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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!

Mapparium

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!

Have A Blast in Branson!


Last summer, our family was planning a series of quick jaunts. We wanted to jump in the car and spend a few days somewhere wed never been! As we tossed around ideas, my husband suggested Branson, Missouri. I snickered a little, remembering the Branson trips Great Uncle Frank and Aunt Ruth had taken to hear their favorite crooners. I pointed out that while I was sure it was a lovely place, it probably wouldnt be much fun for the kids.
Its tough admitting to not only being wrong, but off the charts wrong! This beautiful town in the heart of the Ozarks was one of our favorite vacation spots EVER! There was so much to do- we could have stayed much longer! Not only was it super kid-friendly but wholesome fun for the entire family. The people of Branson were gracious and welcoming, the scenery spectacular and the adventures endless!


Both of our children are completely enamored with anything related to the Titanic, so a stop at the worlds largest Titanic Museum attraction was definitely on our agenda. It was like stepping back in time as we each took on the role of one of the original passengers (not even knowing if we survived until the end of the tour!). Artifacts, oral histories and an experience with the frigid waters made our visit interactive and, at times, quite poignant.

While I tend to be more of an indoor girl, my family loves to explore the great outdoors. Kayak Branson fit the bill perfectly, and we enjoyed a beautiful afternoon gliding through the stunning waters of Lake Taneycomo.

We followed our experience on the water with a drive INTO the water as part of the Ride the Ducks Branson experience. We bumped along as we climbed to the top of the mountain quacking all the way, only to ease into the water for a completely different perspective. We were fascinated as we learned about the unique military vehicles we passed during our 70-minute ride and the kids loved helping the captain by steering the amphibious vehicle once we were cruising the lake.

The Track Family Fun Park was a definite highlight of our Branson excursion! Featuring three high-rise go-kart tracks (one smooth concrete and metal and two of the jaw-jarring wooden variety), we careened through the twists and turns as we raced to the top and back down. I wish I could say I won, but found my foot on the brake more than the gas and watched as my kids flew right by me! We also happened to be visiting during the inaugural spin of the Ferris Wheel- talk about a breathtaking birds eye view of the Live Music Capital of the World! Of course, we couldnt leave the Track without a visit to Andys Frozen Custard, which serves my version of heaven in a dish!

Speaking of heavenly experiences, our show at the Sight and Sound Theater was a phenomenon not to be missed! Moses captured the audience with astonishing special effects and live animals while drawing us in to a story as old as time itself. Remarkable!

Regardless of where we travel, we seek out the nearest theme park to the destination. My adrenaline-loving family is always game for new coasters and rides while I am usually content riding the benches or taking in a show. Silver Dollar City managed to exceed all our expectations! This 1880s theme park in the heartland of America was nestled in abundant shade and offered exceptional entertainment and thrilling rides. There was so much to do, we considered going a second day!

Tagged as the most fun place to eat in Branson, our dinner and show at Dolly Partons Dixie Stampede did not disappoint. Competition between the North and South is still alive and well in this arena and featured astonishing horse riding stunts, special effects and the tastiest of family feasts. We ate, whooped and laughed, all while cheering on our favorite riders. Loved the energy of this show!

Ive shared some of our familys favorite Branson highlights, but really didnt even scratch the surface of all there is to do- Parakeet Petes Zipline, shopping at Branson Landing, the Branson IMAX, and a wonderful visit to Shepherd of the Hills (which I understand is now temporarily closed) rounded out our escapades in Branson. Since our visit, a new family-friendly attraction has been added that just may entice us to take another road trip. Frtizs Adventure opened in November of 2016 to stellar reviews. One visitor commented that it is a fully interactive adventure where everything you see is meant to be crawled under, climbed upon or through. Who wouldnt want to check it out?!?

Branson is an amazing and vibrant town, still brimming with the energy of live shows and entertainment daily but with a youthful edge of activity. It is so completely family-friendly and reasonably priced that its a great vacation option for anyone. Go on- have a blast in Branson!