On his way to work one day, Andre Boucher spotted a hot air balloon, and on a whim he decided to follow it. He met it where it landed, and the aircraft's pilot offered to take Andre up for a ride. Ever since he was young, Andre had been fascinated by aviation, but airsickness and a codependent relationship with gravity always prevented him from enjoying it firsthand. But as he felt the basket drifting with the wind instead of battling against it, Andre knew he had finally found a way to experience flight. He has since acquired more than 23 years of professional experience, even lending his expertise to an elaborate promotional flight for Pixar's balloon-based film Up.
Andre now captains A&A Balloon Rides, LLC, where colorful carriages lift patrons between 500 and 2,000 feet above the lakes, treetops, and fields of New Hampshire. Guests can arrange private or group flights, and they can set up flown or tethered rides for school events, company picnics, or aerial-photography sessions, the latter of which can finally prove that birds fly on hoverboards.
With its three basic ingredients—honey, water, and yeast—the making of mead sounds misleadingly simple. But Michael Fairbrother tinkered with the recipe for this ancient drink in his garage for 17 years before he felt ready to open Moonlight Meadery and share the results. Michael has fine-tuned the fermentation process to craft batches of mead from ethically sourced, unpasteurized honey, which imparts each sip with rich color, vivid aromas, and the pleasant buzz that bees make while wading into a hot tub. Michael’s traditional mead rests side by side with fruit-tinged and spiced varietals that meld flavors such as tart rhubarb and Madagascar-bourbon vanilla beans with New Hampshire wildflower honey.
High 5 Ballooning has sailed through skies since 1999, offering views of New England so spectacular that even the company’s balloons never stop smiling. With the Merrimack River Valley below, each trip treats passengers to views of the Boston skyline and the White Mountains blanketed in the colors of the changing seasons. Depending on the winds, rides may drift gently over pristine lakes or pass close enough to trees that passengers can pluck pinecones and whisper compliments to sleeping birds. After trips coast back to solid ground, High 5 Ballooning celebrates the occasion with champagne toasts.
Today's side deal gets a lush Christmas tree into your house while simultaneously getting your family out of it. For $38, you get a pre-cut Christmas tree, up to eight feet tall, from Smolak Farms (up to a $75 value). Located just 45 minutes outside of Boston, this picturesque 300-year-old New England farm lets you and your family enjoy the Christmas tradition of taking your pick of hundreds of pre-cut trees. Because purchasing a Christmas tree after Christmas is considered something of a faux pas, this side deal understandably expires on Christmas Eve. This deal covers the tree only—rope is not included.
Housed within the antiquated Amos Blanchard House and Barn Museum, the Andover Historical Society preserves artifacts and archival records from Andover’s storied 350-year history. Within the more-than-100-year-old building, visitors can experience what it was like to live as a middle-class family in the early 19th century or peruse the vast library archives. The society also hosts events within the community, including the seasonal Tree Time display and lectures on the town’s history.