We are a family that loves city life. We enjoy the energy of the city, the endless activities, and variety of foods you can find, but sometimes staying outside the city has its perks too. Often, hotels are more reasonable. I recommend checking out the Archer Hotel Burlington. It is one of the newest and nicest hotels in the area and walking distance to great food and fun. Also in that area, is the Boston Marriott Burlington, which we have enjoyed in the past. I have not been, but in nearby Lexington there is the ALoft and the Element Lexington. We have stayed at the Element in the Boston’s Seaport and enjoyed that hotel as well, I assume that the Element in Lexington has a similar feel.
Number One: Snow
Bring the family to the hills for a little skiing. It won’t be the alps but you can have plenty of fun on little slopes just North of Boston and both Nashoba Valley Ski Area and Wachusett Mountain have lessons for children of ages. At Nashoba Valley Ski Area parents can ski or ride with the rest of the family or if absolutely necessary they can get some work done in the lodge while the children have their lessons. For kids who prefer to stay off their feet while they hurtle down the snowy hills, there is the tubing park as well. If tubing is your main focus, then drive a little further north to Amesbury Sports Park where you get more tubing bang for your buck for the whole family age 4 and up. If cross country skiing is what you prefer, then head over to Great Brook Ski Touring Center in Carlisle.
Number Two: History
Just like the present, history is constantly changing not because the big events of the past have changed, but because our understandings and perspectives have. History has for the most part been “his white story” of the past. Recently, those stories are being challenged. We are asking historians to share a bigger picture, dig a little deeper, and tell us more than just the white story. New England has a lot of rewriting to do and filling in the gaps. Some institutions are doing more than others but everyone has to start somewhere. As you visit some of these historic sites see if you notice updated information and new perspectives especially if you or our children visited these same historic sites in the past. If you don’t see change, ask for it. Lowell has several museums worth visiting especially focused on the textile industry. Concord is home to the Concord Museum. the Robbins House in Concord has a walking tour and map of African American and antislavery history in Concord, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, and the Thoreau Cabin site at Walden Pond. Also nearby, is a little bit of more modern history at the Gropius House in Lincoln. Over in Lexington, you can visit the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library as well as the National Heritage Museum. The Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, MA (not to be confused with the university) explores a bygone Transcendentalist community. Unfortunately the Shaker and Native American galleries are closed during the winter.
Number Three: Fire
As city folk, it is fairly rare that we gather around a fire. A few local restaurants and hotels have fire places and Harvard University had fire pits pre-pandemic, but now they are saved for students thanks to COVID and social distancing etc. Over February vacation, you can enjoy time around a fire pit with the Trustees of the Reservation. Monday through Thursday, is Fire Pit Picnics at Appleton Farms. Your Fire Pit reservation is for up to six people and included a s’mores kit and two hours around a wood burning fire pit. Additional food from the Appleton Farms Kitchen is available for purchase as well. Each location provides different amenities (some reservations include s’more kits and others invite you to bring your own blankets and offer hot cocoa and s’more kits for sale): reserve a fire pit at Long Hill in Beverly, Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, and campfires at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate.
Number Four: Art & Nature
Check out the Enchanted Forest self guided visit with fairy, gnome and elven houses on the yellow trail inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s “The Frost King, of The Power of Love) at the Fruitland Museum. The deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum is offering ARTFull February vacation programs for Kindergarteners through 5th graders. The deCordova is also offering clay sculpture for teens and clay on the wheel for teens. The Mass Audubon has some wonderful nature programs running over February Vacation week as well from Habitat Nature Walk in Belmont to a Family Owl Prowl at Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary in Princeton or February Vacation Explorers at Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary Lincoln.
Number Five: Shop
In Burlington you have the the Burlington Mall a two minute drive away and then there is Wayside Commons with a great new shop full of all things made in Burlington as well as LL Bean, West Elm and the Eileen Fisher Company Store. If you want to venture a little further, I recommend heading to the LL Bean outlet in Nashua, NH and the outlet mall at the Merrimack Premium Outlets about 30 minutes from Burlington.