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Where To Go To Get Off New England's Beaten Path This Summer

This park, built as part of the Big Dig, is a hidden oasis with great views of the Zakim Bridge. It sits behind the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital on Nashua Street on the Charles River. (Maddie Neufeld/WBUR)

This park, built as part of the Big Dig, is a hidden oasis with great views of the Zakim Bridge. It sits behind the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital on Nashua Street on the Charles River. (Maddie Neufeld/WBUR)

Sure, you’ve taken the kids to Canobie Lake and braved the crowds at Fenway Park. You’ve probably been up to the beaches near Gloucester and you’ve certainly been stuck in Route 24 traffic down the Cape.

Sick and tired of crowds? Still want to get outside? Everybody has one, that special off-the-beaten-path summer destination.

From boating in Nickerson State Park to hiking in Lee. From catching a concert in Bethlehem, N.H., to driving the Northeast Kingdom. From Rhode Island to Connecticut to Maine, and everywhere in between.

Our listeners have sent in their ideas and Jon Marcus of My Secret Boston, joins us to share his list.

Guest:

Jon’s List of Boston’s Summer Secrets:

  • Get out on the water: the best secret on Boston Harbor is the MBTA F-4 water shuttle between the New England Aquarium and the Charlestown Navy Yard, which is free for kids 11 and under and $1.70 for adults. At the Navy Yard see the USS Constitution for free, as well as a World War II destroyer on display. If the Aquarium is too pricey, see the harbor seal show outside for free.
  • Be a lobsterman for a day: you can also go out on the Boston Harbor in a lobster boat with a lobsterman who will show you the sites and teach you how to pull traps.
  • If you’d rather be on the river: there are little-known romantic gondola rides on the Charles that you can book, and you can also arrange for roses, chocolate, and a live accordion player.
  • If you want to be a little more active: you can attend your first practice for free with the Boston Dragon Boat Club on the river, which is a great workout in those big boats where you row to the beat of a drum.
  • Hang out over the river on the Weeks Footbridge, where the Boston Tango Society hosts dancing during every full moon in the summer, starting at 8 p.m.
  • A hidden garden six stories up on top of the parking garage at 4 Cambridge Center in the middle of Kendall Square is a perfect place for a picnic. (Courtesy Jon Marcus)

    This hidden garden six stories up on top of the parking garage at 4 Cambridge Center in the middle of Kendall Square is a perfect place for a picnic. (Peter Petraitis/ MySecretBoston)

  • If you want to get away from it all without going away, take a lunch over to a little park called the Peter Faneuil House Gardens hidden away on Beacon Hill that’s a great secret oasis decorated by the Beacon Hill Garden Club.
  • Visit the hidden garden six stories up on top of the parking garage at 4 Cambridge Center in the middle of Kendall Square, with winding sidewalks lined with living shrubbery and miniature trees and benches and tables where you can bring your lunch.
  • Enjoy the great park people don’t know about, built as part of the Big Dig. It is behind the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital on Nashua Street on the Charles River, which is another little oasis with great views of the Zakim Bridge.
  • Enjoy a whole hidden world of quiet wooded paths along the route of old aqueducts all through Newton and the western suburbs, and a free nature trail hidden out behind Patriot Place at Gillette Stadium, with a hiking trail, working cranberry bog, and a place to have a picnic.
  • If you really want to get away from it all, there’s a model railroad hidden in some public woods in Needham. It was built there by a retired engineer. He calls it Martini Junction, and it’s so secret that you need the GPS coordinates to find it.
  • If you don’t want to pay a zillion dollars to see the Red Sox, there are a lot of other games in town, including the Boston Cannons lacrosse team, which plays in Harvard Stadium. There’s also the Boston Militia women’s tackle football team, which plays in Somerville.
  • See the stars. Every every third Thursday at the Harvard Observatory see the stars through telescopes for free. There’s even free parking. There’s also free stargazing at the Boston University observatory and at the top of the parking garage at the Science Museum.
  • Watch a movie al fresco. Free movies shown on the water side of the Boston Harbor Hotel on Friday nights.
  • Tee off: Another way of taking advantage of the fact that it stays light late is that the Commonwealth Golf Course in Newton near Boston College has huge discounts if you tee off after 5 p.m.
  • The hottest place this summer is the Seaport because of the new restaurants with waterside seating, but they’re also really pricey. You can hang out down there for free and hear live music outside the Institute of Contemporary Art every Thursday night starting at 6 p.m. And the museum itself is also free on Thursdays, and has a great little café that’s a lot cheaper than anyplace else down on the harbor.

Hidden Summer Secrets Suggestions From Our Listeners:

  • Philup10 : The Lowell Folk Festival – Good music, diversity of food and lots to do with the family.
  • Joanie Gentian:Bread and Puppet -”Cheap Art and Political Theater” way up in Glover, Vermont and in Lawrence, Massachusetts on Labor Day.
  • J Fisher: Circus Smirkus- It’s a wonderful Vermont-based youth circus that tours New England in the summer.
  • Elaine Almquist: I absolutely love doing the Minuteman trail on a nice summer day and the Arnold Arboretum.
  • Cambridge GirlMt. Auburn Cemetery- A perfect afternoon trip to take sometime.
  • Anthony:The Brockton Rox – Baseball, grilled burgers, hot dogs, draught beer and Red Sox great Bill Buckner! Tickets are cheap and the seats are comfortable.  It makes for a great and affordable summer evening out with the family.
  • Mary Flatley: Canoeing on the Ipswich River
  • Karen WashingtonBash Bish Falls, Great Barrington – Great on hot humid days.
  • Holly Johnson: Rutland State Park during the week – Lovely swimming, sandy beach, great for mamas and babies.

Other stories from this show:

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Charlom

    My favorite way to spend a summer evening is at a Boston Breakers Game.  The play most often on Sunday evening.

    The Garden in the Woods in Framingham is a wonderful place to go for a walk where you can get ideas of how to incorporate native plants in your garden.

  • Angeilna Calderon

    Mirabella Pool in the North End, Boston. Commercial Street by the Coast Guard Station. $3 admission gets you a beautiful pool right on the harbor, or buy a $15 season pass.

  • Jfisher

    The link above for Circus Smirkus is incorrect. Try this one:  http://www.smirkus.org

    • Radio Boston

      Thanks- fixed it. 

  • Smiclops

    A great place to walk around bike or even go horseback riding (if you have one anyway) is Maudslay State Park in Newburyport MA. It’s right off 95 and they have somthing like 40 miles of trails! Parking is only a dollar or so and its open from dawn till dusk year round. Secret Gardens to explore, hidden medows, vistas with views of the Merrimac River, beautiful stone pedestrian bridges  and big open spaces great for anything from walking the dog, picnicing, or just laying out with your favorite book make this State Park a must see destination!   

  • Tim

    The Great Park Pursuit is a fun way to explore Massachusetts’ State Parks (Mass DCR) from Boston to the Berkshires. In the GPP, teams sign up to go to programs offered by DCR that range from fishing to history walks to wildlife discovery to water sports. The goal is to get to six, and at the end of the summer, there is a Grande Finale celebration.

    More info can be found at http://www.state.ma.us/dcr/gpp.

  • Caleb50

    The SouthCoast of Massachusetts (Westport MA, South Dartmouth MA)……nice beaches, warm water, big waves, good restaurants, no bridge, no crowds, no traffic.

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