Day Tripper Dispatches

Drop of Hope Photography Project

The Roots & Shoots youth organization invites everyone to participate in this year’s Drop of Hope Water Photography Project. There are even a couple of spaces left in a special photography workshop at Deer Island on Sunday, August 23.

The project encourages youth participation in celebrating bodies of water, building awareness about water issues, as well as creating and enjoying art. Roots & Shoots is again working with the Griffin Museum of Photography and Boston Photography Center on this project. Roots & Shoots is founded by chimpanzee researcher and environmental activist Dr. Jane Goodall.

This project involves three stages:

  1. Young people take photos and briefly write descriptions about bodies of water they have visited, projects they have done with water or water issues that are of concern to them.
  2. Exhibit the photos and descriptions in an online Roots & Shoots photo gallery, allowing visitors to the gallery to learn about and comment on the photos. (Anyone may submit photos for this portion of the project.)
  3. The eventual exhibition of a selected number of the photos in the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA. (Only photos taken by Roots & Shoots members can be selected for this opportunity.)

Into the Mystic – and Stonington

Stonington & Mystic, Connecticut, are less than 2 hours from Boston and make a fabulous extended day trip at any time of year.

Stonington’s big draw is a charming, very walkable village known as Stonington Borough, with several terrific restaurants on Water Street, which is the narrow, one-way main road along the water through town. Noah’s and the Water Street Cafe are both charming, casual, with upscale menus, open for lunch and dinner, reasonably priced, and Skipper’s Dock is on the water, in good weather definitely opt for the deck, good food, especially seafood. Boom is at Dodson’s Marina and has a view of the water, a little pricier and the food’s richer. The best and most charming place for coffee, tea and cookies in Stonington Borough is The Yellow House.

Water Street is lined with wonderful antique stores, art galleries, marine shops, unique clothing boutiques, and such, but it’s relatively low key, very tasteful and not too touristy. Lots of artsy New Yorkers summer here, but there’s also a working group of fishing boats. Down near the boats, there’s a house where you can buy local fish and scallops on the honor system. You just pick out what you want, put the money through a slot, and take your change out of a can. There’s a farmer’s market nearby every Saturday morning in season, and some gorgeous old captain’s houses. Everyone likes to walk around on the docks and see the boats at Dodson’s – there are some beautiful classic yachts there. The lighthouse (above) and museum at the end of the Water Street is open to the public, and you can climb up to the light for spectacular views. Nearby, the Palmer House is also worth a visit, as is Stonington Vineyards, which is open year ’round and offers tours. (continued below)

Just down the road is Mystic (interesting note, Mystic is not a town – half of it is part of Stonington and half is part of Groton). The Mystic Seaport Museum is definitely worth a visit – you and/or your kids will love climbing over the old ships. There are restaurants in and near Mystic Seaport, but the best is Bravo Bravo in Mystic Village for either lunch or dinner. The village has good shopping, a little touristy, but the drawbridge is fun to watch – the river’s busy, so it goes up and down a lot.

On the way home, go via Rt 1 through Westerly, RI. In Charleston, stop at the Fantastic Umbrella Factory on the Old Post Rd. – a unique shopping experience. It’s a collection of artsy shops in old barns and sheds with treasures like great inexpensive clothing, cards, musical instruments, toys, jewelry, and posters – a really crazy mix. There’s also a good vegetarian restaurant called the Spice of Life alongside a garden center and petting zoo and farm. It’s straight out of the hippie sixties! I think it’s just open weekends. Definitely not upscale, but fun.

The nice thing about heading to Rhode Island and Connecticut is that people from Boston mostly go to the Cape, so even on busy summer weekends, there’s not a lot of traffic coming and going – and it only takes a bit more than 1.5 hours to reach Stonington and Mystic.

– The Day Tripper Divas thank reader Betsy Baldwin for this excellent roundup!

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The Trees of Harvard Yard
August 19, 2009, 1:11 am
Filed under: Boston, Cambridge, gardens, harvard, history, maps, nature walks, suburbs, tours, trees, university, walking tour

Harvard University turns out to be a great place to take out-of-town guests – and take in some natural splendor at the same time (see map). As the center of Harvard University since its founding in 1636, Harvard Yard has always been a popular tourist attraction. Each year, countless faculty, students, locals, and tourists from every corner of the globe pass through the green oasis in the middle of the urban jungle. Even with outrageous real estate costs, Harvard has chosen to expand its space in the Allston area of Boston rather than sacrifice its priceless green space. The diverse green canopy that extends over the campus each summer only adds to the reputation and tradition that surround Harvard. “The [trees of the] Yard exude a sense of security and stability in a dynamic and ephemeral society,” muses Harvard grad Ryan Lynch, creator of a fabulous interactive map to the arboreal splendor of this icon of American acadaemia.

Get More with Your Mass Value Pass
August 2, 2009, 7:45 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Times may be tight, but help for DayTrippers is at hand. Click here to sign up for the monthly Dispatches newsletter, and we’ll zip you the amazing Mass Value Pass, which provides hundreds of summer-season discounts on lodging and day trip destinations across the Commonweath through August 31. To request by email, click here and specify “Mass Value Pass” in the message subject. If you aren’t a subscriber, request the pass anyway and we’ll add you to our free and secure “opt-in” mailing list. You’ll be able to unsubscribe any time you wish. It’s our way of saying “thanks” and encouraging DayTripping in times that are tough for many of us.

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Meadow Magic at Garden in the Woods

New England Wild Flower Society will celebrate “Meadow Magic” Saturday and Sunday, August 15 and 16, 2009, at Garden in the Woods, 180 Hemenway Road, Framingham, MA. Garden in the Woods is open both days from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., however, special Meadow Magic events are scheduled noon to 4 p.m. There is free parking on premises both days.

See peak meadow bloom from ground level and above on the new Observation Deck. This will be the inaugural event for the 12′ X 24′ Observation Deck which will put a whole new perspective on looking at the meadow. Be amazed at the height of the wildflowers in the meadow. This can mean native species in bloom up to 7 or 8 feet tall. Beside these “giant sized” plants are others that are quite small and delicate.

Look for butterflies, bees, ladybugs, and more as they fly from flower to flower collecting and spreading pollen. Learn about plant pollinators, play games, and more. The Bugmobile brings craft projects and live bugs to the meadow. Enjoy a scavenger hunt in the Garden too. A beekeeper will join us at the Garden to explain how bees work in the web of life. Discover what a bee hive is all about, how bees make honey, and which bees make honey. Meet some fun, costumed characters who explain their roles in our ecosystems.

Take a special walking tour of the 45-acre botanic museum, scheduled at 2 p.m. both days. Tours, included in the price of general admission, cover the Invasive Plant Jail, Idea Garden, Lily Pond, Lost Pond, and unique New England Garden of Rare and Endangered Plants.

Visit the Garden Shop and its nursery to find which plants could bring beautiful insects and wildlife to your garden. Our knowledgeable staff will assist you in a butterfly garden design, birdhouse selection, or plant combo for a great container garden. Books and eco-friendly gifts complete the Garden Shop experience. Visitors receive a special discount on merchandise at he Garden Shop on August 15 and 16; 10% off the cost of native plants, books, eco-friendly gifts, clothing, and tools.

Founded in 1900, New England Wild Flower Society, the nation’s oldest native plant conservation organization, promotes the conservation of temperate North American flora through education, research, horticulture, habitat preservation, and advocacy. The Society owns and operates Garden in the Woods, a 45-acre public botanic garden in Framingham, MA, and Nasami Farm, a 75-acre native plant nursery in Whately, MA, as well as ten sanctuaries located in New England. The Society’s vision is a future where vigorous native plant populations live in healthy, balanced, natural ecosystems—protected, enjoyed, and beneficial to all life. For more information, visit

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Beat the Heat at Reservoir Beach
July 31, 2009, 3:03 pm
Filed under: all ages, community, free/cheap, refreshments, swimming, toddlers, wildlife

Finally, it feels like summer! DayTrippers can keep cool locally – and frugally – at Arlington’s Reservoir Beach. Located on Lowell Street in Arlington Heights, Reservoir Beach has a filtered/chlorinated swimming area, bathhouse, playground, and is supervised by certified lifeguards. Get a daily or a seasonal pass at the Recreation Department at 422 Summer Street or at Reservoir Beach. Arlington residents get a break on the gate price; season tags are an even better deal.

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Exploring the "Emerald Necklace"

“We want a ground to which people may easily go when the day’s work is done, and where they may stroll for an hour, seeing, hearing, and feeling nothing of the bustle and jar of the streets where they shall, in effect, find the city put far away from them…” ~ Frederick Law Olmstead, 1870 ~

Late one night I got a phone call from my sister Fran. “So, what are you doing tomorrow,” she said. “I was thinking you should ride up to the city. Some of my art is being showcased at the Thayer Gallery and I thought you might like to see it.” I did want to see the exhibit but I also had a bee in my bonnet. Wednesday was Earth Day 2009 and I wanted to explore “The Emerald Necklace”, a series of parklands surrounding the city of Boston. Over the years I have visited Franklin Park and of course Boston Gardens and the Commons, but I had never explored the rest of the “necklace.” click here for the full photo essay by Elizabeth E.

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