Things to Do

It’s going to snow again…other things you can do with kids in Boston

toomuchsnow

I’m going to venture a guess that if you have been willing to make a trek into Boston, or out of your neighborhood this winter, with the under 5 set you’ve already been to the Children’s Museum more times than you care to admit and the thought of staying indoors and catching up on your Elmo’s Potty Time video viewing may cause some afternoon drinking. There are however a lot of really cool indoor things to do in the City of Boston that are just different enough to keep you sane and fun enough for your tike not to miss that train table.

MFA Playdates First and Third Mondays 10:15-11:15am: Children 4 and Younger can enjoy stories, activities in the galleries and even try their hand in some art.

Afternoon Tea with your little princess or prince: Many of Boston’s finest hotels offer a Kid’s Tea, most notably the Taj (opentable.com for reservations), I’d recommend children be 3 or older for this one (there is china involved).

Jump On In and burn off that extra winter energy at an indoor play space full of inflatable slides and jumping equipment.

Bostonian Habits, Things to Do

How to Boston: Running the Esplanade

The Charles River Esplanade, Boston’s most expansive park.

Between concerts at the Hatch Shell, the numerous playgrounds for the kids, and fields for sporting events, it’s a great place for Bostonians to escape and catch a view of the Charles. With 18 miles of biking and running paths, it’s a fantastic place for runners to train all year round (thanks to New Balance’s commitment to plowing the path in the winter months.) But the Esplanade is also a source of many headaches for us runners. I hope I’m not speaking for myself when I say that the Esplanade has its own quirks and idiosyncrasies that can throw a monkey wrench into any long training run. To get the most out of those 18 miles of paths, you need to proceed with caution.

So here’s how to run the Esplanade without dying.

  1. Follow the rules of the road: Stay to the right. While hard to see in the snow-covered winter months, the Esplanade’s bike path has a dotted traffic line right down the center. The implied meaning of this line is that everyone should teat the path like a driving lane. You stay to the right hand side of that path, always. If you have to pass a walker or slow runner, pass on their left and give a little “heads up” or “on your left” to warn them. It’s common runner courtesy; it goes a long way. But you better look before you pass…
  2. Watch your back (and your front, sides, and while you’re at it, below your feet too). Unlike the road, there is no speed limit on the Esplanade and bikers take that lack of speed limit quite literally. Many will zip past you at the speed of light without so much as a fleeting “excuse me.” Even worse are those Hubway bikes with crowds of out-of-towners riding them. My favorite, the adjacent pathway-blockers who just simply meander down the middle of the path like they own it. In that case, you have every right to run right between them. Own it, you’re a Bostonian. Also watch out for fellow runners. They may be on your side, but it doesn’t mean they won’t run you down with a surprise pass. Finally, watch where you step. That path is NOT flat.
  3. Check the Esplanade schedule. In the summer, the Esplanade hosts dozens of outdoor events. There’s nothing worse than being on a 3-hour long run to find that the entire path near the Hatch Shell is blocked with hundreds of charity walkers or a massive yoga class. But do take advantage of some of these events when you’re not trying to get your fitness on.
  4. Pick a side. The pathways run on both sides of the Charles – Boston and Cambridge. Both have their positives and negatives. If you’re running the entire length of the bike path (from Watertown to the Museum of Science) your best bet is to run the Boston side until you reach Harvard. Dear God, switch to the Memorial Drive Side at Harvard. Yes, the Larz Anderson bridge construction is awful as awful can be right now, but once you get past Harvard, the Boston side gets narrower and narrower, until you’re pretty much rubbing sweaty elbows with everyone on the path. The stretch between the Western Ave. and River Street Bridge and underneath the BU Bridge is a bike/runner accident waiting to happen. Save your sanity (see #2). Once you get to the Mass Ave Bridge, I encourage you to enjoy the view and cross over to the Boston side again. On that side you will get two bathroom buildings and a lot more water fountains as you enjoy the ride to the Science Museum.

“How to Boston” is an arbitrary series, in which we talk you through those important Boston habits and help you fit in (and how not to get run over by a bicyclist).

Back Bay, Things to Do

The Time I Raced a Couch on Boylston Street

I laughed out loud when I first received word of the Great Boston Couch Race, an outdoor obstacle course completed via pedicabs/couches/rickshaws, for the awareness and benefit of House of Tsang sauces. “Who are the ad wizards that came up with this one?”

It turns out Tsang puts on quite a show and they deserve a thumbs up for a legitimately fun event. The race’s obstacles were so ridiculous that they circled back on the cool-o-meter, from a DVD hunt reminiscent of Supermarket Sweep to tossing vegetables at a teammate with the help of a wok. I felt like I was a contestant on Family Double Dare, if it were filmed on a frozen tundra. Multiple flatscreens displayed twitter feeds and a nearby tent cooked up stir-fry on demand. This is apart from the sauce itself, which I know as a staple for confused guys who want add flavor to meat, but for whom the advanced ways of five spice marinade remain a mystery.

The Pru on a winter’s Saturday morning is confusing for this city native. The crowd was dominated by high schoolers in formal wear: there was a jazz band competition in the Hynes. You know the crowd: that kid in the food court forgot his tie and the one sitting across from him just threw mini corns at the girls. Another kid slicked back his hair with mousse for the first time ever. It is overrun with tourists, too. But I can only wonder, who chose to come to Boston in February and spend more time inside at a mall? How bad does it have to be where you came from?

In the Couch Race, those high schoolers would be my downfall. I raced against two girls in town from Cape Cod, a pianist and a singer. We had a huge lead, entering the final stretch under 100 seconds. But  pedal mishaps necessitated pushing the bike-couch-rickshaw with our feet, a la Fred Flintstone, costing valuable time. As we approached the finish line behind the musicians, our soy sauce dreams a fading memory, I thought back to competitions of years past, and relived my “almost, not-quite” moments.

I won an Oreo stacking contest in the 1990s. My parents and I happened upon the demo table in Wegmans and encouraged me to compete. My hands, fresh from a piano lesson, piled up over 20 cookies. I knew it to be a triumph, even in the moment. Later that evening, a woman called and informed me I won that day’s round. Glory was upon me. I was ready for regionals, all-state, then the Oreo Olympics. Wegmans never called to schedule a follow-up match.

My middle school bowling team received the Foundation Trophy several years for the dubious distinction of supporting the rest of the league by finishing last. A noble effort rewarded with an embarrassingly stout trophy.

I won Jeopardy! and am pleased by the accolades garnered from the over-60 set, the increase in bar trivia invitations and a wonderfully awkward photo with Alex Trebek many think is Photoshopped. And yet I remain unfulfilled by a thread on a Disco Biscuits discussion board. The night of the show’s original airing, a mysterious, alleged middle school classmate live-blogged the ups and downs of the game. Winnings aside, the true daily double is, “who is this guy?” The answer remains elusive.

Sports Department, Things to Do

Sweat in the City: BAA Distance Medley

Already thinking about your 2014 race calendar? The B.A.A. has you covered.

BAA Distance Medley | We Love Beantown

The Boston Athletic Association 2014 Distance Medley registration opens today at 10:00am and runs through January 29th at 5:00pm. The Medley includes the B.A.A. 5k (4/19), 10k (6/22), and half marathon (10/12). If you’re looking to run your first half marathon and want a few races to help motivate you along the way, this is your medley. Plus, you get a sweet finishers medal if you finish all three. 3 races, 4 pieces of bling. What’s not to love? I ran the medley in 2012 and editor-in-chief Dave ran it in 2013, so we can definitely vouch for B.A.A.’s organization and fun factor.

 

Things to Do

How to Fundraise for the Boston Marathon

Congratulations, you’ve been selected to run the 2014 Boston Marathon for a charity partner. It’s such an honor, especially given the importance of this year’s marathon. But how do you raise thousands of dollars? Sure, you can ask friends and family, but there is a limit. Don’t worry, Eventbrite has your back.

This Wednesday 1/15 and Thursday 1/16 Eventbrite Boston’s marketing guru Sara Steele-Rogers is hosting “Boston Marathon Fundraising, Beers, and Burritos with SEAC + Eventbrite.” You’ll dine on burritos, drink some beers, learn how you can leverage Eventbrite to host fundraising events, and get a toolkit full of tips and best practices for raising money for your charity.

Sara ran the Boston marathon a few years back, so she knows what it takes to train for the marathon, as well as raise a ton of money for a worthy charity. Need to raise $4,000 or more, she’s your girl.

Looking to host an event at a local bar? Check out 2014 Boston Marathon Fundraiser Event Guide for a full list of local bars that allow for fundraising events.