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      Boston Tourism & Attractions

      A Guide to Picking out the Perfect Christmas Tree in the Boston Area

      Whether you want to cut your own tree or purchase a precut tree, BIRE has your covered. The following is list of places to find the perfect holiday decorations and Christmas trees. Cutting your own Christmas at a local farm offers a family activity that can become a tradition spanning decades.

       

      Places to Cut-your-own Christmas Trees

      1.     Smolak Farms

      315 S Bradford St
      North Andover, MA 01845
      Phone: (978) 682-6332

      Website: http://www.smolakfarms.com/trees

      Hours: 8:30AM-4:00PM

       

      Although Smolak Farms is about a 45 minute drive out of Boston, it is definitely worth the trip. They offer a program called Choose N' Cut, where all size trees are priced at $69. Smolak Farms recommends that you come early to cut your own tree, as they tend to sell out each season.  That's a pretty good deal. You can also purchase a Pre-cut tree. They have a large selection of freshly harvested firs to choose from with prices starting at $48 and go up to $140, depending on the size that you are looking for.

       

      2.     Maple Crest Farm

      102 Moulton Street
      West Newbury, MA.
      Phone: (508) 641-5955

      Website: http://www.maplecrestfarm.biz/index.html

      Hours: 9AM-4PM Friday- Sunday: November 27, 28, 29th & Saturday and Sunday: Dec 5-6th & December 12-13th and by appointment

      Maple Crest Farm is a 45 minute drive out of Boston, but with the beautiful coastal scenery, it is well worth the drive. The farm offers a fun family experience complete with complimentary wagon rides, hot chocolate, and marshmallow toasting. They also provide complimentary saws and twine and will bale your tree. Maple Crest prices their trees at $60 apiece and only accepts cash or local check.

      Places to Buy Pre-Cut Christmas Trees

      3.     Boston Christmas Trees

      22 Harvard Ave

      Allston, MA.  

      (Across from Model Hardware and The Draft)

      Phone: (617) 510-0866

      Website: http://bostonchristmastrees.com/

      Hours: 8:00AM - 10:00PM, seven days a week, from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

      Boston Christmas Trees is a great and convenient place to find the perfect Christmas tree, and they have ample free parking, which is a luxury in Boston. This is a one stop shop where you can purchase everything from Wreaths: Plain and Decorated, four sizes and types of Christmas tree stands Garland, Mistletoe, Mantel Pieces & Table Baskets. They offer Balsam Fir and Fraser Fir Trees: From 3? to 12? ranging from$10 to $125.

      4.     Allandale Farm

      259 Allandale Road

      Brookline, MA 02467

      Phone: (617) 524-1531

      Website: http://www.allandalefarm.com/home.html
      Hours: Weekdays 9am-7pm, Weekends 9am-6pm. Closed for the season December 32rd
       

      Allandale Farm has a variety of fresh cut balsam and Fraser fir trees are arriving weekly from Nova Scotia and North Carolina. They also have a great selection of wreaths, garland, winterberry, holiday plants, and evergreen centerpieces.

       

      5.     Beverly Tree Farm

      300 Dodge Street

      Beverly, MA 01915

      Phone: (978) 810-4178

      Website:  www.beverlytreefarm.com/

      Hours: 9AM-3PM November 27th,28th, 29th & December 5th, 6th or While Supplies Last

       

       

      What type of tree do I choose?

      At this point your probably asking yourself, what is the difference between all of these trees and which one should I choose?! Well no need to worry, here are descriptions of the trees types mentioned in the guide above to help you understand what you're searching for.

      Balsam- A very traditional tree, the Balsam has short, flat, dark green needles that won't fall off the branch right after you get it.

      Blue Spruce- A unique coloring, the blue spruce can range from dark green all the way to powdery blue. The stiff branches on the spruce are great for heavier ornaments.

      Canaan Fir- Though a less common variety, the Canaan Fir is very similar to Fraser Fir and Balsam varieties. The medium-strong branches and deep green color make for a traditional Christmas feel.

      Douglas Fir- A full-bodied pyramid shape, the Douglas Fir lasts a long time when cut and has anywhere from blue to dark green needles. These needles, when crushed, emit some of the best Christmas tree scents of any variety.

      Fraser Fir- With a deliciously pine-y scent and bicolor needles (green on top and silvery white on the bottom), this tree is the epitome of holiday spirit. The space between branches is also great for ornament placing.

      Tips on Selecting your Pre-Cut Tree:

      ·       Measure your space

      o   Be sure you know what size (height and width) you need before heading to the retail lot. Measure the ceiling height in the room where the tree will be displayed. The trees in the field look small when the sky is the ceiling. Don't overbuy. Measure the width of the area of the room where the tree will be displayed. Most trees on tree farms are trimmed to an 80% taper. So a tree that's 10' tall will be 8' wide at the bottom. A tree that will fit in the room vertically may be entirely too big horizontally.

      • Do a branch/needle test for freshness
        • Run a branch through your enclosed hand - the needles should not come off easily. Bend the outer branches - they should be pliable. If they are brittle and snap easily, the tree is too dry.

       

      • Look for other indicators of dryness or deterioration
      Indicators might include: excessive needle loss, discolored foliage, musty odor, needle pliability, and wrinkled bark. A good rule-of-thumb is, when in doubt about the freshness of a tree, select another one. If none of the trees on the lot look fresh, go to another lot.

      5 Home Security Tips: Holiday Season Vacation Checklist

      As the weather turns colder, snowbirds are locking up their homes and heading off for a more pleasant clime. Others are flying across the country to visit loved ones for the holidays, or simply escape the stresses that culminate the day after Christmas.

      Whenever you choose to get away, your pre-trip preparations should include home-security measures, so you won't leave the family's most expensive possession -- your home -- vulnerable to burglars.

      A few simple steps can mitigate the risk of a break-in -- and a home insurance claim: Do everything possible to make yourself a lousy target for thieves. How? By following this list of five things to check before leaving home.

      Ask neighbors to be your eyes and ears

      Alerting neighbors to your vacation plans and asking them to watch your property is paramount. Essentially, that's the best advice for low-cost home protection.

      People who are retired or who do not work outside the home are often the best lookouts. They are familiar with what is normal for your street and can take note when a van appears in your driveway.

      Instruct neighbors to call police if they see any suspicious activity. It's also wise to give a trusted neighbor a spare key to your house. That's better than leaving a key under the mat. Don't attempt to hide your spare key, thinking no one else will find it - that's one of the key reasons why "effortless" break-ins happen.

      Secure all doors and windows

      Doors and windows provide the main entry points for thieves, so make sure they are secure.

      Using deadbolts and locks that are pick-resistant, drill-resistant and able to withstand substantial force, such as kicking. These kinds of locks should be installed on all doors that are outside entry points, including the door from the garage into your home.

      Exterior doors should be made of wood that is at least 1 ¾ inches thick, or should be clad in metal. Sliding glass doors require a dowel in the bottom track to keep the door from being pried open. Anti-lift devices can prevent anyone from lifting the glass up and out.

      Securing windows depends on the type of window installed. For example, double-hung sash windows, with upper and lower halves that move up and down in tracks, require a key-locking security sash lock. Casement windows that swing open can be secured by removing the crank handle from the window's opening mechanism. Glass doors and windows should be shatter-proof and break-resistant.

      Remember to check all locks before you leave. Always keep in mind that the best locks in the world can't protect you if you don't use them.

      Don't leave a burglar-friendly yard

      Most homeowners know that well-trimmed hedges and bushes deny burglars a key place to hide before breaking in. But it's also important for home security to prune low-hanging tree branches, which can give thieves access to the second floor.

      If you'll be gone for a long period, make sure someone mows the lawn regularly or shovels promptly after snowstorms. An untended yard is a sure giveaway that no one is home. Good exterior lighting also can keep thieves at bay. Some lights can be programmed to turn on at dusk and off at dawn, while others have motion sensors, so they'll turn on when someone walks by them.

      Lighting should be focused on the entry ways into your home. The general rule is that lights always make burglars nervous.

      Arm the alarm and alert the police

      A good home alarm can keep burglars out of your digs. Even security signs and stickers can be effective deterrents.

      But an actual alarm system might earn you a discount on your home insurance. As with locks, alarms are only good if you set it before you leave. So before you pack your bags, be certain your system is working.

      We suggest doing a monthly test, or even run it a few days leading up to your vacation. Make sure it is communicating with the monitoring service. Do not underestimate the value of a good alarm system.

      If you live in a small neighborhood that's easily patrollable, you might also want to alert the local police department about your vacation plans. Many law enforcement agencies have a "vacation check" program, especially in Massachusetts. Officers or volunteers will make random stops at your home and do a cursory check.

      Do sweat the little stuff

      Overlooking the little things can negate all of the home security steps already tackled. They are easily undermined if you leave your porch light on 24/7 and you don't have your mail and newspaper deliveries stopped while you are gone.

      A buildup of papers on the front stoop or a mailbox stuffed to the brim can be almost as bad as putting up a billboard telling thieves that no one is home. Plus, an overflowing mailbox attracts another type of criminal. It is also a gold mine for identity thieves.

      We also suggest that homeowners put a few interior lights on timers. They can give the appearance that someone is home - this is always a deterrent to break ins.

      Finally - for those who are home insurance (theft) policyholders - remember to keep valuables such as jewelry and important papers in a secure location. Don't leave them in plain sight, such as sitting on the desk in your home office, that on its own could be a cause for the insurers not to compensate you.

      Boston's Favorite Christmas Homes

      By now, as the holiday rush winds down and Christmas draws closer, you probably are in need of some de-stressing. What better way to get away from all of the season's stresses and still have some quality time with your family or friends than to take a look around the city for some wonderfully decorated holiday homes. Perhaps take some queues on how to dress up yours next year, when you make that move to purchase your own.

      For some reason, Christmas lights always brightens up one's day. They're at the very heart of the season, bringing brightness into the longest, coldest, darkest nights of the year. Some are inspired by the Christian faith, some are purely decorative. But whether you're moved by "Peace on Earth" or a holly jolly Christmas, below are nine must-see electric yuletide displays from Dorchester to Saugus' incredible Lynn Fells Parkway that will warm your cold New England heart and melt it away... and if you see a property you like along your drive, remember to keep us in mind - it might just be up for sale and the perfect gift for yourself next Christmas!

      16 & 22 Lynn Fells Parkway, Saugus

      The Amsden and the Guarino families, who share a driveway, are behind this show-stopping display--one of the many light extravaganzas along Lynn Fells Parkway in Saugus. This dual display includes a penguin popping out of an igloo, a manger scene, pink flamingos and a life-sized Santa riding in a sleigh pulled by a little red-nosed Rudolph.

       

      26 Norton Street, Readville

      The couple who owns this Ginger-bread like home have been decorating it for over 40 years. The lights, if you get out of your car, come along with festive music to cheer you along as you marvel at the over 2,000 lights that are decked out on its halls. Adams Street, Fields Corner Hoa Nguyen and his father, Trong Nguyen, light up Boston's Fields Corner neighborhood with an animated spectacle of electric snow, hovering angels, blinking Christmas trees and what seem to be LED fireworks.

      Otis Street, Somerville

      John Ragno, the owner, has been doing the decorating on his house for almost 30 years now. He decorates three houses he owns in the neighborhood as well, two side by side, and one across the street. The joke is that he started off with a manger outside, a small manger on the porch. And it grew to what it is now - a massive Christmas medley of decorations.

      Bainbridge Street, just west of Rockwell Street, Malden

      Over the past decade, Maryann Spinney and her daughter and son-in-law Evelyn and Mark Anzalone have lit up houses down the lane from each other on Malden's Bainbridge Street. Several neighbors have also gotten into the act, so that it's become a whole glowing holiday neighborhood.

      The Charles River Esplanade Hatch Shell & Longfellow Bridge

      You might be wondering who's boat that is along the Charles that has a Santa riding in it. Well, the answer is it's Community Boating Inc.'s holiday hello to everyone passing over the Charles bridge. It's a pretty nifty sight to see especially when you're crossing over to Cambridge.

      Spooky Spots In and Around Boston

      If you're one to celebrate All Hallow's Eve (aka Halloween), then this list is for you. Boston and the rest of the Bay State is known to have haunted locations all over, given its abundance of antiquated buildings, and richness in history as the state is one of America's oldest settlements. Beantown's cobblestones, which date back as far as the early 1800's, are a sign of the city's dated past and have been witness to a lot of happenings, both commercial and creepy. Most of the homes built then were intended to house multiple families and have been home to many generations that some say still hasn't left its premises.

      Charles Gate Hotel, Back Bay Sitting in Boston's Back Bay on Beacon Street, this hotel was built in 1891 by John Pickering Putnam, his architectural influence was derived from his interest in Nationalism. Frequented by the wealthy until the 1920's, the Charlesgate quickly became a boarding house for ladies of the night and it was linked to the Mafia. The Hotel is now filled with multiple condominiums complete with visitors from the other side. Apparitions in the form of Flappers have been spotted by several dozen workman and visitors, and the basement, once a stable has had quite a few sightings of ghost horses.

      Omni Parker House, Downtown Boston The ghost of Harvey Parker, who opened the Parker House in 1856 and died in 1884, allegedly roams the hotel's 10th floor annex. During his life, Parker was "a perfectionist who kept his hands in every detail of his restaurant and hotel operations," says the Omni's website, so his apparitions "hardly come as a shock." Other encounters include shadows, mysterious rocking chair noises -- especially strange because the hotel has no rocking chairs -- and orbs of light. Elevators also mysteriously come to the third floor, where Charles Dickens lived for two years, without being called.

      Lizzie Borden House, Fall River Although she was acquitted of the gruesome murder at her 1845 Victorian home, the ax-wielding Lizzie Borden never shook her "forty whacks" claim to fame that she killed her father and stepmother on Aug. 4, 1892. In addition to her chop-chop notoriety, Borden apparently had an intimate relationship with actress Nance O'Neill. There's also a theory that she had a torrid love affair with the housekeeper, Bridget Sullivan. Currently a bed & breakfast and museum, the Borden house is open for curiosity seekers to spend the night where the murders took place.

      Cutler Majestic Theater, 219 Tremont St. The theater was built in 1903 and opened and closed on many occasions before Emerson bought and restored it in the 1980s. "Every theatre major at Emerson must do tech work at the Majestic, and most have experienced something," according to a write-up on Massachusetts Paranormal Crossroads. Some say the ghost of a former Boston mayor, who died during a performance, still sits in his seat, while others believe a couple and their daughter hang around the building's upper balcony.

      Hammond Castle, Worcester Inventor John Hays Hammond, Jr. who built the medieval-style castle in the late 1920s had an odd desire to be reincarnated as a cat. Many believe the black feline who roamed the grounds and sat in his favorite chair in the library was Hammond himself. Henry Davis Sleeper, the legendary designer who is rumored to have had an unrequited love affair with his Red Roof neighbor, Abram Piatt Andrew Jr., designed the inventor's favorite spot, known as the "whisper room," where people have heard disembodied voices from beyond.

      El comienzo de la ciudad

      En el año 1630 con la llegada de los colonos puritanos emergería Boston, una de las ciudades más antiguas e históricas del continente norte americano. Aunque Boston es una ciudad pequeña se encuentra entre los lugares mas poblados de Nueva Inglaterra. Es por ello, que este municipio se considera el centro cultural y económico de la región.

      Este pequeño rincón situado al noreste de América alberga un fascinante contraste arquitectónico. Un claro ejemplo de modernidad y antigüedad se encuentra en la  plaza de Copley.

      En dicha plaza, podemos encontrar al edificio Hancock, construido en  1976, haciendo sombra a la iglesia barroca de la trinidad, construida en 1872. Si le gusta caminar, las calles de la capital de Massachusetts ofrece multitud de hitos históricos y sitios sorprendentes para conocer. La primera escuela pública, la primera biblioteca o la primera escuela latina son algunos de los monumentos que se escoden bajo el techo Bostoniano.Si busca una experiencia única e inolvidable...¡No lo piense más! Boston es lo que estaba buscando, una ciudad de innovación, cultura y sensaciones.

      Si busca el apartamento de sus sueños llame al (617) 505-1781 o escribanos a info@bostonire.com y concrete una cita con nosotros. ¡Le facilitamos el comienzo de una nueva aventura!

      What's In A Great Neighborhood?

      What distinguishes a great neighborhood from the merely meh? It's a difficult question, encompassing everything from physical attributes such as good design to the right number of parks and public places.

      Unmistakably, a lot of factors converge to create the perfect neighborhood. Of course, personal taste trumps all. However, according to experts that range from urban planners, to geographers, to well-known architects and real-estate agents, pinpointing the perfect neighborhood is made up of a set of characteristics, not just from  a single set of parameters. Neighborhoods are put on the map for buyers or renters because they are a fit to the person's desired features.

      Is it a quaint and charming street, good schools or an abundance of interesting shops, restaurants and other diversions? What elements conspire to create great neighborhoods such as Boston's Back Bay or sultry South End?

      PEOPLE AND PLACE If you ask public space experts, it's people, not developers, who create the next big place. According to them, it's always a bunch of individuals coming in who think the potential for their community is bigger. Potential neighbors have this feeling that something has happened there and start to do little things that collectively add up to a big thing.

      That might include a shoe-repair shop owner sprucing up his storefront, a coin laundry adding an attached coffee shop or a resident putting in a park bench on the corner to allow people to stop and talk. These twists give a signal that something is going on here. Pretty soon other people put a bench on the street. Most of the time, this is when, revitalization and gentrification is born. Take, for example, the Village in the suburb of Brookline.

      In many areas across the city, this urban renewal is started by artists - those who need to live cheaply to pursue their craft but want to be close to cultural and physical amenities. Somerville and Davis Square in Cambridge are perfect examples of this.

      Not too long ago, these neighborhoods were quite desolate and rundown. Now, it is teeming with life and culture, especially for the hipsters who live out there, and who crave that kind of life. Musicians once exclusively reigned these two neighborhoods, but now most Bostonians are torn between being across the Charles or staying put in Beantown. The move of these artists sparked the beginning of a thriving district.

      This is also true for South Boston and the Waterfront area. Districts have sprout out like wildfire in this part of the city, with the Innovation District and the Fort Point Channel leading the pack. Start up companies have espoused growth in the neighborhood, leading the younger folk to follow where the jobs are. For those who remember, this is how the area of Kendall Square / MIT began. Now, the gentrification is moving southward, as space is becoming tighter and tighter in the downtown districts.

      Elements that encourage interaction - parks, boardwalks, public plazas and wide sidewalks - serve as people magnets. Best of all are sidewalks on a community's main street that run between café seating and storefront window displays, allowing people to walk dogs, greet neighbors and people watch. Add things such as weekly farmers markets, civic-association pancake breakfasts and multidimensional establishments that offer opportunities to linger, such as a coffee shop with art displays, a lively bulletin board and outdoor café seating, and you've got the beginnings of a great neighborhood hub.

      These are the places you take friends and family when you want to show them the neighborhood, city tour guides say, as it's a known fact that people attract people. So when businesses converge in one place, such as a theater, bookstore and art gallery, they give people reason to stick around. Indeed, developers take notice of this, capitalizing on the most important and useful places, such as the local post office, coffee shop or park. The more things that can be clustered around these places, the PPS says, the more central and beloved a neighborhood will become.

      Boston Fenway Citgo Boston International Real Estate BostonIRE BIRE

      LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION Of course, few people are going to settle in a neighborhood if it doesn't have access to well-paying jobs. The places that have the most value and that gentrified first were those closest to, or have access to, high-paying jobs. That is why you see neighborhoods revitalized near the subway lines into Fenway's Kenmore and Longwood areas.

      True enough, planners say access to good public transportation can turn even some suburbs into hot areas. A study released earlier this year by the American Public Transportation Association and the National Association of Realtors showed that between 2006 and 2011, home values performed 42% better on average if the homes were within a half-mile of public transportation with high-frequency service, such as subway, light rail or bus rapid transit. Residents in those areas had better access to jobs and lower transportation costs, leaving them with more money to enjoy neighborhood amenities. Another perk that transit stations offer is the ability to attract and open retail shops, services and dining, giving some suburbs without a real downtown a place to walk and linger.

      LET'S NOT FORGET SCHOOLS By and large, the highest-value home prices in America are found in school districts of very high quality, preferably those with access to high-paying jobs. These areas, such as the Boston commuter suburbs of Newton and Brookline, are the blue-chip stocks of neighborhoods, even for people without kids, because they attract people with higher levels of education, who tend to be more active in preserving community value.

      Good schools and walkability are two of the biggest themes in terms of leveraging a neighborhood's marketability. Information for these commuter towns describe and show quaint main streets and residents talking about taking a quick stroll over to parks, bars, shops and theaters in their free time.

      And with millennials entering the marketplace, volatile gas prices and fringe suburban home prices in decline, the demand for walkable neighborhoods has outstripped supply in most of the U.S. Walkscore, the online giant community, ranks Boston as the 3rd best city in the country to walk around in. Here's their official survey that ranks the walkability of America's cities and neighborhoods.

      GET OUT, STAND OUT Sometimes, a whole host of elements serve as magnets to draw people out of their cars. Items near the top of the list are:

      • Short blocks with relatively narrow streets and wide sidewalks.
      • Ample windows at eye level that let you see activity or displays inside as well as entryways, courtyards and arcades.
      • Human-scale lighting, benches and signs.
      • Tree-lined streets that provide a sense of buffer from street traffic and a comfortable canopy overhead.
      • Landmarks such as fountains, historic theaters, gazebos or clock towers.
      • A complexity of architecture, building materials and color -- at least on the first couple of building levels -- as well as a mix of building uses.

      In other words, cookie-cutter big-box stores and row after row of parking lots aren't found in many of America's great neighborhoods. In fact, a neighborhood will draw people if it's providing the opportunity for interaction with a backdrop of design that is enjoyable to look at. And interaction is key to satisfaction in a community. If people are happy and engaged with their community, they are more involved with its activities and work harder to protect it.

      THE NEXT GENERATION

      Many wonder whether the host of developments that are currently being built in Boston will end up clogging the city and leaving no more room for improvement. To that, we say that many of the best neighborhoods are yet to come, as cities encourage more creative development in urban areas and tend to sprawl outwards to the suburbs. Take for example the South End - it's continuously evolving (and even expanding!) even though it's already a quaint and perfect neighborhood.

      Best City for Backyard BBQ and Millennials

      Memorial Day, and in some states, July of 4th weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summer, and the start of grilling season. Across the nation people will dust off their grill and invite their neighbors over for a good old-fashioned backyard barbecue. While many cities are known for their barbecue restaurants, chances are this weekend most people will be grilling at home; so which cities can lay claim to having the best backyard gatherings?

      Out of 22 major metropolitan areas nationwide, Boston came in third to be the most BBQ-friendly city that plays host to grillers out there. The analysis was done by looking at the percentage of single family homes for sale with large yards (defined as lot sizes between .25 and four acres), decks, and built-in barbecues - all the features needed to host the ideal summer celebration. Philadelphia came out on top, with the perfect combination of all three.

      HAPPIEST CITY FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONALS

      Alongside this distinction, Boston was also recently named by Forbes Magazine as one of the happiest cities where young professionals would want to reside. Backed by 45,000 employees who have less than 10 years of work experience, the survey concluded that Boston ranks 10th in a list of 25 Metropolitan areas where the youth enjoy working and living in. There were ten factors considered for this work happiness index, including working relationships, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, and daily tasks. Additionally, parameters for the city were weighed by looking at walkability, lifestyle, and community culture. The top two spots belongs to California addresses - namely San Jose, and San Francisco, where not coincidentally - majority of the younger generation in the country currently resides.

      TOP METROPOLIS FOR NEW GRADUATES

      To top it all off, Beantown also is on top of the list of twenty five urban metro areas where new college graduates comfortably fit in and set up shop. Taking into consideration employment, cost of living, wages, and the number of rental listings available, the study also highlights Boston's youth scene to be one of the most vibrant in the country, only second to New York City. Job prospects also make Boston attractive to young individuals who are recently out of college, as the number of start-up firms, as well as established companies, continue to increase putting them in an excellent position to jumpstart their professional careers.

      Nantucket Life Without The Nauseating Pricetag

      Nowadays, saying that Boston's home buying market is packing some heat is an extreme understatement. Whichever way you look, prices are up, inventories are low, and sales are closing well above asking. Investors, as well as first-time homebuyers, are snapping up properties that are ideal for long-term investments and excellent for young couples who are starting out a family. So where does that leave you, the vacation-minded buyer?

      For those who are more established in life and are looking to reap what they have sowed with a purchase of a home-away-from-home, Massachusetts serves up a healthy serving of properties that give you that island life you've been dreaming of. Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard always tops this list, however more and more, people are looking for other great finds that fit the "vacation life" they're looking for, without necessarily paying its high price tag.

      Usually, idyllic properties in Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, and Cape Cod would run you about twice of the cost of buying in the city. This is just the natural course of vacation homes and beachfront real estate. Quaint towns and the seaside tend to up the ante for vacation home buyers, especially in Massachusetts where these homes are extremely profitable during the summer season. Unbeknownst to many though, there are other alternatives to the "big island three".

      ROCKPORT

      Situated along the North Shore, this peninsula has a thriving cultural scene complete with galleries and a performing arts center. It does not fall short of pebbled beaches and stoned-filled shores, too! With only 7,000+ inhabitants living on its 17.6 square miles of quaint and quiet township, this boat town boasts of six beaches in total and nearly zero public parking to keep out the noisy tourists. Twin lighthouses adorn its shores as well, and its rich history goes back six generations to 1712.

      Best recreation: Thatcher Island and Halibut Point State Park both offer walking, hiking, and cross-country ski trails. On Sundays during summer, bands play for everyone's enjoyment on the outskirts of its beaches.

      Average home sale price 2013: $515,000

      MATTAPOISETT

      Once a shipbuilding town, Mattapoisett is now perfect for recreational sailors who come for its harbor on Buzzards Bay. With less than 6,000 residents on its 17.5 square mile trebling waters territory, the townsfolk has a reputably quiet beach scene. It's total of three shores have spectacular views of both mid-sized yachts parking along its coast, as well as smaller fishing boats that hurl in the catch of the day. Mattapoisett also has the oldest seaside Inn in the country, making its historical appeal only more interesting.

      Best recreation: The town prides itself of its Rail Trail, which leads directly to the nearby fishing coast and beach-laiden township of Fairhaven. It's a good trail to take, especially for hiking and just sightseeing on foot. During summer, Harbor Days Festival takes over the waterfront in the months of July and August.

      Average home sale price 2013: $398,500

      MARSHFIELD

      This low-key beach town features weathered cottages tightly packed on streets that dead-end at sandy shores. With less than 25,000 residents during regular months (swells double that during the summer!), on its 32 square mile beach-surrounded territory, Marshfield comes close but really not quite to Nantucket due to its "more commercial-centric atmosphere". Though the area has five popular beaches, it's less attractive to those who just want peace and quiet. It's still a good choice however, to those who don't mind a little scene and some pizzaz in their daily island life. This is perhaps the main reason it costs a little less than towns previously mentioned. To compensate and to keep the beaches managed, professional lifeguards are stationed in each -- clearly a good sign for locals and tourists alike (and a sign that it's crowded, too!).

      Best recreation: The town attracts avian aficionados to its North River Wildlife Sanctuary - a conservation that has over 5,000 species of birds. The much-anticipated Marshfield Fair is also a hyped event, spanning 145 years in traditional New England seashore celebrations.

      Average home sales price 2013: $375,000

      SCITUATE

      Close to Boston but still quaint, Scituate is an unpretentious alternative to Duxbury and Hingham. It's been compared to Northern Maine, where fishing boats and close-to isolated beach coves abound. With 18,400 residents, Scituate isn't considered a touristy place at all (at least for now!). To top it off, its life-guarded beaches, totals to five, span almost all sides of its 17 square mile town border. Sufficed to say, there's plenty of umbrella space for all! People in the real estate industry know that this is the place to invest in if you want a potential Nantucket lifestyle, as property prices are still very affordable for what you get. It's the type of town that people still know people, and are very courteous and pleasant with each other. Four lighthouses span its territory, with each warning oncoming ships and yachts of its steep and shallow waters.

      Best recreation: Aside from boating, the town boasts of its bike trail and Harborwalk which gives you a beautiful view of the sea, as well as sights of the marshlands that surround it. Every August, the whole town celebrates for a whole week long of Heritage Days, bringing games, local crafts, music, and food to its full life before retreating again for the fall.

      Average home sales price 2013: $490,000

      President's Homes in New England

      In celebration of today's President's Day holiday, we're taking you on a tour of six Presidential homes found in the New England states. And even though Massachusetts is only the third country to have produced the most number of US Presidents, their homes found here are the quaint and quintessential American foursquare that we're so used to seeing in movies and biographies.

      President's Day, Coolidge Corner, John F. Kennedy Home, Hyannis Port, George W. Bush, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, MaineFirst up, did you know that aside from the town being named after them, the homes of John Quincy Adams and John Adams are only steps away from each other? The second and sixth US Presidents, respectively, lived in what is now aptly known as Qunicy, Massachusetts. Both of their homes now are part of the 11-structure park dedicated to the memory of the family. One of the features of the latter son's home is a library called 'Stone Library', that features four generations of Adams family writings as well as 14,000 leather-bounded manuscripts of novels, poetry, and the like. And like most New England homes, the Adams property has a sprawling garden that includes in it a little chapel where the Presidential family held service.

      President's Day, Coolidge Corner, John F. Kennedy Home, Hyannis Port, George W. Bush, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, MaineThe Fourteenth President of the Union, Franklin Pierce was born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire. Now called the Franklin Pierce Homestead, this federal-style home is a great example of post-Colonial architecture and classicism. Bare stenciled walls and French furniture influences most of the furnishings in this home. Pierce, being an avid fan of owning real estate, also had a small mansion built outside his town in Concord, NH. Called the FP Manse, the property is sublimely different that the President's original home in Hillsborough, featuring traces of Greek Revival architecture.

      President's Day, Coolidge Corner, John F. Kennedy Home, Hyannis Port, George W. Bush, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, MaineThe fifth son of a poor Irish preacher, Chester A. Arthur is a native of Fairfield, Vermont. Just like his family's modest lifestyle, their home was of a modest built and featured the most basic of necessities, and served the family purposefully. What was once the site of a humble cottage (hard to believe it was the site where a US President was raised),  is now home to a plaque, reminding passersby of its original place in history. Perhaps aside from the textbook history reminder, the plaque also serves as an inspiration to the town, reminding everyone that no matter where you come from and how humble you seem, great things can come about from everywhere.

      President's Day, Coolidge Corner, John F. Kennedy Home, Hyannis Port, George W. Bush, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, MaineJust past the borders of Brookline and Boston is a small square named after one of America's greatest statesmen, President Calvin Coolidge. The thirtieth president, he was known to be a practical and thrifty man with great integrity. He was born in Plymouth Notch, New Hampshire and would later retire to the same site. His family had very deep roots in New England, with ancestors having been the original settlers in Watertown, Mass. His family's home, being very colonial and New England, is reminiscent of houses along the coastal parts of the Northeast.

      President's Day, Coolidge Corner, John F. Kennedy Home, Hyannis Port, George W. Bush, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, MaineBorn, raised, and residing in Texas, only a handful of people know that the families of Presidents George W. Bush and George Bush Sr. enjoy summers in their retreat home in Kennebunkport, Maine. Enclosed within the confines of its own compound, the Presidential Summer Home known as 'Walkers Point' is visible to tourist plying the murky waters of the town. Built as a cabin, the retreat home features stone slabs and wooden finishings, mixing together that New England charm and Southern spirit.

      President's Day, Coolidge Corner, John F. Kennedy Home, Hyannis Port, George W. Bush, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, MaineLast but not least, the most popular of the US Presidents residing in New England, John Fitzgerald Kennedy whose life, family, and legacy remain in the Commonwealth. The Kennedy compound, located in Hyannisport, Mass. is primarily accessible via boat and private land transfers, affording the fabled family privacy and detachment form the rest of the world. The main mansion where John's parents, Rose and Joseph raised them, is a sprawling four-floor family home, completed with fourteen bedrooms and twelve baths - all designed in colonial New England fashion. And although the Kennedys are best remembered for their home in Hyannis, only few know that JFK was born in a three-story home in Brookline, where his parents first lived as a married couple.

       

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      Comments

      1. will bloombergh on

        President Taft had a summer home in Beverly, Mass.
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          Where To Find Peace & Quiet In Boston

          Wellesley College, Shambhala Meditation Center, Boston Public Library, Stanza Dei Sigari, Peter Faneuil House Gardens, Berkeley Perk CafeThe first long weekend of the year is coming up, do you have any plans? Although MLK weekend is traditionally celebrated with people tuned into their television sets for the Presidential Inauguration, it might be a good idea to skip this one and pamper yourself while the weather is still warm-ish. There's also a good chance that you're still perhaps fresh out off the holiday daze, with the season having been barely three weeks ago. If that's the case, then we have just the thing for you - escape the hustle and bustle of the city (without actually leaving its confines) and get some much-needed rest with these rest & recreation hushspots:

          Wellesley College, Shambhala Meditation Center, Boston Public Library, Stanza Dei Sigari, Peter Faneuil House Gardens, Berkeley Perk CafeA "Smart" Escape If it's been a while since you've gotten lost in our fair city, it's probably a great idea to take a little tour somewhere that will actually "freshen up" your view. Go to Wellesley College, where a brisk walk around a quiet woodsy pond might give you the relaxation you're rearing for. The College welcomes tourists anytime of year to hike their well-worn paths and trails - and if you muster up some appetite, there's always the dining halls where you can dive in to an open-to-all, cheap, eat-all-you-can meal deal.

          Wellesley College, Shambhala Meditation Center, Boston Public Library, Stanza Dei Sigari, Peter Faneuil House Gardens, Berkeley Perk CafeOM is for "Open Meditation" If hiking doesn't quite fancy your feet, then meditation might tickle it. Shambhala Meditation Center in Brookline offers free meditation programs, with introductions to Buddhist-inspired practices and meditations. The audience is quiet targeted, catering to the LGBT community under 30, people in recovery, or just laypeople with an interest. There are also good yoga and and tai chi classes and art seminars.

          Masterpiece Museum If you're the artsy type looking to relax and unwind with masters of classic artworks, then you would be glad to know that there's a hidden gem tucked deep into the heart of Back Bay. Not only does the Boston Public Library have one of the largest collections of books, but it also has a relatively unknown collection of masterpiece artworks ranging from Rembrandt to Goya to Picasso. Looking for these pieces is an adventure itself, since they're scattered throughout the library and its different research rooms.

          Wellesley College, Shambhala Meditation Center, Boston Public Library, Stanza Dei Sigari, Peter Faneuil House Gardens, Berkeley Perk CafeHookup With A Hookah Since speakeasys tend to be a good place to relax and just lounge, the underground setting of Stanza Dei Sigari should be a great place to relax and smoke a hookah or two. Not only does its laid back ambiance take away those tensions, it also offers a quiet and cozy place to mingle and just chill with friends.

          Urban Oasis Off a quiet street on Beacon Hill is a quaint and largely unknown park that's a respite from the downtown Boston crowds. Decorated by the Beacon Hill Garden Club, the little space called the Peter Faneuil House Gardens, beside the former Peter Faneuil School, was once an abandoned playground. Red benches sit in the shade of tall birch trees and walkways fringed with high shrubbery weave their way around stone-lined garden patches. There's even a half basketball court, also flanked by benches for spectators, though there usually aren't any.

          Wellesley College, Shambhala Meditation Center, Boston Public Library, Stanza Dei Sigari, Peter Faneuil House Gardens, Berkeley Perk CafeNot Your Ordinary Cafe If you're sick of all the Starbucks lying around the city, and seeking for a restive respite, then Berkeley Perk Cafe is the right place for you. Off the beaten path across the Berkeley Street bridge from Back Bay, their offerings are unique and pleasing to the palate. They have several varieties of hot chocolate too, perfect for the winter season.