Friday, August 5, 2016

Safari #95: Sunflower Festival at Buttonwood Farm

There's no better time for a road trip than the summer, and if you're looking for a unique outdoor event, I've got just the destination for you.

Buttonwood Farm in Griswold, Connecticut is a short 1.5 hours from Boston.  Every year in late July to early August, the farm plants nearly 15 acres of sunflowers.  It is truly a site to behold.

The sunflowers are sold with all proceeds benefitting the Make a Wish Foundation - and some are made into ice cream.  Yes, ice cream.  The cows get to enjoy eating the sunflowers once the growing season has ended.

Sounds pretty good to me.

My Tips

  • Check the Website.  The dates of the festival vary slightly from year to year, so be sure to check the site before you plan your trip.
  • Be Prepared to Wait in Line.  If you want ice cream, you might wait up to 30 minutes in line.  The farm is great about having as many scoopers as possible, but with the demand, you can expect to wait a little.
  • Bring the Kids.  Who wouldn't want to take a tractor ride out into the sunflower field?  The tractor ride is covered (so no sunburn worries there), and you'll get a bird eye view of the sunflowers in all of their beauty.  You will need to purchase tickets for the rides and wait in line depending on demand.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Safari #94: The Arnold Arboretum

Is there anything better than taking a long walk in beautiful surroundings?

Jamaica Plain's Arnold Arboretum is the perfect place for solitude, walking/jogging or even bird watching.  This urban oasis is easily accessible via car or the T (Forest Hills on the Orange Line).

One of the best views is available at the top of Peters Hill.  It's the perfect spot for reflection and catching a breeze after a brief climb.

My Tips

  • Be Aware of the Rules.  Despite its size, the Arboretum does not allow picnicking of any kind.  Take a few moments to read through park policies before your visit.
  • Wear Comfortable Shoes - the Arboretum has paths of varying degree - smooth pavement, dirt, and gravel.  Be sure to wear comfortable and supportive shoes that will handle all sorts of terrain.
  • View the Bonsai Trees -  the Bonsai collection sits within a wooden pavilion with large slots allowing you to view the plants from the outside.  

Things to Do

  • Check out a Tree Mob - want to learn more about trees?  Then try a tree mob - these scheduled events will teach you about specific trees and you'll meet new people while you're at it.  Sounds like a great activity for the tree geeks in all of us.
  • Lilac Sunday - every year, do you always find yourself asking, "What should I do with Mom for Mother's Day?"  Well, the Arboretum has your answer.  Lilac Sunday is a wonderful event celebrating both Mother's Day and blooming lilacs.  Food trucks are usually available as well for this special event.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Safari #93: Plant Nite

Are you ready to add a little sunshine to your apartment?  With Spring, Mother's Day, and graduation season right around the corner, the newest craze from the makers of Paint Nite might just be perfect for you - or any other plant lover in your life.

A few weeks ago, I tried a new variation on Paint Nite called Plant Nite, and yes, it does have something to do with plants.

Plant Nite allows you to create your own terrarium using a variety of low care plants (read: hard to kill).  Similar to Paint Nite, you'll have an engaging host who totally loves plants, access to a bar, snacks, and fun tunes.

During my visit, we created a terrarium using succulents (my favorite!), however, there are other nights that incorporate different types of plants and arrangements.  Let your creative spirit guide your choice!

My Tips

  • Go with Friends!  You know we've all been hiding indoors since December.  Invite your pals out, catch up, and create something that will make you smile.
  • Nothing Too Nice.  Aprons will be provided but won't necessarily save you from the dirt.
  • Check the Calendar.  There are events all over town, so choose the one that is best for you.

**First photo kindly borrowed from

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Safari #92: Back Bay's Ayer Mansion

Happy New Year fellow travelers!  I know, it 's been awhile.  What's my excuse?  Well, I got engaged and am now planning my wedding.  More about that some other time ;)

I haven't forgotten about you, so here's a new great spot to check out the next time you're up for an adventure - Ayer Mansion in Boston's Back Bay Neighborhood.

If you enjoy early Tiffany works, then the Ayer Mansion is an absolute must see.  Located at 395 Commonwealth Avenue, it's one of the few remaining homes that Tiffany designed, so it's a rare treat to be able to visit.  You will easily be able to appreciate works of stained glass as well as mosaics.  Be sure to spend time in the foyer to view the stairway, stair risers, and spectacular light fixtures.

My tips:

  • Make reservations ASAP.  Tours are limited and are only available two times per month.  A $10 donation is recommended at the time of your visit.
  • Take the T.  The house is almost equidistant between Kenmore and Hynes.  Metered parking is available but limited.
  • Be sure to view the exterior of the home.  You can see Tiffany stained glass from the outside as well.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Safari #91: The Paint Bar on Newbury Street

Paint night has been a popular activity for the past few years in Boston - one that  I participated in not too long ago.  However, a new venue has opened in Boston's Back Bay, and if you haven't done a paint night yet, now it's time to go.

The paint night idea is simple: you learn how to paint and get to enjoy an adult beverage of your choice.  But the Paint Bar on Newbury Street takes it to another level; the small, intimate space (much unlike other paint night events) allows you to interact more with each other and the instructor; ours spent time teaching about basic art concepts as well as different painting techniques.  It was a great way to learn, explore, and have fun all at the same time.
Our finished painting!

The space is also available for private functions, which definitely got me thinking about future events.  Conveniently located in Boston's Back Bay, Paint Bar is easily accessible from the Green Line.  Metered parking is available on Newbury Street.

My Tips:
  • Don't dress too nicely.  Even though you get to wear an apron, don't risk spilling paint on your favorite shirt.
  • Eat locally.  Newbury is filled with different restaurants.  Make a night of the experience and enjoy a meal nearby.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Safari #90: Boston Public Garden Swan Boats

In the seven years I've been a Bostonian, I have never taken a Swan Boat ride in the Public Garden (smh, and you're probably shaking yours too). 

Now I can say I have, and I can also say that it was really enjoyable.  I should have done it a long time ago.  The weather was perfect and the ducks and nesting swans were enjoying the lagoon just as much as we were.

The Boston Swan boats have been continuously running and operated by the Paget family since 1877; the boats are a uniquely Boston experience, and for $3 per person ($1.50 for children), it's accessible to anyone who wishes to partake.  It's an easy activity for families, seniors, and visiting guests.

My Tips
  • Visit the Gibson House First.  Back Bay residents from the 1860's did not have sprawling back yards for a reason - the Public Garden was created for strolling and time spent outdoors.  The Gibson House will give you a great look into the lives of wealthy Boston residents through architecture, decoration, and daily living.  When you're done touring the house, visit the Public Garden and take a Swan Boat ride to do exactly as they did.
  • Don't Let Waiting in Line Make Your Decision. Waiting in line for a swan boat ride is fairly common and may turn those away who think they'll be waiting a long time.  On the day of my ride, there were close to 30 people in front of me, but it only took 15 minutes or so to get onto a boat.
  • Pack a Picnic.  If the weather is nice and you're able to plan ahead, pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the Public Garden like a Bostonian does.  On the day of my ride, it was awesome to see so many people out enjoying the garden.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Safari #89: Gibson House Museum

Boston's Back Bay neighborhood is filled with historic homes, and after recently moving there in September, my fascination with them has continued to grow.  My little apartment hardly resembles what was once a true Back Bay gem.  The sealed fireplace, crown molding, and empty chandelier medallions allude to a time that once was; a time that the majority of Back Bay residents haven't known. Until now.

The Gibson House Museum, located at 137 Beacon Street, highlights Back Bay life from 1860 to the mid 1950's.  The house is frozen in time still bearing many of it's original decorations, artwork, room arrangements, and technology (such as the central heating system).
Central Heating Chamber

Tours are guided and take place on the hour at 1, 2 and 3pm Wednesday through Sunday.  The tour takes less than an hour and admission is $9 for adults and $3 for children under 12.  Please visit the website for more information about tours and pricing.

My Tips
  • Have Family Visiting From Out of Town?  Take them to the Gibson House Museum and then on a short stroll to the Boston Public Garden.  Depending on the weather, take a Swan Boat ride too.  It's the perfect way to showcase Boston's most popular neighborhoods.
  • Dress Wisely.  The Gibson House was designed as a winter home as the Gibson family spent most of its time in Nahant during the summer.  If you are visiting in the summer (like I did), be sure to wear cool clothing as the house is not air conditioned.

Calling Bells - Similar to Downton Abbey!

**Gibson House Museum image kindly borrowed from Wikipedia at  All other images are my own.