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.
Since 1985, the FAA-certified team of pilots and instructors at East Coast Aero Club has shepherded citizens from Hanscom Field airport to the skies above Boston for sightseeing, introductory flights, and pilot-certification programs. The crew oversees a 35-aircraft-strong fleet composed of planes by Piper, Cessna, Cirrus, and Diamond, as well as helicopters by Robinson. The company’s entry-level educational program, Learn to Fly, matches pupils up with one of more than 25 certified flight instructors, who teach students how to read each craft's instruments and back issues of SkyMall.
But passengers don't just learn about flight; they also learn about the area around them. Scenic flights afford aerial views of the city, soaring from Hanscom Field over such sights as the Lexington battlefields, the Charles River, and the USS Constitution. Passengers can bring along cameras to capture the spectacular views and document any crop circles they spot in the outfield at Fenway Park.
With three haunted houses, a spooky hayride, and a bustling carnival, Witch’s Woods is a Halloween theme park that rises from the mist for only one month a year. Ferried along by a sputtering tractor, Haunted Hayride passengers cower for 20 grueling minutes as they are assailed from all sides by zombies, werewolves, ghouls, and cows trying to nibble the hay. At the end of the ride, three paths lead to additional attractions, including Castle Morbid, in which medieval spirits chase interlopers through the halls and into the depths of the keep, where it becomes increasingly apparent that the weapons that once kept intruders out are now employed to keep them in. Nightmare Mansion is inhabited by a cursed family whose eternal life has left them as withered husks driven insane with rage at visitors who still possess the ability to die. The final path leads to the 3-D Keeper’s Crypt, where the undead shamble and scream as they pursue their prey, and where the walls themselves seem to be closing in.
A creepy carnival awaits survivors with rides, games, and more attractions. The Horror wood Chamber of Chills puts favorite Halloween and horror-movie characters on display, including such icons as Frankenstein, Freddy Krueger, and Mary Shelley’s original version of Shrek. Meanwhile, the Jack O’ Lantern Jamboree displays rows upon rows of professional carved pumpkins, eerily glowing at self-guided passersby.
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.