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.

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

Apr 112015
 

North End Wine Tour

**Disclosure: My husband and I were recently invited by City Wine Tours to join them on a complimentary North End Wine Tour.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way*

One of my favorite places in the world to be is the North End of Boston.  Coming from a large Italian family myself, I have so many fond memories of taking the train into the city with my Grandparents to get fresh ingredients to cook with.  As I got older, I truly enjoy the amazing tastes that I find in the North End.  Aside from my mother’s cooking, the North End has the best Italian food around. And seriously, what is a great meal without a nice glass of wine (or three) to accompany it?

Other than knowing I like it, admittedly, I am not much of a wine connoisseur.  That’s why I was really excited when I recently had a chance to go on a North End Wine Tour through City Wine Tours.

Wine tour you ask?  Now that I have piqued your curiosity, let me tell you more.

During each wine tour, you will be met by an extremely knowledgeable wine ambassador, who will take you around to three hot spots (in my case it was the North End).  At each stop, you will get a chance to sample two wines (six in total) and try several food pairings at a reserved table – with wait staff standing by, ready to serve!  What’s even better is that each tour is limited to 12 guests, so it’s like your own private wine tasting!

Each North End Wine Tour begins at Aragosta at the Fairmont Battery Wharf, which is right along the waterfront.  The views there were absolutely gorgeous. 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.

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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.

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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 »

Jan 262015
 

**Disclosure: My husband and I were invited to eat at Olecito and received our meals at no charge in order to facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

This past weekend, my husband Chris and I had the chance to check out a new “Fast Food” Mexican restaurant in New Bedford.  We are big fans of Mexican food, but frankly good Mexican has always been pretty hard to come by in my neck of the woods.  Until now.

Erwin Ramos, owner of Ole, which is a fine dining Mexican restaurant in Cambridge, opened his first Mexican “fast food” restaurant, Olecito in Brookline and because it was such a hit, he opened a second one down on the South Coast in New Bedford this past December.  Living on the south shore, I was excited to hear about a location that was close by to where I live. Not that I won’t drive for great food, because I totally will, but it’s always nicer when you don’t have to drive so far.

When we pulled up to Olecito, we were a bit surprised to find that the restaurant was located inside a former gas station.  Yes, you read that right.

Olecito-New-Bedford-Mexican-Restaurant

But the second you step inside, you see what a great job they did renovating the place. 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!

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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 »

Dec 152014
 

**I was invited on a sponsored press trip to the John Carver Inn’s Beach Plum Spa and WaterFire Tavern, but all opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

Recently I was invited to join three other area bloggers at the John Carver Inn in Plymouth, MA for a day of pampering at the Beach Plum Spa and some great food at the WaterFire Tavern.  I live in the area, so I have actually stayed at John Carver Inn before, but I had never had the chance to try out the spa or eat at the WaterFire Tavern, so I was excited to get the chance to experience both of those things for the first time.

The great thing about the John Carver Inn is that it’s a quaint, charming hotel that’s within walking distance of the Plymouth waterfront, shopping and attractions of historic Plymouth like the Plymouth Rock and Mayflower.

john carver inn

When we arrived at the John Carver, we got a tour of some of the rooms as well as the opportunity to go check out the Pilgrim Cove Indoor Theme Pool.  I have actually been to the pool with my kids before and it was a big hit with them. They ask to go back all the time.

After our tour, it was time to head to the Beach Plum Spa, located on the second floor of the hotel.

john carver inn beach plum spa

The Beach Plum Spa at John Carver is a full service spa and they offer a complete array of spa treatments for men, women and children. Yes, children.  In addition to traditional spa services such as massages and facials, the Beach Plum Spa offers a full range of cosmetic medical services including skin rejuvenation, body sculpting & contouring, and pain-free hair removal. Continue reading »

Oct 292014
 

**Disclosure: My family was invited to the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston and received our meals at no charge in order to facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

My kids went to their first Hard Rock Cafe earlier this year when we were in Hollywood and have talked about how much fun they had there off & on since we were there this past April.  When I told them that we were going to the one in Boston for lunch recently, they both just about burst with excitement.

The reason for our visit was because on Saturday, October 25th, The Hard Rock Cafe in Boston rolled out their new kids menu featuring the the Hard Rock Roxtars® and we wanted to check it out.

Hard-Rock-Cafe-Boston

Here’s a little bit of information about the Hard Rock Roxtars program:

The Hard Rock Roxtars are a band of characters serving as brand ambassadors for Hard Rock’s multifaceted brand-wide programs catering to children of all ages, presented at Hard Rock Cafes®, Hard Rock Hotels and Rock Shops® worldwide.  Kids who dine at the Cafe will receive their own activity book, Hard Rock Roxtars themed menus and they get to eat off of cool guitar-shaped plates!

As part of The National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program in collaboration with Healthy Dining, a mission and online resource that helps parents and children alike select healthy menu options when dining out, Hard Rock Cafes worldwide will offer healthier food options, ranging from Skiddley’s “Not-so-diddley” chicken breast to the “twisted ‘n tasty” cavatappi pasta. 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?

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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 062014
 

Last weekend, my family and I were invited to check out Fright Fest at Six Flags New England. Not only do we love all things Halloween, but we love Six Flags, so to say that we were all excited about spending the day there is a complete understatement!

Six Flags New England offers family-friendly Halloween thrills during the day, but after 4 p.m., the ghouls come out to play. The park transforms into a fright-filled environment with walk-through attractions, scary shows and thrill rides that make the most of the season. Fright Fest is the largest Halloween event in New England with over 20 different attractions!

When the sun goes down, the ghouls come out. Watch as the park transforms from “Thrills by Day” to “Fright by Night.”

As you can see, the park was all decked out for Halloween:

decos

The detail of the decorations was absolutely incredible and the folks at Six Flags New England clearly went all out! 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!

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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 282014
 

**My husband, Chris, and I received a complimentary paint lesson at The Paint Bar in order to facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

I had been telling my husband for ages that I wanted to go to The Paint Bar and since he didn’t seem to be getting the hint, I took matters into my own hands and booked us a lesson at the Newtonville location.

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You see, I come from a family of artists, but somehow that artistic gene seemed to have skipped me.  Both my mother and sister graduated from the Mass College of Art and here I am barely able to draw a stick figure that even remotely resembles a human being.  That is why The Paint Bar intrigued me.  At The Paint Bar, the instructor helps everyone in the class create a masterpiece by teaching the class how to recreate one specific painting step by step – and I knew that would be perfect for a “beginner” me.

At The Paint Bar, you can call or make reservations online and because space is limited, reservations are suggested.  I made our reservations online and when you book online, you can see which paintings are going to be featured on which night, so can you choose based on that if you’re looking for something specific to paint – which is what I did.

Chris had no idea what we were going to be painting, but as soon as we walked in, they had the painting that the class was going to be working on displayed.  It is called “Moonlit Boston”. Continue reading »

Sep 082014
 

Last weekend my family decided that we wanted to spend the day in Boston.  There is so much to do in the city, so we like to get the kiddos in there as much as we can.  Since it was a lovely day out, we decided to take the new Cultural Connector, which is a first-of-its-kind water transportation service that provides a water shuttle linking Boston’s waterfront cultural destinations.

The Cultural Connector can bring you to six different cultural destinations on Boston’s historic waterfront:

  • Institute of Contemporary Art
  •  Tea Party Ships and Museum
  • New England Aquarium
  • Boston Children’s Museum
  • Faneuil Hall
  • USS Constitution and Museum

We decided that we wanted to spend our day at New England Aquarium

aquarium

I have been to the New England Aquarium many times over the course of my life.  My very first school field trip was to the aquarium (kindergarten) and I love that the aquarium really hasn’t changed much over all these years. Continue reading »

Sep 042014
 

Last year, Chris and I took the gruesome twosome to King Richard’s Faire, our local Renaissance fair, which is open every September and October in Carver, MA. The boys loved King Richard’s Faire so much that we promised it was something we would do with them every year.  Seriously, they have talked about it off and on all year long  (you can read all about our day there last year by clicking here) and they were thrilled when we went back over Labor Day weekend. The fair includes all sorts of entertainment, exciting rides, shows, games and so much more on the 80-acre site of King Richard’s Faire.  

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As soon as you walk through the gate, you feel like you’re stepping into medieval times. Continue reading »