Jun 302016
 

3 Free Ways to Make the Most of Boston This Summer

I love living in the Boston area, but especially in the summer time. With its rich history, bustling neighborhoods, and beautiful coastal landscapes, it’s a perfect place for the whole family.

I recently discovered a website called, MapAround, which is a search engine for finding local events in the Boston area. This was perfect for us, as it even has a “Kids & Family” category. Once we started searching, we had no idea how many events were happening around us every single night. From concerts to comedy shows, movie nights to boat cruises, farmers’ markets and festivals, I couldn’t believe how many awesome things are happening in Boston every single day.

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Here’s a few events that I liked best:

Free Friday Flicks

Free Friday Flicks is one of Boston’s favorite summertime traditions! Every Friday night around sundown, families and friends gather at DCR’s Hatch Shell along the Charles River to watch a movie. All you need are your own chairs, a cozy blanket and of course, some snacks. There are even fun games and prizes for the kids. This was a perfect way to end a long week. Continue reading »

May 302016
 

The Great Escape Room Providence

If you are a regular around here, you already know that I am always on the go & I am always on the hunt for new ways to keep my family – especially the boys, entertained.  Recently the four of us had a chance to check out The Great Escape Room in Providence, RI and not to give too much away right off the bat, we LOVED it.

You’ve probably noticed that escape rooms seem to be popping up more and more & I have been curious for a while now to check one out to see what all the buzz is about. I have never done anything like this before, so I honestly had no idea what to expect. Let me just say that our experience at the Great Escape Room far exceeded my expectations.

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Here’s a little background: “The Great Escape Room is a real-life room escape game based on the popular computer and mobile phone escape games. Escape games are the newest craze sweeping the nation – a fun, team-building, brain-busting experience! After entering a room with your team, the door is locked behind you. 60 minutes are on the clock! You must work together in order to find clues and solve puzzles that will lead you to your escape. It is part scavenger hunt and part puzzle game. Only about 20% of groups are able to meet the challenge and escape in time!” Continue reading »

May 222016
 

6 Reasons to Visit Massachusetts Pioneer Valley

When someone mentions Massachusetts to you, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Boston?  Cape Cod? Those places are both great, but there is a lot of fun located in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, too. There are so many fun-filled attractions in the western part of the state and they are definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for some family fun this summer.

1. Six Flags New England

Did you know that Six Flags New England is the Coaster Capital of New England?  Six Flags New England is home to the New England SkyScreamer, Flashback, Pandemonium, Mind Eraser, Batman the Dark Knight, Goliath, Wicked Cyclone and the brand new Fireball, which just opened this year. Six Flag New England also relaunched the BIZARRO coaster this season.  It’s now SUPERMAN™ the Ride.

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If coasters aren’t your thing, you are not alone.  I don’t like them either, but fear not – there is a ton of other stuff to do at the park. For the little ones, there are four areas specifically dedicated to kids including Looney Tunes Movie Town, Kidzopolis, Whistlestop Park and Splash Island (in the water park).  There are tons of rides in those areas including bumper cars, a carousel, the scrambler and many more classics. Continue reading »

May 092016
 

As a former Jordan’s Furniture employee, I can personally attest to the fact that they truly enjoy keeping their customers happy.  The owners, Barry & Eliot had a vision of making visiting the stores more than just furniture shopping – they wanted to make it an experience for the whole family. Now that Barry has retired from the family business, Eliot has kept the family fun aspect of the stores going strong.  I worked at the Avon, MA store, which is the home of MOM (the Motion Odyssey Movie Ride), Enchanted Ice (an indoor skating rink) and the Boston classic, The Enchanted Village.  Families come out in droves for those attractions, but if you are a local you know that each store boasts at least one fun family attraction. In the Reading store, they have the BeanStalk™ Adventure Ropes Course and I was able to head there to check it out with my family last weekend.

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Disclosure: My family received complimentary tickets for the course in order to provide an honest review of our experience.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

The BeanStalk™ Adventure Ropes Course is a 32-foot tall, 2 level ropes course (12 feet or 24 feet up) complete with 30 exciting activities including zig-zag beams, cargo nets, angled rope ladders, crisscross walks and more. Participants choose their own path through the elements and go at their own pace. No two obstacles are the same! The ropes course is also equipped with a Sky Rail zip line connection measuring 69′ long. which costs $2 more to ride.

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My boys have done rope courses before, so they already knew to empty their pockets before the employees helped them put their safety harnesses on, but for those of you who have never done a course like this – you do need to empty your pockets so nothing falls out on the people on levels below you.  And no, cameras are not allowed on the course, either. Continue reading »

May 022016
 

A Visit to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in DC

Many of you know that my family recently visited Washington DC for the second year in a row.  Last year we found that a week in DC just wasn’t enough time to be able to see and do everything that we wanted to, so we took the kids back again this year over their April school vacation to we could see the stuff we missed last year. Madame Tussauds Washington, DC was high up on our list and I am so excited that we were able to squeeze in a visit this year.

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**My family and I were provided complimentary admission to Madame Tussauds in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

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Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Washington DC is definitely not your typical museum.  I had been to the Madame Tussauds wax museums in Vegas and NYC sans kids, but I when I found out there was one in DC – I knew my boys would love it and I was dying to take them there. Continue reading »

Apr 112016
 

Taking the Hahvahd Tour

I’m a Boston girl.  Always have been and always will be. It’s no secret that I love living here and whenever I meet someone who is not from around here, as soon as they find out where I’m from I inevitably get asked the same question: “Can you say park the car in the Harvard yard”?  Seriously – it happens every single time.  It fun to play along, though, because we know how cool our accent is around here and we love to bust out the Boston whenever we can!

For the record, there are no “R’s in that statement whatsoever.  It’s paaaahk thuh caaaaaah in the Haaaahvid yaaaaad.

Even though there are no R’s to be found, there is tons of IQ at Harvard and my husband Chris and I learned all about it when we took the Hahvahd Tour last weekend.

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The award-winning tours of America’s most prestigious University are led by current Harvard students. Harvard student guides greet you right in Harvard Square. which is where the tour leaves from. The tour is scripted to be an entertaining, theatrical experience – you’ll have fun learning about Harvard! Continue reading »

Feb 142016
 

St. Patrick’s Day Party Ideas for Kids

St. Patrick’s Day can be a fun holiday for the whole family! It can sometimes be difficult to come up with ideas to make a St. Patrick’s Day party fun for kids. It’s easy with adults but just in case you are looking for some great ideas for St. Patrick’s Day kids parties you’ve come to the right place! These ideas are sure to be a hit with all of your little leprechauns!

Green Food

This is a classic for St. Patrick’s Day and can’t be overlooked at a kid’s party! Some great foods that go green easily are rice crispy treats, cupcakes, jell-o, and sugar cookies! You can even make some green savory treats like popcorn and the chip dip! Try dying the ice cubes for a fun, fizzy, surprise in the soda!

Games

St. Patrick’s day is all about gold coins and leprechauns so try putting a classic spin on some themed party games! You can pin the hat on the leprechaun, or pin his gold coins in his pot! A great way to keep kids busy during a St. Patrick’s Day party is to set up a fun scavenger hunt! You can have the kids hunt for the rainbow or a pot of gold; chocolate coins make a great prize for figuring out the clues! Continue reading »

Dec 132015
 

Ride the Polar Express at Edaville

Inspired by the hit movie, this holiday favorite comes to life as you and your family take a ride on The Polar Express. Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, families are sure to enjoy their trip to the North Pole, complete with hot chocolate and cookies served on board the train.

My family had a chance to ride the polar Express at Edaville last week and I want to tell you all about it.

**Disclosure:  We received complimentary tickets to ride the Polar Express in exchange for our honest review.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

Our train was scheduled to leave the station at 6 pm, but we noticed that people were lining up early (like around 5:30), so we lined up, too.   There was a Thomas Christmas train running the same night, but they had the Polar Express riders on one side of the platform and the Thomas riders on the other.  It was clearly marked, so we knew exactly where to go. Plus, there were employees there to switch out our tickets from the printed ones we had to the golden tickets we needed to board the Polar Express, so they were able to direct people. Continue reading »

Dec 082015
 

Edaville USA is a modest theme park located in Carver, MA with cranberry harvesting and railroading as its two main themes. It is a really fun family attraction which features about a dozen or so amusement rides including a Ferris Wheel, carousel, bumper cars and more. Each admission includes a five mile train ride through the cranberry bogs on their property. It’s one of New England’s largest displays of Christmas lights and our family looks forward to going every year.

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**My family received complimentary admission to Edaville in order to experience the Festival of Lights for ourselves.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

In fact, I grew up going there with my parents, sister and brother and I am happy that it’s still around for my own children to enjoy. Continue reading »

Oct 272015
 

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey LEGENDS

I recently had the chance to take my family to the circus and it was the first time I had been to see it in about 30 years.  The last time I saw a Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey production was with my parents, brother and sister in Boston.  My brother was really little at the time (maybe 4 or 5) and at some point during the show a clown was shot out of a cannon.  The loud noise sent my poor little brother in to hysterics so badly, that we all actually ended up having to leave the show.  He just wouldn’t calm down until we left. But such is life, right?

Anyhow, when I found out that Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey LEGENDS was coming to the TD Garden in Boston, I was excited to take my kids.  I just knew that they would love the show and I was right.

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Disclosure:   My family received complimentary tickets to see LEGENDS from the folks at Feld Entertainment.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way. Continue reading »

Oct 192015
 

Haunted Happenings in Salem

The Salem witch hunt was indeed a real-life horror story.  In case you need a refresher, twenty innocent people were put to death during the Witch Hysteria of 1692, leaving Salem forever branded.  Actually, these days many people refer to Salem as “The Witch City.”

The people of Salem totally play up their spooky reputation to tourists, too.   In addition to the town’s normal bewitching attractions, Haunted Happenings run for the entire month of October and draws nearly a quarter of a million people to the city.  This year, my family was among Salem’s visitors and today I want to tell you about all the fun we had there.

**Disclosure:  I received a complimentary media pass to all of the locations mentioned in this post in order to tell you about our experience in Salem.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

Since we had the kiddos with us, we kept our visit to Salem family friendly (well, as family friendly as the murders of 20 innocent people can be I suppose).  Here are all the things we did while we were there:

The Salem Witch Museum
The main presentation is based on actual trial documents. Visitors experience the drama of that dark time though thirteen life-size stage sets, figures, lighting and a stirring narration as they are witness to the web of lies and intrigue of the Salem Witch Hunt.
In our second exhibit, Witches: Evolving Perceptions, live guides take you through changing interpretations of witches, the truth behind the stereotypes, witchcraft practice today and the frightening phenomenon of witch hunting.

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The Salem Witch Museum is located at 19 1/2 Washington Square and is open daily, year round: 10:00am-5:00pm, but they do have extended hours on select dates in October, so be sure to check their website before you go. Continue reading »

Sep 032015
 

NEW KidsFest logo

Doesn’t two days of music, food and fun for the entire family sound like fun? If you answered yes then the 25th annual KidsFest at Wachusett Mountain is exactly what you’re looking for. It’s being held September 19th & 20th from 10-5 and it’s going to be an entire day of FUN for everyone.

Let’s talk about my favorite part first shall we?  Food!  At KidsFest there is going to be sampling by more than 50 Market Basket Vendors! You will be able to enjoy sample foods on the spot, like burgers, hot dogs, pizza, ice cream, snacks and more… or take pre-packaged foods home with you.

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While you snack, you can watch some of these amazing shows: Continue reading »

Aug 302015
 

Tips For Visiting Hersheypark

Many years ago, I took a road trip with three friends.  We made several stops along the way and Hersheypark was one of them. That road trip was long before I had kids or was even married for that matter, so when the kids saw a commercial for Hersheypark recently and asked to go, I couldn’t say no.  I remember loving it when I went all those years ago, so I knew they’d have a great time there.

So, a few weeks ago, we took a road trip to Pennsylvania and Hersheypark was one of our first stops once we got there.

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With that being said, we are a Disney family.  We go every year and we are very familiar and comfortable in big amusement parks.  Hersheypark is smaller and quite a bit different from Disney, so navigating it was a bit different than bigger amusement parks. We spent two days at Hersheypark and we wanted to share our best tips for getting the most out of your day at the park.

Disclaimer: My family received complimentary passes to Hersheypark, but all opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way. Continue reading »

Aug 232015
 

8 Things You Must do When You're in Philadelphia

I have wanted to visit Boston’s sister city, Philadelphia, for years and a few weeks ago I finally got a chance to spend two amazing days in the city of brotherly love.  Philly is only a little over 5 hours from my house, so now I am scratching my head about why I had never gone there before.

The first thing I want to mention about my time in Philly is that the streets of Philadelphia are much easier to navigate than the streets of Boston are.  The next thing I want to say is that as much as I love Boston, and I really do, I think I loved Philadelphia almost as much.  It’s a city rich in culture and history – not to mention cheesesteaks.  We had so much fun exploring Philly and if you are planning on going anytime soon, I have narrowed down a few things you just have to do while you’re there.

1.  Climb the Rocky steps!

Running up the Rocky steps (AKA East Entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art) is a must-do on your visit to Philadelphia.  While we were there, we saw a bunch of people recreate the scene from the movie & since I was in flip-flops that day, I sent my boys to do it, too.

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At the bottom of the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you will find the bronze statue of Rocky Balboa.  The statue was made for Rocky III and after filming for the movie completed, Sly Stallone donated the statue to the City of Philadelphia. Continue reading »

Aug 112015
 

A Visit to America's First Zoo  The philadelphia zoo

In 1859, Philadelphia became home to America’s first zoo.

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The Philadelphia Zoo sits on 42-acres of land and is home to more than 1,300 animals, many of them rare and/or endangered. With animals such as Cheetahs, hippos, giraffes and so many more, the Philadelphia Zoo is one of the leading family attractions in the city and it brought in over 1.35 million visitors last year alone.

One of the things I love the most about the Philadelphia Zoo is that has focused on educating the public about exotic animals and that it actively promotes and participates in worldwide conservation efforts for endangered wildlife. The zoo features many state-of-the-art animal exhibits and that is one of the reasons they truly stand out. Continue reading »

Jul 272015
 

If there is one thing that can be said about my boys, it’s that they love to be in the water.  Last year, our family went to Water Country in Portsmouth, NH for the very first time and we all loved it so much that we couldn’t wait to get back again this year.

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**Disclosure:  My family received complimentary admission to Water Country in exchange for this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

Last week we packed up and headed up to Water Country, which is New England’s largest waterpark, for the day.  I am a huge list maker, so I sat down the night before to make a list of everything we needed in order to spend an entire day at a waterpark.  I would seriously hate to forget something, so making lists helps me make sure I have everything I need.  I always say that I would rather bring too much than need something and not have it.

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Here is my list of items to bring with you to the waterpark in order to have a great time with the family: Continue reading »

Jul 202015
 

My boys are only three years apart in age, but at the particular ages they’re at right now, they seem to have a lot of trouble agreeing on things they like to do. My oldest is a few weeks shy of his 11th birthday and he’s got a major case of the tweens going on.  No matter what I suggest, it’s not cool.  Even things that are very cool, he always finds something to complain about.  My little guy on the other hand, who is just shy of his 8th birthday, is still a little kid and much more agreeable to pretty much anything I suggest doing. Thankfully there is one thing that they both still agree on – the zoo.

Stone Zoo

**Disclosure: My family and I received complimentary admission to the zoo in order to facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

My family and I recently had a chance to visit the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, MA for the very first time recently and I have to say that I was really impressed.  I’ve been to my share of zoos over the years and unlike its larger sister zoo, the Franklin Park Zoo, the Stone Zoo is much more low-key and smaller in size, making it a great place to visit with little ones. The day we were there it was not very crowded and it’s not too far from where we live, so I’m over here scratching my head about why we’ve never gone there before. Continue reading »

Jul 152015
 

The Adventure Center at Killington Mountain

Bored.

It’s been the word of the summer around here.  My oldest, who is a few weeks away from his 11th birthday has come down with a severe case of the tweens and my little man, who is a few weeks away from his 8th birthday, goes along with everything (and I do mean everything) his big brother says.

Since the boys got out of school, I have spent so much time planning activities to keep them busy, but apparently my idea of fun is not the same as my kids.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I took them to places like the beach, the town pool and the local splash pad.  All of those places are “boring” according to my children and believe me when I tell you how frustrating it is to hear that word come out of their mouths repeatedly for days on end.

Just imagine my delight when I found something that not only both of my boys loved, but they were actually really sad when we had to leave.

Mom for the win!

**Disclosure: My family received two complimentary day passes to the Adventure Center at Killington in order to experience it four ourselves and to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way. Continue reading »

Jul 102015
 

Hatching Butterflies - What You Should Know

Watching a butterfly go through the stages of metamorphosis is an amazing experience. At least, that’s how I remember it from Kindergarten. I can remember the level of excitement in our classroom as we ran to peer into the converted milk carton every morning. “What’s it look like TODAY?!” we’d wonder.

A friend of mine gave my girls each a painted lady caterpillar in a small cup to watch it transform into a butterfly. “Oh good! Something educational and fun to watch in our very own home,” I thought. We set the cups on top of the counter and waited while the caterpillars ate through all the sugary substance inside the cup. The girls and I were so excited to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to our new family members every night. My darling cutie pies even named their little creatures after each other. It all seemed incredibly sweet until I realized something… caterpillars poop.

I started to notice all these little pellets piling up inside the little cup. “Ewwwwwww….. she pooped mom!” So, that was educational. I also started having nightmares of little spiky caterpillars crawling up my arms and I couldn’t stop them. They were a little tiny army I couldn’t out run! Suddenly, I realize there isn’t anything magical about this early stage of hatching caterpillars!

It took several days for the little wiggly things to crawl to the lid of the cup, attach themselves and hang in a letter “J” just as the instructions stated they would. It was time to transfer the little creatures to their habitat (a new, poop free cup). When I opened the lids on the cups there was a horrible smell and the cocoons seemed stuck inside of a fuzzy web. Not at all a glorious site (or smell). Continue reading »

Jul 082015
 

Summer is finally upon us here and when the weather is nice & sunny, the possibilities are endless.  Most of us spend time at the pool, beach, hiking, at the playground – see there are tons of fun things to do outside.  But then the unthinkable happens – it rains.  How dare Mother Nature ruin our already way too short summer by raining on us.  It’s days like that when you scramble to find fun indoor places to take your kids.

Here’s your solution to that problem.

launch trampoline park

Launch Trampoline Park!  It is an indoor sports and family entertainment facility in Norwood, MA.  They have over 15,000 sq. feet of connected trampolines forming one GIANT jumping surface and angled trampoline walls to bounce off of.  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

**Disclosure:  My family was invited to a complimentary blogger event at Launch Norwood.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

At Launch, there are five courts for your family to jump on. There is the main court, a basketball court, a fun foam pit for the kids to jump in, a dodge ball and kids court (for kids ages 5 and under).  The best part about this indoor park, it’s suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Continue reading »