Jun 142015
 

10 More Free Things To Do In Boston This Summer

There are so many things that you can do for free in Boston this summer!  Last week I told you about 10 Things you can do for free in Boston, but today I wanted to tell you about ten more.

1.  Go Star Gazing

The Coit Observatory at Boston University has Public Open Night at their Observatory most Wednesday evenings throughout the year, weather permitting. Public Open Nights are a chance for people to come observe the night sky through telescopes and binoculars and see things they otherwise might not get to see, and learn some astronomy as well.

Starting times are 7:30pm during the fall and winter, and 8:30pm during the spring and summer. The program lasts about an hour. If the weather looks sketchy and you’re wondering whether the Open Night will be held, call their information number at 617-353-2630, no earlier than two hours before the scheduled starting time to find out.

The observatory is located at 725 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, MA, above the Astronomy Department. The stairwell up to the Observatory is on the fifth floor just to the left of room 520.

2.  Hike up the Blue Hills

Blue Hills Hiking

Ok, so technically this is not in the city, but it’s located only minutes from downtown Boston. The DCR Blue Hills Reservation stretches over 7,000 acres from Quincy to Dedham, Milton to Randolph and it provides a green oasis in an urban environment. The highest of the 22 hills at Blue Hills is the Great Blue Hill, which reaches a height of 635 feet.  You will have an awesome view of the city from the top. At Blue Hills, there are 125 miles of trails and terrain. Continue reading »

Jun 102015
 

The EcoTarium Worcester MA

My family recently visited the EcoTarium in Worcester, MA.  We’ve been wanting to visit for quite some time, so the boys were really excited when I told them that we were going. The EcoTarium, New England’s leading science and nature center, is a unique indoor-outdoor museum that offers visitors a chance to walk through the treetops, take a thrilling multimedia journey through the galaxy at a digital planetarium, meet wildlife, stroll nature trails, and get hands-on with tons of family-friendly exhibits.

**Disclosure:  My family received complimentary admission to the EcoTarium in exchange for our honest review. As always, all opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

Inside, the EcoTarium has three floors of interactive exhibits.

IMG_7786

In addition to seasonal exhibits, the EcoTarium has many permanent exhibits including: Continue reading »

Jun 072015
 

10 Free Things To Do In Boston This Summer #Travel

If you’re heading to Boston this summer, here is a list of 10 things you can do in the city for free.  Yes, I said free.

1.  Cool off at Frog Pond

Spend the day letting the kids splash around in the giant wading pool and cool off under the 30-foot spray flume at Frog Pond.  It’s open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 1st through Labor Day. Lockers are available for $1.

The Frog Pond is located on the Boston Common, off the Park Street stop on the Red or Green line.

2.   Walk the Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile, red-lined (brick or painted red line) urban walking trail that leads you to 16 historically significant sites that bring the history of the American Revolution, as it began in Boston, to life.  Along the route you will see such places as the site of Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s house, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, Old South Meeting House and the Bunker Hill Monument.

10 Free Things To Do In Boston This Summer Freedom Trail

You can start your Freedom Trail tour at the beginning, middle, or end and here’s a map of the route in case you want to walk the walk. Continue reading »

Jun 032015
 

10 Things To Do With Kids In Newport

When it comes to visiting Newport, there is something for everyone.  Known as ‘The City by the Sea,’ whether you are visiting Newport for business, a romantic couples getaway or a family vacation, this seaside community will not let you down. From shopping, to sightseeing, to visiting museums to great restaurants – Newport has it all.  I have visited Newport many times with my husband alone (we’re regulars at the Firehouse Theater for the Friday night Bits Players show), but we recently took the kids with us for a weekend in this lovely beach resort town.

Before we left, I went armed with a plan.  I wanted to make sure that I planned lots of fun activities to keep our family busy while we were there.  If you’re planning a trip to Newport with the kiddos, here are some things you may want to check out while you’re there.

1.  Tour the Newport Mansions

The Newport Mansions

As you drive down Bellevue Ave,  you will pass by some of the extravagant mansions from Newport’s gilded age. While many of these houses are still private property, nine of them are open to the public for guided tours. The stunning “summer cottages” were built by families such as the Vanderbilts and Berwinds, who spent quite a bit of their hard earned money on these fabulous homes that they used only in the summer months every year. Continue reading »

May 272015
 

**My family received tickets to see the New England Revolution at no charge in exchange for this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

Recently, my family got the chance to head over to Gillette Stadium to watch the New England Revolution take on Toronto FC.  We were all really excited, especially since this was our first Revs game ever.

In case you’re unfamiliar with who the “Revs” are, the New England Revolution are our professional soccer team.  They play at Gillette Stadium, which is the same stadium that the New England Patriots play at.

My family was hosted by Santander Bank and we got to watch the game from the Santander Bank suite – along with a few other Boston area bloggers and their families.  The Revs mascot, Slyde, even stopped by to say hi to us during the first half of the game.

NE Revolution Game in Santander Bank Suite

Before the game started, we got to go down to the field and watch the players warm up before the game. Continue reading »

May 102015
 

Spy Museum DC

**Disclosure: My family received complimentary admission to the museum in exchange for a review of our experience at the museum.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way*

Many of you know that my family recently visited Washington DC.  I am a planner and had our agenda planned out well in advance of our trip.  I spent a lot of time in DC when I was growing up, but my boys had never been, so I wanted them to give them a chance to experience DC.  One place that I had heard of, but had never been was the International Spy Museum, so I made sure that I included that in our trip itinerary.  I had a feeling that my boys would love it.

I was right.

If you have kids, trust me, you will want to include the International Spy Museum in your Washington DC itinerary, too. We absolutely LOVED it.  In Washington, DC, many of the museums are free, but this one is a paid-entry museum. Don’t let that deter you though – it’s absolutely worth the price of admission!

international spy museum DC

The International Spy Museum is one of the most interactive we have ever been to & my family was entertained the entire time we were there. Continue reading »

May 082015
 

**This post is sponsored by Breathe NH, but as always, all opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way*

If you know anything about me, you know that my family is always on the go.  I love taking them new places and exposing my boys to as many new experiences as possible.  I love spending time with them learning new things and creating memories that will last them a lifetime.

NH Fun Pass 2015

Since we are out and about so much, I am excited to tell you about The 2015 Fun Pass discount coupon book.  Every year this book is sold by Breathe New Hampshire as a fundraiser and it includes exclusive discount coupons to over 100 New England attractions (many of the discounts are buy one-get one admissions). Here are a few of the attractions that are included in the 2015 book: Continue reading »

May 052015
 

DC Ducks Tour

**Disclosure:  My family received tickets for the DC Ducks Tour at no charge in order to facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

Have you ever dreamed of going for a ride in an original WW II DUKW amphibious vehicle? You can. The DC Ducks Tour is a really fun way to get a quick tour of DC and ride in a Duck boat at the same time. The Ducks were originally built as amphibious military personnel carriers immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1942 and in case you are still confused, the Ducks can ride on land and water.

DC Duck Tours Boat

The tour, which leaves from Union Station, lasts about 90 minutes, but ours ran a little over because of traffic. The tour guide was great, too.  He was full of knowledge. He told us about everything we were passing as we drove around, along with some fun facts and trivia along the way. Continue reading »

Apr 282015
 

Old Town Trolley Tour DC

**Disclosure:  My family received tickets for the Old Town Trolley Tour at no charge in order to facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way*

Washington DC is a big city.  It may not look like it on tv, but trust me, there is a lot of walking involved when you visit DC.  I spent a lot of time down there growing up because I have family in Bethesda, MD, so I am very familiar with the area, but to give you an example: if you want to walk from the Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial, plan on at least a 30 minute walk.   It may not sound like a lot, but it all adds up.  Especially if you’re planning on stopping at some of the monuments & memorials (or even museums) along the way.

So when I had a chance to go on the Old Town Trolley Tour, which is a hop-on hop-off trolley with more than 20 stops all over the city – it was kind of a no-brainer.

The Old Town Trolley Tour is a guided tour in which you can sit back and enjoy a fun trolley ride as well as historical information provided by the driver.  All of the drivers we had the day we toured were phenomenal by the way.  They shared so much history, trivia and lots of behind-the-scenes details about presidential inaugurations and how they are celebrated in DC.  My boys, who are 7  & 10, were never bored once.  My oldest was truly interested in listening to the guides and learning about what he was seeing. Continue reading »

Mar 182015
 

Mardi Gras Universal Studios Florida

**Disclosure:  I was invited to take part in the most amazing press trip at Universal Orlando Resort, but all of the opinions you will read here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.  I swear**

Although Fat Tuesday came and went last month, the Mardi Gras festivities are still going strong down at Universal Studios in Orlando! Every spring, you can enjoy the fun & excitement of “The Big Easy” right at Universal Orlando!  On Saturdays and select nights through April 18, Universal Studio’s Mardi Gras event treats their guests to an authentic celebration that transforms the a section of the park into a family-friendly version of the famous New Orleans festivities.

The annual event features big-name concerts, traditional Cajun cuisine, street performers, live music and one heck of a parade – oh, and that’s all in addition to complete access to all of the awesome Universal Orlando theme park attractions!!

Once you’re inside the park, you can visit the French Quarter Courtyard where you can eat authentic Cajun foods and listen to live music.  Every night during the event, you can listen to some of Louisiana’s most popular bands performing authentic blues, jazz, zydeco and more. I had a chance to listen to a from songs from a band called the Mississippi Rail Company & they were absolutely phenomenal. Continue reading »

Mar 172015
 

Snowboarding Tips

**I was invited to a complimentary day of snowboarding at Wachusett Mountain as part of a media event.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

For years I’ve wanted to try my hand at snowboarding.  I can ski, although I haven’t done so in a number of years, but for whatever reason, I had never given snowboarding a try – until last week.

Wachusett-Mountain-trails

I was invited to spend the day at Wachusett Mountain Resort in Princeton, MA.  I had the option to ski or snowboard, but I knew right away that this was my chance to have a go with the snowboard, so I jumped on it. Plus, I was going solo, so my husband wasn’t going to be standing there laughing at me, which was an added bonus.

Fun fact:  “Wachusett” is the Algonquin Indian word for “The Great Hill”.

As you know, winter is not over yet, and thanks to the copious amounts of snow we got here in the Boston area this year, there is still plenty of time to spend at the slopes.  In case you want to try your hand at snowboarding, I decided I’d go over some tips for snowboarding with you today.  You can never be too “safe” when it comes to snowboarding and I definitely learned a lot while I was out there on the bunny slope last week.

Bundle Up

It’s safe to say that if you’re going to go snowboarding, you should probably bundle up! Bundling up allows you to stay warm while you adventure out into the snow. Continue reading »

Feb 072015
 

In case you live in the area and hadn’t heard, The Great Wolf Lodge opened here in New England last spring.  Ever since it opened, my kids have been asking and asking to go.  You see, they play an unusually high amount of television ads for the Great Wolf Lodge, so if you watch tv at all, like us, you’ve seen hundreds of commercials for it. I’m not exaggerating.

Anyhow, last weekend we finally got a chance to check it out.  The boys were beside themselves when they heard we were going.

IMG_7083

IMG_7081

There are over 400 rooms at the Great Wolf Lodge and there are several room options, but we stayed in a family suite.  Our room had two queen beds, a a twin-size sofa-sleeper, a microwave, a coffee maker and a 32″ TV. Continue reading »

Jan 282015
 

**My family was invited to experience the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Boston at no charge in order to facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

If there is one thing that my boys can agree on, it’s their love of LEGOS®.  We have thousands of Legos in our house and LEGOs® are pretty much their go-to toy.  They both knew that the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Boston opened last year and when I told them that we were finally going to go check it out, they were beyond excited.

But what exactly is the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Boston?

It is a 44,000 square-foot indoor attraction that features more than 3 million LEGO® bricks and is geared toward children aged 3 to 10 (and their families).  Sounds pretty awesome, right?

We arrived shortly after the place opened for the day because we were excited to check it out. Because the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Boston only sells a certain number of tickets per hour (because they want to make sure everyone enjoys their experience), it’s recommended that if you go, you buy your tickets online to make sure you don’t have to wait when you get there.  Plus, the tickets are cheaper if you purchase them online versus at the door.

Once we were inside, we took an elevator up to the second floor, which is where all the action is.

IMG_6940

Once you get upstairs, the first couple of parts of your LEGOLAND® Discovery Center experience are organized for you.  First up was the LEGO® Factory Tour: Continue reading »

Dec 292014
 

**Disclosure:  I received a weekend press pass at no charge in order to attend the event.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

A couple of weekends ago, Chris and I took a ride up to the Shriners Auditorium in Wilmington, MA to check out the Northeast Comic Con.  You see, we are both nerds at heart and big fans of pop culture events like this.

The NECC featured fun things like cosplay, costume contests, video game competitions, celebrity guests/autographs, panels, and over 100 vendors of vintage and modern toys, comic books and other pop culture must-haves, along with over 50 Artists and Authors.  I got quite a bit of my Christmas shopping done while I was there because there were so many unique products for sale there.

Northeast Comic Con Sign

When Chris and I first arrived, we scoped out the celebrity guests, which included:

  • Marky Ramone (The Ramones, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee)
  • Billy West (Futurama, Ren & Stimpy)
  • Nicholas Brendon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Criminal Minds)
  • Butch Patrick (The Munsters)
  • Leah Cevoli (Robot Chicken, Deadwood)
  • Gary K. Wolf and Charles Fleischer (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Rango, Back to the Future)
  • Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story)
  • MacKenzie Lintz (Hunger Games, Under the Dome)
  • Mike Pollock (Sonic the Hedgehog)
  • Tom Wayland (Pokemon, Yu Gi Oh)
  • Christopher Judge (Stargate SG-1, X-Men: Evolution)
  • Paris Themmen (Mike TV from Willie Wonka)
  • Mike Zohn, Evan Michelson and Ryan Matthew (from the cast of Oddities, Obscura)
  • Kayli Mills and Peter Bernard (from Those American Girls).

Continue reading »

Dec 232014
 

disney on ice

**Disclosure:  My family received a 4 pack of tickets at no charge in order to write about our experience at the show.  All opinions are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

Experience a magical Disney fantasy live on ice! Rev up for non-stop fun with four of your favorite Disney stories at Disney On Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy Presented by YoKids Organic Yogurt. Thrill to high-speed stunts as Lightning McQueen and Mater race across the ice like you’ve never seen before! Dive into The Little Mermaid’s enchanting undersea kingdom and enter the mystical world of Pixie Hollow with Tinker Bell and the Disney Fairies! Join the Toy Story gang who are back in town to take on their most daring adventure ever! From wheels to waves, playtime to pixie dust, your family’s favorite Disney moments come to life at Disney On Ice!

Last Friday night, my family and I headed into Boston to see Disney On Ice Presents Worlds of Fantasy at The Agganis Arena at Boston University.  It’s been a few years since we had been to a Disney on Ice production, so we were excited to see the show.

Disney On Ice Worlds of Fantasy Boys

During the show, we had a chance to go through four “worlds” and we got to see the high speed version of four classic Disney stories.

I have to apologize for the photo quality in advance.  The arena wasn’t well lit because of the show. Continue reading »

Dec 222014
 

**Disclosure:  My family and I received a complimentary stay at The Cape Codder Resort & Spa in exchange for our honest opinions about our experiences.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

If you’re looking for a getaway on Cape Cod, Hyannis is the place to go.  Located mid-cape, Hyannis is one of the seven villages that make up the town of Barnstable.  I have been vacationing on Cape Cod all my life, and to me, Hyannis is the hub of the cape.  There are so many shops, restaurants and tourist attractions – all located relatively close together, which is why it’s the perfect destination for your Cape Cod vacation.

It sounds great, right?

So now that you’ve decided on Hyannis for your next trip, where do you stay?  That’s easy. The Cape Codder Resort & Spa!

IMG_6803

The Cape Codder is conveniently located right in the heart of all the action, so you’ll be able to get to everything in the area quickly and easily.

My family stayed at the The Cape Codder Resort & Spa this past weekend and I am going to tell you all about it so that you will know why it’s the place to stay when you plan your next Cape Cod get away!

Check-in at the The Cape Codder Resort & Spa is 3 pm and we were there promptly at 3!  We looked online and knew there were so many things to do at the resort and we couldn’t wait to get going. The room that my family stayed in had two queen sized beds (which were very comfortable) many other conveniences such as wireless internet access and dataport for my  laptop, an in-room coffee maker, an iron & ironing board, and an interactive television system that provides access to digitally formatted movies, on-demand movies, an on-screen channel line-up and in-room check-out service! Continue reading »

Dec 172014
 

**Disclosure: I received a pair of tickets to see The Nutcracker at no charge in order to facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

When I was in the 4th grade, my class took a field trip into Boston to see a matinee performance of Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker.  Being nine years old at the time, I basically had no appreciation for what I was watching.  Fast forward to the present when I had a chance to go see this years production of The Nutcracker at The Boston Opera House and got a second chance to take in the show – as a “grown up” with a whole different outlook on the show.  My husband, Chris, had never even seen The Nutcracker before, so I knew he was going to be in for a real treat.

Boston Ballet The Nutcracker

“Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker is based on the libretto by Alexandre Dumas père titled The Tale of the Nutcracker, which is adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.”  

The show itself was absolutely breath taking.  All of the dancers were so graceful and they all did such a great job of telling the story through dance.  Chris and I sat there in awe throughout the entire show.

More than 300 dancers will perform in the new production and each performance has approximately 150 dancers involved. There are 250 children in the performance, making up three or four casts (classical ballet students from the Boston, Newton and North Shore studios). Continue reading »

Oct 162014
 

**Disclosure – I received a pair of New Balance sneakers for each of my boys and a family four pack of tickets to the Franklin Park Zoo at no charge to help facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

As the mom of two very active little boys, having comfortable sneakers for their little feet has always been a high priority for me.  While comfort is the number one thing I look for when it comes to my boys footwear, style is a very close second.  I want their feet to feel good and I want them to look good at the same time.  And that’s why I love New Balance.  Not only are they a Boston based company (yay Boston!), but they make really, really awesome sneakers, too.  I have been wearing NB kicks myself for years and the gruesome twosome have each had numerous pairs of New Balance sneakers over the years.

Just in time for back to school this year, my boys were each sent a new pair of New Balance sneakers.  For my little guy, I chose the Hook and Loop 574 sneakers.  He can tie, but is still a newbie & it’s a little slow going, so I thought the velcro closure might be a little better for him while he’s away all day at school.  My oldest picked out his own sneakers and chose the Varsity 574.  I’d say both pairs are pretty sharp looking, wouldn’t you?

IMG_6247

I am excited to tell you about New Balance’s newest line – the Trip to the Zoo collection! This colorful collection of kicks is perfect for kids planning to hit the playground, explore the zoo, or impress at school! Featuring a lightweight EVA midsole, synthetic/mesh upper, and hook & loop closure for easy on/off, the new collection has been available since October 1st in infant and preschool sizes at www.newbalance.com & in New Balance stores for $47.95-$54.95. Continue reading »

Oct 012014
 

I admit it, I have a slight zombie obsession, so naturally when I heard there was an an interactive tactical live-action zombie experience right in Abington, MA, I was all over it. Interactive you say? Yes, interactive!  During the interactive experience you get to travel through a small city infested with zombies.  Don’t worry, you will have the help of a guide and you’ll get a shotgun to shoot with to ensure you survive.

There are two areas of the city to be cleared at Boston Zombie Apocalypse. Chem Zone 44 contains slower Zombies and is a shorter experience. If you are nervous at all or are accompanying young people (no one under 8 allowed), then Chem Zone 44 is for you.  Z-Swarm 617 is a longer battle through a larger more intense part of the city.  You can do one or both.

Here’s the thing.  I went last year and had a pretty bad experience.  It was very poorly organized and I ended up waiting outside for over two hours in the cold.  Once I was inside the building, it literally took less than five minutes to run through the experience and boom, we were done.  I left there last year feeling very disappointed that I waited for that long to get in and it was over in just a few minutes.

But guess what, Boston Zombie Apocalypse has new owners this year.  They really listened to all the feedback about people’s experiences last year and greatly improved things this year.  Instead of having to stand in an extremely long line to wait for tickets, they are selling a limited number of tickets by the half hour to the two different zombie fields. That will ensure that you will enter your sector in a timely fashion without having to wait.

Chris and I were there this past weekend and were so happy that the whole process was streamlined.  Our tickets were for 7:45 pm and we only had to arrive about 20 minutes early.  It was so much better this year, so if you were turned off by your experience there last year, trust me – it’s not like that this year.  Oh, and did I mention that they have a food truck there this year now, too.  Last year while we waited for over two hours everyone in line kept saying that snacks would have been nice while we were waiting.  See, the new owners listened!

IMG_6120

Anyway, once it was our time to go in to the live action experience, we entered the building in a small group (about 8 people) and were met by a military guard who showed us how to use our shotguns and let us all have a practice shot at a target. Once we all got that, we met our guide who would be taking us through the city.  He led us through the field and we defended our territory by shooting the zombies that came at us alongside the rest of our team. Continue reading »

Sep 182014
 

**My family received complimentary admission to Sky Zone, but all opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

The gruesome twosome are very active little boys.  Some days they go non-stop from the time they wake up in the morning until the time they go to bed at night.  I was super excited to take them to Sky Zone, an indoor trampoline park, in East Providence this past weekend so they could burn off a little extra energy.

IMG_6031

Before we ever left the house to head to Sky Zone, I filled out a liability waiver on their website. All jumpers under the age of 18 are required to have one on file. It only took a minute to fill out and it’s good for an entire year.  Don’t worry if you can’t get one filled out ahead of time, either, because you can fill one out there.  It just saves a little time to do it ahead of time.

At Sky Zone all jumpers are required to wear SkySocks, which cost $2 per pair, but they are reusable, so be sure to save them! Continue reading »