…it is probably the most accurate word to describe what will be happening in a month or so. Right around a month from now will be the start of my two-week vacation, ending in early August. I am very much looking forward to it. I planned nothing in advance for that period, and just assumed I’d figure out what to do when the time came.
My experience with planning summer vacations is that there are essentially two possibilities: either
1. Go to some lovely, exotic locale and pay a lot to get there (and probably pay a lot for housing while there). I did this in the Bahamas a while ago. I did this in Turkey a whiler ago. (Istanbul is the most amazing place I’ve ever been.)
2. Go to Cape Cod (nearby vacation destination of choice for people in the Commonwealth) and pay a lot to stay there, if you can find a place at all.
So I was mostly pleased to realize this year that I do not have the free cash to do either 1) or 2). Instead I’ll be hanging out in Cambridge/Boston  and in the Seacoast area of New Hampshire and Massachusetts (Exeter, Portsmouth, Newburyport, Portland, and points in between). I’m very excited about this. I’m going to spend two weeks going to all the places I’ve meant to go to for years. I’m going to walk the Freedom Trail in full (it goes into Charlestown, whereas I’ve basically only walked the parts right near the Common). I’m going to hit as may restaurants as I can that people have recommended (Duck Fat and Toro come immediately to mind). I’m going to go to many bars. I’m going to spend time on many beaches with my lovely girlfriend. I’m going to buy a Boston guidebook and find anything that people always do with their tourist friends but never do on their own (minus Cheers — screw a lot of that) This will be great.
I hereby open up the comments thread to nominations for things to do during my “staycation.”
__Update (20 June 2011)__: I’ll include things here that people have suggested or have come to my mind:
* Day trip to Newport, Rhode Island. Might be annoying to get there by mass transit (commuter rail to Providence, then two buses), but I could see if my lady would like to drive with me.
* A friend reports: “You know, across the bay from Newport are the towns of Tiverton (Four Corners) and Little Compton, which are genuinely two of the most beautiful small towns in New England. Little Compton also has Goosewing Beach, a little-known gem.”
* A water park somewhere, with the lady and her son.
* Learn to sail through Community Boating, Inc.
* Lobster rolls at one or more clam shacks in Essex (see this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette piece about Gloucester and its clams).
* Bread in Plymouth, via Chowhound.
* Kolbeh of Kabob, 1500 Cambridge Street in Cambridge, also via Chowhound
* Museums at Harvard:
* The Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, open 11 – 4 Monday through Thursday and 11-3 on Fridays during the summer. That’s for the Putnam Gallery in Science Center 136. The Foyer Exhibition Space is in Science Center 371, open M-F 9-4. Inquiries: 617-495-2779.
* The Museum of Natural History at 26 Oxford Street in Cambridge. It’s open daily 9-5 with special “Summer Nights at the Museum 2011: Fourth Wednesdays, June 22, July 27, August 24, and Extended hours, 5-8 pm, with half price admission”. It’s also “Free to Massachusetts residents every Sunday morning (year-round) from 9:00 am to noon”
* The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at 11 Divinity Ave in Cambridge. It’s “open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.”
* The Semitic Museum at 6 Divinity Ave, open “Monday-Friday from 10:00am to 4:00pm and Sunday from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.”
* The Warren Anatomical Museum, “part of the Countway Library of Medicine’s Center for the History of Medicine. The Museum’s Exhibition Gallery, which displays 300 cases and artifacts from the larger collection, is located on the 5th floor of the Countway Library.” The Countway Library is in the Longwood Medical Area at 10 Shattuck St.
* The Sackler Art Museum, Busch-Reisinger, and Fogg museums at 485 Broadway in Cambridge, open TuesdaySaturday, 10am5pm.
* To quote a friend:
> – Providence:
> – New Rivers
> – La Laiterie
> – Red Dog
> – check out the RISD Museum
> – Tiverton Four Corners
> – Gray’s Ice Cream
> – Newport
> – Scales and Shells
> – whatever else the NY Times said
> – Portsmouth NH
> – there are some good places, but I can’t remember the names!
> – Portland
> – Hugo’s
> – Fore St
> – Cinque Terre
> – the art museum in Portland is pretty good, too
 – Adam and I have been trying to figure out whether there’s a good phrase to encapsulate the urban core of Boston. Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline are in the core. Framingham, say, is not. The narrowest designation that the Census Bureau seems to work with is the Boston MSA, for Metropolitan Statistical Area, which extends all the way into New Hampshire. I will not be hanging out in something as wide as an MSA.
Lets talk about Portland for a moment, shall we?
I’d recommend Bresca (think 10 Tables). Don’t miss it – call ahead for a reservation.
If you’re looking for a beer in a pub – maybe for lunch – grab a Shipyward Export and a Lamb Chili at Bullfini’s on Fore street.
I LOVE Gilbert’s Chowder House, though it doesn’t excite my wife as much as it does me.
There’s a little hole-in-the-wall Ethiopian place called Asmara… Haven’t been there in a few years, but I’m sure it’s just as good and just as authentic.
In the West End on the hill there’s a place called Bar Lola – I think you’d like that a LOT. I’d probably recommend one of the chef’s tastings (I think they have a 3, 5, and even 7 course… with or without wine pairings).
Finally, there is this new, AWESOME (seriously, you probably shouldn’t miss it!) soup place UPSTAIRS in the Public Market called KamaSouptra ( http://www.kamasouptra.com ). Wow. I mean… WOW. Last time we were in Portland we went there several times for lunch.
I have plenty more suggestions, but start with that.
I was just going to say that if you were to go to Portsmouth, you should check out Friendly Toast (www.thefriendlytoast.net) but it appears that they’ve gone an opened another one right in Cambridge since I was last there. So, if you should happen to have the need for a wacky yet scrumptitilyumptious breakfast/brunch/lunchy type place, you should go there. And you should get the Mr. Haeger (dill pickles, plum tomatoes, dijon mustard & horseradish mayo, grilled with cheddar cheese on homemade oatmeal bread — just go with me here. Odd, yes. Surprisingly decadently delicious, absolutely. It is divine. It is sublime. It is making my mouth water from 3000 miles away.
In fact, so good, I’m going to attempt to recreate it right now!