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By Mary Lhowe
Massachusetts has entered Phase 3 of its reopening from quarantine, and this phase includes many indoor entertainments, including museums and much more. Here is a sampling of ideas of places to get adults or parents with kids out to enjoy the richness of summer in Massachusetts. We emphasize here various attractions that have an indoor and a generous outdoor component. Who doesn’t want to be outdoors in the beauty of summer?
Note that indoor attractions often now are asking visitors to register in advance and sign up for timed entry. So always check the website of an attraction before planning to visit, and register if requested. Most indoor attractions request the use of face coverings and social distancing, so take your mask!
Boston Harbor Islands near Boston
This national park, composed of dozens of islands in Boston Harbor, is a unique escape to the fullness of the outdoors – with vast vistas of sun, sea, sky, and even a cityscape in the background. The park is easily accessible by ferry from Long Wharf in Boston and the Hingham Shipyard in Hingham. The park’s website states – correctly – that the ferry trip to the islands is half the fun, offering lots of gorgeous views of the city and the sea for photographers. At this time, ferries are stopping only at Spectacle Island, where people can hike, picnic, and swim. We took kites out there years ago and they loved their day of sky dancing. Map.
Battleship Cove in Fall River
This living history museum is not a place of documents and artifact roosting under glass – it is a place to see and explore the actual Navy ships. Seeing and strolling these huge vessels helps us understand the magnitude of America’s wartime naval history. The collection of US naval ships includes the USS Massachusetts, the destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., and PT boats used in the South Pacific during World War II. Especially in these days, when we are remembering the history of suffrage for women, visitors will appreciate a comprehensive women’s exhibit about contributions made by women during World War II and the role they have played since the Revolutionary War. Map.
Tower Hill Botanical Garden in Boylston
This botanic garden has a broad collection of plants, native and exotic. The variety of plots to visit on the property include Pliny’s Allée, a cottage garden, a field of daffodils, the lawn garden, the Limonaia (Lemon House), the Orangerie [pictured here], the Moss Steps, the Secret Garden, and much more. Visitors must reserve timed tickets in advance. The first floor of the Visitor Center is open. The Garden Shop is open for ticket holders. Boxed lunches from Farmer and The Fork Café are available by pre-order. Indoor restrooms are available in the main Visitor Center and near the Limonaia. Picnics are permitted at tables and in grassy areas throughout the gardens. Tickets and visiting information. Map.
Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge
The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge has been very active online with virtual exhibits and talks for months, but it is now open for real (with advance reservations and social distancing practices). Two of the featured exhibits in July are Liza Donnelly: Comic Relief, by the cartoonish whose works appear in The New Yorker, Forbes, and The New York Times. The exhibit title says it all, and who doesn’t need relief now? Another current exhibit, Rose O’Neill: Artist and Suffragette, honors the centennial of the 19th Amendment, coming this August. O’Neill is a notable woman illustrator of the early 1900s who was part of the women’s suffrage movement. Also on display in Rockwell’s depictions of women, including many that show 20th-century women as strong and savvy. Map.
Hammond Castle Museum in Gloucester
This reproduction of a European castle on a bluff above the Gloucester shoreline, overlooking the Atlantic, was built in the 1920s by John Hays Hammond, Jr., a scientist and art collector. Visitors are entranced by the medieval-style surroundings – albeit with Classical elements – incorporating stone archways, windows, and wooden facades. A major item is the collection is the 8,400-pipe organ. In the 2020 season, the museum will unveil the fully restored Eric Pape mural. The museum reopens July 16, requiring timed tickets that must be bought online in advance. Tours are held every day. In July and August there will be candlelight tours and a spiritualism tour on Thursday evenings. Map.
Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon
This small zoo is a treat for parents and kids because everything is so see-able. (Like the hissing cockroach – yeah, they’ve got one). Rides on the Woodlands Express train or the overhead Skyfari Sky Ride are a fun way to rest your legs and get a new perspective on the 115 species of animals that live here. Explore the 35-acre deer forest, petting zoo, and parakeet aviary. Don’t worry, the classic big felines are ready to greet you from their spacious and nature habitat. Map.