Boston: 10 things

Before our recent trip, I read that Boston was ranked third snobbiest city in America by Travel & Leisure  as part of its annual America's Favorite City Survey. Just in case you're wondering, New York was #2 and San Francisco took 1st place.

Fortunately, we didn't come across any uppity people. We found Boston to be a proud and beautiful city rich with history. I love the energy of being in the heart of a real city. I was touched by this tribute to the Marathon attack victims.

{Arlington Street Church, Boylston Street}

The Mophead boys were tasked with keeping a travel journal. One wrote: "Birds, boats, churches, chairs, trees, food, drinks, hotels, people, ice cream, libraries and buildings." Pretty much says it all.

More specifically, here's what I would recommend for a family trip.

1) The Four Seasons. There's no denying I like to stay in a nice hotel. When planning a trip, I prefer to dedicate a large portion of the budget to lodging. Lucky for us, there was a problem with the room we reserved so we got updated to a posh suite. It makes such a huge difference having two separate rooms when traveling with children. Speaking of, the hotel could not have been any more child friendly. The boys were greeted with a welcome wagon full of toys to choose from at the front desk. And at turn down, a boatload of goodies and child-sized guest robes and slippers awaited them after a long, hot day of sightseeing. It was unseasonably hot -- like 98 degrees HOT. The best place to hang out in Boston in those conditions is at the Four Seasons pool overlooking the Public Gardens. Again, no one seemed to mind that kids were traipsing through the fitness center in bath robes or trying to surf on kick boards at the pool.

Let's take a quick look...

 {Ahhh, cool serenity}

{sweet, cold treats in the lobby}

{beautiful flowers as always in the lobby}

 {Sunday brunch food porn}

2) Boston Harbor Speedboats. We had planned to do a walking tour of the Freedom Trail, but wimped out because of the heat. We chose to the tour the city by wheels and boats instead. Mr. Mophead had already booked two Boston mini speedboats for a thrilling harbor tour. Thank goodness we had a guide. I had never captained a boat, and I'm not much of a thrill seeker. Mophead Jr. claimed I was a bad driver, but later announced he wanted to stay on the boat all day. I highly recommend the tour for adults and older children alike.

{Not us, but you get the idea}

3)  Boston Duck Tours is a another fun way to see and learn about the city. The ducks, referred to as WWII-stlye amphibious landing vehicles, travel the city from street to water. Pretty cool. Again, a crowd pleaser for both adults and kids. View the photo gallery for pics.

4) Parks and gardens. Some fun facts. In 1634, Boston Common became the first public park in America. Massachusetts purchased the land from a Boston settler for use as a livestock grazing area. The Frog Pond doubles as a skating rink during winter months.

The Public Garden was the first public botanical garden in the US and home to the city's famous Swan Boats. A popular sculpture of a family of ducks resides in the park as a tribute to the award-winning children's book -- Make Way for the Ducks by Robert McCloskey. It was created in 1987 for the garden's 150th anniversary.

5) Fenway Park. Opening in1912, Fenway Park is the oldest Major League baseball stadium in use today. Last year, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places for its 100th anniversary. You baseball fanatics might want to wow your friends with these 100 fun facts about the park. The Mophead boys enjoyed their 60-minute public tour. Tickets to Yankees-Red Sox games are hard to come by. Plan to buy them well in advance.

{the 37-foot green monster wall -- tallest in any ML baseball park}

6) Cambridge. After Fenway, the boys took the train to Cambridge to take a student-lead Harvard tour, which they enjoyed. Mr. Mophead mentioned that the guide milked the Zuckerberg/facebook connection. While in Cambridge eating ice cream is a must. Toscanini's on Maine Street is famous for its house-made ice cream in exotic flavors. Toscanini's was too crowded, so the boys went to J.P. Licks instead. If you have more than a few hours to stay in Cambridge, check out the New York Times 36 hour guide.

7)  Beacon Hill Walking Tour. While the boys went to the ball park and Cambridge I took a walking tour of Beacon Hill (more in an upcoming post). The program started with a tour of the Otis House -- the earliest intact mansion in the neighborhood. As an aside: Without fail, every time I do a group tour, there is always at least one annoying person. Wouldn't you know, out of the five people in my group, I was stuck with perhaps the worst offender: a know-it-all. I asked him if he was an architect or historic preservationist. No, he was an accountant from Philadelphia "who knew a little bit about everything." Ugh. Does that ever happen to you? After the house tour, I hit the streets with a very knowledgeable young docent. I got a private tour because no one else was willing to brave the heat. While I was up on the Hill, I was booted off the street where John Kerry resides by Secret Service. He was in town while Teresa Heinz was recently hospitalized.

8) Blue Man Group. The Blue Man Group originated in Boston, so it was cool to see it at the Charles Playhouse. The building -- originally built 1839 -- was first a Universal Church, turned first synagogue in Boston, turned speakeasy during Prohibition, turned fashionable nightclub until it became a playhouse in 1958. The boys loved the show, but were disappointed they didn't get splashed with paint or regurgitated Twinkies.

{Charles Play House}

9) JFK Presidential Library and Museum. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that Mophead Jr. is obsessed with the Kennedy's. He wanted to go to Hyannis Port, but he had to settle for the museum instead. Travel tip: If you plan to visit any museums during a summer stay in Massachusetts, the Highland Street Foundation sponsors Free Fun Fridays. Be sure to check the schedule before you go. We happened to visit the Kennedy Library on a Friday and it was free. Yay. I highly recommend a visit. We spent a few hours there with no whining or "I'm bored." Probably not so great for younger children.

{115- foot high memorial pavilion}

10) New England Aquarium. Meh. We were not impressed. It had a lot of interactive activities for young children. The boys were looking forward to seeing the little blue penguins. It was not until after we paid to get in that they told us the penguins were off site until the end of August. Bottom line: Skip it if you live in city -- like Atlanta -- that has a good aquarium.

There you have it. Have you been to Boston? What were your faves.?

Gas lanterns

{Beacon Hill, Boston}

I became obsessed with interested in outdoor lighting this summer when we redid our front walkway. Although I wasn't in the market for one, I love gas lanterns. I see them all around -- in shelter mags, my neighborhood and on my travels this summer.

A bit of history. Before electricity became widespread and affordable for general use, gas was the most useful form of lighting. Early gas lights had to be lit and unlit manually before they became self igniting. While touring Beacon Hill in Boston, my guide told me that during the late 19th century lamplighters used tall bikes to light gas street lamps. Tedious job. The helpers look pretty somber.

Back to my summer hobby...

A front entrance doesn't get any more charming than this -- designer Sally Wheat's West University home in Houston. I saw this photo on Cote de Texas some years back. Love the oversized gas lanterns and the way the wisteria frames the arched front door. Also, the simple boxwood planters and door wreathes.

Too bad my house doesn't look like this or any of these that I saw at the beach. You see, I have a thing for vine-covered doorways flanked by lanterns.

 {Alys Beach -- love the peace wreath}
Or just one centered above ...

{Alys Beach}

 {Alys Beach -- graceful curved arms}

And, just a few of the lovely ones I saw in Rosemary...

Just in case you're wondering, tasteful path lights are hard to come by. After much searching, here's what I chose. Cute, right. They will look much better with some patina.

photo images: 1, 2

Nantucket: 5 things

On our way home from Boston (post coming soon) this summer we took a short detour to Nantucket for a few days. I had not been there in 20 years. Of course, I was 15 then. It is still the quaint cobble stoned town that I remembered, but a lot more crowded.

For those of you who have never been, you can travel to the island by ferry or plane. If you can get a cheap flight, take it. We flew for $50 each.

What did I like best about our trip, you ask? Here are my top five.

1) 76 Maine. When Mr. Mophead sent me a link to 76 Maine, I knew that was the place to stay. We arrived the week after it opened so everything was pristine and very classy -- just the way I like it. Located in town on Maine street, the former guest house was gutted and turned into a small boutique hotel with en suite (albeit very small) bathrooms in each guest room and cottage. To say that it was well appointed, is an understatement. The hotel was impeccably designed by Boston's Rachel Reider Interiors. They did a fabulous job making the hotel look and feel like a home sans the beach-themey look. There is a Vineyard Vines suite in the main house. I didn't see it, but Conde Nast Traveler called it "the preppiest hotel suite you've ever seen." Vineyard Vines tote bags and towels, as well as beach chairs are gratis for guests. Nice touch.

Let's take a quick tour.

{welcome to 76 Main}

{come on in}

{living room}

Rachel sure does know how to style bookcases. Doesn't she? Love the high gloss navy walls and art above the sofa.

{living room nook}

 {our room -- so pretty}

Loved all the furniture and color scheme in our guest room..

 {boy's room}

And in this one where the the Mophead boys stayed. Yes, they had their own room adjacent to ours. Frightening, I know. They messed it up before I could take a pic of the entire room, but I did get a close up of this cool Phillip Jeffries wall covering. It looks fab behind the olive/black & white ticking striped head board.

In the other corner I honed in on this sand dollar water color. A must have for my master bath collection. Inn keeper Katie was kind enough to email Rachel to ask for the source. As luck would have it, UK artist Lisa Le Quelenec sells her water colors on etsy. Yay. You know how much I love etsy. I've already ordered one. Will let you know when it's hung.

{adorable kitchen}

Complimentary breakfast is served in the kitchen. Eat in or outside in the courtyard. Every evening the hotel stocks the courtyard bar with glasses, mixers, twists and salty snacks. BYO poison. Another nice touch.

 {courtyard lit up at night}

2) Beaches. Nantucket has 10 beaches that accommodate all beach goer's needs. Some are close to town. Others, a short car, bike or bus ride away. The Wave bus takes you just about anywhere you want to go on the island for $1. The buses can accommodate 2 bikes. We didn't take the bus. We chose to be more adventurous and rode our bikes on paved bike paths to Surfside Beach (roughly 2.5 miles from town) one day and to Medaket (6 miles from town) the other day. Side story: You know our trip would not have been complete without a few mishaps. Both Mophead boys wiped out on their bikes on the way home from the beach. We were clearly too ambitious and should have put our bikes on the bus for the return trip.

{love this sea foam shed door}

Life guards, restrooms, fantastic food and beach rentals make Madaket a safe bet for families.

3) Food. When in Nantucket, eat seafood. Lobster, scallops, mussels, clams and oysters - oh my! Nantucket bay scallops are considered the sweetest in the world. Such a shame if you're allergic to or can't eat shell fish. Our most memorable meal was a Millie's on Madaket.

 {eat in, take out or visit the the market for ice cream and other provisions} 

{"Esther Island" taco -- yum! Nice presentation too}

{"Gibbs Pond" lobster salad -- delish!}

No trip to Nantucket would be complete without a trip to the Juice Bar for home made ice cream. Trust me, go.

4) Flowers. Mopheads everywhere and in every color! Simply stunning.

 {gardens at 76 Maine}

5) Shopping. Okay, so I didn't do much shopping. But there is plenty of it for those who are so inclined. Home goods stores abound. Not enough time to look. I did like the name of this shop.

{wonder who drives the Lily Pulizter Jeep?}

I wasn't the only gal in town who would rather snooze than shop. So cute!

Photo image: 1

May I suggest...


Busy, busy, busy getting back into the swing of things with our new school schedule. Promise I have some riveting posts coming up soon. In the meantime, I thought I'd share some of my favorite summer reads. 

1) Where'd You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple. Perhaps my fave read of the summer, this domestic drama made me laugh out load. In a recent New York Times interview, Semple names The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen her favorite book of all times. A former TV writer, ( "Arrested Development") she says "Mad Men" is some of the best writing in television today. I'm totally with her on that one. A film adaptation is in the works. Can't wait!

2) The Tennis Partnerby Abraham Verghese. From the author of Cutting For Stone, a compelling, but tragic non fiction story. Very well written IMO.

3) The Sliver Starby Jeanette Wells. Pretty impressive for her first stab at fiction. I was sold after reading an interesting profile in The New York Times Magazine.

4) Yonahlossee Riding School for Girls, by Anton DiScalafani. This debut novel about a rich girl's boarding school would have fit in nicely with my earlier summer reading post. Family secrets, lies and  unsavory and inappropriate sexual liaisons. Sound familiar?

Next up, The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer & And The Mountains Echoed, by Kite Runner author Khaled Hosseini.

What's on your nightstand at the moment?
Blogging tips