Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Safari #6: An Eclectic Mix

Diversity - in all its forms - is a good thing.  For your next safari, visit one of Boston's most diverse neighborhoods, Jamaica Plain (JP).

JP has a homegrown, grassroots vibe all of its own, and this beat is contagious.  Artists, musicians, independent thinkers, hipsters, rockers, and everyone in between are the residents of this vibrant area - and no fancy degrees are required to participate in the community that has been built here.

To feel the vibe that is JP, head out on safari and visit these popular haunts on Centre Street:

  • Centre Street Cafe - why not stroll while sipping a beverage?
  • Boomerangs - THE place to shop; practically every JP'er has perused this store, and so should you.
  • JP Licks - even if you don't like ice cream, get some anyway. This is a neighborhood staple and JP original.  And no, it's not the same as getting ice cream from the one on Newbury street.  This is the flagship.
  • If you don't have a stomach ache from drinking coffee and eating ice cream, pick any restaurant for a meal.  Japanese?  Mexican?  Indian? Pub Food?  You name it, Centre Street has it.  You can't go wrong with locallly owned restaurants.
While there are other locations in JP that are also worth visiting (such as the Arnold Arboretum (perfect for picnicking and grass slumbering), Jamaica Pond (with rental boats and bike paths), or the Sam Adams Brewery), get a real feel for this neighborhood and go where the people are.

Your sensibilities and creative spirit will be grateful.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Safari #5: In Search of Sunshine

Where can city dwellers go to embrace the sun that is both nearby and T-accessible? Enter Carson Beach in South Boston, located about 1/2 mile from the JFK/UMASS stop on the Red Line. This beach boasts sand volleyball courts, a bocce court, restrooms (with a shower located outside for rinsing off) and food vendors. It's fairly bare bones as far as beaches go, but it should do if all you're really looking for is a chance to sizzle. The sand isn't fantastic, but it's acceptable and relatively stick, stone, and (thankfully) garbage free.

Some tips before you head to Carson:
-Bring soap. If you like washing your hands using soap *and* water, Carson's bathrooms will disappoint you. Thankfully, I had a small bottle in my beach bag.
-Bring a beach chair or extra towels. It's nice to lay on the sand, but considering some of the "debris", I'd suggest a beach chair if possible. If you're going to bring a towel, pack more than just one for some extra cushion.
-Sunscreen. I didn't forget mine but still managed to get a little sunburn.

What's next? The fridge for some cool aloe vera gel. Later this week, a trip to a new salon.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Safari Tip#2: A 'Reasonable' Excuse

You've been standing in the doorway waiting for that final nudge to get you out of the house, and there's only one thing holding you back: lack of play money. If my latest postings haven't done it, here's a nudge and a 'reasonable' excuse for you to hit the town.

Visit, a site that offers the best deals in shopping, entertainment, and dining in cities across the country. Sign up to receive daily emails for deals in and around Boston. For example, today's special offers $60 in food and drink from Lobby Bar and Kitchen (131 Broad Street) for only $30. Sounds like a pretty reasonable excuse to get out and explore the Financial District.

Grab the coupon, a girlfriend, and head to Lobby (or any other restaurant featured on LivingSocial), for after work food and drinks.

What are you waiting for? I already bought mine.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Safari #4: A Bit of Bread

In anticipation of summer picnics and entertaining, my latest urban safari brought me (and my nose) to the doorstep of Clear Flour Bakery, a European style bakery tucked quietly between Allston and Brookline.

Located on Thorndike Street, Clear Flour offers a range of rustic, European-style, baked goods from traditional breads (like French baguettes) to pastries (ranging from cookies and cakes to hot buns and scones). Rather than heading to your local grocery, consider visiting Clear Flour instead, where you can buy hand-shaped freshness made from organic, unprocessed ingredients - all for about the same price.

For your first summer party, consider one of Clear Flour's rustic fruit tarts. Be sure to check their special listing to ensure first pick of the best treats. Avoid long lines on the weekend by arriving early - and certainly before noon if you're craving hot buns.

Maybe I'll see you in line this weekend.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Safari #3: A Walk-On Adventure

It's true, the city is great, but sometimes it's nice to get away and smell the flowers. If you get the itch for a nearby, yet somewhat out of town trip that embraces the outdoors, consider a trip to your nearest L.L. Bean.

L.L. Bean offers Walk On Adventures for $20 where you can explore an outdoor sport of your choosing. Over the Memorial Day weekend, I opted to try kayaking at the L.L. Bean location in Dedham, MA, (which is commuter rail accessible). For those of you who have never been kayaking before, this is a good way to learn how to do it inexpensively as well as have access to trained and experienced professionals. Each L.L. Bean location offers a different selection of adventures, so be sure to check out the website to find the right activity for you. If you are willing to travel up to Freeport, Maine, the location of the flagship store, you will have more adventures than you can possibly imagine - and it may be worth a long weekend.

If you decide to kayak, here's a few tips I can offer you in terms of preparation:
--Bring a bottle of water
--Wear clothes that can get wet - in other words, don't try to look cute. You will sweat and smell like pond scum when you're finished.
--A light snack to enjoy afterwards (or while on the water). My well-prepared roommate brought trail mix for the group, and it was *perfect*.

What's next for me? A trip to a local bakery. Stay tuned.