“What are you guys doing for April vacation?”
This is a loaded question for many parents, who wish they could reply that they were going someplace fabulous and exotic for the week, but for whatever reason (finances, time, work, a root canal, etc.), cannot.
And while the word “staycation” is one of the most horrible words ever to spring from our cultural zeitgeist, there’s something to be said for staying put once in a while. Remember what Dorothy said “I know that if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire, I’ll never go any further than my own back yard. For if it isn’t there, I never really lost it.”
When you stay home, you miss the horrible stressful pre-vacation rush (and post-vacation crash): no newspapers or mail to put on hold, no pet care to arrange, no suitcases to pack (wear a pedometer and you’ll understand why you are so tired when you zip that suitcase shut), no last minute shopping or errands to run, no invasive body cavity x-ray scans at the airport, no piles of work/email/dirty cat litter box/dirty laundry/messy home to return to—all the things that instantly ruin your vacation buzz are non-issues when you stay home!
So with that in mind, let’s get out there (well, here) this April vacation and enjoy some awesome local sights and treasures. Here’s a quick list to get you thinking, dreaming and planning for a memorable vacation week at home with the family:
- Interact with art and nature at the DeCordova Museum in posh Lincoln, a wonderful place to wander around and experience art outside, especially with kids. They have exhibits and a great gift shop inside, too.
- The Children’s Museum turned 100 this year and is celebrating its century milestone during vacation week with events geared to the younger crowd.
- The New England Aquarium and Boston’s Museum of Science are two more classic vacation week destinations; get there early in the morning or late in the afternoon (right when their doors open or two hours before closing time) to beat the claustrophobic crunch.
- Cambridge’s Harvard Square is a great destination for roaming around and people watching with young kids and teens. Go to Harvard’s Peabody Museum and admire the one-of-a-kind glass flowers, the rocks and minerals, the freaky-looking dead bugs safely ensconced under glass and the taxidermy animals of all shapes, species and sizes. Fantastic family- and wallet-friendly places to eat in the area include: Darwin’s (sammies), Mr. Bartley’s (burgers), Toscaninni’s (ice cream), Miracle of Science (close to MIT/Central Square; burgers), LA Burdick (hot chocolate, coffee), Flour (baked treats), Otto’s Pizzeria (standing room only; eat outside on a bench and soak up the Harvard Square scene). Since kids love trains (and you hate hunting for parking) take the T: Red Line to Harvard Square or MIT/Kendall Square.
- Follow the Freedom Trail. Check out the Old State House and look for the little glass vial of tea collected from American Patriot Thomas Melvill’s boots when he came home from the Tea Party, and admire John Hancock’s favorite snazzy (and rather tiny) red velvet coat. Stop by at Old South Meeting House, where the original tea party debate took place. Feeling peckish? Wander over to the endless food court at Faneuil Hall for lunch; or head to the North End for cannolis at Mike’s or Modern Pastry or pizza at Regina’s (or both, what the heck). Save your sanity: Take the T to Park Street or Haymarket.
- Get outside and ride. Bike along all or part of the totally spectacular and car-free Cape Cod Rail Trail, perfect for little legs. You’ll beat the summer crowds (and the heat) by a few months. Hop off the trail and park your bikes in front of PB Boulangerie in South Wellfleet for authentic French croque monsieur sandwiches that your kids will adore. Mon Dieu! There are gigantic lines in the summer at this popular spot, but not in April. You could also enjoy the bicycling, roller blading or wheel-free walking along the Cape Cod Canal Bikeway.
TIP: Find out if your local public library (or library network) has discounted or free passes available for area attractions and museums. Freebies go fast for vacation weeks and weekends, so you’ll have to hustle to snag some.
Another source to check out for inspiration:
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