Updated: Nov 16, 2020
With coronavirus cases spiking again, we are anticipating a long and difficult winter. Science tells us that keeping our distance and avoiding indoor gatherings lessens our risk of getting sick, which is easy when it’s warm. Many of us have taken walks, attended backyard or park picnics, and sat on porches with friends and family over the past months. My parents are over 70, so I made sure to stay outside when I visited with them, sometimes for a whole afternoon. But when it’s below freezing, or there’s a nasty snowstorm, or it’s just bone-chilling weather in general, these kinds of gatherings are bound to slow down (or maybe even stop). However, we’re not there yet, so let’s get outdoors and explore old favorite spots and new places now. Then, when this is all over, we’ll share our secluded hiking spots, scenic views, and outdoor destinations with our loved ones. Without a mask.
Geocaching is a hobby where you use latitude and longitude coordinates, sometimes combined with clues, to find small boxes hidden in cool places, from city parks to the peaks of mountains. Some of these boxes have little prizes in them.
Letterboxing is a similar hobby, but without the coordinates, and a more artistic bent. I once found boxes representing all the Boston sports teams at Breakheart Reservation in Saugus.
Alltrails is a favorite of Ellie and Liz. Its website and app host a comprehensive list of popular and obscure hiking and walking trails. Users can provide input and reviews.
Lynn Woods is stunning this time of year.
Middlesex Fells offers dozens of miles of hiking trails, and your (leashed) dog is welcome!
Fresh Pond is a beautiful urban park with water, trails, and lots of birds.
Riverbend Park, a lovely stretch hugging the Charles River in Cambridge, will be open to pedestrians and bicyclists through November.
Alewife Brook Reservation in Cambridge, is just a few steps from the Alewife Red Line T stop, allows dogs, and offers peace and nature in the middle of the city.
Beaches - Carson Beach, Wollaston Beach, Revere Beach, and Nahant Beach are all T accessible, and parking is a breeze this time of year. The water may be cold but the views of Boston are spectacular.
Admission Fee (but worth it)
MA State Parks ($5 entry fee or MA resident sticker)
Some of our favorites:
Bradley Palmer in Rowley
Maudslay in Newburyport
Walden Pond in Concord
Mass Audubon has trails as well as nature programs (Rebecca recommends Drumlin Farm in Lincoln and Ipswich River in Topsfield).
The Trustees organization stewards some beautiful and unique spots, such as World’s End in Hingham, or Crane’s beach in Ipswich, Decordova Sculpture Museum in Lincoln, or even Field Farm out in Williamstown.
Franklin Park Zoo in Boston (there are baby gorillas and hippos there right now!) or Stone Zoo in Stoneham offer timed tickets to keep the crowds down.
Sometimes getting outdoors means taking a walk in your neighborhood or sitting out on your balcony or stoop. But if you're looking for something more than the immediate surroundings of your home, strike out and try one of our suggestions. And let us know what you think!