7 Hidden Gems in Boston

Boston. I could write forever about Boston. My brother recently relocated to Beantown and I am positively gleeful! I’m pretty sure my new connection gives me “local” status and therefore lends credence to my rep as an insider. As such, I will share with you some hidden gems in Boston.  These points of interest aren’t necessarily highlighted on the tourist map but are great for student groups and others looking for unique experiences!


When you visit Boston, a trip to the local library probably doesn’t top your list of must-dos. However, the Mary Baker Eddy Library may just change your mind!  Approximately 3 stories tall and made of stained glass, the Mapparium within the library is a three-dimensional perspective of the world of 1935. It features a unique presentation of how humans and geography have been intertwined throughout history.

Museum of Bad Art

This is (literally) the only place in the world where bad art is not only displayed, but revered! It’s a hidden gem you need to uncover for yourself!

Ancient Crypt at Old North Church

The Old North Church is a standard stop for student and other tour groups. However, you may not know  that there is an ancient crypt in the basement accessible only by special tour. The crypt was used from 1732-1860 and holds more than 1100 souls. Yikes!

Boston Athenaeum Skin Book

Can we all just stop for a minute and say “eeeewwww?” The Boston Athenaeum houses a collection of 150,000 rare books. Tucked among them in a locked room is one with a morbid history. Its binding is made from the skin of one James Allen, a criminal who spent most of his life in and out of jail.

Edgar Allan Poe Square

Continuing with the macabre theme which seems to have emerged, our next point of interest is Edgar Allan Poe Square at the intersection of Boylston and Charles Streets. Poe was born in the area January 19, 1809, although his home no longer exists. The plaza boasts a statue of Poe with symbols from some of his best-known works.

Hood Milk Bottle

A forty-foot milk bottle isn’t really hidden, but it is a gem! Built in 1930 by Arthur Gagner to sell ice cream, the giant bottle stood empty for years until H.P. Hood and Sons, Inc. bought it and donated it to the Boston Children’s Museum in 1977. The dairy company is now given billing on the side of the bottle that sells snacks and ice cream in the summer.

Great Molasses Flood

On January 15, 1919, a fifteen-foot wall of molasses flooded Commercial Street at 35 miles per hour. It wiped out everything in its path and took the lives of 21 bystanders. A plaque commemorating this horrific disaster can be found at the intersection of Commerical Street and Copps Hill Terrace.

I’ve had such a good time sharing this hidden gems series with you- I think I may continue to pop up some secret spots from time to time! Student travelers and groups of all kinds will love finding treasures tucked away where they are least expected. Of course, the stranger the better.  Happy hunting!

7 Hidden Gems in Branson

Fortune seekers, rejoice! There are a TON of hidden gems in Branson, MO. We know that Branson is a hotbed of top-notch entertainment. It’s also home to some intriguing attractions you may not know exist. Let’s explore some hidden gems in Branson…

Top of the Rock

Top of the Rock is situated at the highest elevation in Taney County and tucked into some of the most breathtaking scenery in Missouri. It boasts world-class golf courses, including the Jack Nicklaus signature course and an Arnold Palmer-designed practice range. However, hidden throughout this stunning recreational facility are secrets of its own- including a concealed room, The Lost Canyon Cave, a spectacular mountain top wedding chapel and a natural history museum. Incredible!

Bonniebrook Gallery, Museum and Homestead

Bonniebrook was home to Rose O’Neill, world-renowned artist and creator of the Kewpie. You can visit this 1870s home (the first in Taney County with indoor plumbing, electricity and telephone!) and learn about the Kewpie craze that swept the world in the early 20th century.

Butterfly Palace

You can have a rainforest adventure right in the heart of the Ozarks! The Butterfly Palace is home to thousands of tropical butterflies in its butterfly aviary. You can feed them or participate in a daily butterfly release. You can also explore a living rainforest with genuine inhabitants. It’s an unexpected surprise in the middle of Branson!

World’s Largest Toy Museum

Take a trip down memory lane at the World’s Largest Toy Museum. The complex is home to countless collections and six museums, including the Stearnsy Bear Museum and the National BB Gun Museum. The World’s Largest Toy Museum will make you nostalgic for your childhood in the best possible way.

World’s Largest Ball of Twine

You serious, Clark? Yep! The World’s Largest Ball of Twine can be found right in Branson at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Branson is also home to the World’s Largest Rooster, a giant fiddle and banjo, and (of course) the World’s Largest Toy Museum.

Marvel Cave at Silver Dollar City

This hidden gem truly is a marvel. Originally a tourist attraction on its own, the Silver Dollar City theme park developed around the entrance to Marvel Cave. Included with your park ticket, you’ll travel 300 ft. below ground to the largest cave entrance room in the U.S. A trained guide will share stories during the hour-long tour. You then make your way 1070 ft. back to the top in a uniquely designed cable train.

Runaway Mountain Coaster at Branson Mountain Adventure Park

This family-friendly thrill ride will leave you breathless! Mountain coasters are gaining popularity world-wide, and Branson boasts one of the finest. The Runaway Mountain Coaster follows the natural topography of the land for nearly a mile. It’s a uniquely exhilarating experience that you just can’t miss. Be sure to check out this hidden gem at Branson Mountain Adventure Park.

Branson is packed with amazing and unique attractions for student groups, homeschool families, faith-based groups or any other group looking for adventure.  The hidden gems in Branson are just waiting for you to find them!


Groups Will Race to Andretti Indoor Karting and Games

I grew up in a small town in rural Pennsylvania. Home mail delivery did not exist and one of my responsibilities was to walk (or ride my yellow, banana-seated Schwinn) to the post office daily. I dreamed of having one of those nifty, electric mini cars and cruising in style to pick up the weekday deluge of junk mail. Oh, how the other kids would envy me!

Of course, I never got that car and my trusty Schwinn saw me through many years of carrying mail. However, I secretly still harbor a love for mini cars and go-karts! Enter Andretti Indoor Karting and Games in Orlando, Florida. Boasting the worlds longest indoor track with the most elevation changes and banked turns, Andrettis also has some of the fastest SODI RTX electric go-karts available. Hairpin twists and turns, super-fast acceleration and the thrill of racing make a day at the track perfect for student groups, homeschool families, youth groups and adults wanting to make childhood dreams come true!

The atmosphere at Andretti Indoor Karting and Games is charged with excitement, and groups will love all the extreme attractions available. Once theyve successfully navigated the real challenges of the track, they can test their skills in the virtual world with Hologate- a completely immersive sensory experience. The XD Dark Ride is an exhilarating 7D interactive movie with special effects and laser blasters- students will love competing for the highest score while they battle on-screen enemies.

Next, they can take it up a notch (literally) on the Sky Trail Ropes Course. This indoor, high adventure course is the first of its kind in Florida to feature a uniquely a curved zipline. So cool! Keep the fun going in the arcade with classic gaming, 3D multi-player games or life-sized games of favorite apps a little Temple Run, anyone?

If the group is looking for a more upscale experience, check out Boutique Bowling. Comfy, stylish seating, four state-of-the-art projection screens and black lit custom-designed lanes elevates bowling to new levels of posh.

Once everyones exhausted themselves racing and playing, they can settle in to eating one of Andretti Grills signature, hand-crafted burgers, delectable sandwiches, fresh salads, gourmet pizzas and more. There are so many choices guaranteed to satisfy the hungriest teen or the most discerning palate!

Andretti Indoor Karting and Games in Orlando is truly an experience not to be missed. Its the perfect attraction for adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers alike. Racing around the track in those electric go-karts is as close as Ive come to living out my childhood fantasy-next time, I just might bring some mail with me!