat on boat cruise with the Charles Riverboat Company
, traveling the historic river that winds through this city. Sightseeing cruises offer views of Beacon Hill, Esplanade Park, the Back Bay, Boston and Harvard universities, lots of sailors and rowers. Another narrated tour specializes in explaining old and contemporary architecture like Marriott’s Custom House, the Prudential Building, and the Hancock tower. Tours leaves from 100 Cambridgeside Place, easily accessible to the T trains. Phone: 617-621-3001.
Ahoy Lobsters! Ahoy Pirates!
The people who plan and host the Lobster Tails cruises, docked at Plymouth Town Wharf, are looking for fun, no doubt about it. Lobster Tales and Pirate cruises
are offered April through November aboard this 45-foot passenger boat. On the Lobster Cruise, guests watch the work of the lobster fishermen up close, and may roll up their sleeves and help haul lobster traps. On the Pirate Cruises, for children age 6 to 11, guests learn that an enemy pirate ship has stolen a treasure and are invited to join the hunt for the malefactors. Cruises take place within Plymouth Harbor. Phone: 508-746-5342.
Every year brings a whole new puzzle, theme, and all new challenges to guests of Davis’s Mega Maze
on Redstone Hill in Sterling
. This corn maze features more bridges than any other field maze in the world and the only double-decker bridge. Also check out the Fright Nights and Flashlight Mazing. Other fun options at Davis's include the Pirate Slide, farm volleyball, jumping the corn crib, giant chess and checkers or tic-tac-toe, Sink Your Battle Ship, mini golf, bocce, bowling, shuffleboard and more. Phone: 978-422-8888.
Artifacts of the Mayflower Grace This Museum
The Pilgrim Story — the hazardous voyage, the 1620 landing, the fearful first winter, the First Thanksgiving at Plymouth — is the heritage of all Americans. Pilgrim Hall Museum
, at 75 Court Street in Plymouth, is a gallery museum with a mission of telling the Pilgrims’ story. Among its treasures are William Bradford’s Bible, Myles Standish’s sword, the cradle of New England’s first-born child, and the earliest sampler made in America. The museum also contains a superb collection of American history paintings, ranging from Henry Sargent’s heroic Landing of the Pilgrims to Jennie Brownscombe’s First Thanksgiving. To understand the Pilgrims, this is the place to visit. Open year-round except January. Phone: 508-746-1620.
Get vertical indoors under your own steam with some help from the trampolines at Altitude Trampoline Park
at 700 Boston Road in Billerica
. Fun for people of all ages, and we aren’t kidding about letting off steam! This park has 15,000 square feet of wall-to-wall trampolines, along with other ways to get physical, like a rock climbing wall and a battle beam, both suspended over foam pits. Enjoy games like 3D basketball and test your limits in the gymnastics tumbling zones. In any weather, this is a fun way to get physical. Phone: 978-663-5867.
J. Appleseed Country Means Farms, Art, Outdoor Fun
Johnny Appleseed, born John Chapman in 1774 in Leominster
, was a pioneer nurseryman who introduced apples to large parts of the Midwest. Today’s
Johnny Appleseed Trail
in north-central Massachusetts runs along Route 2 from about Turner’s Falls
at the western end to Lancaster
at the eastern end. The warm-weather months are a perfect time to explore this region of farms, orchards, outdoor sports, and beautiful small towns. Start at the Johnny Appleseed Visitor Center on Route 2 West in Lancaster
. It’s chock-full of helpful brochures to wonderful places like Davis Farmland, Jumptown, Nashoba Paddler, Lancaster Golf Center, Tower Hill Botanic Gardens, and Wachusett Mountain Ski Area. Phone: 978-534-2302.
Fresh Face at the Clark
After a decade of work and planning, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
at 225 South Street in Williamstown
opens its refurbished and enlarged galleries and grounds on July 4, 2014. It is the biggest transformation of the Institute, with input from four noted architects, since it opened in 1955. The revised grounds include a three-tiered reflecting pool, new walking trails, and 1,000 new trees. Seventy-three works from the Clark’s collection of 19th-century French paintings will return after a world tour. Phone: 413-458-2303.
The Spirits of Charlestown
The Spirits of Charlestown, MA
have plenty to say. Guided by a renowned medium and ghost hunter, curious groups stroll along the Freedom Trail. Their mission: To understand the patriotic past through tales of tavern life, slavery, mariners, scandal, politics, and liberty; and, of course, to greet paranormal presences. Explore charming and history-filled sites like City Square Park (where Governor John Winthrop may still reside), and Warren Tavern, a favorite haunt of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Paul Revere.
Tours run Saturdays at 7 p.m. Groups depart from City Square Park in Charlestown
, and each tour lasts 90 minutes (or as long as guests can survive without going pale.)
More Light for Art Lovers
The wonderful and already-revered Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
at 280 The Fenway in Boston
has a dramatic, new light-filled wing! The addition, by architect Renzo Piano, includes a three-story gallery for contemporary art exhibitions, an intimate performance hall, and a visitor orientation area. For the first time, visitors can walk through the museum's greenhouses to see plants that are being prepared for the famous courtyard displays in the original 1902 building. The museum's collections reflect Isabella Stewart Gardner's extensive European travels: paintings, sculptures, tapestries, furniture, and decorative arts, including works by Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Degas, and Manet. Phone: 617-566-1401 or 617-278-5156.
Bicycle Built for 3… or More
You've seen them in the movies (probably a romantic comedy) -- city pedicabs. On vacation, why not try out a pedicab ride in Boston
, two of the globe's most picturesque cities. Charles River Pedicab
company brags: "…our cabs are faster than walking, can maneuver through heavy traffic and are environmentally friendly …" Moreover, our drivers can share their personal and historic knowledge" of the city. Fun, restful, unusual -- almost like starring in a movie. Phone: 617-266 2005.
Fresh Look at Home of Author & Horticulturist
, which is the restored home and gardens in Lenox
of writer Edith Wharton (1862-1937), will reopen in the summer of 2010 with new installations, exhibits, and special events. Wharton wrote books on architecture, gardens, and interior design, and consequently her home and gardens are a masterpiece of design. A visit to the Mount is an uplifting experience for readers, gardeners, and admirers of this progressive Victorian lady. Phone: 413-551-5111.
Laugh Boston Comedy Center Cackles Year-Round
is a vibrant center of comedic culture where teens and adults will delight in a full schedule of year-round events, including weekly special shows, comedy festivals and free showcases, big-name comedy acts and blooming local stand-up comedians! Located at 425 summer Street, Laugh Boston is one of the city’s big and cozy hubs for comedy performance. Click the above link to find more special events and festivals for this summer and fall. Laugh Boston is home to all kinds of comedians, from dorky improv players to tricky hypnotists. Phone: 617-725-2844
Paddling the Charles
The Charles River west of Boston is a welcoming place for kayakers and canoeists. Several nature preserves run by the Trustees of Reservations along this 20-mile paddling route allow you to touch land, explore, and have a picnic. You can put in at Cedariver
, a former farm, in Millis
, which has a state-run boat launch.
Moving downstream, paddlers encounter Shattuck Reservation
, which is old pasture land, with nice views and trails. Next, watch for Bridge Island Meadows
, accessible only when the water is flowing in Bogastow Brook.
Next on The Trustees Charles River float is Rocky Narrows
, with incomparable views of the Charles River as it winds between granite walls. Peters Reservation
, has a mix of natural flora, designed landscape and plantings, and two miles of trails.
Take out can be at Charles River Peninsula
, a great picnic spot surrounded on three sides by the river, with access to a state-run boat launch. It is about a 20-mile float from Cedariver to the Charles River Peninsula -- prepare accordingly and take a map! Phone: 508.785.0339.
Nessralla Corn Maze Is Ready for All Takers
In addition to its corn maze, Nessralla Farm
at 1239 Hemlock Lane in Halifax
is offering lots of family fun like hay rides, bouncy house, and hay bale mini-maze through November 2. Food is sold on the weekends and the Columbus Day weekend brings vendors, events, and live music. Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Phone: 781-293-6792.
Wooden Boat Craft on Display at Lowell’s
Lowell’s Boat Shop
at 459 Main Street in Amesbury
is a working museum preserving the art of wooden boat building. Lowell’s builds dories and skiffs as it has done for seven generations. Within these buildings, remnants of past work like ancient ship’s knees and support beams speak volumes of the wooden boat industry. Branded into the wood of one cross-beam are annual production figures from 1897 through 1919; an astonishing 2,029 boats were built here by hand in 1911 alone. Summer hours: Tuesdays- Sundays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Winter hours: Tuesdays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and by appointment. Phone: 978-834-0050
Visit First; Sleep Later
The very imaginative Concord Museum at 53 Cambridge Tpk. In Concord
presents a new exhibit called Behind Closed Doors: Asleep in New England
. People spend a third of their lives in bed, and this universal and intimate world raises interesting questions of privacy, comfort, intimacy, and fashion that can be examined through objects like bedsteads and coverlets, nightclothes and cradles, tin tubs and mahogany high chests.
Along with the exhibit, the museum also will present Good Night, Sleep Tight: Art from Children's Literature featuring over twenty original illustrations from classic and contemporary children's books woven around the themes of bedtime, dreams, and lullabies. Exhibit continues through March 22, 2015. Phone: 978-369-9763
Revolution Is Born
On April 19, 1775, the American Revolution began at Lexington and Concord with a clash of arms known to history as "the shot heard round the world." At Minute Man National Historical Park
on North Great Road in Lincoln
, the opening battle of the Revolution is brought to life as visitors explore the battlefields and witness the American revolutionary spirit through the writings of the Concord authors. The park grounds are open sunrises to sunset and gates close at sunset. Visitor centers and Hartwell Tavern are open through November 1. Phone: 978-369-6993
Catch the Spirit: African Drum and Dance
Lounging on the beach is just fine on a Cape Cod vacation, but when you are ready to get up and move, Tara Murphy is ready to help with her Cape Cod African Dance and Drum
teaching ensemble. Even if you’re on the Cape just for a week or two, you can walk into an evening dance classes
on Fridays in Hyannis
, Thursdays in Wellfleet
, and Mondays in Woods Hole
. Regularly scheduled drum classes
happen in Brewster
. It is a fabulous and fun way to get your blood moving and enjoy African rhythms between the beach and the lobster dinner. Phone: 508-274-8626
Call It “Mem Drive”
Every Sunday from late April to mid-November, Memorial Drive in Cambridge (known as “Mem Drive” to local people), is closed to motor traffic between Western Avenue and Mount Auburn Street. People turn out on bikes, inline skates, and running shoes, pushing strollers and walking dogs. This normally busy road has spectacular views of the Charles River, and strolling down the middle of it on a sunny Sunday is like having the world by the tail. When you are done, go grab lunch in Harvard Square.
American History on Display From Many Angles
The National Heritage Museum
at Marrett Road in Lexington
is an American history museum founded and supported by 32 degree Scottish Rite Freemasons. A visit to the National Heritage Museum is truly an experience in the American spirit. The exhibitions tell thrilling stories of patriotism, adventure, invention, community and dissent -- all aspects of how we as a people have worked, and played, struggled and achieved. For instance, some current exhibits describe illustrated American sheet music, teenage hoboes in the Great Depression, American decorative arts, the enchanted clocks of Gelrge McFadden, art and folk heritage in Massachusetts. Phone: 781-861-6559.
The Boston Bike Party Rolls Every Month
Each month, hundreds of bicyclists participate in a costumed, themed race on wheels around Boston
. Routes end at special locations, where bikers can regain their energy with food and culture. Bicycle party themes change with the season and holidays, and cyclists are encouraged to make their own costume, but everyone is welcome to join in the cycling, no matter their age or skill level! Spend some time spinning your wheels around the city’s buzzing streets, in the company of a swarm of other cyclists. Past themes include “Winter Heatwave,” “Mount Olympus,” and “Girl Power,” features special performers and chefs. E-mail: email@example.com
Picture and Mirror Frames Are Works of Art
Turn the wall display of family photos in your home into a museum-caliber exhibit with help from Museum Facsimiles
at 31 South Street in downtown Pittsfield
. the company makes ornate picture frames, photo frames, and decorative mirrors of wood with gold leaf, silver leaf finishes. All are custom-made, by hand. The company also sells vintage French advertising poster in brilliant colors on heavy paper in vintage molding, Grogeous! Also the company’s letterpress greeting cards have awards for design. Browsing is great fun here. Phone: 413-499-1818
Salem Does Night Life, Too
may seem to simmer down at dusk, but the nightlife is just getting started around 6 p.m. On just about any day of the week, you can stop by In a Pig’s Eye on Derby Street and discover a variety of genres of live music. Weekends, experience the Celtic spirit of Salem
while enjoying a pint of beer and Celtic bands at O' Neill's Irish Pub and Restaurant. Once or twice a month, Peabody Essex Museum welcomes the public to an extended evening of art gallery viewing, activities, and live music. Other popular, buzzing nightlife spots include Gulu Gulu Café on Open Mic Night and Opus Underground. Phone: 978-744-3663
Coral Reefs Dance in Giant Ocean Tank
The refurbished Giant Ocean Tank
at the New England Aquarium on Central Wharf in Boston
keeps evolving beyond its grand opening in 2013. Visitors are fascinated by the thousands of different animals in the two-story tank. The star is the place is still Myrtle the green sea turtle and the colorful reef fishes. A new exhibit area at the top of the tank offers a very close view of coral reef animals, swaying garden eels, grinning moray eels and batfish! Keep coming back to the aquarium! Phone: 617-973-5200.
Tarzan Never Had It So Good
As a kid, watching the movies, you always wanted to be Tarzan, right? Right?? A zipline canopy tour is the next best thing to living the life of the man of the jungle, but without the rope burns. Starting June 1, 2009, Zoar Outdoor on Main Street in Charlemont
is offering three-hour canopy tours in the woods and forests nearby. The Deerfield Valley Canopy Zipline Tours
leads adventurers on an aerial trek through the woods by means of zip lines and sky bridges suspended in the trees and connected through platforms that sit high above the forest floor. Zip line canopy tours originated 20 years ago in Central and South America as an exciting and unusual way to experience the forest canopy. Open April 1 through November 30. Phone: 800 532-7483.
Where the Flowers Go Wild
Garden in the Woods
at 180 Hemenway Road in Framingham
is the headquarters and botanic garden of the New England Wild Flower Society. This living museum -- New England's premier garden of native plants -- has more than 1500 kinds of native plants, with many rare and endangered native specimens throughout the gardens. People who enjoy flowers, which or without expert knowledge of them -- love wandering these expertly tended gardens. Special weekend activities are scheduled. A tour map with descriptions is available in several languages and in large type. Books and gift items at the museum shop.
Sandy Trails; Quiet Marshes
Follow Chequesset Neck Road in Wellfleet
to the start of the Great Island Trail Hike
. Nature trails from the parking lot lead to this wonderful peninsula: seven miles of sandy trails along the inner marshes, water and windswept dunes. The trail is 3.6 miles and easy walking, with little change in elevation. If you venture as far as Jeremy Point (the tip), be sure that the tide is on its way out, not in.
Marble Luxury at the Hands of Nature
Discover a geologic wonder and a peaceful place to walk and view the artistry of nature at Natural Bridge State Park
on McCauley Road, off Route 8, in North Adams
. Examine the only naturally formed white marble arch and man-made white marble dam in North America, and tour an abandoned marble quarry. The natural bridge, according to geologists, is 550 million year old bedrock marble, carved into an arch by the force of glacial melt water over 13,000 years ago; one of the best places in New England to demonstrate the effects of glaciers. The bridge spans rushing Hudson Brook as it tumbles through a 60-foot gorge. Phone: 413-663-6392
Blowing Glass? How Do They Do That?
Glass as art -- beautiful and refined art -- is made and shown at Pairpoint Glass Works of Cape Cod
at 851 Sandwich Road (Route 6A) in Sagamore
. This historic company, founded in 1837, has created glass ornaments, collectibles, and glassware for use that is found and prized in some of the loveliest houses in the country. Adults will admire the finished pieces; both parents and kids will get a charge out of watching glass blowers at work (Mondays through Fridays). And you can always take a choice piece home as a memento of your Cape Cod vacation. Phone: 800-899-0953
Old Apple Orchard Is Home to This Peaceful Campground
Savoy Mountain State Forest
, near the town of Florida, is a place of beautiful ponds, woods, and a majestic waterfall, great for camping, fishing, and swimming. Forty-five campsites are located in an old apple orchard. Four log cabins, available for year-round rental, overlook South Pond. More than 50 miles of wooded trails invite year-round recreation. Adventurers can hike the Bog Pond Trail or climb up Spruce Hill on the Busby Trail for breathtaking views. At Tannery Falls and nearby Parker Brook Falls, Ross Brook flows through a deep chasm, and then cascades over 50 feet to a clear pool below. Phone: 877-422-6762.
Formula One Racing: Try It!
Why should the Earnhardt boys hog all the fun? At F1 Boston
on Wood Road in Braintree
, an indoor race track, the thrill of racing is open to everyone. During open racing sessions, also called “Arrive and Drive,” guests may come in, suit up, receive a driver briefing, and pit themselves against other drivers, scored by a computerized, split-second timing system – the same system used in professional racing. Open racing sessions include a practice session and a race. Tracks and carts are precisely scaled and engineered to guarantee a real racing experience. Life doesn't have to be dull, right? Open daily; call for public hours. Phone: 781-848-2300.
Family Vineyard on Historic Farm Welcomes You
The Hardwick Vineyard and Winery
at 3305 Greenwich Road in Hardwick
is a hospitable, family-run winery located on a quiet country road that winds around the Quabbin Reservoir. Visitors may tour the 5,000-square-foot timber frame barn, enjoy the craftsmanship of the winery’s fieldstone foundation, and walk the vineyard fields. The vineyard offers wine tastings and sells local cheese, honey, maple syrup and its signature wines. Picnicking is encouraged, and there is a jazz breakfast the first Sunday of every month. Open March-December, Friday-Sunday and Monday holidays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Phone: 413-967-7763
Gloucester’s Seafaring History
The Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center
at 23 Harbor Loop in Gloucester
celebrates the city’s historic relationship with the sea. Visitors can watch a boat builder shape a traditional wooden dory; handle sea stars and sea urchins in touch tanks; sound a vintage foghorn; learn about life aboard a schooner 100 years ago; and watch underwater footage of the creatures that inhabit the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. From the Main Pier, enjoy panoramic views of Ten Pound Island, Rocky Neck, and the State Fish Pier, as well as an ever changing parade of draggers, trawlers, tugboats and pleasure boats departing from and returning to the inner harbor. Open daily, late May through October. Phone: 978-281-0470.
Patriot-ism for Our Favorite Football Club
The Hall at Patriot Place
is a technologically fun and dynamic museum for fans of the beloved New England Patriots football team. The museum uses heart-stopping video and audio to re-create the experience of a Patriot’s game. There is a 45-foot panoramic projection screen; a dome protecting a Snow Bowl exhibit; touch screens that take you into memorable moments in team history, and much more. Guests mayreview plays, join a huddle, listen to quarterback Tom Brady call plays, kick a field goal, and handle a Super Bowl ring. The Hall is usually closed before and during a Patriots home game, but it re-opens after 1 p.m. home games. Hours vary seasonally. Phone: 508-6989-4800.
Grapes and Wine from Ideal Soils
Cape Cod Winery
on 681 Sandwich Road in East Falmouth
is located on soil and slopes that are perfect for wine grape growing. The vineyard plants and harvests the grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Pinot Grigio, together with Seyval and Vidal. Among the wines produced here are Nobska Red, White, and Blush; Regatta; and Cranberry Chardonnay. Visitors are welcome for wine tastings and tours. Phone: 508-457-5592.
Art Showroom Adds Extra Appeal to Shelburne Falls
The village of Shelburne Falls
is an absolutely lovely place to visit and stroll and shop, and the presence of Salmon Falls Artisans Showroom
at 1 Ashfield Street makes it even better. The gallery overlooks the actual Salmon Falls on the Deerfield River, a series of flat, rocky expanses on the edge of the downtown, and great for leaning and gazing. The gallery, housed in the 100-year-old former Wirthmore Grain and Feed, features the work of glass artist Josh Simpson
, and 90 other artists working in a huge variety of media. On your visit, be sure to walk the Bridge of Flowers. Open January-May, Friday-Monday; June-December, daily. Phone: 413-625-9833.
Climb Toward the Light
In earlier centuries, the dangerous sandbars off the shore gave Cape Cod the nickname of the Grave of the Atlantic. Early lifesaving techniques and lighthouses were the first weapons against tragedy on the sea flanking the Cape. Highland Light
, Cape Cod’s oldest light house, built in 1797 (and rebuilt twice since then), on Highland Light Road, stands as a beacon looking eastward over the Atlantic from the cliffs of North Truro
. It was built by permission from President George Washington, and it stands 120 feet above the ocean, shining a beam of light 174 feet above sea level. Visitors (above 48 inches tall) may climb the lighthouse every day from mid-May to mid-October; tours are offered from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Star Gazing From Nantucket
of the Maria Mitchell Association at 59 Milk Street Extension Nantucket
is open for public viewing year round, and for frequent special astronomical events. Climb a ladder to the eyepiece of a fine, old telescope and sample the sights of the distant heavens. Public hours are longer in the summer and more abbreviated in the winter, so check the calendar on the observatory’s website. Star-gazing nights are held regularly, and posted on the calendar. Remember, observing is weather dependent, so check the skies or call ahead. Phone: 508-228-9273.
Shopping for Gifts, Cookware, Toys, Garden Décor at the Lemon Tree
Lemon Tree Village Shops at
1069 Route 6A in Brewster
is a super-fun place to do gift shopping for others or for yourself on a day trip of longer to this delightful Cape Cod town. For a sense of the variety, some of the Village’s shops are:
Brewster Birdhouse, Brewster Sweets, By the Bay, Cape Cod Shop, La Bodega, Lemon Tree Pottery, The Cookshop, The Tabletop Shop, Torch and Hammer, Village Toy Store, and Woodworks Gallery. Also, enjoy seasonal special events, sidewalk sales, demonstrations by artists, and … wait for it … a refreshing lunch at Café Alfresco.
Help Yourself to Some Music With Those Vine-Ripe Tomatoes
The Pepperell Farmers Market
at the town field in Pepperell
is a fine place to shop for fresh produce and meats every Saturday morning from July to October. You'll also find grass-fed beef, lamb sausages, honey, local cheeses, fresh baked bagels, goat soap products, and cut flower bouquets. If you need to buy a gift for yourself or someone else, several local artists and artisans show there wares here. Also, on most market days, live music from folk to classical adds that extra bit of flavor to market day. Phone: 978-433-0162.
Wooden Shop Models by Experts
at 3 Center Street, Newburyport
is a step into the intricate and beautiful world of model wooden ship making, Here, people can watch ship models being made and restored, or shop for models and model kits. The staff is happy to talk about ship modeling, to old salts and anyone who is interested. The company's gift shop also specialized in handmade wooden ship models. Gift ideas for yourself or a landlocked seaman can include ships in bottles, scrimshaw art, paintings and sea charts, and books of fiction with nautical themes. Also, of course, models and tools and wood for building. Phone: 978-462-7012.
Sculptor Who Helped Immortalize Abe
, on Williamsville Road in Stockbridge
, is the country home, studio, and gardens of Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the statue of Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C., and the Minute Man in Concord. The buildings are furnished with American and European decorative arts and paintings. Woodland walks feature mountain vistas and perennial gardens. The house and gardens are daily open for self-guided tours from May 1 to October 31. Phone: 413-298-3579.
If you were fascinated by the lives of Gloucester fishermen depicted in “The Perfect Storm,” visit Cape Pond Ice at 104 Commercial Street on Gloucester’s
working waterfront, which produces block ice used by the fishing fleet. Take a 35-45-minute narrated tours
of the business, explore the historic Ice House, and see block ice being made. See fishing vessels taking on ice and watch the waterfront action. As a bonus, ice sculptors may be at work. Tours from June to August are daily, 9:30 and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. Tours from September to May are daily except Sundays, 11 a.m. Phone: 978-283-0174
Butterflies Like a Warm Home
You’ll find out when you visit the steamy glass conservatory at Magic Wings
in South Deerfield
that butterflies like it warm. Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens consists of an 18,400-square foot facility that includes a large glass conservatory filled with butterflies, moths, and tropical vegetation. The heart-shaped pond with Japanese koi graces the center of the conservatory. Other attractions are the Iron Butterfly Outdoor Garden, planted with flowers that attract butterflies; food court; Monarchs Restaurant; and gift shop. Open daily, year-round. Phone: 413-665-2805.
Astonishing Nature Lessons
There is always
something interesting to see and learn at the Harvard Museum of Natural History
on Oxford Street in Cambridge
. Classes and lectures for kids and adults on many fascinating subjects – from the source for our food to nature drawing -- are ongoing. Permanent exhibits include the Great Mammal Hall, Evolution, Arthropods: Creatures that Rule, The Glass Flowers, The Zoological Galleries, the Mineralogical and Geological Gallery. Phone: 617-495-3045
Marini Corn Maze Blasts Off
Experience one of the largest and most challenging corn mazes in New England at
Marini Farm corn maze
on Linebrook Road in Ipswich
. Past themes include space exploration. More than 18 stations strategically placed throughout the maze have answers to a game sheet. You will be able to note your progression by the amount of answers you find on your game sheet. A finished game sheet is a finished maze. Open through November 2. Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Flashlight Nights on Fridays and Saturdays. Phone: 978-238-9386
See Boston Through Hollywood’s Eyes
You probably loved at least one of more of thesse pictures: “The Town,” “Good Will Hunting,” “The Heat,” “The Departed,” “Boston Legal,” and “Ally McBeal,” “Mystic River,” “Knight & Day,” “21,” “Fever Pitch,” and “Gone Baby Gone.” Now, On Location Tours
, based at Hamilton Place in Boston , takes you on a walking tour of locations in the city where pasrts of these filsm were shot. Movie buffs will love the thrills they will get from visiting locations where A-List actors have worked. Nothing is more fitting then capping off this 1.25 mile tour by grabbing a pint at then bar where everybody knows your name, Cheers! Open seasonally. Phone: 617-379-6770.
Bounty from the Sea Trade on Display at Phillips House
Located on picturesque Chestnut Street in Salem
, the Phillips House
, a Federal-style mansion, contains a family collection that spans five generations. Enjoy artifacts from near and far, hear the stories of the Phillips family, and experience more than 200 years of history in the New England tradition. Representative of the Phillips's extensive travels and interests, the collection includes artifacts as diverse as Fiji throwing clubs and African woodcarvings, as well as fine examples of early American furniture, Persian carpets, and porcelain. Open year-round, but hours vary by season. Call ahead. Phone: 978-744-0440.
The Irish Made Their Mark in Boston
The Irish Heritage Trail
meanders among landmarks that honor and celebrate the contributions of Irish people to the story of Massachusetts. It is a great walking lesson in history, for descendants of the Emerald Isle and anyone else interested in U.S. history. If you get tired, sit and chat with the late Boston politician James Michael Curley. Sites include the Rose Kennedy Garden, City Hall, the Irish Famine Memorial, Old Granary Burying Grounds, the State House, and much more. Phone: 617-696-9880
Island Tours to Suit Your Tastes
Get to know Nantucket
on a guided tour
just right for your style: by bicycle, a van, or on foot.
Cyclists can follow experienced guides on Nantucket by Bike, visiting remote island spots. Do you like the comfort of a van? On Gail's Tour you'll enjoy the insider's view from a sixth-generation Nantucket native. Shearwater Excursions will take you offshore to explore the lovely shoreline. For the earthbound explorer, Raven's Walk will guide you on a choice of spooky nighttime walks.