The new year is almost upon us! Do you have the next 12 months planned out or are you still looking for some great ideas to pass the time until 2017? In case you’re still wondering where 2015 went (I know I am) here are 18 events, destinations, and activities you definitely need to check out this year.
1. Celebrate First Night in Boston.
Ring in 2016 with the biggest NYE party around. Great for families as well as adults looking to cut loose, this massive event features over 250 exhibitions and performances by both local and internationally recognized artists. And don't miss the amazing ice sculptures!
2. Watch the Boston Dragon Boat Festival.
Featuring around 50 teams from all over the USA, the Boston Dragon Boat Festival is the oldest dragon boat festival in North America. It offers Asian inspired events like music performances dance, martial arts, and LOTS of amazing ethnic cuisine. Check out the arts and crafts, too!
3. Honor the nation at Harborfest.
Looking to really let your patriotism shine? Look no further than Harborfest. Boston's six-day Fourth of July celebration is the largest celebration of the holiday in the country. Over 200 daily events celebrate the birth of the nation as well as the city's nautical heritage.
4. Don't miss the Boston Marathon.
An oldie but a goodie. Running the Boston Marathon is a great goal for the new year. Even if you aren't the racing type, heading out to cheer on the competitors makes for a great day. Bring lots of water, snacks, and your best cheerleading attitude.
5. Spend the day at the Barnstable County Fair.
Some days are just made for fried dough and ring-toss games. Not to mention world-class musical acts, a massive petting zoo, crafts for sale, and exciting rides. When you need all that, the Barnstable County Fair is definitely the place to be. The fair is running July 18-24, 2016.
6. Enjoy a beer (or a few beers) at Harpoon's Octoberfest.
Wear your finest lederhosen (for real, that's encouraged) and cozy up to a bratwurst or two. If you're feeling competitive, participate in keg bowling games and German chocolate cake-eating contests. If you're having trouble deciding on attending, just read that last part again.
7. Slurp and smile at the Cape Cod Chowder Festival.
Massachusetts takes its chowder seriously. Cape Cod takes that dedication to the next level. Drop by the Cape Cod Chowder fest and savor chowder samples from many of Cape Cod's finest restaurants. They're all competing for the “WCOD Chowder Bowl”, so vote wisely. This event features live music and good times for all. Tickets are $12 for adults and only $5 for kids. That's pretty cheap for an all-you-can-sample chowder extravaganza.
8. Visit the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory.
Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens is a 18,000 square-foot facility that includes an giant conservatory that is packed with butterflies, moths and tropical greenery. This place is open seven days a week, year-round.
9. Sail away to watch the whales off Cape Cod.
Your yacht in for repairs? Don't fret. Hop on board a whale watch and spend the day communing with some of the most majestic creatures on earth. Look for tours departing from Hyannis Harbor. Depending on when you go, some tours even have a "see a whale or get your money back" guarantee.
10. Watch the Head of the Charles Regatta.
This is the world's largest two-day rowing event. The Head Of The Charles Regatta was first held in 1965 and last year over 7,500 athletes from around the world showed up to compete. This is an exciting way to spend a beautiful day by the water, as long as you don't mind a crowd to the tune of 300,000 people!
11. See the animals at Lupa Zoo.
This non-profit zoo prides itself on actually being a wildlife facility dedicated to promoting appreciation and respect for the conservation of animals and their ecosystems. Take the kids along (there's an awesome petting zoo with domestic and farm animals) and enjoy your visit with the animals knowing that you're helping helping to conserve their natural homes.
12. Stop and smell the roses at Tower Hill Botanic Garden.
Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston features 132 acres of hilltop garden paradise with a panoramic view of Mt. Wachusett and the reservoir. This is an incredible spot to take the whole family, or maybe just that special someone. Pack a picnic and don't forget your camera. You'll definitely want to snap some gorgeous pics of the stunning flora.
13. Grab your groceries at the local farmer's market.
Massachusetts has SO many small local farms and their farmers are eager to share the fruits (and tubers) of their labors. It's definitely worth exploring the markets around your area (the one pictured is in Amherst) and seeing what's in season. After all, aren't we all resolving to eat better in 2016? Why not eat tastier, too?
14. Hold on to your seat at the Mugar Omni Theater.
If you didn't check out many museums in 2015, make 2016 the year you catch a movie at the Boston Museum of Science. The Mugar Omni Theater there will blow. your. mind. This is the world's largest film format where movies are projected onto a five-story-tall IMAX® Dome screen. It wraps audiences in larger-than-life scenes of excitement and beauty. Trust me, you haven't known fear until you see a movie explosion happen literally all around you.
15. Take a ride on the Cape Cod.
The Scenic Excursion Train will take you past cranberry bogs, fascinating marshes, and beautiful woodlands during a two-hour journey between Hyannis and the Cape Cod Canal. If you're feeling fancy (and are about 12 years old) the railroad also offer numerous dinner ride options.
16. Catch a movie at the Wellfleet Drive-In Theater.
There's nothing like an old-fashioned drive-in movie. Round out a summer day with a fun night at the Wellfleet Theater. There's a playground area for kids as well as retro snack bar.
17. Pick your own produce.
Nothing tastes quite so good as a bowl full of sweet berries you picked right off the bush. Check out the many pick-your-own farms all across Massachusetts for a great time with family and friends. Honey Pot Hill Orchard in Stow and Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury are great places to start.
18. Travel back in time on the Schooner Fame.
The Schooner Fame is a replica of a privateer ship from the War of 1812, offering harbor cruises, sailing trips and private charters in Salem harbor. Perfect for the history buffs and ocean-lovers among us. The Schooner Fame sails up to four times daily.
Now that we’ve done the planning for you, all that’s left for you to do is get on out there and have fun. What’s on your to-do list for 2016?