Activities for the Entire Family at Smolak Farms’ Apple Festival

Take your first bite into a crisp and delicious New England apple this weekend at Smolak Farms located in North Andover, Massachusetts. On Saturday, September 17th and Sunday, September 18th 2011 from 10:00AM to 4:00PM, adults and children alike are invited into the Smolak Orchard’s for a weekend of golden delicious activities, including a chance to meet Johnny Appleseed who will be sharing his legendary tale and posing for photos in the orchards while helping children spread their very own apple seeds! The Bridle Path Orchard will be open to pick varieties such as Cortlands, Macoun, Golden Delicious, Imperial Red, Red Delicious, Northern Spy, Gravensteins, Macintosh and Mutsu apples, as well as Smolak’s very own varietal which are filled with various prizes from Smolak Farms Farm Stand & Bakery, and scattered throughout the farm. But you better get searching early, because this will be the apple of everyone’s eye! Entrance to the Apple Festival and apple-related activities are free for all!

After you’re done picking the perfect apples, families are invited to join in on the Children’s Farm Festival where you can visit the new animal petting area, take a hayride around picturesque farm, play with peers at the children’s play area, and ride a wide selection of rides that will be set up all weekend! Admission to the Children’s Farm Festival is free for adults, and children’s general admission begins at $3.00. Parking is free all weekend long! For more information please visit

WHERE: Smolak Farms, 315 South Bradford Street, North Andover, MA

WHEN: Saturday, September 17th, 2011 and Sunday, September 18th, 2011 from 10:00AM to 4:00PM

COST: The Apple Festival is free for adults and children. General admission to the Children’s Farm Festival is free for adults, and children’s general admission begins at $3.00. (Prices vary upon activities). Free parking is available all weekend long.

Family Apple Picking in the Greater Boston Area

It’s apple-picking season here in New England!  Ready to pick?  Here are five great local places to pick this season!

Nashoba Valley Winery

Nashoba Valley Winery, located West of Boston in Bolton, offers loads of you-pick apple trees.  Check the website for full details before heading out, because they can sometimes sell out.  When the orchard is open, hours are 10am-5pm.  The fields are cash only, and while you can use a credit/debit card at the winery, it’s best to bring cash.

Honey Pot Hill Orchards

Check out the Honey Pot Hill website before heading out to get info on hours and types of apples available – it varies.  Generally, the petting zoo, hedgemaze, and farm stand will also be open. Cash and check only for apple picking and much of the orchard activities.  The farm store does have an ATM and takes credit cards.

Belkin Family Lookout Farm

The Belkin Farm Lookout Farm is more of a family destination than just a you-pick farm.  There are lots of family activities – from a petting zoo to a play area.  The admission price really isn’t worth it unless you plan to do more than pick apples, so plan to spend the day!

Dowse Orchards

Visit Dowse Orchards in Sherborn, MA for some family-friendly apple picking. There are loads of trees with low-hanging fruit so no ladders are needed for little ones.  There’s also a farm stand with fresh produce.

Smolak Farms

Smolak Farms in North Andover, MA, offers a petting zoo, family programs, you-pick fruit, and a farm stand with fresh produce and apple cider donuts.

What’s your favorite place to pick apples?


A Family Guide to the Life is Good Festival

The Second Annual Life is Good Festival is taking place September 24th and 25th at Prowse Farm in Canton, MA.  It’s definitely a family-friendly festival – even offering a kids’ concert tent with some of the most popular kids’ acts around.  However, I’d recommend some advance planning to make sure your experience is as good as possible.

Getting to the Life is Good Festival

Parking is not available directly at the site, but there are lots of shuttle buses that can take you from other locations.  Shuttles start at 10:30 am both days from two locations – Royall Street Offices located off I-93, Exit 2B and the University Ave/MBTA rail station located off I-95, Exit 13.  Plan to arrive at the parking lot well in advance of the show you hope to see because there may be a wait for a bus.

Festival guests can also take the MBTA or Amtrak to the 128 station and use those shuttle buses.  Guests should NOT USE exit 3 to park your car – there’s absolutely no parking at this location.

What can families bring to the Life is Good Festival?

Food is only allowed for those with dietary restrictions – otherwise you can purchase food there.  Strollers and small wagons are permitted.  Families can bring blankets not exceeding 6’x8′ but inserting stakes, poles, or any other objects into the ground, or use of ropes, cords, tape etc. to reserve space is prohibited.  Soft-sided coolers, collapsible chairs, regular-size/unframed backpacks, Two factory-sealed water bottles up to 1 liter each, empty Camelback, Nalgene or other empty clear plastic container, small digital cameras or point-and-click 35mm cameras, and binoculars are also permitted.  Umbrellas and pets (with the exception of service animals) are not allowed.

Buying things at the Life is Good Festival

Almost everything, with exception of the Life is Good merchandise, is cash only.  While ATMs will be available onsite, I recommend bringing cash so you don’t have to pay bank fees.

Anything else?

Keep in mind that the festival grounds are dusty.  Bring older shoes, and if the ground is at all wet, things will get muddy.

For more information, visit the Life is Good website.


A Family Guide to the New England Aquarium

The New England Aquarium can be an overwhelming experience, and a bit difficult to navigate, especially with the spiral walkway that dominates the center of the building.  A little advanced planning can ensure that you’ll get the most out of your experience.

Upon entering the aquarium, you can purchase tickets outside (members can skip the line and go inside).  Start out at the Shark and Ray touch tank – the newest exhibit.  To get the best experience, prepare your kids in advance for the tank – they’ll need to hold their hands steady and be super-quiet to touch the rays.

Then, enter the main section of the aquarium, where you can see the popular penguin exhibit (my kids’ favorite).  Stick around for a while, and you may even see the penguin feeding time.  Once you finish with the penguins, you’ll enter the spiral area of the aquarium, where you’ll see the giant ocean tank.  My kids love standing in one of the sections, just watching what goes by (highlights include a giant turtle and a shark).  Go to the top of the tank to see the divers entering the tank – something my kids enjoy watching.

The exhibits along the outside of the spiral are of minimal interest to my kids – but they do love the Edge of the Sea exhibit, where they can touch starfish and other little creatures.  Another favorite is the Marine Mammal Center, where you can see seals and sea lions, and maybe even catch some training.

If time permits, check out a movie at the Simons IMAX Theater, which generally features ocean-themed movies on the huge screen.

The New England Aquarium
Central Wharf
Boston, MA 02110-3399

Apple Picking at Honey Pot Hill

Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, MA is open for apple picking!  It’s easily our favorite place to pick apples – due to the amount of fruit available and the great prices (and yes, maybe the apple cider donuts.  maybe….).

Check out the website before heading out to get info on hours and types of apples available – it varies.  Generally, the petting zoo, hedgemaze, and farm stand will also be open. Cash and check only for apple picking and much of the orchard activities.  The farm store does have an ATM and takes credit cards.
Honey Pot Hill
144 Sudbury Road
Stow, MA 01775

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