9 Fun Places to Take Kids (Within an Hour of Boston)

There’s really no argument about it: Boston is a fun city for all ages.  But if you live around here you know that busy tourist seasons can mean that the usual institutions for family outings can get very crowded.  If you’re looking for somewhere fun to take the kids but don’t want to face the agony of trying to find a parking space near the aquarium (without paying a thousand bucks for a garage spot), look a little bit outside the city!  Here are nine of our favorite places for kids that are all less than an hour from Boston (even less if you already live in one of the surrounding suburbs!).

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f4 :: joanne chang’s new flour bakery (back bay)

There’s a new Flour Bakery location that recently opened up in the Back Bay, lovingly nicknamed F4 like its three predecessors.  It’s on the corner of Clarendon and Stanhope, and it’s where the old Hard Rock Cafe used to be.  If you go on a Saturday around noon like we did, your hopes of finding a table for lunch will probably be diminished (we just weren’t thinking — the opening weekend and you think there’d be space for two plus a baby?! what planet are you from?!), but the wait in line is worth it for pastries and dessert treats to enjoy later.


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nix’s mate (boston)

We met up with some of our past coworkers for lunch in Boston at the Nix’s Mate restaurant located at the Hilton hotel within the Financial District.  It was the first time any of us had been to this place.  I was a little nervous about them being busy for a Friday lunch outing – especially with a stroller and baby in tow – but it is a nice, big space with an open atmosphere.

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flat stanley

I got a phone call from my sister one day asking for a favor: she wanted to know if she could send my nephew, Evan’s, Flat Stanley project to me.  I was vaguely familiar with the scope of the project and agreed to take on the task of photographing Evan’s Flat Stanley in some places around Boston.  “Just a couple of pictures is fine,” she says.  Of course, the shutter bug in me couldn’t resist going over and above the call of duty.  And 25 pictures later – along with a homemade suitcase in tow – Flat Stanley made his way back home to Oakley, California with some memories and souvenirs to share.

Luckily for us, the weather was gorgeous so we kind of used the project as an excuse to head over to Boston one day.  We took him to the Boston Public Garden, Harvard University (in Cambridge), Fenway Park and more.  It was funny because I heard so many comments while shooting the photos of people saying things like, “Oh!  It’s Flat Stanley!” and “I remember Flat Stanley!”  I even had one woman offer to take my photo with him at the Paul Revere statue.

If you’d like to see the other photos from Flat Stanley’s adventures in Boston, click here.

And yes, I took the original cut out drawing that my nephew made to Kinko’s and made a color copy of it and then laminated it.  I know, I’m a little crazy.  🙂

trade (boston)

Good friends + good food = a fun girls night out.  🙂

A group of us – 9 gals in total – got together for dinner at Jody Adams‘ new Boston restaurant, Trade, last Saturday night.  A dear friend of mine was in town for the weekend and since we are both fond of Chef Adams (and her other restaurant, Rialto) we decided to check out Trade along with some of our past museum coworkers.  It was also the first time that three of us in the party (myself included) were out on a girls night outing since bearing babies, so it was an extra special night out on the town.

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pretty food :: spring onion brick oven pizza

The spring onion, ricotta, mozzarella, pancetta, and radicchio brick oven pizza at Sonsie in Boston’s Back Bay.  I don’t know if it’s usually made with red sauce but I told the waitress about my tomato allergy so she made sure there weren’t any of the pizza.  Delicious sweet flavor from the onions, saltiness from the pancetta, and balanced out with the subtlety of the ricotta cheese.  Even better sitting by their open windows while people watching.

327 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02115

digital scraps :: 29 weeks

I used to be addicted to scrapbooking.  Seriously, like I have albums and albums full of the real paper-and-adhesive type of layouts filling baker’s rack shelves in my crafting space.  But over the past couple of years I sort of fell out of it and became a lot more absorbed in card making and stamping.  Lately I’ve been drawn to digital scrapbooking (I dabbled in it a little bit a couple of years ago too, but never really got serious about it) after following the blogs of a couple of super talented scrappers and gaining inspiration here and there.

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pretty food :: calamari

Calamari the way it should be:  evenly battered, crispy on the outside, not overdone on the inside with just the right texture.  Lightly seasoned, not too salty but still flavorful.  Served on top a small bed of mixed greens.  In this case, with a side of marinara sauce for dipping as an alternative to a spicy dipping sauce (for food allergy reasons).  Available as an appetizer at 29 Newbury in Boston’s Back Bay.

blue inc (boston)

Whenever my husband asks, “Can I take you out for dinner [tomorrow night]?” a very hasty response of, “Definitely!” shoots out of my mouth before I even have time to decipher what he said.  Thus, this was the first thing that came out of his mouth when he got home from work on Thursday night.  Date night with him has been something I’ve learned to savor lately in anticipation of our baby’s arrival this November, and the thought of not being able to go out for a long time gives me the chills.

So to add to the thrill of date night on a Friday night, I let him pick the place and keep it a surprise.  And I was pleasantly surprised to find out that he had picked Blue Inc., chef/owner Jason Santos‘ new place in Boston’s financial district.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Chef Santos’ fame, he was the runner-up in the 7th season of Gordan Ramsay’sHell’s Kitchen” (remember the guy with blue hair?  Yup, that’s him!).  He was also the former chef over at Gargoyles on the Square in Somerville’s Davis Square.  We went to the special viewing party that they held in the Gargoyles parking lot last August to watch the Hell’s Kitchen season finale in anticipation that they would announce Jason as the winner, but alas it was the other chef that won.  I guess the best thing for Bostonians is that it meant he would stay here in Massachusetts and eventually open up his own place.

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sportello (boston)

There are very few things that are better than the combination of beautiful summer weather (think 82 degrees), delicious food, and good company.  I was lucky to have all three today in a lunch outing to Sportello with three lovely coworkers on the last day of Boston’s restaurant week.  One of them, Tara, has a husband (Greg) who just recently got a job there so it was a great reason to escape the office to dine at one of my favorite restaurants.

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