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March 5, 2008

Each year, during the last week of March, students of Oregon are given the week off during an annual ritual commonly known as Spring Break.

Spring Break, for most, usually entails a raucous good time in some warm, balmy climate, a wonderful way to end the frigid – or in Oregon’s case simply wet – season and commences the countdown to summer vacation.

Spring Break was never utilized much when I was growing up, so it was usually filled with hours and hours of being glued to the computer or television for twelve hours a day. My mother was either a stay-at-home mom or a teacher, so she always had that week off, but my dad worked full-time and we usually saved up his vacation time so he could take a week off in the summer and a week off around Christmas. Although my mother, now a full-time second grade teacher, tends to spend most of her vacation time working on lesson plans and anyone who knows anything about being a teacher knows that the job is does not end when the bell rings at 3:00.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I actually did anything during Spring Break, and that was mostly because I was finally old enough to travel on my own and had the funds to do so – my college spring breaks included trips to Georgia, Philadelphia and New York.

Now I’m a grown-up.

With a full-time job.

And all the wonderful restrictions on how much time I can take off to boot.

However, last year I was given five days of vacation plus two personal days, and didn’t end up using any of them until my vacation home to Oregon in December. I ended up with two days to roll over to the 2008 calendar year, so instead of only ten vacation days this year, I actually have twelve.


The two roll over vacation days go kaput on March 31. Which means I have to go on vacation before then, or I lose them.

And I’m still young enough to think, “Give up vacation days?! Are you crazy?

After much discussion with my parents and a bit of flip-flopping on what we were planning to do, the final verdict is that my mother and I are going to Boston. We initially thought about her coming to New York City, but my mother has been here twice and I live here (well almost) and it’s really not all that exciting anymore (oh dear God, did I just say that?) so we wanted to try someplace that she hadn’t been to before and that I had only minimally experienced.

She’s flying to Boston in about two weeks and will settle into the hotel (which I’m told is near Boston Commons) on a Friday, and I will drive up and join her the next day. We’ll be in Boston for practically four full days and we’ll head back down to New Jersey around Tuesday evening. We’ll have a full day in New York City (I mean, we have to do some New York).

Now here’s the thing. I saw quite a bit of Boston, but most of it was accidental touristing. I love to walk around. I’m perfectly fine getting lost and trying to figure my way around. I find it enjoyable and you usually see some pretty interesting things you normally wouldn’t otherwise. But I’m going to be with my mother and I don’t want to spend the entire day trying to figure out what to do. I want a plan. A good plan. A mother-friendly plan.

I need suggestions.

I know quite a few of my readers are either from Boston or have been there a lot, so I need ideas. What kinds of restaurants, stores, museums (art or historical preferred) should I be looking into? Are there any events going on? I was thinking about taking her to a spa, has anyone been to a good spa in Boston? What about outside of Boston? I have a car so we’re quite mobile (I even know how to pump gas now, though I’d probably have my mother do it since she grew up in California). We’re thinking about Salem and Gloucester on Tuesday on our way back – is there anything in there that we should make a plan to see?

You can either leave a comment or email me directly.


  1. talesofmy30s permalink
    March 5, 2008 10:40 PM

    If you both like Middle Eastern food, the Middle East in Cambridge is awesome. Walking in and around Harvard Square is also neat. Um, doing the Freedom Trail is great for history (if the weather’s nice), but beware, it is around 3 miles and can lead to hypoglycemia ;). Boston is one of my favorite places to visit besides Chicago, Portland, and San Francisco.

  2. March 5, 2008 11:15 PM

    Oooh, I’m going to think about this and I’ll come back to it later 🙂 I went to school near Gloucester and Salem, so maybe I can help with that… quickly though–neither are on your way home from Boston 🙂

  3. March 6, 2008 12:18 AM

    This is off the top of my head, and I’m tired. But I miss those cities, darnit, so I want to write about what I love about them. Well, I know Cambridge better than Boston, so…

    Cambridge: Davis and Inman Squares are technically in Somerville, but have great food (try Punjabi Daba in Inman if you get there and marvel at how fast food should be, if you like Indian food) and shops and such and are more human (and less…touristy, though still much smaller) than, say, Harvard Square. Harvard is fun, though, particularly for the shops and coffee places and so on…hit the Harvard Bookstore if you haven’t yet (not the Coop, the Harvard Bookstore, on the corner of Plympton St and Mass Ave). Porter Square, the next one up, looks hideous, but there’s a mall (the Exchange) right next to the T stop containing these little hole-in-the-wall restaurants with the best dirt-cheap Japanese food in the city. Central is a little seedier but quite underrated, in my book. Also very good food, shops, and so on, and an easy walk from Harvard.

    Boston: I always like the Science museum, but I’m a special kind of nerd. A special kind of nerd who also really likes things like the Duck tours, which probably don’t run this time of year, and the freedom trail, and so forth. If you do the freedom trail, do the part that lands you in the North end, crank up the pump, and hit Mike’s Pastries for cannoli. If you’re a shopper, the area near downtown crossing is pedestrian-y and kind of different from most other parts of the city, although I think the Filene’s basement is closed for repair. I am a shopper, and consequently love Newbury St, but it’s better in the summer…

    Lordy, I’m tired and can’t see straight. I’ll come up with more tomorrow when I’ve had some rest. I’m visiting Cambridge this weekend, actually…

    I will say that it’s a really great place to get lost in, because you’re always discovering new corners and shops and so forth that you never knew existed, and you can never get too lost because it’s not very big.

  4. Allison permalink*
    March 6, 2008 9:37 AM

    Mel: You’re right, they aren’t on they way home… I guess we’ll do those two towns on Monday. Any idea what’s good to do there?

    Claire & Rachel: We’re from OREGON. If we let the weather dictate our plans, we’d never get anything done! Rain might put a damper on a few things, but Oregonians know how to bundle up, trust me.

  5. March 11, 2008 4:40 PM

    Salem is very touristy. If you don’t mind that, it’s nice enough and there is the Peabody-Essex Museum nearby, which is supposed to be fantastic.

    The Isabella Stewart Gardiner museum, in the Fens, in Boston, is also excellent.

    The MFA is always good.

    The North End for Italian food and Paul Revere and all that patriotic hoorah. Charles Street for antiques. Newbury and Boylston Streets for high end shopping, although it’s become very mall-like in the last few years.

    Harvard Square has also become rather mall-like although there is a great Crate & Barrel there and there are still some excellent restaurants.

    Check out the Phantom Gourmet – google it – for local eateries in whatever town you’re heading.

    If you want to drive to Worcester (about an hour west of Boston), the Higgins Armory Museum is supposed to be fantastic. Tower Hill Botanical Gardens, in Boylston, is worth the drive, too.

    You could always come visit me. I’m way west of Boston, but Hipster City To My North is a great place to spend the day. Lots of shopping, loads of great restaurants. And me. 😀

  6. Allison permalink*
    March 11, 2008 4:44 PM

    I knew I could count on you, J. And as much as I would LOVE to see you and the girls, um, I don’t think hanging out with toddlers is *quite* what my mother has in mind for her vacation.

    Did I mention she’s a second grade teacher? Yeah…

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