Yesterday I met up with my good friend, Leah from City Living Boston and Kim from Kimworld (who was behind the scenes) to do a Facebook Live about what to do with the kids over the April school vacation. Well, we had some technical difficulties and the live stream didn’t work out, so we decided to just record a video and talk about all the stuff we had planned on telling you about – and if anyone has any questions feel free to comment here or email one of us. If you missed the video, here it is so you can watch it:
Are you looking for something fun and creative to do? Look no further. I consider myself a pretty crafty person. I scrapbook and crochet, though I don’t have time to do them now that I am in grad school. The one thing I can make time for is my weekly ceramics class. I know, I know……your grandma or your mom used to take ceramics. People look at it as an old lady thing to do, but this class is honestly my sanity some weeks.
I discovered this class completely by accident while attending the Boston Christmas a little over a year ago. There was a ceramics booth with finished products, but one item caught my eye – the ceramic Christmas tree. You know the one I’m talking about – our moms all had one when we were growing up. They have made a huge comeback in the last few years. Then I saw the big ceramic lighthouse that was way out of my price range but was gorgeous (I have a slight obsession with lighthouses). I began talking with the shop owners and they told me I could paint one of my own. Well sign me up!
This is not your Grandma’s ceramic class. We have all ages in our class – our youngest student is 15. We are all very different, but it is like a little family. It’s 2.5 hours of painting, laughing, and therapy. The owner and instructor, Dale, is so talented and helpful. You can tell that she truly loves what she does. In fact, this is her retirement job. She has a huge assortment of pieces and even if you think you have no talent for painting, with her direction you will create amazing pieces. We all made Christmas gifts for our loved ones, and everyone loved them. Prices are SO reasonable ($10 a class or $32 for the month plus the cost of the piece, and some pieces take several weeks to complete).
I never tell my kids where we’re going, I just tell them we’re going on a Mystery Ride and we go. Sometimes we go to Walmart, sometimes we go to Washington, DC. It’s a surprise every time. So, when the opportunity came up to go to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Boston for #LEGOStarWars #MINILAND Preview Event I was psyched. This was going to be a perfect Mystery Ride! With my oldest being almost 13, the age gap between him and the 9- & 8-year olds feels like dog years. It’s getting harder and harder to find Mystery Rides they will enjoy together but something like this was a no-brainer.
When they saw Gio, the giant Lego Giraffe, and realized they were going up to the Discovery Center, the excitement was palpable. Even the tweenager smiled. We found parking two blocks over that was free for the first 3 hours, made a mental note that there was an ice cream shop across the street and headed in for our adventure.
I don’t usually make any major travel plans during the winter time. If there is one thing I’ve learned as a life long New Englander, it’s that the weather is unpredictable. It’s such a bummer to have your flight delayed – or worse, canceled, because of snow and yes, I had to learn the hard way about what a bummer it actually is (sleeping at the airport is NOT fun). So instead we do lots of local outings and day trips during the winter time.
Whenever I am planning to visit someplace new, whether it’s a fun day trip or a vacation, the first place I look for information is TripAdvisor. I can always count on honest reviews by fellow travelers over there, but did you know that TripAdvisor recently just leveled up? In addition to thousands of honest reviews about anywhere and everywhere, you now have the ability to book attractions, tours and experiences directly through TripAdvisor.
Obviously, it’s February and since that’s the heart of winter here in New England, we’re still keeping it local this time of year. So off to TripAdvisor I went so that I could book some fun activities locally. I sat down and perused the available options for the dates I wanted to do something on. There are a lot of cool things happening in Boston on any given day (Boston is such an awesome city!!), but it was fun to scroll through all of the available experiences. I really like having so many options in one place, so I can easily search for what best suits what I am looking for.
I ended up picking out a few fun experiences in the Boston area for my family and here’s a little bit about the things I picked.
Did you catch the Facebook live I did this morning with Leah from City Living Boston live from The Royal Sonesta Boston. Actually, Kim from Kimworld was there, too, but she did all the behind the scenes stuff for us (THANK YOU for that by the way, Kim)! During the live stream we covered local things to do over the Winter break/February school vacation.
What, you missed it? No worries – grab a snack, sit back and have a look:
Little Scientists Package: https://www.sonesta.com/…/royal-sonesta-boston/offers
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston February Vacation Offerings http://www.mfa.org/…/special-event/february-vacation-
Mirror Maze Exhibit at Museum of Science, Boston https://www.mos.org/exhibits/mirror-maze
Love Royally at the Royal Sonesta Boston https://www.sonesta.com/loveroyally
As promised here is some information on the locations I discussed in the video (plus a few that I didn’t have time to mention):
My husband, Christian, and I got recently invited to check out a new show in Boston called “BABEL: An Evening of Mind Reading”. Sounds cool, right? Well, it was cool. Actually, it was totally mind blowing. We love it when we watch America’s Got Talent and a mentalist comes on and it always ends the same way with the two of us: when the trick is over, we look at each other and say in unison, “how the h-e-double hockey sticks did they do that??”
BABEL is a 90-minute intimate evening of mind-reading with Boston’s premiere mentalist, Christopher Grace, at The Bostonian Boston in the financial district and we went to BABEL’s debut show last Friday. It’s a performance designed for sophisticated adults looking for a different type of entertainment and Christopher delivered on his promise.
Christopher completely confounded the entire audience on Friday with his seemingly impossible mind-reading abilities, acts of super memory, and actually entertaining rapid fire math skills. He was inside all of our heads and kept up laughing the whole time.
I don’t know about you, but my husband I are always looking for fun date night ideas. We are both foodies, so going out to eat makes us both very happy, but every now and then it’s fun to change things up. Last weekend we definitely leveled up our date night! We spent a super fun night at the Chef’s Demonstration Table at the Dan’l Webster Inn in Sandwich.
The evening was quite entertaining as about 23 of us watched Chef Steve Chausse and Pastry Chef Lydia Broderick prepare a 3 course meal from scratch. The menu included roasted Stuffed Artichoke Tartlet, Winter Flounder Francaise with a beurre blanc sauce and a Ricotta Cheesecake with an almond crust for dessert. The two chefs made all three dishes from scratch all while providing tips on which tools and materials are best to use and lots of other practical tips that we will be able to use at home.
Here in Massachusetts a sandwich isn’t just a delicious combination of lunch meat, condiments and bread – it’s a town on Cape Cod, too. Yes, the actual name of the town is Sandwich and what a lovely town it is. I actually spent many childhood summers in Sandwich and I have so many fond memories of all my time there. My Great Aunt Millie and Uncle Jack used to rent a beach cottage on N Shore Blvd every summer and as kids we loved visiting them and playing on the beach. Sure there are beaches in Maryland (where they were from), but there is something really special about Cape Cod and it kept them coming back year after year.
Aside from the amazing beaches, there is charm everywhere you look. Cape Cod is filled with antique shops, boutiques, museums, cafes and so much more. It really is a wonderful getaway destination and I have just the place for you to stay when you start planning your trip to “The Cape”: The Dan’l Webster Inn & Spa!
The Dan’l Webster Inn & Spa in Sandwich, Cape Cod’s oldest town, has been in business for over 300 years. When you book a stay in one of the 48 guest rooms/suites at the Dan’l Webster Inn & Spa, you will be pleasantly surprised when enter your guest room. Each room has it’s own lovely decor and is full of amenities that you will help you to have a comfortable stay, including WiFi, a coffee maker, hair-dryer and more. If you are looking for a little more than just a room, there are suites available which feature canopy and/or four-poster beds, fireplaces and over-sized whirlpool tubs.
Located in the heart of Cape Cod, The Cape Codder Resort and Spa makes a wonderful spot for a family getaway. The Cape Codder has an indoor water park, a wide variety of room options, several restaurants, a full service spa and more. Everything you need to enjoy your getaway is located all under one roof!
Cape Codder Water Park
The Cape Codder Resort and Spa boasts the only one of its kind indoor/outdoor Water Park on Cape Cod. Here are some of the highlights:
- There are two 160-foot “Stars and Stripes” high-speed water slides!
- A 50-foot and an 80-foot water slide winding through a replica of a pirate ship.
When I was a kid my sister, brother and I waited all year long until my parents finally said we were going to “Edaville Railroad” to see the Christmas lights. I’m dead serious – it was one of the highlights of my childhood and I have so many fond memories of going there year after year with my family. These days it’s know as Edaville Family Theme Park and I am so thankful that I have the chance to go there with my own children so they can have the same wonderful memories of Edaville as I do.
Edaville Family Theme Park is tucked away in the middle of cranberry country in Carver, MA. It is a fun family attraction which features amusement rides including a Ferris Wheel, carousel my boys favorite: the bumper cars! Each admission includes a five mile train ride through the cranberry bogs on their property, all the rides, Dino Land and Thomas Land.
Hear ye, hear ye! It’s September and around these parts that means that King Richard’s Faire is back. For two months every fall, you can travel back in time at King Richard’s Faire in Carver, MA. Spread out over 80 acres of woods, King Richard’s Fairs is the place to be if you want to fully immerse yourself in the 16th century. If you’ve never been to a renaissance festival, you are seriously missing out a very unique experience. The fair includes all sorts of entertainment, exciting rides, shows, games and so much more. Here’s what you should expect when you go.
And yes, you too can lock your husband up in a cage when you go……
Lots of amazing entertainment!
There are eight stages of live entertainment all day, included in your admission price at King Richard’s Faire. In addition to jousting show, you can see fire eating, magic, comedy shows, acrobatic acts and much more.
I love summer, I really do. I love the warm weather, the beach, the relaxed schedule – all of it. But do you know what I love more than summer? FALL. How can you beat pumpkin flavored everything, chunky sweaters, hayrides and corn mazes? And speaking of corn mazes, did you know that the very first corn maze is now open in Methuen?
Mann Orchard’s Riverside Farm is home to an 7-acre corn maze, which is the main attraction of their Riverside Farm location. Once this South Shore girl figured out where Methuen was, we headed up there for a day of fun this past weekend. You see, there is much, much more than just a corn maze at Mann Orchard’s Riverside Farm and you definitely need to plan to stay for a while once you’re there.
If you live in Central Massachusetts, mark your calendar for September 23rd because you and your kiddos are invited to Touch A Truck at the Auburn Mall! This is a fun community event that gives families the opportunity to have enjoy themselves while also giving back at the same time. The admission fee of $5 per person OR $20 maximum per family benefits the Auburn Fire Department and Susan G. Komen. Two great causes.
Truck enthusiasts of all ages are invited to Auburn Mall to get a unique and up-close look at a variety of vehicles, since toy trucks just can’t compare to the real thing. This includes:
- Auburn Police Cruiser
- Auburn Fire Truck
- Dump Truck
- Landscape Chippers
- Coca-Cola Delivery Truck
- And more
More features of this kid-friendly community event will include: a moon-bounce, Animal Adventures shows from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., a McCoy Karate demonstration, face painting by Noelle*, and more! The first 350 children will also receive a complimentary goody bag.
While I don’t live in Boston proper, I am in the city fairly often. My husband, Chris, works in Boston, so he’s in there all the time for work, but even on his days off – we always seem to find ourselves in the city for one thing or another. We go in to the city to eat quite a bit because the food just doesn’t compare out in the boonies where I live. I’ve walked past the Parish Cafe numerous times, but for some reason I never made it inside to eat. Until last week.
The Parish Cafe opened in November 1992 and usually has a line anytime you walk by. And now I know why! Owner Gordon Wilcox approached local Boston chefs and asked them each to create a sandwich for the Parish Cafe menu. Each sandwich on Parish Cafe’s menu is named for the chef and the restaurant they are from. I love this concept and was super excited when the Parish Cafe invited my husband and I to come in for dinner.
We grabbed a window seat (inside) so that we could do some people watching and started with some appetizers. Here’s what we got:
The Benny is stuffed with Vietnamese-style, spicy grilled chicken breast, assorted julienned vegetables, and mint-coriander mayonnaise. It’s served with spicy purple cabbage slaw tossed with diced tomatoes, fresh mint, Thai basil, and cracked peanuts on the side.
If you live on the south shore you may have heard of The Quarry Hingham. It’s a wonderful restaurant in Hingham that is quickly earning a reputation for fantastic food and outstanding service. Since earning Boston Magazine’s 2016, Best of Boston South Shore for General Excellence, The Quarry continues to get positive reviews. Chef Greg Jordan, graciously invited my husband, Christian, and myself to dine at The Quarry recently so that we could see for ourselves what all the buzz was about.
The first thing we noticed when we pulled up was the restaurant’s namesake. There is a big old water-filled quarry behind the restaurant, which is housed inside a gorgeous stone block building on the property.
The menu at The Quarry changes based on the region’s harvest cycles. All of their food is made from scratch daily with locally sourced ingredients and after eating there, I can definitely see why they are consistently getting positive reviews.
In a city nearly four hundred years old – troubled with war, murderers, strife and the occasional bout of stray molasses, it is hardly any wonder that Boston remains one of the most haunted cities in America and stories of the glory days of Colonial Boston only scratch the surface of Boston’s darker side. Boston has found itself plagued with some of history’s most nefarious figures – The Boston Strangler, Jolly Jane, Dr. John Webster, Cotton Mather, amongst a slew of other assorted characters. If you want to hear all about Boston’s dark history, the Ghost & Gravestones Tour is the place to hear about all of it.
I took this fun trolley tour in Boston a few years ago with my husband, but I recently had a chance to take it again with him, my sister and brother in law. Our tour guide was Ashton Burns and we really enjoyed the stories that he told us. Ashton was not only just great a storyteller, but he was also well-informed and ready to answer any questions asked of him. There were a few tours out that night and all of the guides are dressed up AND in character! As I mentioned, Ashton was our guide and sadly, all of the pictures I took of him came out blurry, but he was great and really authentic. The other guide out that night was Betty and our group met up with their group in one of the cemeteries we visited.
It is no secret that I am a proud Bostonian. I have lived in the area all my life and love being from this part of the country. There is so much to see and do in Boston and sometimes I like to pay tourist in my own city. When I want to see the sights in Boston, I take the Boston Old Town Trolley Tour in Boston.
The Hop On Hop Off Boston Tour covers all the major areas of the city including Downtown, Beacon Hill, Back Bay, the Theater District, and the Waterfront District. On the trolley, the fun conductors narrate the tour with a fun mix of trivia and humorous stories. My husband and I took the trolley tour on a rainy day a couple of weeks back. Since we’re local, we decided to stay on for the whole tour and I am so glad we did. Lucia was our tour guide/driver and she was wonderful. She is a life-long Bostonian and she was full of stories and trivia about Boston.
Located in Sterling, MA, Davis’ Farmland is super fun farm experience for families with children under 12. Davis Farmland has over 100 breeds of animals that can be petted and cuddled with as well as North America’s largest sanctuary of endangered farm animals. They don’t just have animals at Davis Farmland, they have several playgrounds, hay & pony rides and an awesome splash park, too. There is tons of summer fun at Davis Farmland!
There is so much summer fun at Davis Farmland
My boys were both really excited to spend the day at Davis Farmland – especially once I told them there was a splash park there. It was a hot day in July and they were happy about there being a way to cool off. We actually brought cousin Jonah, who was visiting with his dad, Uncle Keith, from San Diego with us for the day. All three of the boys had a blast exploring everything at Davis Farmland.
Entertaining kids ALL SUMMER LONG can be exhausting and expensive. Let me save you the time thinking about what to do…Here are 17 free & cheap things to do with kids this summer in New England.
1. Unplug with good old fashioned outdoor activities at the Great Glen Trails. Located at the base of Mount Washington, families can bike, kayak, picnic, and see some spectacular wildlife. Rent equipment or bring your own.
2. Water park admission can really add up, so instead, take the kids to any number of community pools and splash pads your city has to offer.
3. Visit the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, where kids can explore caves, learn about dinosaurs, and get hands-on experience in the air conditioning all day for only $10!
I will be the first to admit that I have let myself go and I am completely out of shape. I used to run 7 miles and now I couldn’t run 7 minutes if I tried, and that is unlikely with the summer months upon us. I’m always looking for things to do and for things that at least give me the illusion that I am doing something healthy. I recently came upon an article in our local newspaper about a local yoga studio doing yoga with goats classes.
I have never done yoga; I’m not particularly flexible or quiet (I’m Italian, we aren’t meant to be quiet). I have heard all the health benefits of yoga: increased flexibility, increased muscle tone & strength, increased energy, and weight loss, just to name a few. I’ve also never had much of an interest in trying yoga……but this was with baby goats!! I’m an animal lover through and through and let’s be honest, baby goats are adorable, so my friends and I decided to sign up for a class. Let me tell you, these classes sell out quickly!! The class cost $30 for an hour and was being held rain or shine (indoors if it rained) at a local farm.