Having recently moved to New England from Northeast Ohio I feel like I’m perpetually on vacation. There is so much to see and explore. Moving from one state to another is a big deal for anyone but moving to an area so rich in history is a bonus! I explored the downtown Boston area quite a bit last fall so I’m sharing a few of my favorite finds here and I hope to revisit all of them again soon!
First on the list is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. This was a gem in the middle of the city to be sure. It is literally an inside out Venetian palazzo, when you look at it from the outside, the building is just that, a building of no consequence. But, when you walk inside, your breath is taken away! It is like you are literally standing in a Venetian palazzo with beautiful fountains, flowers and statues all around. And that is just the beginning, there are three more stories to the museum of room after room of an amazing collection of artwork and manuscripts. Isabella was an avid art collector as well as a collector of rare manuscripts which are on display in the museum. In the summer, the gardens outside are well thought out and blend well with the intent of the museum inside. Unfortunately, I was there after the growing season but I intend to go back to see the garden in bloom!
Next stop is the Public Garden and a visit to the Swan Boats. The boats, which began operation in 1877, glide around the pond operated by a person on the back who is actually pedaling the boat along! We were able to get up close and personal to the ducks and swans that live on the pond. It was definitely the highlight to one of my visits to Boston.
I saved my favorite for last, afternoon tea at the Boston Public Library! There is a cafe inside the library called The Courtyard Restaurant and you can reserve a table for afternoon tea. It was amazing! We had savory tea sandwiches, scones with preserves and cream, and delicious petit fours. The tea was brought out in an elegant teapot, one for each person with the requested tea choice. We had so much food we couldn’t finish it between the two of us. Very elegant and quaint, I would definitely recommend this on a trip to downtown Boston!
Traveling to faraway places is always on my radar but I also love being a tourist in my own town. I’m keeping this blog post close to home…Mason, New Hampshire, to be exact! The end of February into March is usually when the sap starts flowing from the maple trees and the sugar house’s get busy making that dark, delectable liquid we love to drizzle (or drown) our waffles and pancakes in. Having never been to a sugar house I was very excited to find out that we were not too far away from several. We decided to go visit Parker’s Maple Barn and we were not disappointed!
If you plan on eating at the restaurant on a weekend during peak season I suggest putting your name in at the hostess stand as soon as you get there. We waited for over an hour for a table for two. The smell in the air from the vats of steaming liquid in the sugar house is enough to make your stomach grumble in anticipation of a fat stack once you get to your table. But, there is plenty to do while you wait. We went on a tour of the sugar house and got to see exactly how they make the maple syrup at the farm. Our guide took us step-by-step through the syrup making process that has been going on at Parker’s since the 1960’s. They still use the old-fashioned method of sap buckets and wood-fired evaporators.
After the tour you can enjoy a nice hot cup of maple flavored coffee or hot cocoa from the little coffeehouse alongside a maple covered donut. Yes, you are in for a sugar shock at Parker’s Maple Barn! They also have an eclectic gift shop onsite that is warm and inviting with a cozy front porch and many intriguing items inside to occupy your time while you wait to hear your name called in the restaurant. We were even lucky enough to run into some friends while we were walking around!
I did not take pictures of inside the restaurant but I will say that the food was delicious and abundant. My husband ordered the Parker’s Barn Special which included two eggs, two pieces of bacon, two pieces of sausage, choice of French toast or pancakes, hash browns and toast! I had a pancake and their original ham hash (so good). Needless to say, we did not leave hungry! The trip to Parker’s Maple Barn is definitely worth the drive and the wait!