A distant adventure (and yet so close to home)

For many obvious reasons, even though the pandemic has abated this year, many of us will be spending our free time in the summer of 2021 staying close to home, taking day trips or taking short vacations. of one night. With that in mind, we set out to find some ideas for “stays” within an hour’s drive from Boston. We came back rejuvenated, with a welcome reminder that another world doesn’t have to be another world.

On Framingham’s back roads, near the Sudbury Line, Garden in the Woods immerses visitors in a forest sanctuary that showcases native New England plants. It only takes a few minutes to feel your heart rate slow down and your daily life slipping away. Only the occasional faint sound of a lawn mower or a barking dog is a reminder of the surprising fact that this shelter has residential neighbors.

Griffin Barber, 4, on a visit to Garden in the Woods in Framingham.Jonathan Wiggs / Globe Staff

From highbush blueberries and eastern prickly pears to the region’s largest collection of trilliums, the botanical garden covers nearly 50 acres of ridges, ravines, ponds and streams. The place has a sensory overload of microhabitats, located along a winding, kilometer-long main loop and various peripheral trails.

The late landscaper Will C. Curtis purchased the first 30 acres in 1931 for $ 1,000, and he began to plan his garden. When Curtis died in 1965, he left the property to the New England Wild Flower Society, now known as the Native Plant Trust.

The lily pond at Garden in the Woods.
The lily pond at Garden in the Woods.Jonathan Wiggs / Globe Staff

The Trust has a comprehensive botanical guide on its website and recently developed a useful app which can be used for its garden map, plant identification, etc.

Kids will enjoy the lily pond with its frogs and turtles, an activity area made from logs, and the Stegosaurus sculpture made from a glacial erratic by metal artist David Phillips.

“We all think it’s a hidden gem,” said a horticulturalist named David on a recent weekday, as he paced the hill in a light drizzle.

A turtle in Garden in the Woods.
A turtle in Garden in the Woods. Jonathan Wiggs / Globe Staff

It was humid the day we traveled to Gloucester to visit the castle of a great – and somewhat eccentric – inventor. The Hammond Castle Museum was teeming with tourists who were probably hoping to spend a day at the beach.

John Hays Hammond Jr., who held more than 400 patents (he once sailed a remote-controlled unmanned boat from Gloucester to Boston and back), designed his European-style castle in the 1920s. With elements of medieval Gothic cathedrals and of French castles, Hammond Castle has attracted tourists, school groups and scouts to filming locations for decades.

The Hammond Castle Museum was the home and laboratory of John Hays Hammond, Jr., an inventor who pioneered the study of the remote control and held more than four hundred patents.
The Hammond Castle Museum was the home and laboratory of John Hays Hammond, Jr., an inventor who pioneered the study of the remote control and held more than four hundred patents. Matthew J Lee / Globe staff

If you haven’t, it’s a whim. Hammond, who once appeared on the cover of Time magazine, identified as “America’s most radically democratic millionaire,” specializes in musical instrument making and sound innovations. He also developed military technologies and anticipated ideas for mobile homes and a home shopping network.

The great hall of the castle, over 15 meters high, houses an enormous pipe organ which is said to be the largest in a private residence. The museum’s non-profit organization is preparing a multi-million dollar fundraiser to get the organ back into working order.

The Great Hall of the Hammond Castle Museum contains a large pipe organ which has been used for concerts and recordings by many famous organists, including Richard Ellsasser and Virgil Fox.
The Great Hall of the Hammond Castle Museum contains a large pipe organ which has been used for concerts and recordings by many famous organists, including Richard Ellsasser and Virgil Fox.Matthew J Lee / Globe staff

An interior courtyard, designed to resemble a French village, includes a swimming pool with fountains and a bare, life-size bronze statue of Hammond himself, a gift to his wife, Irene. Our guide explained how at one point Hammond moved the statue to the end of its driveway, as a greeting to his neighbors here in the seaside enclave of Magnolia. The locals apparently made a game to see who could collect the most fig leaves covering the not-so-private parts of the statue.

This summer, the museum plans to host a full range of special events, including a castle-themed film series (“Young Frankenstein”, “The Princess Bride”) and a performance in the Great Hall on August 4th. by folk violinist Emerald Rae, a native of Gloucester.

Lisa Ehleringer takes a photo of her daughters (left to right), Vivi, 17, Lizzy, 13, and Lisa's husband, Jeff Ehleringer, in the inner courtyard of the Hammond Castle Museum.
Lisa Ehleringer takes a photo of her daughters (left to right), Vivi, 17, Lizzy, 13, and Lisa’s husband, Jeff Ehleringer, in the inner courtyard of the Hammond Castle Museum. Matthew J Lee / Globe staff

“It’s my cup of tea,” said Loretta Iannicelli, who lives west of Boston. She was spending the day at the castle with a friend from Florida.

She particularly liked the Musicians’ Gallery, a corner above the Great Hall designed for listening to music.

“I could have stayed there all day in solitude,” said Iannicelli. “You become contemplative in contexts like this. It is exciting for the senses.

World's End is a 250 acre peninsula bordering Hingham Harbor, south of Hull and Nantasket Beach.
World’s End is a 250 acre peninsula bordering Hingham Harbor, south of Hull and Nantasket Beach. John Tlumacki

Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted is best known for New York’s Central Park and Boston’s Emerald Necklace. About ten years before his death in Belmont in 1903, Olmsted accepted a commission to take his work to the ends of the earth.

World’s End is a 250 acre peninsula bordering Hingham Harbor, south of Hull and Nantasket Beach. The origin of the name is unclear, but it seems appropriate, given the dreamlike view of the Boston skyline, 15 miles away across Boston Harbor.

Maya Allen (left) and her cousin Max Wolff, both 2 1/2 from Montclair, NJ, run down a hill past their families.
Maya Allen (left) and her cousin Max Wolff, both 2 1/2 from Montclair, NJ, run down a hill past their families. John Tlumacki

Businessman John Brewer, who owned the land, proposed that Olmsted devise a design for a residential development that never materialized. Instead, World’s End was seen as the seat of the United Nations and then as a nuclear power plant. In the 1960s, the peninsula was acquired by the reserve trustees.

On a recent Saturday, dozens of hikers and cyclists took advantage of the motorable trails that wind around coastal drumlins – spoon-shaped hills left by retreating glaciers. Many had dogs on leash in tow. There were sprawling meadows, a rocky waterfront, and a tidal marsh to explore.

A goldfinch perches on a rock near a flowing stream beside a path at the end of the world.
A goldfinch perches on a rock near a flowing stream beside a path at the end of the world.John Tlumacki

A five-minute drive away, Trustees operate Weir River Farm, where visitors can stock up on local and organic foods. This summer, the working farm features an outdoor art exhibit along the trails, featuring landscape paintings by former farm owner Polly Thayer Starr. From Thursday to October 7, the farm organizes a series of concerts and picnics. There is also a farmyard whose inhabitants are very popular with young animal lovers.

“You did it!” shouted a man who was walking his dog at the far end of the world.

Yes, we had come to the end of the world, in a way. Even staying close to home, you don’t know what’s going on around the next corner.

The kids from Hingham's Parks and Recreation Department stop to gaze at a huge boulder along the shore at World's End.
The kids from Hingham’s Parks and Recreation Department stop to gaze at a huge boulder along the shore at World’s End.John Tlumacki

Garden in the woods, 180 Hemenway Road, Framingham. Open daily until October 15, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $ 6 to $ 14, free for children under 5.

Hammond Castle Museum, 80 Hesperus Ave., Gloucester. Open daily until October (November-December Friday-Sunday), 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. $ 10 to $ 18, free for children 4 and under.

The end of the world, Martin’s Lane, Hingham. Open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset. $ 6 to $ 8, free for kids and administrators.

James Sullivan can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on twitter @sullivanjames.

Tree roots form a pattern along the shore at Land's End.
Tree roots form a pattern along the shore at Land’s End.John Tlumacki


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