@eatBoston’s Ice Cream Showdown

The only thing better than spending a summer day eating ice cream is sampling over 20 different flavors of ice cream for a good cause. Following up on the Boston Bacon and Beer Fest, the two-day Ice Cream Showdown event, sponsored by Stonyfield Farm, is @eatBoston’s latest effort to raise funds for deserving local organizations: Lovin’ Spoonful, Share our Strength, Somerville Local First, Arts Union, and Community Servings. One hundred percent of ticket sales will be donated to these organizations.

WHAT: Ice Cream Showdown – ice cream sampling event to support local causes
WHO: Stonyfield Farm is lead sponsor. Chilly Cow Custard, JP Licks, Christina’s, Toscanini’s, Picco, Batch, Coop’s Microcreamery, and b.good will also be present.
WHERE: On Saturday, August 21, in Union Square, Somerville and on Sunday, August 22, at SoWa Food + Produce Market at 500 Harrison Avenue.

WHEN: August 21 and August 22, 2:00 – 4:00PM

Last year’s event drew in over 500 people. There will be tickets available on the day of each event, but the public can also get guaranteed tickets now at: http://icecreamshowdown.eventbrite.com/

New Treat Cupcake Bar in Needham

I first saw the sign for the soon-to-be-opened Treat Cupcake Bar in Needham, and I just knew I’d love it.  After all, what’s not to love about cupcakes?

When Treat opened I got a voucher for a free cupcake so that I could review it, but of course, I left the voucher at home this Friday, when I happened to be in Needham.  So, what’s a cupcake craving mama to do?  Stop in and buy my own, of course!

Treat offers ready-made cupcakes, along with a design your own cupcake bar.  I chose to design my own, choosing a vanilla cupcake, cream cheese frosting, with Oreo, chocolate chips, and white chocolate chips mixed in.  The cupcake, which I asked to be packaged for carry-out, came with the frosting separate from the cupcake.

Of course, it was absolutely delicious.  But, at $4.25, it wasn’t cheap – it’s more of a special treat, just as the name suggests.

Treat Cupcake Bar

1450 Highland Avenue
Needham MA, 02494

Boston Family-Friendly Road Trips: Smugglers’ Notch Vermont

It’s a bit longer of a road trip than I usually post here, but it’s still in New England, and still very much doable in an afternoon.  Driving up to Smugglers’ Notch in the Green Mountains of Vermont also offers the opportunity to make some fun (and delicious) stops.

I’d recommend stopping at the following delicious stops in Waterbury, Vermont.

The Ben and Jerry’s Factory – Although they don’t produce ice cream on the weekends (when most families travel, of course), you can still get a daily tour.  It’s $3 for adults, and kids are free (tip: right now, if you show the tour desk your check-in on Four Square, you’ll get free admission to the tour).  The best part – the tour ends in the tasting room, where you’ll get a taste of one of their newest creations.

The Cabot Creamery Annex – Cabot cheddar is my personal favorite, so this store, which offers loads of delicious samples, is a must-do.  You can also get some cheese varieties not readily available in Boston grocery stores.

Cold Hollow Cider Mill: Stop by to try their delicious apple/cider desserts (the cider donuts are my favorites) as well as fresh made apple cider.  My kids loved watching the donut production – they love donuts but had no idea how they were made.

You’ll need a place to stay in Vermont, and we stayed at Smugglers’ Notch, which offers kids’ camps, eight pools, and family-friendly events. 

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Disclosure: Smuggs provided us with a three-night trip which included the kids’ camp.

Massachusetts Marketplace Festival

New England farmers, specialty food producers, and artisans will come together for the 14th annual Massachusetts Marketplace Festival on Saturday, August 6th from 10:00am-4:00pm at the Gardens at Elm Bank in Wellesley.

Homemade crafts, soaps, baked goods, popcorn, teas, herbs, fine art, and annual plants from vendors located throughout Massachusetts and New England will be available for sampling and purchase.

Celebrating the quality and abundance of local agriculture, floriculture, specialty foods, and crafts, the festival will include a full day of food sampling, shopping, and entertainment.

Admission
Adults – $6
MassHort Members – $4
Children Under 12 – $2
Tickets are available on site the day of the event.

Boston Family-Friendly Road Trip: Visiting Nearby Gloucester Massachusetts

Looking to take a quick family-friendly day trip?  Gloucester, MA, a short drive from Boston, has a variety of kid-friendly activities.  Here’s a sample itinerary.

Breakfast: Sugar Magnolia’s is home to some of Gloucester’s best pancakes, in a sunny, family-friendly atmosphere in the heart of Main Street.

Morning activities

10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. -Take a Lobstering Tour around Gloucester Harbor. Ever wonder how lobsters are caught? Captain Steve Douglas will show you how to pull lobster traps like real lobstermen do. The kids can even help with the haul – and catch their own 4-star dinner! 1 ¼ hour narrated tour of the Harbor. Tours are 1 ¼ hours and run at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., or 2:30 p.m.

Or if your children are comfortable on a sail boat (faster than the lobster boat, you’re riding fairly close to the water) for a longer tour:

10a.m. -12 p.m. – Take a relaxing sail aboard the Schooner Thomas E. Lannon. Breathe the clean salt air and feel the wind as it fills the schooner’s sails. The kids can help raise the sails and coil the ropes as you sail past lighthouses, scenic beaches and magnificent waterfront homes along the Harbor. This is a 2 hour sail, Kids are free on the Saturday 10:00-12:00 sail.

Lunch: The Pleasant Street Tea Company, 7 Pleasant Street, Gloucester, is a great place for families – wonderful sandwiches and baked goods, smoothies, and big boxes of toys and puzzles for the kids to play with while you’re there. It’s just off of Main Street and a few buildings down from rainy-day destination the Cape Ann Museum, an American art museum specializing in the rich culture of the Cape Ann area.

Afternoon activities

After lunch, visit the Maritime Heritage Center. The Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center lets kids learn about fishing in a way all kids understand – by holding lobsters, prickly starfish and spiny sea urchins in their own hands. Kids can sound a real foghorn, use a rope-tying machine to make their own ropes, see video of shipwrecks with treasure, and try on deep-sea diving helmets. Admission is only $2 per child.

Go on a beach glass hunt! Tiny Island Beach Glass on Main Street, Gloucester, provides pails and treasure maps to find secret stashes of ocean treasure: colorful beach glass. Bring your pieces in and the shop will make them into a necklace, pin or bracelet with personal meaning.

Aside from these activities, Gloucester’s Main Street is filled with shops that include clothing for kids & adults, jewelry, antiques, toys, wonderful cafes and restaurants.  A few favorites for kids: Toodleloos toy store, West End Sweets ice cream & candy shop, The Bookstore of Gloucester.

Dinner: If your family enjoys Mexican food, Main Street stalwart (since 1992) Jalapenos is an outstanding choice, with a fun atmosphere, terrific service, fantastic food and a children under 12 menu that runs just $5.95. Thinking more of seafood? Try The Gloucester House at 63 Rogers Street (parallel to Main Street) and enjoy regional seafood dishes with harbor views.

Photo of Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center courtesy of Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism via Flickr.

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