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We hear you – prior to having kids, you were off on some crazy outdoor adventure every weekend. Now maybe you’re in a rut, where the biggest novelty is the location of the next T-ball game. Here’s some easy but unique family getaways to remind you that you are still the awesome outdoorsy person you were before – and to share with your family just how fun the Great Outdoors can be!
The Friendliest Ride in the East
This year for the first time, Cycle Massachusetts is offering a family-friendly weekend of bicycle touring! This is very rare in the bike world – there are a few tours catering to families, but many are at least a week, and often very expensive! (I don’t know about you, but I’d rather do a “test run” before committing big money to a vacation!). The Cycle Massachusetts family-friendly weekend offers short routes to fun destinations (including Old Sturbridge Village), a kid-approved outdoor movie, an ice cream social, and more family-friendly features, especially the price: FREE for kids 11 and under. The tour raises funds for the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, so you’ll be supporting a great cause while you make memories!
Cycle Massachusetts is from July 30th through August 5th; the family-friendly weekend is July 30th and 31st.
Saddle up and camp out!
Do you have a horse lover in the family? Cowboy or cowgirl dreams can come true when you go out west…but not as far west as you might think! Lenox, Massachusetts, is home not only to Tanglewood but to Berkshire Horseback Adventures. Take a trail ride up to peaceful Lenox Mountain, and then camp out next to a mountain lake, perfect for a refreshing dip after a day in the saddle. The tents are already pitched, and the meal will be perfectly cooked over the fire; your family can go for a hike, a swim, or just visit with the horses before dinner and stories by the campfire.
Overnight adventures are available for ages 10 and up.
Sleeping out under the stars…and streetlights!
Not sure if camping is for your kid? Want to test-drive your old tent without heading all the way to the mountains or the beach? Want to enjoy the novelty of making s’mores in the most densely-populated city in Massachusetts? Then Somerville’s 7th Annual Great Urban Campout is for you! Join the tent city and make new friends around the campfire during a night of s’mores, songs, and stories. The price is right too: it’s free, though pitching in a bag of marshmallows for the campfire is always appreciated!
This year’s Great Urban Campout is on the night of August 20th at Conway Park in Somerville.
Adrenaline rush in the Berkshires!
For decades, Berkshire East Mountain Resort was a winter destination only, with the steepest mountain pitch in Massachusetts. But over the past 10 years, it’s been reborn as a four-season adventure destination, much to the advantage of thrill-seeking families looking to get beyond the theme park lines. You’ll have your choice of some of the longest ziplines in the United States with the Berkshire East Canopy Tours. If you want to stay closer to terra firma but not skimp on adventure, try out the Thunderbolt Mountain Coaster (ages 3 and up can ride!), or hop on the bike at Thunder Mountain Bike Park – the newest mountain bike area in the East!
A walk in the woods – far from the tourist track
We have plenty of friends who love geocaching (an outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices), but sometimes you just want to ditch the technology and enjoy a day out reconnecting with family! Enter Across Lexington, an ambitious project of “Accessing Conservation land, Recreation areas, Open space, Schools and Streets” in Lexington – there’s four different walks that are well-marked for easy adventures. Of course Lexington is a fixture in history books and on field trips; Across Lexington lets you simply enjoy the novelty of following wherever the signs take you, through wide meadows, historic farmsteads, and quiet neighborhoods. Two of the routes start and finish in town, so you can finish your walk with ice cream at Rancatore’s or reward yourself with coffee and pastries at Ride Studio Café.
Island Getaway – with an international twist!
It’s not exactly a secret that Martha’s Vineyard is a lovely place to go with kids – the Flying Horses carousel, Mad Martha’s Ice Cream on a hot day, and miles of sandy beaches – but finding affordable accommodations is often more challenging than grabbing the brass ring!
Luckily, there’s the family room at the Hostelling International – Martha’s Vineyard. It’s not just a place to sleep, but a mini-United Nations – since its opening in 1955, the hostel has welcomed visitors from hundreds of countries. The homey common areas and huge kitchen offer tons of opportunities for your family to mix and mingle with world travelers of all ages. Add that to the miles of bike paths just outside the hostel’s back door, and you’ve got a one-of-a-kind Vineyard experience!
The hostel is open from May 15th through October 10th, 2016 – beds start at $35 per night.