Travel Local, 3 Favorite Spots in Mass

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might have noticed that I have been very quiet lately. I haven't been on the road much but I have been exploring nonetheless. When I am working and living my day to day life, I still find ways to keep curiosity engaged by traveling local. What does this mean? I explore my own backyard and you should too!

People don't often visit the amazing things in their own area until someone comes to visit them. Their tourist friend, relative, acquaintance, ask them about x place and the common response is, "hmm, I've never been there. " One of my consistent goals is to always be able to answer that question wherever I live. I love to get to know my surrounds and the amazing things they have to offer.

Enough babble, you get the idea. Here are some great things I've done in my state lately while I haven't been trespassing around the world.

The Mapparium 

Christian Science Plaza, Boston
Christian Science Plaza, Boston 
I'll be honest here. I found out about The Mapparium on Instagram. Throughout my time as a Massachusetts resident, the existence of this exquisite place had somehow eluded me...or so I thought. After my visit, I was raving about it to my parents. My Dad, a well traveled explorer in his own right said he had never heard of it or been there either. Later, telling my Mom (also a seasoned traveler) about it's awesomeness, she tells me, "Oh ya we went there when you were kids, I think we even have a picture of you in it." I later brought this to my Father's attention and he claimed no recollection, even though my Mom told him he was the one who knew about it and brought all of us. I got a good giggle but the picture has not been found, so I am still a bit skeptical. I digress.

Mary Baker Eddy Library Lobby
Mary Baker Eddy Library Lobby 

The Mapparium can be found IN the Mary Baker Eddy Library, in the Christian Scientist Plaza in Boston between Mass Ave and Huntington. I have passed this plaza a thousand times and always wondered what it was since the buildings are so architecturally different from everything else around it. I'm one of those people that makes sure to stop at places I've never been before, so I finally made a special trip just to this space.

The plaza is under construction right now and there was some annual meeting happening at the domed church-like building but they normally run tours. They kindly let me sneak in between sessions so I could check out the main sanctuary and gawk at the high ceilings and massive organ.

Mary Baker Eddy Library Lobby
Mary Baker Eddy Library Lobby 

Before I walked over to the church, I went into the library, which unfortunately was also under renovations so the reading rooms were not open, but the Mapparium was. I grabbed a $6.00 ticket and caught the tour at the doors where the guide was giving the rules and regs. No pictures, which is why you don't see one here, even though plenty of people try to sneak them. It's not for the reason you think either, its the same as the Sistine Chapel, copyright issues, yuck.

She proceeded to tell us that, the map is frozen in time in 1935. I immediately got excited, what a unique opportunity. It's not often that you get to see how the lines of the world were drawn nearly 50 years before you were born, and in massive stained glass panels making an actual globe that you get to walk in! Think a planetarium with map panels of stained glass and a bridge running through it.

I had never seen anything like it! Countries that no longer exist were lit up in brilliant glass for all to see. Even though I'm a bit of a geography and history geek, I was still surprised to see how much had changed. It's one thing to read about it and hear about it, it's another to see it giant size in your face. They had originally intended to change the panels as borders changed but in the end they decided to preserve it like it was at inception because they hadn't anticipated how rapidly borders would continue to change. (This is a thinly veiled history lesson to us all).

Because of the unique structure of the Mapparium, sound travels differently. You can stand at one end of the bridge and whisper and the person on the other end can hear you. It was awesome but also a little creepy for some reason.

Needless to say, go to the Mapparium. It is unique and wonderful and it only costs $6.00!


Worcester Art Museum 

Worcester Art Museum
WAM at Christmas
A long time favorite of mine, I retain membership here as a sign of support and because I love to pop in when then they have new exhibits (and they have free wifi). I had the pleasure of visiting recently and checking out the latest installation.

"Reusable Universes: Shih Chieh Huang features the work of Shih Chieh Huang, who combines his longstanding fascination with technology and the materials of modern life to transform mundane manufactured objects into novel and remarkably complex sculptural forms. "

I was absolutely mesmerized by this exhibit. I didn't take any pictures but you can follow the title link above to see some. The pieces all worked together, some because of motion detectors as you walk around the room, but some seemed set to just dance together at intervals. There are little fans on each of the pieces, and the variety of inflating, deflating and lights flashing, make them all seem as though they have a distinct personality. One, even looked like a person to me the longer I looked at it.

This exhibit runs until November, so if you find yourself in the area, check it out. There are always new exhibits coming in, so make sure to check back on their website often.

Admission is:  
Adults: $14
Seniors 65 and over: $12
College Students with ID: $12 / Free on the third Thursday of each month
Ages 4-17: $6
Ages 3 and under: FREE


Gray's Beach - Cape Cod 

I have had the great pleasure of visiting Cape Cod since I was a child, my grandparents moved there when I was around 4 years old. It was and continues to be a refuge for me that I am incredibly grateful for. One of my favorite places, which used to be more off the beaten path than it is now, is Gray's Beach Boardwalk. It is one of the only beaches in the area that is free, although, the beach has become VERY small in recent years due to winter storms and shifting lands. However it is a great place for putting in kayaks and boats, having a picnic, walking the boardwalk and watching sunset.

Low Tide at Gray's Beach Boardwalk
Low Tide at Gray's Beach Boardwalk 

Sunset Gray's Beach
Sunset Gray's Beach

High Tide Gray's Beach
Sometimes the marshes disappear completely at high tide! 

Sunset Gray's Beach
A different sunset at Gray's, lower tide.