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Sharon, MA – July 21, 2011 – Merriam-Webster introduced the word "staycation” into its dictionary just as the recession officially ended in 2009 and more vacationers were opting to stay at or closer to home. With gas prices still high and the aftereffects of the recession still being felt by many, staycation is a buzzword that is here to stay.
According to The Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, more than 35% of residents travel within the state each summer. ABC News just reported that a recent Marist Poll found that 55% of adults said they will not be booking a summer vacation this year, with the remaining saying they will take several shorter weekend trips (18%), take one or more long getaways (16%), or will do both or "other” (11%).
For those who are staying close to home or just looking for some new mid-summer ideas and adventures, The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) -- the nation’s oldest statewide land conservation organization with 105 beautiful reservations located around the state -- offer countless fun ideas to add to your summer “to do” list, many of which are free. Most of these ideas can be done less than a tank-full of gas -- or better yet, on your energy-independent bicycle – and are free or heavily discounted for Trustees members:
For more information visit, www.thetrustees.org or explore the suggested ideas below, broken down by individual region.
Bird Park, Walpole
Ideal for families, Bird Park features three miles of flat pathways past grassy meadows and tranquil duck ponds, and over stone arch bridges spanning quiet streams. Great for walking and biking, the park also includes a recreational area with a new playground structure (opening soon) and an outdoor Music Court featuring concerts and performances throughout the summer. Visit the park on August 6 and 7 beginning at 5:00PM for The Gazebo Players of Medfield’s 10th annual Shakespeare in the Park production featuring The Comedy of Errors. Event is FREE.
For a new twist on a nature walk, try Bird Park’s “Over the Bridge and Through the Years Quest,” a nature scavenger hunt where families follow rhyming clues to find a hidden treasure box, where you can sign in, collect a copy of our Quest stamp, and then replace the box for the next visitor. The Quest is available at the Bird Park Bulletin Board or via download at the link above.
World's End, Hingham
Follow carriage roads designed by Frederick Law Olmsted along this exquisite South Shore peninsula as it juts into outer Boston Harbor. Enjoy panoramic views of the city skyline, harbor islands, and Massachusetts coast while picnicking, dog walking, hiking, biking or kayaking. Take a learn-to-kayak class with a friend or your family with REI’s Outdoor School. Before or afterwards, consider visiting nearby Weir River Farm in Hingham for other great outings including our open barnyard, where you get to meet the animals, and outdoor story hours. Both events are FREE for members; $3 for non members. Take a tour of our small scale, sustainable agriculture project at the farm. Meet the farmers and see how we grow our organic vegetables and raise our meat. Tours are FREE. Check the website for kayak class schedules and more information.
The Old Manse, Concord
Make tracks for the Old Manse in Concord. If you’re coming from the city and don’t want to drive, the Fitchburg commuter rail stops at Concord station, from where you can enjoy a one-mile amble along historic streets to the National Historic Landmark on Monument Street (or bring your bike on the train and then pedal your way to the Manse). Generations of Emersons lived here, as did newlywed Nathaniel Hawthorne, for whom Henry David Thoreau planted a vegetable garden on the property, which is still cultivated today. The Manse -- located next to the old North Bridge -- is a must-see stop on your visit to historic Concord and offers garden talks as well as house, landscape and attic tours throughout the summer. Teachers and scout leaders can make a special appointment to discover the Manse’s rich educational programs. On Sundays throughout the summer from 2:00-4:00PM, spread out a blanket, pack a picnic and enjoy live music at the Manse with family and friends! Event is FREE.
Powisset Farm, Dover
Come visit the restored farming operation, today a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, on this iconic Dover farm whose history of pastures and planted fields dates back three centuries. Take a leisurely walk through the beautiful farmstead – complete with chickens and pigs – then follow an easy, one-mile loop trail past woodlands, pastures and pollinator fields through the far reaches of the 108.5-acre property. Complete your visit by attending a workshop or with a family volunteer project! Join farm managers each Saturday throughout the summer from 1:30-4:30PM for Friends in the Fields volunteer projects. Bring the whole family or a group of friends and get your hands dirty in the Powisset Farm fields, helping to plant, weed, and harvest, or with a variety of other farm projects. If you’d like to pick up some fresh produce to take home before your visit, stop by The Trustees’ nearby Rocky Woods property in Medfield which operates Powisset Farm’s farmstand on Saturdays from 9:00AM – 1:00PM.
Castle Hill on the Crane Estate, Ipswich
Castle Hill is a National Historic Landmark and sits on the 2,100 acre Crane Estate, which includes the world-famous Crane Beach and Crane Wildlife Refuge. Crane Beach was just ranked as the #1 beach in the state on Boston.com in the top ten beaches in the country from National Geographic, one of the top ten breathtaking beaches for your summer bucket list in the U.S. and Caribbean from Trip Advisor.
At Castle Hill, you can tour the 59-room, Stuart-style Great House, getting a unique peek into life on the North Shore 100 years ago. There’s just as much to see outside as in, including the rolling, half-mile-long lawn known as the Grand Allée (the only one of its scale in North America), which is currently being restored to its magnificent original design. The Allée makes a wonderful spot for some wholesome family time while taking a landscape tour, flying a kite, playing Frisbee or simply enjoying a picnic together. On Thursday nights during the summer, enjoy music and dancing under the stars with The Trustees’ weekly picnic concert series! Castle Hill Concerts are $20/care for members and $30/car for non-members. Great House and landscape tours are FREE for members and $10/adult for non-members and FREE for children 12 and under.
Ready to make a weekend or overnight out of the North Shore? Reserve a room at the beautiful Inn at Castle Hill, which offers simple, yet luxurious pleasures, giving you the chance to reconnect with what’s really important in life. All ten rooms at the Inn are uniquely appointed, and many feature stunning views over the salt marshes and Atlantic Ocean. Children over age 12 welcome.
Appleton Farms, Ipswich & Hamilton
Experience the sights, smells, and rural traditions of the nation’s oldest continually working farm, an icon on Boston’s North Shore, dating to 1638. Or take a leisurely walk along the Grass Rides, where woodlands envelop you and birdsong serenades you. Just recently The Trustees finished a green renovation of the property’s original farmhouse, which will soon serve as a visitor and engagement center. The house will offer formal tours in the fall where you can learn about sustainable, green renovations that can translate to your own home. An iconic farm and community treasure with an 800-member CSA program, the farm features family programs for all ages, including summer camps and one-day programs such as “meet the chickens and cows” ($4/members; $5/non-members). For teens, Appleton offers Farmhands and the Flower Project service learning programs perfect for filling some community-service hours. The Farm also offers adult history Farmstead Tours ($4/members, $5/non-members) and canning and preserving workshops ($10/members, $15/non-members). Visit the website for additional program fees and registration information.
Cape Pogue Wildlife Refuge, Chappaquiddick Island off of Martha’s Vineyard
A peaceful getaway on Chappaquiddick Island, Cape Poge features more than 1,000 acres of preserved barrier beach with a sandy shoreline, expansive salt marsh, beautiful salt pond, and unique colony of hardy red cedars. The property offers a great, remote beach destination, 14 miles of hiking and walking trails, and beautiful wildlife habitat and is a favorite destination among angling enthusiasts. The Trustees offer snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, lighthouse, and natural history tours for all ages throughout the summer. The snorkeling program is offered in a shallow, sheltered salt pond, great for children (and parents) of all swimming abilities as well as those who are still wading. For children ages 4-8, Trustees education staff will assist your child’s discovery of shrimp, crabs, fish, jellies, and more. Before or after your visit, consider stopping down the road at The Trustees’ Mytoi garden, an intimate, peaceful Japanese-style garden featuring a small pond and island, lovely flowers and plants, footpaths leading past a birch walk and stone garden, and a trail winding toward Poucha Pond and the salt marsh. Visit the website for tour fees and registration information.
Long Point Wildlife Refuge and Beach, Martha’s Vineyard
A true hidden gem off the beaten track, Long Point is the perfect setting for an almost “private” day at the beach, offering great body surfing in the ocean and splashing with younger children in sheltered salt- and freshwater ponds. For those who love to walk, the 632-acre property offers two miles of wooded trail systems bordered by Middle Point, Long Cove and Tisbury Great Ponds. The property features public restrooms, picnic tables and a bike rack for those who want to bike to the beach. The Trustees offer special 2-hour kayak tours on the property on Tisbury Great Pond throughout the summer. Tours are $20/adult members, $25/adult non-members, and $12 for all children 15 and under. Visit the website for beach access and fees information.
Coskata Coatue Wildlife Refuge (next to Great Point), Nantucket
Coskata Coatue (“co-skate-uh coat-oo”) Wildlife Refuge is a popular summer destination for those seeking a wild and semi-remote beach experience. Most easily accessible by boat or oversand vehicle, the refuge also draws walkers and naturalists eager to observe shorebirds, raptors, and Great Point Light. Also a popular destination for saltwater anglers in search of striped bass and bluefish, this beautiful double-fingered peninsula is a must see for those seeking a “hidden gem” on Nantucket. The refuge offers surfcasting adventures, plus natural history, birding and sunset Lighthouse tours, all great for families. The refuge abuts Nantucket National Wildlife Refuge also referred to as Great Point which is home to an abundant grey seal population – perfect for wildlife viewing. The Trustees and island partners advise keeping a distance of at least 150 feet from grey seals and reading safety signage on the property. Visit the website for beach access, tour schedules and fee information.
Naumkeag is a treasured National Historic Landmark from the Gilded Age located just half a mile from downtown Stockbridge. Designed by the famous firm of McKim, Mead & White and built in 1885 as a summer “cottage,” the home features original 19th- and 20th-century furnishings, art, personal family and household items. Behind-the-scenes historic house tours, perfect for all ages, are offered throughout the summer. The house’s living space spills outdoors into eight acres of breathtaking and whimsical “garden rooms,” which evolved over several decades of collaboration between Fletcher Steele, considered by many to be America’s first modern landscape architect, and his patron, former owner of the home, Mabel Choate. Children will be enchanted by the water features, the Chinese Garden, and the garden rooms. Kids can explore more deeply with an easy-to-follow outdoor scavenger hunt, while the adults take a self-guided audio tour (FREE with admission), which brings the world-famous gardens to life through the words of Steele and Choate themselves, complemented by comments from garden historians and background music. House and garden tours: FREE/Trustees members, $15/adult non-members, FREE/children 12 and under.
Before or after your visit, consider stopping at Mission House, another National Historic Landmark owned and operated by The Trustees, which offers garden and museum tours where you learn more about the Native American history of the area and the place where Stockbridge was first founded. Tours: FREE/Trustees members, $6/adult non-members, FREE/children 12 and under.
Monument Mountain, Great Barrington
For more than 20,000 visitors a year, a hike to the top is an annual rite. For lovers of art and literature, it is a pilgrimage. For almost two centuries, Monument Mountain has been a source of inspiration to poets, novelists, and painters. On August 5, 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville enjoyed a well-chronicled picnic hike up Monument Mountain. A thunderstorm forced them to seek shelter where a lengthy and vigorous discussion ensued, inspiring powerful ideas for Melville's new book, Moby Dick. But this is your vacation. So don’t be daunted if you’re not feeling similarly creative. Instead, you can challenge yourself on three miles of trails, some steep, that lead through a white pine and oak forest with mountain laurel, hemlock, maple, and birch. The reward of panoramic views of Southern Berkshire County from the summit is certain to reassure your ego that coming here was a brilliant idea in its own right.
On August 7th from 9:30AM to 12NOON, join The Trustees and The Berkshire Historical Society for a guided hike to retrace the footsteps of Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne. As the two authors did, share a glass of champagne (sparking cider) and a reading of William Cullen Bryant's famous poem named for the mountain. Led for the 26th year by Gordan Hyatt of the Berkshire Historical Society. Event is FREE.
Field Farm, The Folly & The Guest House at Field Farm, Williamstown
Streams disappear into caves. A house sprouts a silo. Massachusetts’ highest mountain looms in the distance. Field Farm is full of contrasts and unexpected sights that will catch your attention and make you question your assumptions about the New England landscape. On four miles of foot trails, the forests, farmland, and meadows of Field Farm unfold for visitors like a picture book of some idyllic past. That only makes a visit to The Folly, a Modern-style cottage built on the property in 1966, and an overnight stay at the Guest House, with its Scandinavian furniture, modern art, and international-style architecture of straight lines and glass, all the more striking. But for those who gaze out the windows while enjoying breakfast, it becomes clear that more recent art and architecture at Field Farm are reverent additions that make an unforgettable place whole. If you’re visiting the Berkshires, the Guest House is a soothing place to stay and a close drive to Mass MoCA, the Clark Art Institute and other attractions. Rooms are discounted for Trustees members.
Bartholomew’s Cobble, Sheffield
It takes a very special place to become a National Natural Landmark. Bartholomew’s Cobble received the designation in 1971 as home to one of North America’s greatest diversities of fern species as well as the widest variety of forest types in Berkshire County. Named for its two rocky knolls that rise above the Housatonic River, Bartholomew’s Cobble is as breathtaking as it is fascinating. Whether you participate in one of the property’s many events and programs, or simply watch the world go by from the grassy summit of Hurlburt’s Hill, know you’ll be experiencing the best nature has to offer. The Cobble offers guided Sunday canoe trips throughout the summer and fall, where you can paddle the winding Housatonic to view the beauty of this meandering river as it passes through agricultural fields and floodplain forests. Watch for bald eagles flying over Bartholomew's Cobble and learn about the river's history and what is happening to restore some of its most precious habitats and species from its upper reaches in Pittsfield through Massachusetts and into Connecticut. Sunday canoe trips: $24/Trustees members, $10/children ages 10-16; $30/non-members, $15/children ages 10-16. Paddles, life preservers, and boats are provided. Please pre-register.
Ashley House/A site on the African American Heritage Trail, Sheffield
History buffs take note! In the late 1700s, the Ashley House sat on the edge of the Massachusetts Colony, and at the cutting edge of history. In this, the oldest house in Berkshire County, seeds of the American Revolution were planted in the famous Sheffield Resolves. Drafted in an upstairs study of the house, the Resolves were sent to Boston in 1773 to support the Patriots’ struggle against British tyranny. The link between the home and independence did not end there. Less than ten years later, Elizabeth Freeman (nicknamed and formerly referred to as "Mumbet") who was enslaved by the Ashleys, successfully sued for her freedom under the new state constitution, helping end slavery in Massachusetts. The Ashley House is a key anchor site on the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail (AAHT), providing a great day trip/learning opportunity for kids, schools and families. To help kick off the AAHT’s 5th anniversary as well as the 230th anniversary of Elizabeth’s court case decision, The Trustees and AAHT partners are hosting their annual Elizabeth Freeman day on August 21st and unveiling a new visitor center designed by local graduate students from UMass Amherst beginning at 12NOON. All ages are welcome. Event is FREE and open to the public.
Dinosaur Footprints, Holyoke
Walk in the footsteps of giants. The 134 dinosaur footprints, preserved in stone at this reservation near the west bank of the Connecticut River, can bring out the kid in anyone. Bring a picnic and explore the tilted sandstone beds where dinosaurs, some as large as fifteen feet tall and twenty feet long, left their mark roughly 190 million years ago alongside now fossilized plants and the delicate ripple marks from prehistoric pools. Dinosaur Footprints is a perfect excursion on a trip exploring the Pioneer Valley and also offers many scenic areas for strolling and bird watching as well. Bring your imagination!
Chesterfield Gorge in Chesterfield
Come experience this imposing gorge -- considered one of the “seven wonders of the west (of Massachusetts)” carved by a National Wild and Scenic River. This remarkable natural canyon featuring 70-foot walls allows visitors to experience both the region’s geologic past and its recreational potential. The ancient rock emerged from the seabed a half-billion years ago, then was carved for thousands of years by glacial action and roaring meltwater. Today, this stretch of the Westfield River attracts walkers and cyclists, photographers and anglers. For those who love to hike, the reservation offers a half-mile trail along the cliff tops where you'll take in breathtaking views of the gorge, the river, and the surrounding forest. The Trustees are hosting a Discovery Day on August 27th where all ages are invited to explore the Westfield River and discover what swims, clings, crawls, and flies in and around it. Wear water shoes and come prepared to get wet. Even better, bring a picnic lunch and a blanket and make it a day on the river! Event is FREE/Trustees members, $5/adult non-members, and $3/children.
Chapel Brook, Ashfield
After a great hike up Pony Mountain to take in the panoramic views of the Highlands and foothills of the Berkshires, people can enjoy the natural pools at Chapel Brook Falls below – a great way to get kids exploring the outdoors this summer while cooling off and having fun at the same time. During hot summer days, visitors can enjoy taking a dip in three cool pools of water fed by a clear, cascading stream. For a safe family outing, adults should be good swimmers. Although Pony Mountain is only 1,420 feet high, the hike to the top is exhilarating. The Summit Trail rises to meet the abrupt, vertical, 100-foot rock face of Chapel Ledge (which attracts experienced rock climbers). You’ll want to be in good shape to tackle this trail. A less-daunting, half-mile trail leads around the western side of Pony Mountain and is great for families with children. Be sure to explore Ashfield’s charming village center to gather a picnic lunch or refresh yourself after a day in the countryside.
William Cullen Bryant Homestead, Cummington
The Bryant Homestead is more than just the boyhood home of one of America's foremost 19th-century poets and a National Historic Landmark, it is a place to get inspired. You can follow Bryant’s footsteps on this 195-acre pastoral estate, pondering how the landscape portrayed in his poetry 150 years ago remains largely unchanged. Walk along the same maple tree allée planted by the Bryant family. Gaze out over the rolling hills from his Victorian cottage. Explore the old-growth forest on the Rivulet Trail, and the sugar bush used by Bryant and his brothers that contains trees almost 200 years old. Tours of the house and grounds are offered at 1:00PM and 3:00PM on Saturdays in July and August. Tours are FREE for members, $6 for adult non-members, and $3 for children.
In addition, the Homestead is hosting two Nature Printing & Haiku Discovery Days on August 13th and 27.th. All ages are welcome to participate in a unique workshop led by volunteer educator Colin Harrington. Participants will search the lawns and woods for leaves, grasses, and other natural objects and make ink prints on rice paper. Even reluctant writers may find themselves writing haikus with ease, using Colin's magic formula for allowing poems to write themselves. FREE for members, $6 for adult non-members, and $3 for children, with an optional materials donation.
Tully Lake Campground, Royalston
Tully Lake is one of the few places where you can still enjoy a true camping experience—tents only, no car traffic—and a beautiful setting with miles of hiking and mountain-bike trails. Add in Tully Lake itself, with 200 acres of renowned paddling, canoeing and kayaking, and you just might have the perfect vacation destination. Located in the North Quabbin region of central Massachusetts, this hidden gem draws people from near and far. Tully Lake Campground showcases the best of New England outdoor recreation. Paddle up the picturesque Tully River, or explore the islands and inlets on the lake. Hike to tranquil overlooks and roaring waterfalls, or mountain bike the 7-mile loop around Long Pond. Fish off the campground banks or lounge in the refreshing shade of towering pine trees.
Feeling adventurous? You can even plan a two-day trip on the 22-mile Tully Trail loop, or practice your geocaching skills. A horseshoe pit, volleyball net, and a nearby disc-golf course round out the family fun at Tully. But don’t wait to reserve, because this campground fills up quickly. Weekdays are a good option for this late in the summer. Restrooms located on site. Ice and firewood available for purchase. Canoe, kayak, pre-programmed GPS, and disc golf rentals available. Visit the website for pricing and reservation information.
Royalston Falls, Royalston
More time in the area? Visit nearby Royalston Falls. Concealed within a dense forest, the rushing waters of Falls Brook have created a wonderland, carving a deep gorge through solid bedrock and providing an extravagant display as they plunge 45 feet. This reservation is an important link on the 22-mile Tully Trail, which itself makes for an excellent weekend adventure with spectacular vistas, several notable waterfalls and extensive wilderness trekking. Overnight hikers can take shelter at a trailside cabin that can sleep about 10 people and features a loft and a porch.
Rock House Reservation, West Brookfield
On Rock House Reservation’s 135 acres, children and adults alike can clamber around the nooks and crannies of numerous rock outcroppings and explore wondrous natural features, all within a short hike from the parking area. Overall, more than 3 miles of trails access features such as Carter Pond, the Rock House and Balance Rock, a butterfly garden, and beautiful views of surrounding hills and farmland. Glaciers created the rock shelter that gives the reservation its name. Its large size, height and its southern exposure made the Rock House an excellent winter camp for Native Americans.
Doyle Community Park and Center in Leominster
If you’re exploring Central Massachusetts, then stop by Doyle Community Park and Center, a 170-acre oasis of open space amidst the busy urban centers of Leominster and Fitchburg. Doyle Center, located in the heart of the park, is an inspiring "green" conference center and gathering place that is a model of sustainability. Built in 2004, the Doyle Center is a 14,000-square foot, gold-rated LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building that was constructed using renewable and sustainable building practices and features composting toilets, a geothermal heating and cooling system, and 2,000 square feet of photovoltaics. Tours are available by appointment, Monday though Friday. Members: FREE. Non-members: Adult $3.00, Child (6–12), $1.00. Group tours are available. Call 978.840.4446 x1900.
Outside, you can enjoy 3.5 miles of easy trails through this former family estate’s woodlands, open fields, meadows, formal gardens, and parklands. The park also includes Pierce Meadow, part of the former Pierce estate, a 10-acre gem with huge specimen trees and open space for strolling, picnicking, and play. The meadow is a link in the Monoosnoc Trail. Doyle Community Park and Center is hosting volunteer opportunities on Wednesday mornings great for all ages throughout the summer to help keep the property well maintained and looking beautiful! Tasks include weeding, mulching, and pruning on the grounds; trail maintenance; and more.
More about the Trustees of Reservations
The Trustees are 100,000 people like you who love the outdoors and the distinctive charms of New England, and believe in celebrating and protecting them for current and future generations. Founded by open space visionary Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees “hold in trust,” and care for, 105 spectacular “reservations” located on more than 26,000 acres in 75 communities throughout Massachusetts.
Fifty percent of the population of Massachusetts lives within 5 miles of one of The Trustees’ reservations, all of which are open for the public to enjoy. Properties range from working farms and historic homesteads -- several of which are National Historic Landmarks -- to formal gardens, barrier beaches, open meadows, woodland trails, and mountain vistas and 3 green, LEED-certified buildings, including the Doyle Center in Leominster, which serves as a meeting space and gathering place for the conservation community.
The Trustees are committed to being a force of action in creating a sustainable future and are working to promote healthy, active, green communities around the state, by providing hundreds of year-round programs and events that inspire people of all ages to enjoy the outdoors and appreciate the history, nature, and culture of the Commonwealth. Most programs and events are free-of-charge or heavily discounted for members.
Accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, The Trustees are an established leader in the conservation and preservation movement, The Trustees also hold perpetual conservation restrictions on more than 19,000 additional acres (a total larger than any other conservation organization in Massachusetts), and have worked with community partners to assist in the protection of an additional 16,000 acres around the Commonwealth. One of the largest non-profits in the state of Massachusetts, The Trustees employ 152 full-time, 49 regular part-time, and 400 seasonal staff with expertise in ecology, education, historic resources, land protection, conservation, land management, and planning. To find out how to apply for employment, request a speaker for an event, become an organizational partner, interview Trustees’ experts on important topics and issues, or become a member, donor or volunteer, please contact www.thetrustees.org.