Tag Archives: public transport

playground music

Binney Street Playground

Randomly found a rather nice playground purely by accident. This one is tucked into a corner of a large parking garage, but really surprisingly nice. Maybe not worth making a special trip for, but if you’re hanging around the Kendall Square area near the movie theater,  it’s worth a look.


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The playground is -erm- landscaped with fake grass, but it’s actually quite pleasant. It was super clean and had a very nice picnic area, which even included a mini picnic table for kids. There is a good music corner, and the climbing structure had several interesting panels Alex and Jen found interesting. There are the obligatory slides and climbers of course. No sandbox, though there are some raised bowls, which I think can serve as sand tables or water tables.

Here are some of the pictures I took:

Cambridge Common Playground

This playground is at the north end of the Cambridge Common, which is just north of Harvard Square. Our last visit had been in fall, after all the water sprinklers were turned off. So we went again recently:

Boston Childrens Museum

I’ve been saving up the Boston Children’s Museum all. summer. long.

We had a total blast there yesterday and spent almost four hours and only played with maybe a tenth of what there is to see and do. We went to the Playspace, which is only for kids three years and under.  That room alone has more toys to play with than I can remember. There’s a playhouse, a tree house, a car,  an aquarium, a kitchen, a doll house, the world’s largest train table (that’s my own hyperbole), a separate area just for crawlers, a kitchen with dining area (AND FREE COFFEE FOR ADULTS), books, resources, puzzles, …

We went to the art studio for some scissoring and gluing, to the Countdown to Kindergarten mock school room for some writing practice and dinosaur play, some of the Arthur and Friends exhibit to try out the backyard camping adventure, to Johnny’s Workbench to try out real saws, screw drivers and safety glasses, and a special new exhibit called Balancing Act.

There is enough to see at the Boston Children’s Museum to keep us busy for many more wintery or rainy days…

Some handy hints: bring a complete change of clothing for each child. One of the best room at the museum is Peep’s World, which has a lot of water and sand tables. Also, there is usually some four hour on-street parking to be had around the area, as well as lots of parking buildings. It helps to bring warm clothing to walk to and from, as the museum is in a breezy location on the harbor.

Nothing Better

There’s nothing better than a warm, sunny fall day spent with excellent friends at a playground. We had Tuft’s Tot Lot all to ourselves and everything was perfect.

Note the glow in the photos 😉

Wenham Museum

We spontaneously went to the Wenham Museum on Wednesday. It’s in -er- Wenham and we were up that way for the Mass Audubon Toddler Class. What a thoroughly lovely experience! It’s a super child friendly place (a changing table in the men’s restroom always gets bonus points from me) and contains 50% trains and 50% dolls. I’m exaggerating of course, but I’m pretty sure Alex had the best train experience of his life and is currently making choo-choo sounds in his sleep.

The museum has a gallery with a big collection of tin cars and trains, a hands on train, and hands on race car. We spent a good half hour here jockeying for the driver position in the car. Everything seems put together really lovingly and passion. It transfers. Jen and Alex were super careful touching everything that was allowed to be touched. Just as a warning, the train table in the doll gallery makes an eerie mooing sound when activated. Alex said he was a bit scared and wanted to go somewhere else when we found that.

The trains downstairs are spectacular. There are ten different, huge model layouts. Lots of detail. Lots of love. Alex and Jen spent about an hour in this room.

Visitors of all ages delight in the Bennett E. Merry Train Gallery featuring 10 operating model layouts—in G, O, HO, N, and Z gauges—with 12 trains that operate with the push of a button. Railroad artifacts, memorabilia, large-scale models and antique toy trains are also on display. Most importantly, model train and railroad experts are on hand to answer your questions, discuss scenery building and layout construction, and offer advice to railroad hobbyists.

There are lots of dolls (1000 to 5000 on display) from every walk of life:

The dolls in the museum’s world-renowned collection offer insights into the values, manners, and mores of past generations; interpret the costumes and cultures of native and foreign peoples; and reflect the aesthetics and history of the international doll industry. They range from Egyptian funerary figures (c. 1500 BC) to 20th-century collectible dolls, including 19th-century porcelain European play dolls, international travel dolls, “Whimsies,” American cloth dolls, and rare 19th-century Native American and Inuit dolls. Not to be missed is the Elizabeth Richards Horton International Doll Collection—one of only two collections in the world to remain intact for more than 100 years—containing dolls from turn-of-the-century celebrities and royals, and Miss Columbia, the doll who traveled around the world from 1900 to 1902.

A rotating permanent exhibition features approximately 1,000 of the 5,000 dolls in the Wenham Museum’s world-famous doll collection. Included are fine examples of both French and German Bisque dolls, dolls of unusual media, unique artist’s figures, and dolls by 19th- and 20th-century American doll makers. Some of the many highlights of the exhibit are a late 18th-century wooden “Suzanna Holyoke” doll with original costume, late 19th-century bisque costumed mechanical dolls, dolls by Joel Ellis, Grenier and Izannah Walker and examples of 20th- century collectible dolls by Vogue, Madame Alexander and the Ideal Toy Company.

Permanently displayed in the Osgood Gallery is the International Doll Collection (IDC), the original nucleus of the museum’s doll collection, donated in 1922 by Elizabeth Richards Horton, a former resident of the Claflin-Richards House. On behalf of charities all over the world, Mrs. Horton would plan an itinerary a year in advance, pack her dolls, and ship them off to be exhibited as a charitable fundraising event. Over the years, in an effort to expand her collection, Mrs. Horton wrote to officials, celebrities, and the crown heads of Europe to request donations to her collection. Many personalities of note responded and the collection still contains dolls from Queen Victoria, the Emperor and Empress of Japan, Czar Nicholas and Czarina Alexandra, Admiral Byrd and Cecil Rhodes, among others. A highlight of the IDC is Miss Columbia, the museum’s most famous doll. A cloth Columbian doll designed and manufactured by Emma and Marietta Adams of Oswego, N.Y., Miss Columbia traveled around the world by herself from 1900 to 1902 raising funds for children’s charities. She is displayed with her travel diary and souvenirs. In the year 2000, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of her voyage, a reproduction Miss Columbia was sent around the United States to elementary schools with her own curriculum and Web-based journal.

Jen was a little bit young at almost 14 months, but she also had a great time playing with the tea set out on one of the kids play tables. The other big hit with us was the Family Discovery Center. Lots of hands-on toys to explore. This room changes, but currently has toys from Post-WW-II (1946 to 1964) and lots of Lincoln Logs.

Experience the childhood of the Baby Boomers in an interactive display of real and reproduction toys and artifacts of daily life of the 1950s and 60s. Children have fun dressing up as cowboys and cowgirls, playing in a post WWII Tract House, and shop at the local grocery store or challenge parents and grandparents to a game of Candy Land, Rock-Em-Sock-Em or build with Lincoln Logs. Children take turns dialing a rotary phone and using a typewriter. See a display of toys from the museum’s collection including a Charlie McCarthy ventriloquist puppet, Ginny and Chatty Cathy dolls and more memorabilia from the 50s and 60s.

The museum is located at 132 Main Street, Wenham. It is open from 10am to 4pm daily and is accessible by public transport (:-D)


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Cambridge Common Playground

Finally we got a chance today to go to the Cambridge Common Playground today. Everyone has been raving about this playground all summer. Parking has been known to be iffy, so we just haven’t ventured that deeply into Harvardland. Today Alex helped out the lovely people at the Laboratory for Developmental Studies (a.k.a. Baby Lab) at Harvard University. We spun around in a circular room with our eyes closed and had to find stickers, if you really must know. Actually, it was very cool research and a thoroughly pleasant experience. Check them out, and help out a scientist 😉

And the Cambridge Common Playground is close by,  just north of Harvard Square. I swear it took 30 minutes to drive the couple of hundred yards – boy is that area a warren of higher intellect and one-way streets. But we had no problem finding parking spots near the playground. There were plenty of two hour metered spots. Of course as your eco-friend (conscience) I recommend taking public transport…

The playground is awesome. Well designed, well made, and all understated and natural (ish). There are hills with slides and climbing options (nets, rock holds, tree branches, palisades), there are wooden playhouses, a very cool wooden sailboat, swings, a maze, picnic table and benches, shade, water features (sprinkler shower and a water race), a shaded platform with pulleys and shakers and a conveyor belt, a very nifty seesaw, a wheelchair drive-on round-a-bout, and lots and lots of large wooden blocks. The surface is mostly sand and wood chips.

Alex made a friend and together they monopolized the conveyor belt for a good half hour, moving wood onto the platform. Then they built a bridge for their cars and trains and played with that for about a microsecond. Alex then unexpectedly got all adventurous and tried out all the different climbing options (“ALL BY MYSELF” as he said when celebrating another successful ascent).

Jen freaked me out. She wanted to try out everything – gulp. She crawled up steps and hills and through tunnels and tried out the pulleys and shakers. I’m on a learning curve with her – Alex has been cautious and timid until a couple of weeks ago, so I never got all those heart-stopping moments I seem to be heading for with Jen.

Anyhow, here are my pictures. The official playground webpage has lots of good ones too…

New England Aquarium

Friday morning we ventured to the New England Aquarium. I had taken Alex a few times before his first birthday, with very mixed results. Then he had a pretty short attention span and even the super colorful tropical fish didn’t hold his interest for long. What a difference a couple of years make. This time Alex was hooked (pun intended). He loved the seals outside, although he thought they were dolphins. He LOVED the penguins. He super loved the turtles. He super double loved the pool where he could touch starfish and shells. The superlatives continued for a good hour and a half, when the lure of a snack was suddenly greater than more fish. JenJen also loved everything and spent a good bit of time splishing the water in the touch pool and pointing at everything – both index fingers were in action…

We had a snack in the very friendly cafeteria – one woman who was cleaning up checked in with us several times and brought more high chairs. Then it was a race against the parking meter to check out the very large, very deep tank that is literally the centerpiece of the aquarium. Personally I could watch the sharks and turtles and divers and every other possible water creature for hours, but we had to get back to the car.

Parking is a huge problem in the area, but that day we found 2hr on-street parking for $2 total just around the corner. On the Aquarium website is a link to nearby parking options, which is well worth the visit since the closest parking garage is insanely expensive at $35 a day or $25 when members get their ticket validated. Public transportation is an excellent option to visit the aquarium

Apologies for the quality of the photos. I forgot the Aquarium is dark and my camera phone is sans flash.

Russel Field Playground

Russel Field Playground was Saturday’s field trip. It was a mission because Alex, Jen and I were super tired. Josh had gone away for the night and, to put it mildly, bed time did not go smoothly. A highlight was an overtired,  sobbing Alex screaming that he needed to hold JenJen’s hand. Sigh. It’s a good thing I can drink lots of coffee :-). And why is it that no matter what, my kids are up at sparrow’s fart?

But we went to our weekly calisthenics at The Little Gym and then to Russel Field Playground in Cambridge. This playground is just by the Alewife T stop, so there are lots of public transport options. It is also right on the Minute Man Bike Path for even more access options. We ended up driving and parking at the Public Swimming pool nearby – there were multiple games happening and the various baseball/football/basketball fields and the pool was already closed. I’m guessing that normally the parking lot by the playground has a spot or two for playground users.

The playground itself is fenced, has a sandbox (no donated toys and diggers so BYO), a cool fish climbing structure, a structure with slide for REALLY little toddlers and a nice structure for bigger kids made out of rope. There are two infant swings, two big kid swings, and one bucket swing. There are several benches and picnic tables, but there is little shade. Alex almost fell asleep on the swing so we didn’t stay for very long, but it was fun.

North Point Playground

Thursday’s playground was North Point Park, across from the Museum of Science. I had to go back, because I had put my finger across the camera lens accidentally on purpose. This was another Bitchin Mamas meetup and one brave soul made it out to this playground with a three week old baby. Of course everyone melted and had to coo a bit before we could really get into playing. But before I write all about the playground, I need to have a little rant. This rather excellent play has almost no parking. There are two hour parking spots along Education Street, and I have always found a spot there. Not on Thursday when three young men in three young cars pulled into the three available parking spots before walking off together. Really!!! I spent about an hour mumbling under my breath about carpooling and taking public transportation and leaving spots for mothers near a playground. Humpf! 😉

Anyway, the playground is very nice and huge. The big kid structure is made of wood and has slides and about a bazillion ways to climb up, down and around. Super nice. There are two other areas with structures for bigger kids. One has a sculpture climbing structure, the other some nicely designed monkey bars.

The toddler area has a fence, but the gates don’t latch and a few kids from our group managed to squeeze through between fence and wall to play in the big kid structure. The toddler area is colorful, well maintained and has several interesting structures. There is a mini-toddler slide, a bird house, a bigger toddler structure with slide and ropes and poles. The toddler area also has its own water feature: three stone basins with cascading water. This is operated by holding onto the top of the red pole.

There is a big spray deck as well. The water was still on and everyone got suitably soaked. There are two spinny pole things that were a big hit, as was watching the cars and trains on the Zakim bridge. THE best bit was when the draw bridge lifted up to let two boats exit Boston harbor. This playground has no sandbox and no swings.

Cedar St Playground

Yesterday was a day for sitting by the pool and drinking margaritas, or failing that, running through the water at a shady sprinkler park. JenJen and Alex don’t drink margaritas, so we opted for Cedar Street Playground in Cambridge with its lovely sprinkler area. This playground is one of the shadiest we’ve seen, but some thoughtful person has equipped the picnic tables with extra shade umbrellas. The playground is double fenced. There is a gate to Dudley street, and a gate to the tot lot. The tot lot has four swings and an excellent climbing structure with a large sandpit, liberally sprinkled with donated toys. The big kid structure is a fun structure made out of rope and provides lots of 3D climbing and play. There is also quite a bit of shaded grass, though dogs tend to frequent that, a little basketball court, and the sprinklers. The sprinklers are activated by holding onto the top of the green column and then there are a few minutes of various sprinklers providing splashes and mist.

Note that all the parking on the side streets require a resident permit, but there are 2hr parking meters on Massachusetts Ave as well as a several buslines.