The economic downturn and increasing gas prices has people re-thinking their vacation plans. Some friends of mine have cancelled European trips because of the unfavorable currency exchange. Others haven't even planned vacations because of the high price of airline tickets and the threat of sky high heating bills this winter.
However. It is still summer, and summer still is all about vacation. What's a fun-loving guy or gal to do? Try a Staycation.
"Staycation," you say. "What's that? Sounds like something an infomercial would be selling."
Rest assured, no one's trying to sell you anything. A staycation is when you take time off from work, but stay near home for the fun. Staycations can have all the fun and novelty of a typical vacation, but without the added costs (and greenhouse gases) of a typical vacation.
If I were going to take a four day staycation in the Boston area, my itinerary would be as follows:
Enjoy breakfast at home. Pack a picnic lunch with goodies from Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, including a large thermos of ice water. Pick up the ZipCar or rental car if you don't have one of your own, and take off for a day at Houghton's Pond in Milton, MA. The pond is part of the Blue Hills reservation, and offers swimming, hiking, and biking just 25 minutes from Boston. Cost? Free! Aside from the supplies and gas, of course.
Return home by 4 PM. Shower and dress for dinner, and take the train into town for our Uncorked! Italian wine tasting benefiting the Italian Home, starting at 6 PM. It's $20 if you get your ticket ahead of time. After the wine tasting and appetizers, head over to Emilio's for an affordable South end meal. Now, go home and sleep.
Friday, July 25 - Berry Delicious
Ok, this is another activity requiring a car. But you can carpool with your staycation buddies, right? Alternatively you could take the commuter rail and your bike for today's trip.
If you're feeling luxurious, try breakfast out at one of these fine establishments. Grab an empty cooler, hop in the car, and journey out to Doe Orchards in Harvard, MA, just down Rte 2. It's berry picking time (Tuesday through Saturday, 9 AM to 1 PM). You can pick blueberries and raspberries yourself, and buy a few delicious peaches.
Stick the fruit in your cooler for later, and drive down the road to Concord, MA, the picture of New England charm. Wander about the gorgeous common and shops, check out the North Bridge (famous for "the shot heard 'round the world") and lunch the French way at the La Provence Cafe.
Head home. Stop by your favorite grocery for some wine, cheese, and bread. Pack up your picnic basket along with a blanket and the berries, 'cause you're off to a little culture! 'Tis the season for free Shakespeare, this year playing "As You Like It" on the Boston Common through August 3. Make sure to get there early to snag a good seat.
Saturday, July 26 - Easy Street
You could head up to the beach, but you know it's going to be crowded. Try staying in town (it is a staycation after all). Take a morning jog, walk, or rollerblade around the Chesnut Hill Reservoir. Read a book and relax in the shade for a bit. On your way home, pick up supplies for a simple cookout dinner, including a pre-made pie crust for the rest of those berries you picked. Invite over a few friends, and enjoy!
Sunday, July 27 - Up at Bat
Sleep in. You've earned it. Enjoy a leisurely brunch - leftover homemade pie, anyone? Head downtown for the South End Open Market, and then over to the city center for the Boston Underfoot Walking Tour! Alternatively, volunteer at the Kidney Bean walk in Cambridge for the morning.
Afterwards, book it to Kenmore Square 'cause tonight's the big Sox-Yankees game. My personal favorite is the Audobon Circle bar where you can grab a bite to eat before heading over to one of the more traditional game day pubs for a brew or two.
See, you can have fun without leaving home! What would your staycation look like?