Holiday season hiatuses and moving forward

December is a busy time of the year for many people and I’m no exception.  Between work going crazy this time of the year and the holiday season, it’s hard to get much else done even if the desire to is still there.  However, I have hopes to get a few places in my new neighborhood up here for your viewing pleasure including the DeCordova Museum & Sculture Park and The Charles River Museum of Industry in Waltham

Beyond that I have ambitious plans for 2013 including starting up a meetup group to bring other interested people along in exploring Greater Boston and New England with me as well as getting a mobile app put together and launched so that this site is at it’s best on your smartphone.  I’d love any thoughts on places to go or improvements I should make (among the huge list that I have on my list that i want to do).

Otherwise, take some time out of this busy time of the year to relax and enjoy the many awesome things around where you live!  Happy adventuring!!

Shawn

Another great weekend coming up….

It looks like we’re coming up on another wonderful November weekend with some pretty decent weather.  With highs in the 40’s this weekend near Boston and clear weather; weekends this time of the year don’t often get better than what we’ve got coming on tap.  With that in mind, there are lots of places where you can enjoy a few hours outside and then have some time inside as the sun goes down and it gets colder at a much earlier hour.  I think a great place to go this time of year is Cape Ann as it’s close enough to Metro Boston to be an easy drive (so you don’t have to get up too early), it’s got lot of great things to do that are free to summer crowds in November and the scenery is still quite lovely and worthy of being prominently featured on any number of postcards. It’s also accessible via mass transit with the commuter rail going up from North Station in Boston.

A great day trip to Cape Ann would probably involve some outdoor time and some indoor time.  For outdoor time I would recommend a trip to Ravenswood Park, a great Trustees of Reservations park with miles of hiking trails and a great interpretive center center.  When you’re done hiking head to Downtown Rockport and Downtown Gloucester.  There are lots of museums, restaurants and other attractions.  You might also want to consider a trip to Historic Dogtown Common in Gloucester as well if you want to hike and enjoy a bit of history (I would recommend finding a guide if you’re really interested in the history).

If you want to go into the city, there are tons of museums beyond the main ones that most people visit.  Some great spots include the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Museum (which shares a parking lot with the John F Kennedy Presidential Library, another great place to visit) that has some amazing original documents including a 18th century copy of the Bill of Rights and several properties of Historic New England.

Whatever your preference, don’t let a lovely weekend like the one we have coming up go to waste!  Enjoy the Greater Boston area if you can, a lot of people come here from all over the world and pay a lot to do so while we are lucky enough to live here!!

Happy Trails!

November – The ‘in between’ season.

I always think of most of November as the ‘in-between’ season as far as outdoor pursuits is concerned.  The days are often too short and rainy for a proper hike but there isn’t enough skiing available yet to make a trip up to the mountains worthwhile.  Of course, this isn’t entirely true, we’ve been lucky to have some beautiful weekends this month and look to have another one on tap and there have been some years where the ski season has started with a bang.  Though, especially for those that don’t ski, between the shortened days, the some times rotten weather and the start of the holiday season, I think many prefer to start thinking about indoor activities and this is one of the great times of the year to enjoy the wealth of museums and historic sites that we are so very lucky to have in this part of the country!  I’ve been trying to visit more of the historic sites and museums in the area and, although I’ve just gotten started, I have a few great recommendations if you’re looking for an indoor treat to enjoy this weekend:

  • Lowell:  Lowell exhibits an interesting piece of American and Massachusetts history beyond the colonial history that Massachusetts is well-known for.  Lowell is home to a National Historic Park that documents the rapid industrial boom that Lowell experienced in the 19th century as it became the largest producer of cotton cloth in the United States utilizing the power of Pawtucket Falls on the Merrimack River.  In addition the historic mills there are other museums and attractions to enjoy during your visit.
  • Historic New England Sites:  Historic New England has over 20 historic homes and sites throughout New England that are open to the public.  The Otis House in Boston includes a video about the history of the house and its occupants.
  • If you’re still looking to go outside near the city with the lovely weather this weekend take a look at the the ‘Great Places‘ page as there are a ton of great parks and places to enjoy a few hours outside only a short distance from Boston and most of its suburbs.

Otherwise, go out and enjoy a lovely late fall weekend.  Just make sure to get an early start to enjoy what little daylight we have this time of year as there just isn’t enough time in the day with the sun setting before 5 at night.

Happy Adventures!!

DW Field Park and stumbling on great new places

I didn’t intend to do a write up on DW Field Park in Brockton, to be honest I didn’t even know it existed until yesterday.  However, as I walking out of the doctors office in Brockton I figured I had almost an hour of light left so I might as well see what is nearby.  That led to a look at the (awful) Apple Maps app and then pulling up Google maps on my phone to save my sanity.  After toggling around for a bit I saw a huge chunk of green on the map right down the road from where I was and said to myself; ‘that looks interesting!’   I’m glad i followed my curiosity as I stumbled upon a gem of a park that is a lovely spot in the midst of the suburban and urban activity that defines Brockton on a weekday afternoon.  The road through the park felt like a real getaway and speaks to the value of occasionally taking some time out to explore new places!!
DW Field park has lots to recommend it including a great loop road that is nice for walking and biking, some fishing spots, an observation tower and municipal golf course with other amenities I’m sure I missed.  It was a real treat yesterday, especially with the leaves starting to turn here and the park being very quiet (it looked like it could get crowded on a nice weekend)..  Here’s a nice view of Thirtyacre pond that shows what I was talking about:

Thirtyacre Pond in DW Field Park; Brockton, MA

Thirtyacre Pond in DW Field Park; Brockton, MA

Exploring new places and moving onto the great indoors….

So, this site has been primarily focused on outdoor activities and great places outside.  My newest addition to the site is also a new outdoor spot, a wonderful small park in Norwood with a good playground.  Ellis Park is located right off Route 1 and is a very nice break from the hustle and bustle of the road and all of the businesses on it.  If you’re looking for a place to relax for an hour or two on a nice day with a soccer ball, frisbee or a desire to hop on the swingset there.

Otherwise I’m planning on starting to explore many of the great indoor places that we have here near home in New England.  There are a lot of little museums and other attractions that are a lot of fun and happen to be inside instead of outside.  With the weather getting colder and the days getting shorter I think many of us (especially if you don’t enjoy outdoor activities in the cold) will be looking to enjoy more indoor activities where there is climate control.  I have several museums that I’m looking forward to exploring (or revisiting after a long absence) and if there any places that are on your list of favorites drop me a line, I’d love to add them to my list!

Lastly, don’t give up on the outdoors quite yet though!!  With the leaves turning and the weather getting cooler it’s a great time to go outside and enjoy the wonderful annual color show that mother nature treats us to here in New England.  Do yourself a favor and don’t miss it.  Mt. Tom and Mt. Wachusett are great places near home that are great places to enjoy the fall colors and both Franconia Notch and Mt. Sunapee are lovely spots to enjoy the fall colors in the mountains of Northern New England if you’re feeling a bit more ambitious!!

Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and finding new places.

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed more because of working on this website is finding about so many new places near me that I never knew existed.  My most recent profile for Round Hill and Weir Hill illustrates this.  I went to Round hill to check out it out and share it with you, however when I was there I also got to check out Weir Hill and learn about a pretty large National Wildlife Refuge (Great Meadows) that is right in my backyard that I had no idea about.  That led me to several more discoveries including a whole bunch of new places to explore that are owned by the Sudbury Valley Trustees, a great park on the way home that I intend to visit in the future in Wellesley and several more months of ‘work’ and exploration in front of me.  For now, I would reccommend a visit if you’re looking for a little quiet and serenity without going too far from home.  This place was a unexpected treat!

Getting back to exploring new places!

Hello, my dear few readers (so far)..  So, I know most people consider Labor Day Weekend to be the unofficial end of summer.  I tend to march to a slightly later beat in that regard.  My favorite month for traveling is September since the weather is still great, most things are still open and nearly everyone else is back to school or work.  Thus, I tend to go into vacation mode and put everything I need to do off in September instead of most people who do that in August.

My whole point in getting here is to say that I’m back and ready to go exploring more places in New England for everyone to get out and enjoy.  I’m trying to visit a mix of state parks, privately maintained areas and other cools spots and mix the areas I visit up a bit so there’s something for everyone.

View from the Trustees Charles River Peninsula in Needham.

View from the Trustees Charles River Peninsula in Needham.

So I just visited a great Trusteees Property in Needham, check out my page for the Charles River Peninsula and take some time to go there if you need an hour or two of quiet time with nature near home.  I’m also just about to head out the door to check out a property maintained by an organization I just heard of recently: The Sudbury Valley Trustees.  The maintain a lot of properties west of Boston.  I’m going to check out Round Hill in Sudbury and hopefully another Trustees of Property in Dover and Natick: Pegan Hill.  These are all smaller spots but I often prefer them because you tend to have a quieter experience which can be a wonderful antidote to the hectic page of modern urban and suburban life.  So, get out there and explore where you live!  There’s a lot to enjoy!!

New England’s a great place to get hitched!

One of the fun things about exploring New England has been being a guest or bystander to some great weddings in some very different locations.  Two recent weddings come to mind.  One was last weekend on Easton’s beach in Newport, RI and the other was almost exactly a year ago on top of a ski lift at Sugarbush Resort in Vermont.  The contrast between the two shows just how diverse the landscape in New England can be.

The wedding I had the pleasure of seeing last weekend was on Easton’s Beach in Newport.  It was setup right off the boardwalk and had the Atlantic Ocean as it’s backdrop.  It was stunning and took great advantage of the amazing beauty of Newport to make a great day even better.

Setting up for a beach wedding in Newport.

Setting up for a beach wedding in Newport.

I was lucky enough to be a bystander at this wedding however I was a guest at another great wedding right down the road at Colt State Park in Jamestown, another great seaside location with dramatic views.

A wedding I attended last year was a totally different location but just as jaw-dropping a backdrop as the beach in Newport.  This wedding was held mid-mountain at Sugarbush Resort in Vermont.  A mid-summer wedding looking out over a lovely mountain valley in the middle of Vermont makes for an unforgettable wedding experience, especially when you’re riding a ski lift in a suit!!

Sugarbush mid-mountain wedding.

Sugarbush mid-mountain wedding.

Both of these places show just how diverse New England is and all of the amazing places within the 6 relatively small states that comprise it.  It’s amazing to look at the two photos of these wedding spots and realize that you can visit both in the same day as they’re only about 5 hours apart!

So, about the previous hiatus….

Hello,

You’ve probably noticed that i haven’t updated much lately.  Part of it is a matter of being busy, part of it is the annoying amounts of rain we’ve gotten lately (even if we need it I want to play outside) and part of it is working on adding a couple extra features to the website.  I’m working on a couple things I want to add, one of I’ve started and a couple others I’m either planning to do or thinking about doing:

  • I’ve added in a “Great Activities” page to look at all the places up here by what you can do there, not just where they are.  I’m still dividing it by region but I wanted people to be able to pick a place to go based on what they want to do.
  • I’m thinking about adding in a small store component for people who might want a sticker or something else to with the sites logo.  I’d basically be selling at a little above cost to cover shipping and handling.  I might start creating some items that showcase local parks and places as well.  I’m not sure about this, if you have an opinion one way or the other (and a reason), I’d love to hear it!
  • I’ve also got a ton of photos, some of them I think are even pretty good, of the various places I’ve been hiking and traveling to.  Depending on what you think I’m wondering if some of them might be things people would want to buy.  With the understanding that I’m an amateur hack of a photographer who is heavily biased towards landscapes, I figure it can’t hurt to try it, right?
  • There are also a lot of great books and other resources out there that I’ve used over the years to find some great spots to explore.  I was thinking of creating a page to call these items out.

So, other than the ‘Great Activities’ page I haven’t started working on any of this other stuff yet and I might not do some of them, however that’s where my thinking at present is going.  I hope you are all enjoying some of the places profiled here and I’m hoping to get a few more up soon to give you a few more ideas of places to explore.  Happy Trails!!!

The joy of visiting a smaller park!

One of the great things about living near Boston is the sheer number of great outdoor spots that we have available.  I can almost guarantee that within 20 minutes of where you live in the Boston area that there are at least half a dozen great parks that you can enjoy.  With that in mind, I think there are a few properties that make the top of my list living south of Boston that are awesome places if you have an hour or two and want to get outside:

  • Francis William Bird Park in Walpole:  This is a great community park and has a lot of things to do right in the middle of Walpole.  With everything from tennis and basketball courts to some nice walking paths and outdoor performance space this park has something for everyone!
  • Noon Hill Trustees of Reservations Property in Medfield:  Noon Hill is a small park that is connected to several other parks in Medfield.  It features a little over 4 miles of trails and a nice viewing area atop Noon Hill.
  • Moose Hill in Sharon:  Moose Hill is a nice area with some great mostly flat hiking and some nice areas to sit and relax.  The property here is a combination of land owned by the Audubon Society and The Trustees of Reservations and, between the two of them, there are actually quite a few trails to explore.
  • Signal Hill in Westwood:  This is a fairly small reservation right next to I-95 in Westwood.  It’s a short hike to the top with a nice loop and a nice view from the top.  There’s also room to sit down and enjoy a picnic.

All of these areas have the benefit of being close, usually uncrowded and free to use.  They also all (coincidentally) happen to be Trustees of Reservations properties.  The Trustees own so many spots in Massachusetts that it’s tough to talk about great places here without mentioning them.  There are also several state parks that are a worth a visit including Borderland State Park in Easton and F. Gilbert Hills in Foxboro.  However, Borderland can be pretty busy on a warm weekend though I’ve never seen the parking lot full (especially since they expanded it).

All of these places make for a great way to spend a few hours outside and I recommend them all.  So get out there and enjoy the many parks and awesome outdoor recreation spots we have here in the Greater Boston Area!!