Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Staycation, And You Can Help!

I'm scheduled to take a vacation from October 10th to the 19th. Usually, during this lovely time of the year when crisp air and fall colors abound in New England, MY WIFE and I travel north a bit, to New Hampshire and Maine. There is nothing quite so beautiful as the mountains during the week that includes Columbus Day.

This year, however, we have decided to do a "staycation". For those of you unfamiliar with the term, this means that we will not travel so far from home as to require hotel or motel stays. This is partly due to rising fuel costs, but more so because we just plain don't feel like driving a lot and making reservations and packing and all of the other stuff that has to be done when leaving the state.

What we will do, instead, is take day trips around our own home region, seeing the sights that tourists usually come here to see, as well as experience...

Well, see, there's the kicker. We have both come up with short lists of things we might like to do - most involve eating - but we are open to suggestions. And that's where you come in, my friend.

If you are from the Massachusetts area, what interesting offbeat activities might you suggest for us? Or, conversely, what mundane everyday tourist trappings might we be missing, which you find to be especially fun?

If you are from somewhere outside of Massachusetts, but have vacationed here at some point, what did you especially enjoy? If you were to come back, what would be on your list of things to do again?

Everybody - from MA or not; from the US or not; from other planets, even - what are some of your favorite things to do with a day off? Don't be afraid to list something that you think everybody would already know to do. Sometimes, the best suggestions are those which you might assume to already be widely known.

Seriously, give us some ideas.

MY WIFE and I thank you in advance for your input.


Neponset River Bridge Dig said...

Here's what I like to do on staycations.

1. go down to the nearest bakery and smell the bread baking.
2. stop by the local fire station and watch the guys wash the trucks
3.Hang out at the barber shop and watch the old guys get haircuts.

if you need more ideas let me know.

Rooster said...

Let's see...

A Duck Boat tour is actually a load of fun! Did it with the kids once.

Go to Ipswich for some great lobster or fried clams at Woodmans.

Go apple picking in Concord, then check out the historical sights, and have a beer in the Colonial Inn.

Hang out in Newport, RI - check out a mansion or two, walk along Cliff Walk.

Take a whale watch out of Gloucester.

Catch an IMAX movie in boston, then dinner in the North End, stop in the Old North Church and Paul Revere's House.

Canoeing on the Charles River?

Take a ferry to Provincetown for the day!

Visit the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.

Go to Waterfire in Providence (Oct 11)

I'll see if I can think of anything else - check out the concert scene?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Duckboats are fun! However, if you're a know-it-all, make sure to sit way in the back so the driver doesn't get pissed off at you when you point out stuff before he does (or stuff he misses).

Take it from one who knows ...

Ericka said...

i've only visited once, and i saw the supplier and the airport. one of these days i'll make it back...

i'm kind of a dork, so i have books on weird and cool things to do in most of the places i've spent any time - maybe find one for your area? i've been to the biggest cuckoo clock in the world! and a really big ball of twine! NFT - not for tourists books are cool, but a bit pretentious.

also, i googled "thing to do in ma" and found this:

have fun!

lime said...

well, i did the liberty trail when i was in boston 18 years ago and i'd actually love to do that again. i think philadelphia and boston are just so rich historically. exploring that more in depth would be appealing to me.

of course that burger joint around harvard square where i ate nancy pelosi last spring was good fun too.

in other news, that movie meme you tagged me with is up now ;)

Anonymous said...

One of our favorite places is Wickford RI. We go there often just for the day. Lots of (non-chain) funky shops, art galleries, etc. Very unpretentious. If you walk down Main St. toward the water, the entire street is lined with gorgeous historic homes. Not a bad drive, either--it's closer than Newport. See

Suldog said...

OK, I wasn't going to add any commentary of my own until much later, and then probably just to thank you for your suggestions. However, Lime's comments need some explanation.

First, it's "The Freedom Trail", not "The Liberty Trail". Honest enough mistake, but I felt that should be clarified.

As for "eating Nancy Pelosi", Lime refers to a burger joint named "Bartley's" where many of the burgers are given names of prominent politicians, actors, etc. I hate to admit it, but I once at Bill Clinton there, myself. It was recently closed for violating some sort of grease/cleanliness issues, I believe; not permanently, one would hope.

Now, as for Duck Tours or Duck Boats. I hate to disappoint Rich, but MY WIFE and I have already been on one. It was about 16 years ago; either just before our marriage or just after, as I recall. And, I have to admit, it was a great deal of fun. It was the first time I had ever actually been in a conveyance on the Charles River, so that was pretty cool.

Now, since that time, we have both come to the realization that much of what some of the drivers have to say is bullshit. Our driver was factual and entertaining, but we have heard others telling folks stuff that just isn't true. Not maliciously, we believe, but the kinds of things that many Bostonians believe, but which don't actually hold up when brought to light.

(I can't come up with an example of something they actually said, right off the top of my head, but perhaps similar to having heard of Paul Revere's Ride, and assuming he was the only one and he made it all the way? In fact, he was captured before finishing and there were two others riding that night. Repeating the first version isn't all that harmful, and usually is not intended as a lie, but it is untrue.)

Anyway, thanks for all of the good tips thus far. Keep 'em coming, please!

David Sullivan said...

Plimouth Plantation is great in the fall and it ties in to your favorite holiday!!! Then you can head over to the Patriots Place and have lunch at the new CBS restuarant. Have fun whatever you do!!

SandraRee said...

Why don't you rent a hotel or motel in your area, meet up at different times, pretending you're meeting each for the very first time and have a wicked wild affair?

Sounds good to me...

But anything sounds good after 32 years of marriage, that would be today. :D

Hilary said...

Massachusetts is so rich with art museums - in almost every direction, and several hidden away on various streets of Boston - aside from your wonderful MFA. If Impressionist art is at all of interest, your state tops them all.

And since your staycations tend to revolve around food, the very best food I've ever had in MA was at a place called Lilly's on the Pond. We visited there several times and tried many meals on their menu and it was wonderful every time. It's just north of the very small town of Winchendon, and might actually be in N.H. in the town of Rindge. In any event, the food there is amazing, the atmosphere is cozy and the setting quite lovely. This goes back about 5 or 6 years, so hopefully it's not changed since.

Nice time of year for a drive in your beautiful countryside.

Suldog said...

Cuz - Thanks. Nice ideas, especially the "Patriots Place" one. Haven't been there yet.

SR - Congrats! 32 years? When did you get married? When you were 6?

Hilary - Thanks for the restaurant tip! Always welcome.

Yes, we have some wonderful museums. MY WIFE worked at the MFA for a short while, as a matter of fact.

ALL - Not to slight anyone else's contributions to the pile. I will print this out and bring home to discuss. Please keep them coming!

Cath said...

Now my immediate thought was, if I were coming to stay with you for a while, where would you take me? That could give you some ideas.

And just walk places you never get time to walk. Have "no driving" days and walk. Or go by boat. Whatever you do, enjoy.

Buck said...

Ah... my visits to Boston have been limited to brief layovers at Logan. I don't think you'd wanna hang out at the airport, especially given your history and upbringing, Jim.

Every day is a day off for me, so I can't comment in that space, either.

Hey Sandra: Congrats! 32 years... verrah cool. Good on ya and the Hubby.

John-Michael said...

Starting with the bliss that you know as "MY WIFE and I," I want to create opportunities for the two of you to bask in an enjoyment of each other ... whilst being catered to and cared for by others, providing entertainment and satisfactions. So, the idea of one-day round-trip train excursions comes to mind. Riding along in a vehicle that allows dining, drinking, and walking about, as desired, whilst enjoying changing scenery that should be (given the season) colourful and enjoyable ... to a destination that affords some sight or sights for enjoyment ... then back again, in duplicate comforts and accoutrements, as desired and required ... seems to me to be a wonderful way of having the ability to focus on each other, share in thoughts and impressions, and indulge in happy laughter, love, and togetherness that is so richly a part of your shared Gift.

Anonymous said...

What ever you end up doing, have a great vacation.

But don't be away too long...missing you already.

Saz said...

Moannie keeps telling me l'm missing too much and should come on over and visit...She knows me oh to well, (50 yrs) I should have come over soon er...I like your humour and l hope you and your lady have a great holiday and relax and enjoy together...and eat well is crucial..who cares where, just be sure t blog about it...we can vicariously enjoy, as we did with Davids trip to Yukon!!

saz x

Suldog said...

Just to clarify - I'm not dead yet. I think I'll go for a walk.

The vacation starts on 10/10, so I'll still be around here annoying you for another couple of weeks.

Anonymous said...

I love taking day trips. Some of my favorites would be: New Bedford (see the whaling museum and have a Portuguese meal in the Port. section of town); Newport (I skip the mansions and head toward the water and the colonial part of town. It's like going back in time!); Sandwich: great little town with a number of small museums, a tea shop, a grist mill, a great day away; the Quabbin Reservoir can be nice; Rockport is nice to stroll around, see the art, the ocean, and get a seafood meal. I could go on and on.

Stu said...

In no particular order: A trip to Filene's - The Boston Public Garden - The Granary Burying Ground - The Museum Of Fine Arts - Spectacle Island - The Brattle Book Shop

Suldog said...

Another small clarification needed: Filene's is no longer with us. Macy's bought it, junked it.

Shame, that. Just watching some of the shoppers was, indeed, high entertainment.

(Filene's Basement, now a separate entity, is still around.)

Balcony Gal said...

You should consider jumping the train to Worcester and checking out the Higgins Armory. I know a couple of cute kids who could show you around there for free and make it worth your while.

Shammickite said...

Late husband and I went to a place on the wharf in Boston, where we could take our own booze to consume with our freshly cooked fish and chips.... it was GREAT! Can't remember now wher it was. But there were loads of people lining up outside all carrying coolers with beer and wine.

Shammickite said...

Actually that was ages ago, when he wasn't late.

Stu said...

I was indeed referring to the Basement - would think it would be both a wise financial move (to take advantage of the low prices during this economic downturn) as well as a fun way to spend time together.

Ragtop Day said...

The sculpture garden at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln is on my list of things to do - why don't you visit and do a review for us? :)

Anonymous said...

I've heard "TOMB" is a lot of fun.

Take the Chinese bus to Mohegan Sun for the day.

Woman in a Window said...

Best things: breakfast out in a greasy spoon (not literaly - you wouldn't fit), a walk in the woods, photo journal of the day (I know, I'm soooo old), ya ya - fresh baked bread. OOOO, OOOo, hang around a book store. Listen to NPR. Aw, shit, I just dropped my walker. Still sounds like fun to me.

Melinda said...

Since I'm Canadian and can't really suggest any good daytripping places, I'll go with you first request of listing things fun to do during a Staycation. (fabulous new word btw)

1. Cook your favourite dinner. Since you're home, you won't care how long it takes.
2. Listen to your favourite albums while reading up on the history of The Black Donnellys (I've been to their town and know the story well. Very cool piece of Canadian history)
3. Drive to a place that you would take somebody if they were visiting you. Has to be IN your town though.
4. Hang out in your pjs watching a marathon of your favourite TV show.
5. If the weather's nice, invite a few friends over for a BBQ. Beer and sunshine for one of the last times before winter makes BBQ taste even better.

Good luck! I'm sure either way you and YOUR WIFE will have a great day :)

Chris Stone said...

there's a clock museum somewhere up your way. i thoroughly enjoyed it. its small but nice... we saw it as the clocks were striking 12.

the duck tour has been covered... i want to do that. the new ICA... there's great energy there. not sure why i liked it so much but had a blast.

waterfire (in providence) is a bit overrated (IMHO).

you should go to the patriots place and tell us about it....

have a great staycation!

Jeni said...

My thoughts were a little along the lines of CrazyCath's but with a twist -sort of. Too late for this now but maybe next year if you do a "Staycation" thing again, advertise the time set aside for that well in advance -like 6-8 months maybe -and then, offer to do "day tours" to dumb tourists like I would be who would love to see things in/around Boston (never having been there) but who would have to travel alone to play tourist and what fun would that be? Of course, you'd have to have enough bloggers who would be willing and able to do a "day tour" with you during that set period of time. Just thinking it would be a hoot to see Boston with you as a tour guide.

Anonymous said...

First, I'd like to second CrazyCath and Melinda's suggestions. Both excellent.

I have always felt like the best part of the Staycation is that you get to really enjoy the time off, without all of the hassles of vacation.

I enjoy travel (and food, and other things you are too young to know of) the "old-fashioned" way.

Slowly, and with great deliberation. And great enjoyment.

Stay home. Slow down. Truly enjoy everything - sleeping late, long brunches, afternoon woo-hoo and quiet, lovely evenings together.

That's the Staycation that sounds best to me...

Suldog said...

Rhea - Rockport, by train, for a day trip, was something I had thought about. Thanks!

Balcony Gal - (Inside joke coming up...) Did a little Birdie tell you to say that?

Shammickite - Any place that serves fish & chips, where you can drink, is an excellent idea.

Stu - OK, I thought that's what you meant, but wanted to clarify for others.

Ragtop - DeCordova is a great place! Yes, haven't been there in a while, and definitely a wonderful idea. If we go, I'll take pictures (they'll likely be horrible, but that's the only way to do a review.)

Anon - Gambling for a day is a fun idea. If we win a jackpot, I'll give you 10%.

Oh, wait. I don't know who you are! Nevermind!

Woman - I'd pick up your walker for you, but I can't let go of my own. Most of that sounds lovely, actually. Thanks!

Melinda - If we have the BBQ, we'll break out the Canadian Club in your honor.

Chris - Might the clock museum be in Waltham? It was once known as "Watch City". That's just down the street from us. I'll do some Google scouting and see.

Jeni - There's nothing I'd like more than to have a whole crew of you good folks come to Boston and see the city through my eyes. You'll end up scarred for life, of course, but it would be great fun for me.

Thim - I'm too young? Oh, my. You haven't been paying attention, have you? I'm afraid you'll have to stay after class.

Afternoon woo-hoo, slowly, and with deliberation. Best suggestion of the lot! OK, you don't have to stay after class :-)

CSD Faux Finishing said...

I know you're not a big environmentalist guy but i wrote an article on the Boston Harbor Islands & their environmental connection here which gives a brief on them.

Georges is fantastic. It is a big huge fort built in 1850 with so many cool little areas to explore! Its a $14 ferry ride out per ticket, only a 15 minute boat ride & you catch it right down at Marriott Long Wharf. Matt & I had a lot of fun :)

Then definitely take rooster up on the advice of Woodmans. Seriously I am drooling just thinking about that place. YUM!! Enjoy the time off!

Kevin Smith said...

When I still lived up there, here were some of my favorites - Take the train to Salem and hit the Peabody Museum, Salem Beer Works, In a Pig's Eye (great food), and just wander the streets. The camp value of the witch-based tourism not withstanding, it's a beautiful town with some good dining.

I would also hit Plymouth (I usually wouldn't bother with the Plantation myself - mostly because I did it with school groups as a kid, and then again when I was a teacher...too much like bringing my work home with me). Go to Sam Diego's if you like Tex-Mex, or one of the restaurants along the bay. Also, considering the time, hit Plymouth Wineries and get some of the Cranberry Wine, it goes great with Thanksgiving Dinner.

The other things I used to do is pick a neighborhood in Boston or Cambridge and spend the day exploring it.


Anonymous said...

I'm surprised someone like you would leave such an offensive comment.

Suldog said...

Nama - I recall being in a flame war with an anonymous someone at that time, and my tracking of them led me to the site you link. If you are NOT that person, my sincerest apologies. If you ARE that person, even though I have removed the comment, it still conveys my sincerest feelings.

Stu said...

Here's another idea: You and The Wife sit down and come up with a list of things that you aren't allowed to do, then pick the most fun items and do them during your staycation. Being openly rebellious is very therapeutic

Anonymous said...

Re Filene's Basement: the real one is gone until (we hope) the renovation of the Filene's building is complete. The Filene's Basement stores you see around are not the real thing. They don't have the automatic markdown, for example. Two different things, and the "new" Filene's Basements aren't much diffrent from, say, Marshall's. Re: Patriot Place. You must go for one additional reason: there's a Bass Pro Shops there. It's a guy paradise. You'll love it, if you've never been to one. Re: the train. We like taking the train to Rockport, and it's a lot less crowded this time of year. You can also take the train to Portland ME which is a fun town.

Suldog said...

Miriam! Good to hear from you. Thanks so much for the coupons (you know what I'm talking about.) Don't feel obligated to clip 'em, though. Say "Hi!" to Jack for me.

Michelle H. said...

Sorry, Suldog. I've never took a straycation before so I have no input to offer. But I do hope you have good weather and low gas prices those days.

Chris Stone said...

this is the clock museum i saw. its in the middle of nowhere!

also... the walking architecture tours in boston... done by architecture students is good (i think its BAC students). (BCA?)

Sharfa said...

Go have lobsta & steamers at Browns Seabrook Lobster Pond in Hampton, Ma - BYOB

Eat your way up one side of Faneuil Hall and down the utha.

Have lunch at the Riverview Cafe after doing the Museum of Science (heard the food is fantastic - catered by Wolfgang Puck) Finish up the day with Adreneline Rush that starts at the Mugar Omni Theater on Oct 12th.

Take a campus tour of MIT, but make sure you stop by and visit me if you do!

Hilary said...

Another thought, since October is a beautiful time in New England. A hot air balloon ride over the country side would be lovely. Bring champagne!

Meg Wolff said...

I came over from John-Michael's blog and I'm from Maine. If you don't feel like driving to Maine you could always take the train and come up for the day to Portland and walk around the "Old Port". Maybe walk up to the observatory on Munjoy Hill for the view or take a short 20 minute ferry over to Peaks Island and back. Go for lunch on Commercial Street and sit outside to people watch (if it is still warm!). Or Ri-ra's Irish Pub, also on the waterfront near the ferry terminal on Commercial Street.

If I go to Boston, or through it I always stop in Waltham at Masao's Restaurant on Moody Street. A little "hole-in-the-wall" restaurant but fresh homemade food with looks of vegetables (which I like and are hard to find at restaurants.

Or, I have also walked the Freedom Trail 20 years ago and found it very interesting ... something I would definitely do again.

A stacation sounds great. My husband is also taking a week off in October and we may take a stacation too.

Anonymous said...

If you head up to Vermont you can go on a factory tour at Ben & Jerry's. MMM samples....

lime said...

oops, thanks for the correction on the name of the trail. and sorry if i freaked anyone out regarding bartleby's