Find family, history, & cultural activities from Boston to Berkshires, indoors and out
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.
Every region, from the historic homes and gardens of the Berkshires to the beaches of Cape Cod offers memorable adventures for the whole family. Plan a getaway to the cultural and historic sites of Boston and spring for a luxury hotel or waterfront lodging in this “Athens of America.”
66 Thunder Mountain Road
Charlemont, MA, 01339
Featured by USA Today as one of the Top Ten Zip Lines of the United States!
Berkshire East is New England's largest zip destination with three tours to choose from. The Base Tour is our introductory course… give zipping a try! Then move on to fabulous views of the valley on the Mountain Top Tour. Mountain Top zipping is a great family experience and summer memory.
Ready for tour number three? The Valley Jump is fun to the extreme. You will love it. Two 1/2 long mile zips, approaching 200' off the ground. This tour has been featured in the Washington Post.
Come, fly above the tree tops!
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.
1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, off Route 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.
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.
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.
61 Market Street, Unit 1C
Lowell, MA, 01852
Great things await in the Greater Merrimack Valley
There’s no end in sight to the great things waiting for you just 30 minutes north and west of Boston In the scenic and vibrant Greater Merrimack Valley. A singular leisure and business travel destination the valley offers charming towns and cities each with their own unique flavor, not-to-miss attractions and activities, and a history dating from the very beginnings of the nation. There’s fun to be found in fairs and festivals, sightseeing adventures, shopping, sports and entertainment; things to learn in museums, educational tours and programs; and health benefits to savor in spas and retreats. Get out into the Valley’s state and national parks, watch a concert, hold a meeting, shoot a film. You can do it all here.
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.
65 Main Street
Watertown, MA, 02472
Explore three millenia of rich culture and history
You don’t have to be Armenian to find something fascinating at this premier destination for student groups, families and tourists. Discover the rich culture and 3,000-year history of this resilient people by exploring galleries that hold ancient artifacts and textiles, as well as exhibits celebrating Armenian art and artists. Permanent displays include the photography of Yousuf Karsh (containing his iconic portraits of Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa, and many others), along with an exhibition on the history and effects of the Armenian Genocide. Click on our link above to plan your visit and learn more.
Come play in the sweet mountain air this summer
Less than three hours from New York City and Boston, the Berkshires of Western MA offer culture and adventure year round. The allure of the Berkshires in summer 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 early spring 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 summer. Come discover all the possibilities the Berkshires has in store during the most-welcomed seasons of all. 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.
55 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA, 01609
Discover a great museum in central Massachusetts
This central Massachusetts museum is considered one of the finest mid-sized museums in the country. Follow history’s path through 50 centuries of the world’s antiquities, paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures, decorative arts, arms, armor, and more. There’s an exciting arms and armor demonstration, Art Carts, and interactive programs for children and families. WAM features a 38,000-piece collection including works by Cassatt, Gauguin, Goya, Monet, Sargent and Whistler. You’ll find floor mosaics from the ancient city of Antioch, a medieval Chapter House and cutting-edge contemporary art. Exhibits change regularly showcasing masterworks, gems, and important works on loan. Enjoy lunch in the Museum Café and unique gifts and mementos in the museum shop. For exhibition and program schedules, check the museum website.
200 Massachusetts Avenue
Boston, MA, 02115
Explore an Amazing World
This beautiful library and museum, originally built for the Christian Science Publishing Society, has become an historic landmark in Boston’s Back Bay celebrating the life of Mary Baker Eddy. Born in rustic Bow, NH in 1821, Eddy lived an extraordinary life as founder of the Christian Science movement and whose work lives on through the Christian Science Monitor and in reading rooms across the globe. You’ll find books, documents, photographs, and exhibits as well as the Mapparium, a three-dimensional perspective of the world of 1935 and a symbol of the global outreach of The Christian Science Monitor. A World of Ideas illustrates how ideas cross time and geography to change the world. Activities include special events, webcasts, and children’s programs.
1098 Fall River Avenue
Seekonk, MA, 02771
Experience the wildest Go Kart action at this state of the art facility offering competitive fun at an affordable price. Challenge family and friends on more than 60 arcade games including Guitar Hero, Ski Ball, Air Hockey and Dance Dance Revolution. The Family Track, the longest in New England, features tunnels, hairpin curves and straight-aways and new two-seater go-karts. Little guys and gals get in on the action with the new Rookie Track, with the Kiddy Track and Beginner Track just ahead. Bump and bounce your buddies in bumper cars and boats and finish the day off with a friendly game on the adventure mini golf course.
75 Falmouth Heights Road
Falmouth, MA, 02540
Great places start with a great journey.
As if Martha’s Vineyard wasn’t enough of a great place to travel to, getting there only adds to the fun. From May through October, climb aboard the Island Queen in Falmouth, MA on ol’ Cape Cod and settle in for a sweet 35 minute mini cruise across beautiful and historic Vineyard Sound. The sea along the Massachusetts Coast is your soothing backdrop for 35 minutes of relaxation, conversation and a refreshing touch of sun, sky and salt air that fills the lungs and lifts the spirit. Passengers only are welcome aboard along with their bicycles, kayaks, paddle boards and pets. No passenger ferry reservations are required while groups of 20 or more can make group reservations.
Historic Shore Street
Falmouth, MA, 02541
An old-fashioned Cape Cod vacation like your grandparents remember
If you want to experience Cape Cod the way your grandparents remember it, the place to stay is ShoreWay Acres Inn in Falmouth. We're family owned and family run. The main part of our inn is an historic sea captain's home, built in 1806 and located in downtown Falmouth. That means we're within walking distance to everything -- the beach, the village, bird sanctuary, day spas, shops, galleries, museums, churches, trolley stop, library, and more than twenty restaurants, pubs, and sidewalk cafes. With short notice we can prepare a traditional Cape Cod clam bake -- with lobster, steamers, corn on the cob, and watermelon -- or a cook out, with hot dogs, hamburgers, and BBQ chicken. These meals are served on the lawn, so it's come as you are. Bare feet and bathing suits are fine.
40 Doaks Lane
Marblehead, MA, 01945
Harbor fun on the water all summer long
Kayak and Standup Paddle Board FUN for the whole family at Boston's North Shore hidden gem Little Harbor Boathouse! Just 15 miles north of Boston, spend the day at our pristine beach, paddle around Little Harbor Islands and Marblehead Harbor and stroll our historic seaside village shops & cafes. Choose from pedal, paddle and sail Hobie Kayaks (singles & tandems) and Standup Paddle Boards. Hourly rentals and Groups of up to 50 paddlers are welcome. Summer Adventure Program (ages 8-14), Guided Tours and Kayak Fishing Guides. Helping people have unforgettable on-water experiences is what we’re all about.
50 Walkers Brook Drive
Reading, MA, 01867
Exciting indoor ropes course adventure in Reading
Jordan’s BeanStalk™ Adventure Ropes Course in Reading Massachusetts, gets you moving from one activity to the next to test your agility and balance. Make your way across this one-of-a-kind sky ropes course and head up 12 or 24 feet onto zig zag beams, crisscross angled rope ladders, and spaghetti hand lines. Walk the plank at 24 feet then travel out on a 6 inch standalone beam, pivot and return. Enjoy two levels of challenging ropes course, 30 exciting activities and for young adventurers, there’s BeanSprout™, a specially designed course for children 2-7. Adventurers must be at least 48" tall or 42" if accompanied by a chaperone. Groups of 10 or more paying on the same transaction receive a 10% discount.
300 North Main Street
Florence, MA, 01062
An all-day wonderful place to play!
This magnificent park is set on 150 landscaped acres of pure delight with many attractions free of charge. Every day from 7AM-sunset, enjoy a grand day out. Walk into gardens, around a lake and through covered bridges. Feed animals at the zoo, many of them rescued, including fallow deer, a bald eagle, pygmy goats and more. Bumper boats prowl the lagoon, pedal boats roll through Willow Lake and a water spray park cools you off. Hop aboard the miniature steamer train, play 18 holes of miniature golf, or tennis on six courts. There are picnic areas and pavilions for dining beneath the trees or you can savor a delicious meal at Look Park Grill and ice cream at the Sweet Shoppe.
222 Harrington Way
Worcester, MA, 01604
Summer learning fun, in and out of doors!
Established in 1825, today Worcester's fascinating and educational EcoTarium is one of the top science museums for kids in the country. With three floors to wander, exhibits and activities abound. There are outdoor explorations on the 55-acre grounds, from tree canopy walkway and a nature trail through forest and meadow, plus the Explorer Express Train. With preschool programs and school vacation week and summer camp sessions, youngsters get hands-on experiences that might include wearing a mask to soar like an eagle, or dancing and drumming to West African rhythms. Groups can arrange an overnight adventure, choosing from among a half-dozen nature and science themes. And why stay earthbound? Partnered with National Geographic, EcoTarium’s Alden Digital Planetarium even takes kids to the stars.
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.
5 Water Street
Fall River, MA, 02721
A day out you won’t forget
In 1964, the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including over 6000 school children, banded together to save the battleship, USS Massachusetts, from being scrapped, and bring her to the waterfront of historic Fall River on June 12, 1965.
During her dedication on August 14, 1965, the battleship’s historic significance was further recognized as she was made the official World War II Memorial for the Commonwealth and opened as a public museum. Over the years, she has been joined by the destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., the submarine Lionfish, PT 617 and PT 796, and the Soviet built missile corvette Hiddensee to form the largest collection of historic naval ships in the world, America’s Fleet Museum at Battleship Cove.
Today, Battleship Cove stands as one of the region’s most popular attractions. Visitors can take a voyage through this country’s incredible wartime maritime history on 6 different ships. Guests can even stay overnight!
Real Pirate History and the Loot to Go With It
The Whydah Pirate Museum
, opening June 2016 at 674 MA-28 in West Yarmouth
, is a 12,000-square-foot treasure house, so to speak, of pirate history and pirate lore. The brand-new interactive science museum welcomes people to see, touch, and handle authenticated pirate treasure, discovered in 1984 off the coast of Wellfleet. The Whydah was a fully-rigged British ship that traveled between Africa, the Caribbean, and Great Britain. In 1717, it was captured by the pirate Samuel Bellamy and used over the next year to board 53 vessels, collecting their riches and treasures. During a storm off the coast of Wellfleet the Whydah ship sunk in 1717. The Whydah Pirate Museum provides an interactive and fun learning experience for children and adults. Open daily.
In the 19th century, hundreds of ships passed by Nantucket Island each day. Unpredictable storms, dense fog, and strong currents could catch the most experienced sailors off guard. Treacherous shoals and inclement weather led to over 700 shipwrecks near Nantucket, causing the area to be dubbed “a graveyard of the Atlantic.” The Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum
at 158 Polpis Road, Nantucket
, preserves the memory of Islanders who risked their lives to save shipwrecked mariners. The museum takes visitors inside maritime history, featuring over 5,000 objects from famous shipwrecks and lifesaving equipment used to save seafarers in trouble. Open daily, late May through Columbus Day.
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 2016, for instance, include Comedians Kathy Griffin and Tracey Morgan and Lisa Lampanelli; along with Artie Lange, Frank Caliendo, Leon Russell with Dave Mason, tommy Emmanuel, and Thunder From Down Under, and many more. Phone: 617-248-9700
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
“Speak for Yourself, John”
John Alden and Priscilla Mullins Alden, travelers aboard the Mayflower, settled and raised their 10 children in the town of Duxbury. Their home still exists at the Alden Historic Site
on Alden Street in Duxbury
. Here you can find out the backdrop to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1858 poem “Courtship of Myles Standish,” a fictionalized version of the love triangle among John and Priscilla and Myles. The Standish homesite is nearby. Open June to September, Wednesdays through Saturdays; and Saturdays in October. Phone: 781-934-9092.
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. For fun with kids, explore the Dinosaur Walkabout
. Using the Dinosaur Walkabout guide, search for corresponding labels in the museum's galleries to find real scientific evidence of a dinosaur world more astonishing than anything you could imagine. Phone: 617-495-3045
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!
Movie Costuming on Display at Heritage
The featured exhibit at Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich
for the 2016 season is Cut! Costume and the Cinema
,on display April 16 through October 2016. Five centuries of fashion and style as interpreted by costume designers and worn by favorite stars will be on display along with props, movie clips and photos and movie memorabilia. Forty-three costumes worn Scarlett Johansson, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Maggie Smith, Heath Ledger, Ralph Fiennes Randy Quaid, Minnie Driver, Jude Law, Robert Downey, Jr., Keira Knightley and others are included in this star-studded exhibition of movie costume excellence. More than 30 characters are represented from some 25 films. Cinephiles, take note! 508-888-3300
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.
Essex: Tiny Town Builds Plenty of Ships
A visit to the Essex Shipbuilding Museum
at 66 Main Street in Essex
is a wonderful way to become immersed in the ship-building culture of Massachusetts. The museum tells the story of a New England village that built more two-masted wooden fishing schooners than any other place in the world. Exhibits and archives are housed in the old Essex Central School House, built in 1835. Features include antique tools, photographs, documents, and exhibits portraying the shipbuilding industry. Tours include video presentations and hands-on activities. A gift shop offers ship plans, maritime gifts. Hours: June-October, Wednesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; at other months, weekends, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Phone: 978-768-7541
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
We Take the Name “Emporium” Seriously
has a fun and busy downtown center bookended by the art museum, MASS MoCA, on one end and the Berkshire hills on the other. Among the distinctive shops on the Main Street – where you are likely to enjoy browsing and to find a perfect tidbit for yourself or a friend, is Berkshire Emporium & Antiques
, a mammoth shop of two floors and several rooms, at 59 Main Street. This attractive shop is stocked with local products, antiques, and specialty gifts. No need to take a long break at meal time; within the emporium, you can buy edibles off the shelf or visit Luma's Muffin & Mug café, serving sweet and savory crepes made to order, and delicious coffee, all within the store. 413-664-4032.
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
Peaceful Hike in Serene Woods
Highfield Hall & Gardens
at 56 Highfield Drive in Falmouth
is a historic home surrounded by beautiful gardens and wood. Adjacent Beebe Woods has a large network of walking trails over miles of wooded ridges and steep hollows and around a pond called the Punch Bowl. The Hall is also home to several arts groups, and special events are held here periodically. People are welcome to visit April 1 through October, daily except Saturdays. Guided tours of Highfield Hall take place year-round for groups. The Hall holds a guided nature walk on the fourth Tuesday of each month. Phone: 508- 495-1878
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
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.
It’s Summer: Dance!
You’re on Martha’s Vineyard; you’re on vacation; life is beautiful. What’s the next move? For some of us the answer is clear: dance! DancetheYard, in the town of Chilmark
is the island’s dance collective. At the Yard’s monthly DanceHall
events, the public is invited to drop in and do what needs to be done. Bring your dancing shoes, whatever they may be and expect the music to be loud and joyous. Artists featured at DanceHall have included island rocker Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish, NYC’s DJ Rekha, father and daughter duo Arlen and Lexie Roth, guitarist Garrett James, and many others. See the Dance The Yard website for schedule of DanceHall nights. Also you should know that Dance The Yard hosts occasional afternoon pop-up performances in the Mytoi Gardens on Chappaquiddick Island. DanceTheYard quietly invigorates the Japanese-style gardens with improvised solos, duets, trios, and quartets. Family friendly and free. 508-645-9662
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
A highlight of natural beauty on Martha’s Vineyard is Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge
on Chappaquiddick Island
, adjacent to Martha's Vineyard. Chappaquiddick Island’s eastern edge is a barrier beach that extends for seven miles, passing the Cape Poge Lighthouse to the Gut. The refuge offers 14 miles of beachfront and oversand vehicle and walking trails. Facilities include picnic tables, bike rack, restrooms, which are open May 30 to October 30. Tours include a natural history tour, a wildlife kayak or canoe tour, a fishing discovery tour, and Cape Poge Lighthouse tour. Open year-round, daily, with an entrance fee May 30 to October 15. Phone: 508-627-8390.
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
Plum Island Is a Peach
is an 11-mile long barrier Island off the shore ofNewburyport
miles of public beaches and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, home to over 800 species of birds, plants and animals. Sandy Point State Reservation
on the southern tip of Plum Island is a wonderful place to swim or explore the life of the tide pools (kids love this!). the Audubon Society's Joppa Flats Education Center
is located on Plum Island Turnpike on your way to the island. Find chances to join bird watching tours and other educational programs for adults or the whole family. Join a kayaking excursion with Plum Island Kayak
– entrancing! Or, you can spend the day deep sea fishing with Captain’s Fishing Parties
– which also offers sunset dinner cruises.
Eyeball an Octopus at New England Aquarium
Face time with an octopus? Here’s your chance, at the exhibit Tentacles
, at the New England Aquarium, 1 Central Wharf in Boston
.The giant Pacific octopus is stretching out in its expanded habitat starting April 15, 2016. Watch the cuttlefish levitating in its
tropical tank while the chambered nautilus jets through its inky dark display. These guys are fascinating! Who wants to be an marine biologist? Phone: 617-973-5200
Walking Tours at Tower Hill Botanic Garden
Tower Hill Botanic Garden I Boylston
hosts great special events and exhibits at all time of the year, but you can come for walks and tours held every weekend. A walking garden tour
, included in the cost of admission, happens every Sunday at 2 p.m. See highlights like camellias in the Limonaia and subtropical plants in the Orangerie, and the beauty of bark and berries in the Winter Garden. Learn about the history of the Worcester County Horticultural Society and learn about the future plans for the garden. Also, the garden welcomes people to bring their dogs to wander the dog walking trail
on weekends from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Wildflower Garden Tours at Green Briar Nature Center
The wonderfully intimate and welcome Green Briar Nature Center at 6 Discovery Hill Road in Sandwich
offer many pleasures, including the literary history of Thornton Burgess, author of children’s books; a busy jam kitchen and many gardens and nature-themed events. Try to be there on any Tuesday morning from June to August for an information tour of the prize-winning wildflower garden.
Located next to the 1780 homestead, the garden covers a locust-shaded bank, a sunny meadow, and an open swamp bordering the Smiling Pool. The garden was designed for teaching; native plants are identified. Gardeners will appreciate information about each plant, including information on propagation, weeds to avoid, and what conditions are advantageous for growth. 508-888-6870.
Farm Dinner in the Garden
on 33 Bartlett Farm Road on Nantucket
serves up a gorgeous dinner of its home-grown fruits, vegetables, and more in its Garden Center once a month. The farm-to-table dinners are served at a long, elegant table and served family style. The executive chef describes the courses of the dinner before they are served; much of the food has been picked just that day. Vegetarian entrees are available and guests may bring their own alcoholic beverages. The farm has a lively calendar of tours and flower picking and women’s dance sessions. 508-228-9403
Fateful Voyage to the New World
Visiting Mayflower II
, a reproduction of the original Mayflower located at State Pier in Plymouth
, is an extraordinary experience. The details of the ship, from the solid oak timbers and tarred hemp rigging to the wood and horn lanterns and hand-colored maps, are re-created to exactly resemble the original 17th-century vessel. Come aboard and learn about the 1620 voyage of the Mayflower and the perils of maritime travel. In 2016, the ship is open to the public from mid-June to November 27, daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It then leaves Plymouth for extensive repairs, returning in 2019. Phone: 508-746-1622.
Biking the Beautiful North Shore
Great Freedom Adventures
and its experienced guides offer narrated biking trips -- usually involving overnight stays -- is places of great natural beauty and history. The company's Boston’s North Shore Bike, Hike, and Kayak Adventure Trip
starts in Ispwich
and covers territory that includes Plum Island and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Crane Estate, Salem
and a bit of kayaking in the Essex River basin. Phone: 508-545-1864.
Bike to Cape Cod's Beaches
Get out and be active at this Province Lands Bike Trail
located in Provincetown
. This 5.25 mile ride begins at the Province Lands Visitor Center where informational movies, exhibits, a book store, and the observation tower are located. Ranger guided tours are provided to explore sand dunes and hollows. The bike trail explores every aspect of the landscape from the cranberry bogs, marshes, and saltwater kettle ponds. The trail has extensions that provide access to Race Point and Herring Cove beaches. Look for signs for the Province Land Visitor Center at the end of Race Point Road for the entrance to the bike trails. Phone: 508-957-0738
Pittsfield Hops with Shopping and Browsing Fun
is a lively town centrally located between other stars of the Berkshires, like Stockbridge, Lenox, Williamstown and North Adams. The downtown is a fun place for dining, browsing and shopping (with lots of seasonal festivals and public entertainments). If you need a gift for yourself or anyone else, the options here are delightful: the stylish shop, Circa
, is a place to fine mid-century antiques, and a toothsome selection of vintage clothing and jewelry. Paul Rich and Sons Home Furnishings
has made a name for itself in the town over a long period to time. Shop here for high-quality furniture. One of our weaknesses is for charming clocks, and that’s what you will find at West Side Clock Shop
. And, be sure to investivate Whitney Center for the Arts
, for year-round arts and cultural programs.
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.
Sculpture In the Outdoors
deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum
at 51 Sandy Pond Road in Lincoln
is a significant premier destination for contemporary art and sculpture, a mere 20 miles west of Boston. The vast grounds, covered with lawns and copses of woodlands, are the backdrop to a constantly changing landscape of large-scale, outdoor, modern and contemporary sculpture. Indoor space in the museum building also has exhibit space. The park and museum offer year-round activities, like snowshoe tours, yoga outdoors, nature tours, artist conversations, and screenings. Enjoy revolutionary artistic visions and stretch your muscles outdoors. Phone: 781-259-8355
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
Climb Toward the Light
In earlier centuries, the dangerous sandbars off the shore gave Cape Cod the nickname of the Grave of the Atlantic. Early lifesaving techniques and lighthouses were the first weapons against tragedy on the sea flanking the Cape. Highland Light
, Cape Cod’s oldest light house, built in 1797 (and rebuilt twice since then), on Highland Light Road, stands as a beacon looking eastward over the Atlantic from the cliffs of North Truro
. It was built by permission from President George Washington, and it stands 120 feet above the ocean, shining a beam of light 174 feet above sea level. Visitors (above 48 inches tall) may climb the lighthouse every day from mid-May to mid-October; tours are offered from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Walk Into the Minds of Arctic Explorers
The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum
at Hubbard Hall at Bowdoin College, 9500 College Station in Brunswick
is built around historic objects donated by Donald B. MacMillan during his long career as an Arctic explorer. The museum offers insights and artifacts from the expedition of daring men into the forbidding terrain of the Arctic. Exhibits include Robert E. Peary and His Northern World, Through the Lens: Arctic Biodiversity, and art works of native Inuit people. Guests who come for tours can try on Inuit snow goggles, try a bow-drill, feel various furs, and hold a walrus tusk! Tours can be customized to focus on Arctic exploration, the environment, or Native peoples. Open daily except Mondays. Phone: 207-725-3416.
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
Gay Head Lighthouse Open for Sunset Performances
If you saw the PBS NOVA special
above the 2015 project to move and save the Gay Head Lighthouse
above Martha’s Vineyard’s Aquinnah Cliffs, you’ll want to see the real thing. If you did not
see the show, you also will want to see this historic sentinel on its majestic promontory. (Hint: aim for sunset!). The lighthouse is open for tours on weekends from Memorial Day to July 1, and daily from July 1 to October 16. Open Thursdays at sunset in July and August. Stunning!
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.
Dune and Beach Walks Near Provincetown
Never dismiss the Outer Cape as a romantic winter destination. Provincetown, Truro, and Wellfleet all have a core group of restaurants and bars dishing up warmth and sustenance. You will be looking for both after a vigorous walk onto the Province Lands
, north of Provincetown. On a bright winter day, the views are glorious. Start at the Province Lands Visitor Center on Race Point Road, off Route 6. Walking routes can be adjusted for shorter and longer distances, with wonderful views of the Province Lands, Race Point Lighthouse, the Coast Guard Station, and more.
HyArts Shanties on Hyannis Harbor
A gaggle of artists’ shanties
lines the boardwalk along Hyannis Harbor in Hyannis
, beckoning to visitors to enjoy manmade art on one side and the beauty of the harbor on the other. Works may include photography; painting; jewelry; ceramics; mosaics; mariner knot work; tapestry; fiber art and much more. Eight-five artists will rotate in and out of the shanties during the season; many work there and enjoy talking with visitors. Stroll the boardwalk and visit artists and plan to eat a picnic in the park. Or, there are plenty of waterfront restaurants at the harbor and on Main Street. Live music nearby on Saturday evenings, 6:30 p.m., in July and August. Shanties are open weekends from mid-May to mid-June and daily thereafter through Columbus Day. 508-862-4767
Fly With the Horses
Oak Bluffs, on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, is home to the Flying Horses Carousel at 15 Lake Avenue. With 20 beautiful hand-carved horses, the Flying Horses Carousel
was built in 1876 by Charles Dare and is one of only two Dare carousels still in existence. Originally operated as a Coney Island, New York, amusement, it was moved to Oak Bluffs in 1884, where it has lived in its red barn, delighting generations of Island residents and visitors. The carousel is open 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., every Saturday and Sunday from mid-April to Memorial Day. From late June, about the time schools let out, to Columbus Day, the carousel is open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Phone: 508-693-9481.
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
Poke Into the Lives of the Seals
Monomay National Wildlife Refuge is on a lanky drip of an island off the southeastern tip of Cape Cod. The Monomoy Island Ferry Rip Rider
, docked at 30 Wikis Way in Chatham
, on the mainland, takes visitors on a 90-minute tour along the west side of the Monomoy Islands, with views of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, ample views of lots of seals, and the Monomoy Lighthouse. A new, naturalist-guided walking on the island tour offer guests a chance to walk out to the Monomoy Lighthouse, looking for deer, owls, seals hauled out on the beach, and innumerable shore and song birds. This would be one of your most brilliant Cape Cod vacation memories. Phone: 508-237-0420
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.
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 2016 season includes performances by Trombone Shorty, the Peking Acrobats, a Night of Queen, St. Patrick’s Day Celtic Sojourn, Doo-wop 12, Kenny Barron, “Where the Wild Things Are,” "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," “Grease,” and much more. Check the theater’s website for schedules. Phone: 508-997-5664.
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.
Island Tours to Suit Your Tastes
Get to know Nantucket
on a guided tour
just right for your style: by bicycle, a van, or on foot.
Cyclists can follow experienced guides on Nantucket by Bike, visiting remote island spots. Do you like the comfort of a van? On Gail's Tour you'll enjoy the insider's view from a sixth-generation Nantucket native. Shearwater Excursions will take you offshore to explore the lovely shoreline. For the earthbound explorer, Raven's Walk will guide you on a choice of spooky nighttime walks.
Bed, Breakfast, and Bicycling
Clamber Hill in Petersham and the Centennial House B&B in Northfield have teamed up to create an exciting two-night bed, breakfast, and biking vacation
. Start at either B&B on day one and then bike to the next inn on day two. From Clamber Hill you would bike around the north end of the Quabbin Reservoir, through Wendell State Forest to Millers Falls and along the scenic Connecticut River Valley to Northfield Center. It is a gorgeous 30 mile trip along the back roads of central and western Massachusetts. A suggested route
is mapped out for you.
Leave your car at one B&B and we'll ferry your bags between inns for just $25. Gourmet breakfasts and top quality accommodations with private baths are waiting for you at the end of the ride. Both B&Bs have been recognized by Yankee Magazine as "Best in New England." Price is $325 double occupancy for two nights including a gourmet breakfast and arrival snacks at each location. Phone: Clamber Hill at 978-724-8800 or Centennial House B&B at 413-498-5921.
Rinse Off the Beach Sand & Head to the Theater
Take a 19th century Cape meetinghouse, an extraordinary history, and more than 80 seasons of top-notch professional theater, and it’s easy to see why the Cape Playhouse
, at 820 Route 6A in Dennis Village, is one of the most famous summer theaters in the country. On the schedule for the 2016 are “The Last of the Red Hot
Lover,” “Music Man,” “Talley’s Folly,” and “Cabaret,” “The Mousetrap” and more. On Thursday and Friday mornings in summer, theater programs designed for children bring classic tales, zany humor, beloved stories and lively music for young ones. Phone: 877-385-3911.
Old-Time General Store is a Cape Cod Favorite
The Brewster Store
on Route 6A in Brewster
was built as a church in 1852 and converted to a general store in 1866. It has served residents and visitors to Cape Cod for more than 140 years. The Brewster Store features a broad assortment of merchandise: coffee, pastries and morning newspapers, penny candy, t-shirts and sweatshirts, toys, lamp parts, kitchen gadgets, original Coke in glass bottles, books, greeting cards and many unusual gifts. Put a quarter in the old nickelodeon to hear an old time tune, enjoy the roasted peanuts, or just sit on the benches and watch the world go by. Phone: 508-896-3744.
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.
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.
Going to Market on the Island
A lazy day or weekend on Martha’s Vineyard is a perfect time to wander to the West Tisbury Farmers Market
, which is open on Saturdays and Wednesdays at the Old Agricultural Hall, 1067 State Road in West Tisbury
. The combination of the brightly colored floral bouquets, the scent of freshly harvested produce, the savory edibles offered and the music on Saturdays all combine to truly create a feast for the senses. Bring your children to visit the alpacas and enjoy the live fiddle music. And watch for the chance to try some more exotic treats, like wheatgrass juice and Vietnamese spring rolls. The Saturday market runs from early June to mid-October. The Wednesday market runs from mid-June 18 to late August. 508-693-9561.
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.
What’s Better Than the Butterfly Place?
What’s not to like about a visit to the butterflies? At the Butterfly Place
at 120 Tyngsboro Road in Westford
a massive glass atrium building contains up to 500 butterflies of 50 species from around the world. Display cases contain butterflies at various stages of development. This area also includes a 15-minute video describing the life cycle of a butterfly. At the Show & Tell Bench, experts can tell you all about discuss these fascinating creatures. Gift shop features butterfly hatching kits. Open daily, from Valentine’s Day to Halloween. 978-392-0955
Reach Out to the 17th Century
Among the beautiful and eerie artifacts of the early years of Nantucket’s European settlers are the Old Mill at 50 Prospect Street and the Oldest House and its historic garden at 16 Sunset Hill. The Nantucket Historical Association
at 15 Broad Street, Nantucket
, offers tours of these historic places daily from late May to mid-October. The Old Mill was built in 1746 by a Nantucket sailor who had spent time in Holland and, after recent restoration, it continues to operate. The Oldest House, also called the Jethro Coffin House, was built as a wedding gift in 1686 for Jethro Coffin and Mary Gardner. It is the sole surviving structure from the island's original 17th-century English settlement. Visit these places for the feeling that you are touching history. Phone: 508-228-1894
Corn as a Window to Pilgrim Life
The Plimoth Grist Mill
, on Spring Lane and next to Town Brook in Plymouth
, tells the story of the corn grinding mill, an essential feature of daily life, built in 1636 by the Pilgrims in Plymouth Colony. This reproduction of the 1636 mill is a place for visitors to learn about the importance of mills in the 1600s, the process of grinding corn, and the ecology of the Town Brook area, including the annual herring run. On days when the mill is active, you can watch as the miller orchestrates the water wheel, gears, and stones to turn out fragrant cornmeal. At the mill museum shop, you may buy fresh cornmeal and sample and other culinary treats, as well as books and souvenirs. Phone: 508-746-1622.
Contra Dance at the Tip of Cape Cod
Come and join the contra dance
, happening the third Friday of every month, at different locations around the Outer Cape, like Wellfleet and nearby towns. If you can walk you can dance, or alternately, sit on the sidelines and just enjoy the music. You don’t need to bring a dance partner; everyone mixes around the group. There is a community potluck beforehand at 6:30 p.m. and dancing starts at 7:30 p.m. Contra dancing is the old time dance of New England; music – performed by live musicians -- is exuberant reels and jigs from the traditional repertoires of the British Isles, Canada and America. Everyone is welcome, including children. This is an alcohol-free event.
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.
Beautiful Marsh Welcomes Walkers
Cutler Park on Kendrick Street
, at the Newton border, is the largest fresh water marsh on the Charles River. The marshland and small lake attract more than 100 species of birds. A trail goes around Kendrick Pond (also called Cutler Pond). A new trail extends from the pond trail and goes to Powell's Island canoe landing, doubles back and goes under the MBTA commuter rail and out to the Great Plain. A right turn leads to a boardwalk through a cattail marsh and ends up on Needham Street in Dedham. A left turn leads down the wide path alongside the elevated railroad line all the way to the Charles River. In summer, hiking, canoeing, and fishing are welcome. Phone: 617-698-1802
Come Explore Lowell National Historical Park
During the mid-1800s, Lowell’s water-powered textile mills catapulted the nation into a new industrial era. Among others, the mills and their labor needs deeply affected immigrant families, early female factory workers, and the early days of the labor movement. The Lowell National Historical Park
at 304 Dutton Street in Lowell
is a living history museum of the region’s early industrialization within an active city. Lowell's 5.6-mile canal system is the centerpiece of the historic city, offering structure to the cityscape, spaces for recreation, connections to nature, the inspiring power of flowing water, and reminders of the city's history. Lowell National Historical Park offers a wide variety of tours
by canal boat, trolley, and on foot. Fascinating and inspiring. Phone: 978-970-5000.
Blaschka Glass Flowers Delight for Over 100 Years
One of the treasures of the Harvard Museum of Natural History on Oxford Street in Cambridge is the Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, called the “glass flowers
." This collection of over 4,000 models was created by the glass artist Leopold Blaschka and his son. The commission began in 1886 when the Botanical Museum wanted life-like representatives of the plant kingdom for teaching botany. The exhibit re-opens May 21, 2016, after a detailed six-month renovation. Phone: 617-495-3045.
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.
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.
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.
Marine Life Exhibit Is a Floor-to-Ceiling Show
The new Marine Life exhibition
, opened late November 2015 at the Harvard Museum of Natural History at 26 Oxford Street in Cambridge
invites visitors into a floor-to-ceiling re-creation of life in New England’s coastal waters. Step through and watch the models of jellies, a giant sea turtle, and other sea animals appear to swim your head. Explore displays of real fishes, mollusks, crustaceans, corals, and other marine organisms and learn about research happening now. An ocean exploration theater takes you on a trip into the surface and deep oceans of the world. Open year-round, daily. Phone: 617-495-3045.
Nosh and Learn
The Boston Public Market will be the site of a demonstration kitchen
, opening August 16 2015. Visitors can stop in to see demos and learn about food and food prep over a wide variety of topics. For example: America’s Test Kitchen will offer weekly “You Can Cook” classes. The Boston Children’s Museum will lead workshops to promote healthy eating for families. Project Bread will lead free “Cooking on a Budget” classes. UMASS Amherst will lead talks and demonstrations about the environmental and health impacts of the food we eat. The Kitchen is located right along the Greenway in Boston
, adjacent to Haymarket, a block away from Faneuil Hall. The Kitchen is an independent space with a signed entrance on Congress Street and a Market Hall entrance.
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.