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slides: 12 Great Summer Day Trips

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Who said that you have to take a full week of vacation time off of work to enjoy the summer? Sometimes, peppering your summer with days off—whether you take a vacation day on a random Monday or skip the Saturday errands in favor of a trip—can guarantee a fun and memorable summer. Here are some day trip ideas for everyone, all within an hours’ drive of Central Massachusetts.


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Six Flags New England

Located just an hour from Worcester, Six Flags New England is a classic summer amusement park, filled with thrilling roller coasters and rides for all ages. On steamy summer days, children can cool off in the Splish Splash Zone, a huge water playground, while adults (and children over 3 feet tall) can take a ride on one of the huge water slides. There are also daily entertainment activities; catch a magic show, meet the Looney Toons characters, or cap off the day with a dance party. Check out their website for details and ticket information. Remember that if you buy tickets online at least three days in advance, you can get discounted tickets!

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Step Back in Time

Craving some history? The Mashantucket Pequot Museum in Connecticut—just an hour’s drive from Worcester—is one of the best Native American museums in New England. One of the most fascinating exhibits is a walkthrough of a 22,000 square foot re-creation of a 1500s Pequot village. Additionally, there is a 30-minute movie detailing the Pequot War, an exhibit on early American life dating back from the ice age, and an exhibit surveying life on Native American reservations. The glass and steel building has won numerous awards. The museum recommends putting aside three hours for the museum, and there really is a lot to see. Even children who are bored at most museums will love it. Visit http://www.pequotmuseum.org/default.aspx for more information.

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Watch Some Football

True, the season has yet to begin, but any die-hard Patriots fans—and everyone craving some football in general—will enjoy watching the Patriots practice. Their official summer training camp in Foxboro is open to the public, and best of all, it is completely free to attend. The Patriots Fan Zone is also open for free, and features games, prizes, and appearances from Patriots cheerleaders as well as Patriots alumni. Perhaps you will score an autograph? Check their website for the training camp schedule.

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Go Zip-Lining

Who said that you can only zip line in Costa Rica? There are great zip line places all over New England. Located in Middletown, CT—just an hour’s drive from Southbridge, MA—is Empower Zip Lining, featuring a course of 5 zip lines ranging from 70 to 500ft, as well as swinging rope bridges and obstacle nets. The tour takes about two hours, and the safety guides take pictures throughout the day, all of which will be available for downloading and are included in the price. For those who live in Northern Central Massachusetts, Zoar Outdoor Zip Lining in Charlemont, MA might be closer, although it is a little over an hour away from Gardner. Zip lining is not, however, recommended for those afraid of heights, and there is often an age and weight requirement for adventurous youngsters.

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Lions, Tigers, and Bears

Visiting the zoo is a summer classic, and the Southwick Zoo in Mendon, MA is a great place to go. Their collection of animals includes lions, snakes, alligators, chimpanzees, tigers, white rhinoceros and birds. This zoo also features the Deer Forest, where you and your family can walk through a 35 acre forest to feed and interact with the deer that live there. Additionally, there are daily bird talks by zookeepers featuring peacocks and other birds from around the world. You can also see the zoo from the sky with Southwick’s SkiFari Ski Ride. This zoo will be enjoyed by children and adults of all ages. Visit http://www.southwickszoo.com/ for more information and tickets.

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Take a Gamble

This might seem like a strange idea at first, but the Mohegan Sun Casino can be an awesome summer day trip. Located in Montville, CT—just an hour’s drive from Auburn, MA—the casino offers much more than gambling. High-class shops and restaurants, including a fabulous buffet sure to please any picky eater, are in abundance, as well as top-notch entertainment. Ke$ha, Beyonce, and the Jonas Brothers all have concerts at Mohegan Sun this summer, as well as NBC Sports Network Fight Night and Kiss. There are also comedy nights every Saturday night, and a kid’s arcade. Visit Mohegan Sun’s website for more information.

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Go Sailing

Sailing is such a great summer activity. Even those who have no idea how to sail can enjoy a fun excursion. Newport, Rhode Island sailboat the Adirondack II offers daily sails, morning mimosa sails and romantic sunset sails. You will pass lighthouses and beautiful coastlines. Since all the excursions last an hour and a half, you can add on to your trip a stroll down the famous Cliff Walk to see the famed Newport mansions. Newport is a few minutes over an hour away from southernmost Central Mass, but a trip there is well worth the drive.

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Experience a Little Magic

Children will be enchanted by the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory and Gardens. Located just an hour from Gardner, MA, this glass conservatory in South Deerfield is 8,000 sq. feet and filled with over 3,000 butterflies. After entering, you will feel as if you’ve landed on an island, as the conservatory is filled with colorful tropical plants and the temperature is kept in the 80s. Check out their website here. After visiting the conservatory and grabbing a quick lunch at the café, you can stroll through South Deerfield’s Yankee Candle Village if you still have time. Maybe bring back some butterfly bushes and candles to your own home.

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Ride Some Waves

For the truly adventurous, white water river rafting can be the ultimate day trip. Located an hour or so from Athol, MA, Crab Apple White Water in Charleston, MA offers two different full day trips—one that tackles Class I-III rapids, and one with Class III-IV whitewater—as well as a half-day trip with Class I-II rapids, which is better for families with younger children. For the full day trips, a lunch is provided, and for all three trips, there are top-notch safety guides. Visit their website at http://www.crabapplewhitewater.com/massachusetts/index.shtml for more information. This is the priciest excursion on this list, but white water river rafting is a truly unforgettable experience.

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Explore a Shipyard

For those who are a little more comfortable on land, you can still enjoy the water at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT. There is something for everyone here, and a lot to discover. You will have the chance to explore many different sea-faring vessels, from sandbaggers and schooners to the last surviving wooden whaleship in the world, the Charles W. Morgan, built in 1841. At the shipyard, you can watch craftsmen build wooden ships, and you can attend a 30-minute star presentation at the seaport’s planetarium. Tickets are a little pricey, but you can save money with the AAA card discount!

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Visit a Castle

Although there are a few castles in New England that look a little more medieval, Smith’s Castle in North Kingston, RI, more closely resembles a rather plain house. Don’t let that discourage you, however. Built in the 1600s, Smith’s Castle is surprisingly full of history, and the prices can’t be beat: admission for guided tours is just $6 for adults and $2 for children. Additionally, every Saturday in August, there will be a pirate exhibit on the property. Check out their website for more information. On your way back home, be sure to book a late lunch or dinner at one of Providence’s fantastic restaurants. If you plan correctly, you can also see WaterFire in Providence, where a blazing glow of bonfires and torches will light the water; it’s a magical experience, but these bonfires are only lit on certain Saturday nights during the summer. Visit http://waterfire.org/ for dates.

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Discover Boston

There is so much to do in Boston that it is hard to tackle in a day. Therefore, Boston can be the destination of multiple day trips. Faneuil Hall is always worth a visit for the bustling marketplace and street performers. For sweeping panoramic views of the city, be sure to check out the Skywalk Observatory. The Boston Public Library is another great site to visit: it’s a magnificent marble building that is fun and free to explore. To hang out with sharks, sting rays, and penguins, a visit to the aquarium is a must. The Boston Public Gardens is a great place for a stroll or a ride on the swan boats, and there are sometimes performers wandering around there as well. For art lovers, the Museum of Fine Arts is another great destination. Pasta lovers will enjoy all the great Italian restaurants in the North End. Sports fans can catch a Red Sox game, although tickets can get pricey. Overall, Boston has a little bit of everything, so it makes a great day trip destination.


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