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.
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.
Thomas Returns, to Stay, in Edaville
The beloved Thomas the Tank Engine and his pals will have a permanent home at Edaville USA
at 5 Pine Street in Carver
starting in summer 2015. The season will bring the grand opening of Thomas Land, the largest permanent Thomas & Friends® attraction in the world. Covering 11 acres, Thomas Land will have 14 rides based on Thomas & Friends and the Island of Sodor. Attractions at Thomas Land will feature a 20-minute long, scenic train ride on a life-sized Thomas the Tank Engine and theme park favorites including a roller coaster, drop tower, Ferris wheel, soft-play area and much more. This is the place to make your little ones smile. Phone: 508-866-8190.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1098 Fall River Avenue
Seekonk, MA, 02771
For fun Go Kart action, head to Seekonk Grand Prix
Looking for a different kind of summer fun? Head to Seekonk Grand Prix for wild Go Kart action. Our Family Track stretches a quarter mile in length, the longest in New England,features tunnels, hairpin curves and other thrills. Test your racing skills further on our Slick Track, where you'll slip and slide. Youngsters can enjoy the Go Kart thrills, too. We've got a Kiddy Track and a Beginner Track. For bumping and bouncing thrills try our bumper cars and our bumper boats. Head to our arcade where you can challenge your family and friends on more than 60 games. We've got all your favorites -- Guitar Hero, Ski Ball, Air Hockey and Dance Dance Revolution. Wind up your day on our mini-golf course, with 18 holes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Come play in the sweet mountain air
Less than three hours from New York City and Boston, the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts offer culture and adventure year round. The allure of the Berkshires in spring is a savory blend of sweet mountain air, migratory birdsong; rare wildflowers found in forests and open fields, and the return of locally grown foods to our tables. Nature, like us, sheds its winter coat and greets the season with a warm welcome. 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 comes alive in spring. Come discover all the possibilities the Berkshires has in store during the most-welcomed season of all. To learn more visit us at berkshires.org or find us on Facebook at Visit the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.
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.
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.
Relax By Rail to Cape Cod
Travelers can now get to Cape Cod by rail during the summer using the Cape Flyer
, a Boston-to-Cape Cod passenger train. The Cape Flyer will offer passengers an easy, comfortable, no-traffic-delay ride between Boston
for about $30 round trip. CapeFlyer operates on weekends only, Memorial Day through Labor Day. The train is pet-friendly, with concessions, free Wi-Fi, wheelchair accessibility, and you can bring your bike for no cost. Kids age 12 and younger ride free! See the website for schedules, What a restful way to start and end a beautiful weekend.
JFK and His Childhood Years
The John F. Kennedy National Historic Site
at 83 Beals Street in Brookline
is the birthplace of John F. Kennedy, America’s 35th president. In 1967, the president’s mother returned here, where Kennedy spent his boyhood, and restored the house to its 1917 appearance. A tour of the house walks through Rose Kennedy’s memories of the president’s boyhood. The house is in a residential neighborhood and is open to the public from late May to October 31, Wednesday through Sunday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.. Phone: 617-566-7937
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.
Grab Those Oars
For something really different, sign up for a sculling lesson on Onota Lake in Pittsfield
with the Berkshire Rowing and Sculling Society (BRASS),
which offers instruction and rentals for newbies to the sport. BRASS, located in Burbank Park, has helped hundreds of people discover their ability to move a shell gracefully through the water. Most beginner rowers need two lessons before they are ready to row on their own. Lessons and rentals by appointment, mid-May through September. Phone: 413-442-7769
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 2015 season includes performances by Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Colin & Brad: Two Man Group, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Black Violin, Dark Star Orchestra. And Weird Al Yankovic. Shows will include family-fun classics like “Sound of Music” and “Curious George.” Check the theater’s website for schedules. Phone: 508-997-5664.
Come for the Feel of 1895
Kids and adults always enjoy poking about in the past, and Old Greenfield Village
on Route 2 in Greenfield
offers a hospitable welcome for curious time travelers. One man’s hobby and collection, Old Greenfield Village is a remarkable replica of a New England town in 1895. You can see and hear the hammering of the blacksmith; the movement of horses pulling a milk wagon; and the liniments, patent medicines and lotions in their original packaging on the pharmacy shelves. Visit the general store, church and schoolhouse, tinsmith shop, the toy store and candy shop, a dry goods shop, a print shop and other essential establishments of the re-created town. Bring a picnic is you like, Open May 15 through October 15, weekends and holidays. Phone: 413- 774-7138
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
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
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
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. In March 2015, the center opened a new LEGO Ninjago Training Camp, offering a new laser maze and LEGO Ninjago action. This immersive camp allows visitors the chance to test and improve their Ninja skills in the quest to join Sensei Wu’s elite team. The camp is in a rotating exhibit space that will feature a different installation every year. Open daily. 866-228-6439
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
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.
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
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.
Bike Tours Where the Minute Men Marched
Get on a bike and track your way through the very village and roads and bridges where the first shots of the American Revolution were fired, in and around Concord
. Concord Bike Tours
will take you on a customized biking excursion on Battle Road, past historic houses and local farms, among beautiful scenery of Minute Man National Historic Park. Tours are conducted by appointment April through November. All tours require a minimum of two riders. Riders of all abilities are welcome of these two-and-a-half-to-three-hour tours. The company can provide tag-a-long bikes that attach directly to the adult bike. Most tours begin near Concord Center, 174 Liberty Street. Phone: 978-501-7097.
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
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 thrice-yearly Brimfield Antique Show
is the rock star of all antique shows based on hugeness alone. Brimfield is home to 3,000 residents, but during the six-day shows, the population balloons to over 30,000 visitors and 5,000 dealers. The show’s carnival-like atmosphere is fun for all ages. Display booths for thousands of dealers run for a half-mile along Route 20 and about 500 feet from the road. The wildest imagination could not predict what you might find there. Show dates in 2015 are May 12-17, July 14-19, and September 8-13.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Indoor Exercise -- Reeee-e-e-ech!
Come on indoors 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
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.
Cruise in This Idyllic Saltwater Marsh
Essex River Cruises and Charters
at 35 Dodge Street in Essex
take you on a beautiful and interesting exploration of the tidal marshes of the Essex River. Formed by glaciers, these enchanting wetlands are rich with sea birds and other wildlife. The marsh has sustained the lives of fishing families, boat builders, and Agawam natives for generations. These 90-minute narrated cruises are a memorable exploration into a specialized world of nature, animals, and man. Cruises are offered three times each day, May to October. Sunset cruises may be arranged. Phone: 978-768-6981.
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
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
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!
Rockport @ Night
Downtown Rockport and the famous Bear Neck peninsula will be an open-air art happening on the first Friday of every month in 2015, from May 1 to October 2, during Rockport @ Night 2015
. On those Friday evenings, galleries and shops will open their doors from 4 to 8 p.m. and serve hors d'oeuvres, wine, and beverages while you enjoy the work of this famously creative Art Colony. See demos and enjoy live music and illuminated streets. Best of all enjoy gorgeous outdoor summer ambiance. Artists will be on hand to take questions from visitors. Phone: 978-282-1540
Summer Circus on Cape Cod
Payomet Performing Arts Center operates a Circus Camp for five weeks each summer, and on Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m. from July 15 to August 5 the public is invited to CircuScape
, a one-hour performance by some of the top circus artists in the Northeast. The show will be aerial acts, ground acrobatics, hoping, juggling and physical comedy and improv. Performances are at Wellfleet Preservation Hall, 335 Main Street in
. Treat you and the kids to a day in the sun and an evening at the circus! Who wouldn’t love that? Adults $15, Children $5.
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.
Wilbur Theater Is a Historic House of Hits
The Wilbur Theatre
at 246 Tremont Street in Boston
-- the heart of the city’s theater district -- originally opened in 1915 and was resurrected in 2008 by Bill Blumenreich, former owner of Comedy Connection. Almost every week’s schedule include A-list talent in the world of comedy as well a live music from national acts. Shows in 2015, for instance, include The Daily Show Writers Standup Tour: An Evening of Political-ish Comedy, The truTV Impractical Jokers “Where’s Larry?” Tour, Lily Tomlin, Wanda Syker, Tig Notaro, and music by Tower of Power, America, and many more. Phone: 617-248-9700
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
Chocolate Walking Tours Reveal Boston’s Sweets
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
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
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
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
Hug a Tree
In the Jamaica Plain section of Boston lies an oasis of meadows, forest, ponds, and wildlife. No, it’s not an urban mirage, it’s the Arnold Arboretum
, where you can find thousands of different varieties of plants, hiking and biking trails, and world-renowned horticultural collections surrounded by 15,000 gorgeous trees. Arnold is the oldest public arboretum in North America. The extensive Bonsai collection, a cultivated Herbarium, majestic snow-covered cedars and pines in the winter, and nearly 200 different varieties of blooming lilacs in May are just a few of the reasons to spend a day here every day of the year. The arboretum hosts free walks
guided by expert docents on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Phone: 617-524-1718.
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.
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.
Blue Discoveries Family Days
The New England Aquarium, at 1 Central Wharf, in Boston
offers a low-cost and really fun activity for parents and kids on selected Saturdays or Sundays. Blue Discoveries Family Day
are a chance to learn more about Earth through art, science, and storytelling.
Family Days in 2015 are March 8 (Octopus); April 12 (I'm an Ocean Protector); May 3 (Right Whale Festival); June 7 (World Oceans Day Festival);
July 12 (Sharks);
August 9 (Harbor Exploration);
September 13 (Seals);
October 4 (Sustainable Seafood);
November 8 (Sea Turtles);
December 6 (I'm a Scientist).
New Aerial Adventure Park at Heritage
Heritage Museums & Gardens on Grove Street in Sandwich
is full of beauty and adventure on the ground, but starting May 9, 2015, people can see it from the tree canopy high above at the new aerial adventure park
covering four wooded acres on the property.
The aerial trails start on a main platform above the forest floor. Participants choose one of five treetop courses with levels of difficulty marked as ski trails are, from Easy to Black Diamond. Maneuver along tunnels, moving planks, zip lines, rope walks, and similar features. Participants generally spend two to three hours in the trees. The new aerial park will be open weekends through November, weather permitting. Phone: 508--888-3300.
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.)
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.
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.
Sit, Gaze, Rest, Dream
Poet’s Seat Tower in Rocky Mountain Park
is an idyllic location for walking, bird-watching or peaceful contemplation. Poet’s Seat Tower was built in 1912 and has a long history of poets being drawn to the spot. The park currently consists of three trails which are extensions of a local and regional trail network. The local trails connect other parks, including Abercrombie Field, Highland Park and Temple Woods designated by red, blue and yellow trail markers. The regional trail, The Pocumtuck, connects Greenfield to the Sugarloaf Mountains in South Deerfield and links with the Blue trail in the Rocky Mountain Park creating a regional link to the south. Phone: 413-772-1553.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Fenway Atmosphere; Baseball Chow
It’s doesn’t matter if you don’t have a ticket to the game. Show up at historic Fenway Park an hour or so before a Boston Red Sox
game and stroll along Yawkey Way, the street adjacent to the park, which is filled before game time with food and souvenir vendors. Stock up on grinders, Italian ice, and any headwear you can imagine, covered with Sox insignias. At game time, repair to a nearby sports bar and watch the game with other fans. Game tickets? Who needs ‘em?
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 parts of these films 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.
Be a Wizz Kid
Just west of the Bourne Bridge, in southeastern Massachusetts, is Water Wizz Water Park
at 3031 Cranberry Hwy. in East Wareham
. This is a great destination by itself, or a stop on the way to or from Cape Cod. The Mussel Beach wave pool, Little Neck Beach for children under age 7, Squid Row, the Herring Run River and more rides cover the gamut of water slides, water sprays, water tunnels, water falls, and water tube rides, floating lily pads. The beach is great, of course, but let’s not underestimate the fun that human-made water worlds can provide. Check website for hours of operation. Phone: 508-295-3255.
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.
History of Boston on Display Along This Walk to the Sea
Boston is now home to a great, free activity that is ideal for families and people who love history, urban architecture, and the outdoors. The new Walk to the Sea
is a self-guided trail that encompasses four centuries of Boston history. Beginning at the State House on Beacon Hill, overlooking Boston's ancient Common, the Walk passes among historic landmarks and skyscrapers. The walk from summit to sea, spanning one mile and descending a hundred feet, brings Boston history to life. Large panels are situated along the walking trail to guide and educate walkers.
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.
A lighter-than-air sculpture by the artist Janet Echelman will float three stories above the Rose Kennedy Greenway
from May to October this year. The 1.5-mile Greenway is being developed a public space for art, events, and social gathering. The sculpture will seem to float above northern end of Fort Point Channel Park in the central section of the Greenway. The Greenway’s website lists public outdoor events coming up during the year.
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.
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.
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.
Come See Holyoke's Historic Carousel
Holyoke Heritage State Park
at 221 Appleton Street in Holyoke
is a compact city park on the edge of the Connecticut River. Most important for people who love carousels, the park has a handmade merry-go-round
dating from the early 1900s, the golden age of American carousels, many carved by immigrant craftsmen. The carousel was installed in 1929 at its first home, a former trolley park in the city, and it is open to riders. The Children’s Museum
and the Volleyball Hall of Fame
also are located within the park. The park is a sweet place to relax and have a picnic overlooking Holyoke's three canals and a row of historic mill buildings. Phone: 413-534-1723.
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 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.
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
Thoreau Yourself into Nature
Walden Pond State Reservation
at 915 Walden Street in Concord
was home of the author Henry David Thoreau as well as his muse for the book “Walden,” a description of the experiment in simple living that Thoreau conducted at the pond from 1845 to 1847. Walden Pond is considered the birthplace of the conservation movement in America. Park interpreters provide tours and educational programs. Now part of the Massachusetts Forests and Parks, Walden Pond welcomes hikers, swimmers, and nature enthusiasts all year round. Phone: 978-369-3254.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Astronomy After Hours
The Gilliland Observatory
, atop the parking garage of the Museum of Science in at 1 Science Park in Boston
is open and free of charge every Friday night (weather permitting) through late November, for a stellar presentation. Knowledgeable museum astronomy experts guide a session of stargazing using a computer-controlled Celestron CGE 1100 Schmidt Cassegrain telescope. Recommended for adults and kids over age 12. To learn if Astronomy After Hours is running on a given Friday, call 617-589-0267. This hotline is updated each Friday by 5:30 p.m. with the evening’s plans.
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
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
Clang, Clang, Clang Goes the Trolley
Even if you have given little thought to the old-time trolleys, you will be a fan of these workhorses of public transportation after a visit to the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum
at 14 Depot Street in Shelburne
. The museum preserves the Shelburne Falls & Colrain Street Railway trolley car No. 10, built in Springfield in 1896. Now, guests can ride it in the same freight yard where the No.10 used to load and unload passengers, mail, milk, and other freight 100 years ago. The museum also owns a collection of railroad and trolley artifacts and pictures. Museum open Memorial Day through October 31, weekends and holidays. Phone: 413-625-9443
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
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.
HyArts Shanties on Hyannis Harbor
A gaggle of artists’ shanties
lines the boardwalk along Hyannis Harbor, beckoning to visitors to enjoy manmade art on one side and the beauty of the harbor on the other. Works vary and may include photography; painting; jewelry from gemstones, glass, beach stones and more; ceramics; mosaics; mariner knot work; tapestry; fiber art and much more! Stroll the boardwalk and visit artists; plan to eat a picnic in the park. There are plenty of waterfront restaurants at the harbor and on Main Street. Open daily through September 27 from 11 a.m. to 6 or 8 p.m. Phone: 508-862-4767
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
Kite + Surfing??
is a tasty mix of wakeboarding, windsurfing, and paragliding. The surfer rides a board similar to a wakeboard or small surfboard, and is propelled across the surface of the water by parachute-like, wind-catching device. This extreme-ish sport has found its way to the windy and sandy beaches of Cape Cod. The Cape’s steady breezes make it a natural place for kitesurfing. According to experts, the best Cape beaches for kite surfing are First Encounter Beach on Samoset Road, Eastham
West Dennis Beach on Davis Beach Road, West Dennis
Chapin Memorial Beach on: Chapin Beach Road, Dennis
Kalmus Beach on Ocean Street, Hyannis
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.
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.
Boston from the Sidewalk
Boston calls itself the birthplace of the American Revolution, and you are likely to agree after taking an information-packed stroll with Boston CityWalks
, which offers several walking tours that show off the old and contemporary beauties of this world-class city. The various walks may touch on the Freedom Trail, Beacon Hill, the Public Garden, Back Bay, and Copley Square. Walkers may choose to have lunch at an outdoor café on Newbury Street, shop in Copley Place and Prudential center, or visit one of Boston’s fine museums. Walks are held daily, year-round. See website for schedule and tickets. Call to confirm. Phone: 866-939-2557.
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
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.
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
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.
Courtyard of Floral Art
The art of landscape has always been central to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
on The Fenway in Boston
. The museum's interior courtyard is an astonishing work of art, combining plants, sculpture, and architectural elements. The interplay between the courtyard and the museum galleries offers visitors a fresh view of the courtyard from almost every room. The central courtyard is regularly transformed with new plants and colors in seasonal displays, including hanging nasturtiums in April, hydrangeas and bellflowers in the summer, and the Chrysanthemums in the Court installation each fall. Phone: 617-566-1401.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.