Tuesday, February 9, 2016

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Hi all!

Even though my blog has been quiet, my Facebook page has been active with lots of fun things to do, discounts, and deals!  Visit me at Boston Families on a Budget

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Cape Cod Off-Season

A blue lobster at the Woods Hole Aquarium
If you want to visit the Cape but want to save some cash, think about going off-season.  Most people think of lounging at the beach, eating ice cream, and playing mini-golf and while those are some of my favorite activities as well, there are some fun things to do year-round.  Whether you want to take a day trip to the Cape or enjoy a long, relaxing weekend, there's always something to do.

You can get fantastic deals on accommodations during the off-season.  Different places have different definitions of "off-season."  We've gotten off-season rates as late as mid-June, because some places don't consider it peak season until school gets out, but if you have small kids or just want to get away for the weekend, that could be a good option.  You can find house rental deals, but we actually like to stay at a hotel when we visit the Cape off-season because a lot of the hotels have indoor pools.  This makes it way more fun for my son when he can swim no matter the weather! 

You might be wondering what there is to do on the Cape in the off-season.  Yes, there are a lot of things that close for the winter, but there are also some great things open year round.

Here are some of my favorites Cape attractions that are open year-round:

  • Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory.   This quick, free, self-guided tour is a fun treat for the entire family.  Plus, free chips at the end!
  • While you're in Hyannis, check out Cape Cod Beer.   Beer samples for the grown-ups and a train table for the kiddos!
  • Cape Cod Museum of Natural History.  It's closed from December 30-February 14, but is otherwise open year-round.  The museum is small but has tons of fun, interesting artifacts from the Cape, including a small aquarium area.   If the weather is nice, they have some truly awesome trails.  Even if it's chilly, bundle up and explore.
  • If hiking and nature walks are your thing, hit up one of the Mass Audubon locations on the Cape.  The Wellfleet  location is a particularly good choice because they have a robust visitor's center so even if the weather isn't great your kids can enjoy the visitor's center.
  • Visit some lighthouses.  Lighthouses are picturesque no matter the season.  Some offer tours year round.
  • Enjoy bowling in Orleans, or at a Ryan's Family Amusements location.
  • Visit the Woods Hole Aquarium.  This free (donation requested) aquarium is fun for adults and kids of all ages!
  • After visiting the aquarium, head a few blocks down to Pie in the Sky.   Warm up with some hot drinks and enjoy lunch or one of their well-known bear claws!
  • No visit to the Cape is complete without some fresh fish!  One seafood restaurant open off-season (closed January-mid February) is Wellfleet Oyster.  Their menu includes a raw bar, fried platters, and a kids menu featuring fare such as spaghetti, fried fish, and chicken fingers.
  • Pick up a pie at Marion's in Chatham.   Really amazing pie!  My husband recommends the bumbleberry.
  • Snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.  Here are a bunch of locations for a scenic day spent in the snow!

Lots of places on the Cape are open from April until October, but peak season is usually June through September, so you could get good deals on hotels or house rentals in the spring or fall, but still have access to all the fun Cape stuff - and maybe some warm weather!

This was originally posted on January 16, 2014. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Blue Hills Reservation

How have I lived around Boston for over 11 years without going to the Blue Hills?

On Memorial Day, Isaac and I finally went to the Blue Hills Reservation and the Trailside Museum, part of Mass Audubon.  The Trailside Museum has all sorts of animals, including an otter, deer, owls, and lots more.  They also offer lots of educational programs.

Take the red dot trail to see the observation tower.  It's very rocky (see picture above) and pretty steep, but my 5 year old did it without a problem.

That's the observation tower.   Some of the kids were calling it a castle!  There are also tons of picnic tables around, so it's a fun spot to enjoy a picnic lunch after making your way up the trail.

The view of Boston from the top of the tower.  Isaac thought that was really cool!

After all that hard work hiking, we got some well-deserved ice cream from the museum.  The museum is stocked up with snacks, ice cream, and drinks.  

Before we left, we participated in a ponding activity.  The path around the pond is usually closed off, but if you go when there's a ponding activity, they'll bring you inside.  There were a bunch of turtles that we saw, just hanging out!

Then we saw this giant bullfrog on the banks of the pond.

The kids were given nets and they could scoop up stuff from the pond to see what they could find.

Isaac was in awe of all of the tiny little tadpoles that we found in the pond.  The ponding activity was really well-done and fun for all ages.

We can't wait to go back!

For nonmembers, it's $5 adults $3 children (2-12) $4 seniors (65+), but getting a Mass Audubon membership is a great deal and pays for itself in no time if you're an outdoorsy type.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Mother's Day Freebies in New England

Want to do something fun and festive for Mother's Day without spending lots of money at a brunch?  There are lots of free offers around Boston and New England for moms this Sunday!

Lake Compounce in Bristol, CT - Moms get in free with their buy one ticket, get one free promotion.  This available online only!  Plus, moms get to relax in our “relaxation zone” while kids make a special gift for mommy!

Tower Hill Botanic Gardens in Boylston, MA - Moms get in free all weekend!

Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, RI - Moms get in free with a paying child.

Stone Zoo in Stoneham, MA - Free zoo admission for moms and samples of KIND bars!  Yum!

Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, MA - Not only do moms get in free, but it is also Star Wars Day at the Franklin Park Zoo!  Dress up in your favorite Star Wars gear and enjoy!

Santa Banta in Waltham, MA - This new Indian restaurant is offering free meals to moms Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this weekend!

Providence Children's Museum in Providence, RI - Moms get in free and kids can make flowers for their moms.

Other stuff to do: 

Lilac Sunday at the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain, MA - I love the Arnold Arboretum!  While it's always free, this Sunday is its very special Lilac Sunday.  The arboretum has one of the best lilac collections in the US.

Kids Fun Fest in Newton, MA - This annual carnival is a great way to spend an afternoon this weekend.  With rides, concessions, crafts, and entertainment, it's fun for all.

Southwick's Zoo in Mendon, MA - Half price admission for moms.

Friday, April 24, 2015

5 things to do this weekend

Sheep Shearing at Gore Place in Waltham
Spring has sprung and there are some fun happenings going on this weekend!

1.  Healthy Kids Day at the Y.  All over the country, YMCAs are participating in Healthy Kids Day, which is an initiative to improve the health and well-being of kids.  My husband, musician Matt B. Mahoney, will be playing kids music at the Oak Square Y in Brighton.  Activities at different locations may vary but include snacks, moon bounces, and more.  FREE.

2.  Gore Place Sheep Shearing Festival in Waltham.   This is one of my family's favorite events.  We used to even go pre-kid!  Aside from sheep shearing, there's herding dog demonstrations, a craft fair, live entertainment, farm animals, and lots of fun!  It's $15 per person, but kids are free.  Gore Place is a really cool spot, too!  Enjoy!

3. Princess and Frog Day at the Stone Zoo.  Meet your favorite princesses and learn all about frogs!  Save $2 on your tickets if you buy them online.

4.  Fenway Park's open house.  This is too good to be true for any baseball fan!  It includes a showcase game and a visiting areas like theclubhouses, dugouts, batting cages and the bullpen!  All concessions will be open. FREE.

5.  Earth Day Festival in Concord.  There's a parade, exhibits, music, and local food.  FREE.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spend the Day at the Arnold Arboretum

With the weather warming up after a looong winter, I am desperate to soak up as much outdoor time as possible this spring!  On Sunday afternoon, we went with some friends to the Arnold Arboretum in JP to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and see the very beginning of things growing.

The Arnold Arboretum is a fun way to spend a few hours as a family.  It's free, (street) parking is also free, and it's a beautiful spot.  Even though when we went last weekend there wasn't as much in bloom as there will be in a few weeks, we got to see daffodils, magnolia trees in full bloom, and lots of other little flowers.  The Arboretum is HUGE and even after being there for a while we barely made a dent in seeing everything.

There's also a small nature center with some educational tools for kids.  You can rent Discovery Backpacks free of charge for kids 3+.  The backpacks have activities like tree bingo, collect and sort items you find, and measuring trees.

The Arnold Arboretum is a gem in Boston.  I don't know why we don't go more often!  We can't wait to go again when things are really in bloom!

After walking around and enjoying the Arboretum, head up to JP Licks for a sweet treat!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Stopping Between Boston and NYC

Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven
I grew up in New Jersey have a lot of family and friends in the NY/NJ/CT area, so we drive down that way frequently.  Sometimes we like to make stops on the way there or back to break up the drive and give my son the chance to stretch his legs, especially if we aren't in a rush.

For anyone else who does the drive regularly or plans to make a trip down there, here are some places on the way to help break up your trip.  I will add this as I find more activities.

Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT - This is a great aquarium and a bit cheaper than other aquariums in New England, like Mystic or the New England Aquarium.   You can easily spend several hours here.  The best part is the hands-on activities, like the ray touch tank!

Stepping Stones Children's Museum in Norwalk, CT - If you are a member of the Museum of Science or Boston Children's Museum, your membership card will get you into Stepping Stones!  This is a really fun children's museum.  It's spacious, clean, and has a lot to do.  We've been here a few times and would love to stop there again.

Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven, CT - This is a little pricey ($30 for out-of-staters to park their car) but it's pretty cool.  It has a nice lighthouse, a beach with lifeguards, a carousel, a splash pad, and concessions.  Pack a picnic and stay for a few hours.  Build it into your trip!

Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT - This is another museum that you can get in for free with a Museum of Science membership.  Otherwise, it's only $7 and kids 5 and under are free.  It's part science museum and part art museum.  It's not a big museum and you can get through it in less than an hour, but my son enjoyed it on our way home after Christmas last December.

Chip's Pancakes in multiple locations - After years of seeing billboards for Chip's, we finally stopped there a few months ago.  The billboards say they have the best pancakes in Connecticut and I must say, they were quite good and I am very picky with my pancakes!  Super kid friendly, inexpensive, breakfast all day, and a good place to stop for a quick bite when driving to or from NY.

Mystic, CT - If you take 95 home, stop by Mystic.  You don't need to spend money on the aquarium (which is quite costly) and you could just head to downtown Mystic.  There are restaurants including the famous Mystic Pizza, ice cream places, gift shops, and a draw bridge.  Nearby Stonington also has a lighthouse museum.

Lighthouses - You can check out my lighthouse blog that I haven't updated in years.  My husband and I love lighthouses and here are some that you can visit in CT.  Note:  you need to take 95 home to see most of these.

Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, RI - Another place you can get in with your Museum of Science membership.  It's a really nice zoo and you could spend hours there.  It's also great for a day trip.