Fun and unusual things to do in every corner of Massachusetts
Find great, fun things to do and fresh places to explore in the Bay State for every age and taste, from antique shopping to rock climbing to slithering through a water park. Check attractions' websites for updates to scheduling and other details, especially for activities affected by weather.
The winter wonderland you’ve been searching for is here
Less than three hours from New York City and Boston, the Berkshires of Western MA offer culture and adventure year round. In winter, though, it is the crystal-clear blue skies… snow-topped mountains and fields calling out for ski and snowshoe tracks that make us an ideal vacation destination. So, too, are leisurely visits to our first-class museums, soul-satisfying meals at our many gourmet restaurants or simply finding the perfect fireplace to relax in front of at one of our cozy New England bed and breakfast. Journey here as a couple or pack up the entire family, get out & about in the Berkshires. Whether you choose to spend your time indoors or out, the Berkshire region is a welcome respite in the winter. To learn more visit us at berkshires.org or find us on Facebook at Visit the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.
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.
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.
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.
Day and Night Tubing Keep Nashoba Humming
Nashoba Valley ski area
at 179 Great Road in Littleton has a 15-lane tubing park open day and night. Take the family and enjoy one of the fastest-growing winter recreational activities in New England! Fifteen lanes are serviced by four lifts and maintained by na erienced grooming fleet, the park provides ideal tubing conditions for thrill seekers of all ages. The tubing park also consists of an on-site lodge, with snack bar and TV. Entrance to the tubing park is separate from the entrance to the ski area. Tubing park entrance is at 179 Great Road, Littleton. Phone: 978-692-3033.
Cool Fun on the Ice
The Worcester Common Oval at 455 Main Street in Worcester
is open for public ice skating
Friday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m. and weekends from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays (more hours on school vacation weeks). Enjoy some uncommonly cool time with family and friends! Make a note of some special events coming to the Oval: a demonstration by the USA Luge Team on January 9 (5-8 p.m.); a visit with Queen Elsa on January 11 (2-4 p.m.) and visits with FINZ of the Worcester Sharks on January 18 (2-4 p.m.). Inexpensive admission and skate rentals! Phone ahead for rink closures in case of bad skating weather. Phone: 508-929-0777.
Route 28 on Pleasant Bay
Chatham, MA, 02633
Tots to teens to Moms and Dad’s will find something to make their day
The family friendly resort features tennis, eighteen holes of championship golf, two beaches and two magnificent pools. Private cabanas offer views of Pleasant Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and all the relaxing extras. The Annual Cape Cod Jazz Festival, free and open to the public, has a lineup of the region’s hottest jazz artists and is one of the most anticipated events of the summer. The Children's Center offers educational, fun and whimsical programming for children 2-12. The kids will love the high tech amenities, a nautical themed playground with a "tot lot" for the youngest children and "children's area" for those over five. During the summer there is an aquatic playground as well as Drive-In Movie Family Fun Night, Teen Gaming Night, tennis, swimming and sailing lessons.
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.
Clear a Path for the Young Ones
Billing itself as a “true family mountain,” Butternut
, on State Road / Route 23 in Great Barrington
, puts a heavy emphasis of bringing the beginners of all ages and particularly the youngest learners into the sport. From the SKIwee (for age 4 to 12) and miniRIDERS (age 7 to 12) programs through racing workshops, Butternut declares that its group and private lessons are guaranteed to improve children's confidence and skill at skiing and snowboarding. The message is that “first times” are welcome. Phone: 413-528-2000.
Butternut Is Tubing Paradise
Tubing is a fun way to finish off the weekend and provides an optional activity to skiing and snowboarding. The seven-lane tubing park at Butternut Ski Area
at 380 State Road (Route 23) in Great Barrington makes sliding downhill fun for everyone! The Tubing Center is located on the far left side of the main parking lot. The center has it's own ticketing building and offers 200 tubes, up to 7 chutes, a dedicated handle lift that makes getting back to the top easy and fun, and total snowmaking coverage. Phone: 413-528-2000.
See Boston From the Top of the Prudential Tower
You’ve enjoyed seeing Boston up close; now try the view from a distance. The public may visit the Prudential Tower (“the Pru”) at 800 Boylston Street and ascend 52 floors to visit the Top of the Hub and the Skywalk Observatory
. Open daily, but hours vary by season (check website). The fee is $11 to $16, based on age, and it includes an audio tour and entry into the Dreams of Freedom Museum
, which tell the story of immigration in Boston. But call ahead because the skywalk closes for special events and bad weather.
Sketch; Improve; No Comedic Holds Barred
You never know what’s going to happen at ImprovBoston
comedy club at 40 Prospect Street in Cambridge
. It is known for sketch and improve comedy, but also offers stand-up comedy. Fans have favorite: Battle Royale, Harold Night, Naked Comedy Showcase. Most of the comedians are engaging and hilarious. Tickets are only $10 to $18. Take in dinner at a nearby eatery, then the show, and finish the experience with a nightcap at The Field, the next-door the bar and comedian hangout. Phone: 617-576-1253
Old Italy Flavors at Caffe Vittoria
You would expect a certain old-world ambiance in any of the Little Italy neighborhoods that bright American cities, and Caffe Vittoria
, at 296 Hanover Street in Boston
does not disappoint. Established in 1929, Caffe Vittoria declares it was the first Italian caffe in Boston’s North End district. Coffee, Italian pastries and fine beverages are the specialties here. With four levels of seating and three full liquor bars, there is something for everyone. Taste the caffe’s grappa from its extensive collection. This is a sweet stop at any time of the year, with marvelous people-watching just outdoors in one of the liveliest ethnic enclaves in New England. Phone: 617-227-7606.
Yiddish Books & Jewish Storytelling
The Yiddish Book Center
at 1021 West Street in Amherst
tells the story of the Jewish people by rescuing, translating, and disseminating Yiddish books. The public is welcome to visit, read, listen, and learn. Inside the center’s doors, you will enter a lebedike velt
, a lively world of Jewish culture: a million Yiddish books, exhibits, galleries, a bookstore, and two performance halls. Put on headphones and listen to Yiddish radio, or settle in to watch classic Yiddish cinema. Picnic in our park-like grounds in summer, or curl up in our reading library in winter. Open year-round, Sunday to Friday. Guided tours. Phone: 413-256-4900
Swing All Year at Golf Country
wants you to keep swinging that club all year. Two locations in the north of Boston region, at 160 S. Main Street (Route 114 West) in Middleton
and 860 Broadway (Route 1 North) in Saugus
, welcome you to heated and night-lighted driving ranges year round. IN summer, of course, the options expand. The Middletown location has two 18-hole miniature golf courses, batting cages for softball and baseball, and the popular Richardson’s Famous Ice Cream right next door. The Saugus location has mini-golf and a snack bar. Middleton: 978-774-4476; Saugus: 781-231-0032.
Antiques Are Plentiful at This Cambridge Market
For general browsing and entertainment, or for a hard-target search for a special antique-purchasing need, Cambridge Antique Market
at 201 Msgr. O’Brien Hwy. in Cambridge
is a gold mine. More than 150 dealers on five floors are selling furniture, lamps, art, paper goods, sports memorabilia, glass, ceramics, photos, books, silver, textiles, tools, kitchenware, toys, dolls, advertisements, religious items, and costume jewelry, hats, gloves, and accessories. The market is across the road from the MBTA Lechmere Green Line Station. It also has a sister business in Provincetown
. Phone: 617-868-9655
Get Tubing at Ward!
To say the TubaSlide at Ski Ward ski area
in Shrewsbury is “fun” is an understatement! Tubing is a great activity for all levels. It is affordable, easy to do, and requires no special equipment (tubes are provided). So grab a tube, hold on and have a blast. Ski Ward offers five tuba slide lanes with two lifts. Tube users must be age six or older and at least 42 inches tall. Phone: 508-842-6346.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
Cross-Country Skiing at the Threshold of the City
Located at the Martin Golf Course on Route 27 in Weston
, the Weston Ski Track
is a cross-country ski and snowshoeing center that is a really easy drive from the Boston area. Snowmaking and nighttime lighting on this two-kilometer lighted loop provide consistent snow conditions and reliable night skiing. Beginner lessons, rentals, and a warm cafe make this an ideal short hop from Boston for a day or afternoon of skiing. Phone: 781-891-6575.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Early American Dinner Prepared Over an Open Fire
The Salem Cross Inn at 260 West Main Street in West Brookfield hosts a series of 1700s-style fireplace feasts
, prepared on the open hearth of their fieldstone fireplace. Relax by the fire or lend a hand as dinner is prepared in Colonial style. Stir the chowder as it bubbles in our cast iron cauldron. See your prime rib, roasted "to a turn" over a roasting Jack. Browse the extensive collection of Colonial and Federal period American antiques. The menu for the Fireplace Feast includes hearty traditional New England fare. A fish entrée is available during Lent. Dinners are Saturdays, Sundays, and some Wednesdays through April 26, 2015. Check the inn’s website. Phone: 508-867-2345
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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
Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Winter
Tower Hill Botanic Garden, at 11 French Drive in Boylstonwarms the season up with its beautiful Winter Garden
, situated in a semi-enclosed courtyard reminiscent of an Italian villa. Protected from wind and extreme temperatures, the Winter Garden is a showcase for plants that are at their best during the winter months, featuring exquisite bark, structures, berries, or evergreen needles. An intricate water feature in the center of the courtyard, Domitian’s Pool, is designed to function in winter. The Limonaia or Lemon House has a cathedral-like interior of the Limonaia. This room expands the display of non-hardy plants. The Limonaia will house the garden’s collection of camellias and citrus plants. Open year-round, daily, except major holidays. Phone: 508-869-6111.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
Seaside and in the City, Interesting Birds Flock in Massachusetts
Massachusetts’s skies host more than 300 different species of birds. A fine place to find bird watching resources is Mass Audubon
, which can give you comprehensive information on programs, bird walks, and resources. Here are three special birding areas: Parker River National Wildlife Refuge
on Plum Island near Newburyport
. This beautiful and unspoiled barrier island is one of the top 10 birding sites in the country. The Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham
, out on the elbow of Cape Cod, is a rest spot for migrating sea birds and winter home for sea ducks. You can get to the island via the Monomoy Island Ferry. For urban visitors, Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge
is a beautiful and peaceful garden cemetery with flowers and vistas. It also is an oasis for songbirds on their northward migration in April and May. The cemetery’s website even has a page
about bird watching on the property.
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
Beastly Fun at Tubing Park
Berkshire East’s Beastly tubing park
at 66 South River Road in Charlemont
is open and ready to live up to its name. The park will be open on the weekends this season. Berkshire East has three 450-foot tubing lanes and a minimum height requirement of 42 inches. The Beastly Tubing Park is open weekends from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tickets are sold for two-hour blocks. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m. in the West Lodge. Phone: 413-339-6617
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.
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
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.
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: email@example.com
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Ice Skating at the Frog
Get those blades to a sharpening shop! No, we’re not taking about carving a standing rib roast. This has to do with pulling out the ice skates and joining the twirling masses at the ice rink on the Frog Pond at Boston Common
. From mid-November to mid-March, local people and visitors alike share the experience of and enjoyment of gliding across the ice and enjoying the winter climate in a wonderful urban park. The Frog Pond Café is open throughout the year, offering meals and snacks in a unique setting. Skating open until mid-to-late March 2012. Phone: 617-635-2120.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kids in Tow for a Walk in the Snow
Gore Place, the historic estate at 52 Gore Street in Waltham
, is offering the winter version of the Take a Walk
activity for families. Families may explore the 45-acre grounds of the estate with the aid of an activities backpack. Children ages 3-8 and adults can explore the grounds and visit the llama, sheep, goats, and chickens. Each borrowed backpack contains binoculars, a magnifying glass, and children’s activities. When there is snow on the ground, visitors also may rent snow shoes for $5. Take a Walk is offered Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Saturday, noon-3 p.m. Phone: 781-894-2798.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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. It is a thrilling experience of U.S. maritime history. NOTE: In March 2015 the Constitution goes into drydock for a three-year restoration. After March, the ship will not be accessible b the public until 2018. Phone: 617-426-1812
Canterbury Offers Skiing, Skating, Snowshoeing, Soup
Do your cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating in a beautiful country location. Canterbury Farm
on Fred Snow Road in Becket
has 14 miles of double tracked and corduroyed trails, skating lanes, a complete ski, snowshoe and skate rental shop, and lessons.
If you want to explore, the property is surrounded by 2000 acres of private and state lands, October State Forest, and three mountain lakes. After skiing, hot chili, soup, and snacks are available. Phone: 413-623-0100.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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