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.
After years of teaching preschool, Sue Merlino graduated to a new passion in life when she turned her enthusiasm for bicycling and her hometown into a career exploring Concord's history atop a two-wheeler. Her resulting brainchild, Concord Bike Tours, wends through the heavily treed lanes of the city, elucidating the history of notable locations such as the Emerson House, the abodes of lesser-known abolitionists, and the site where Thoreau kissed his first tree. Four regularly run tours take up to 10 bicyclists on 2.5- to 3-hour journeys, with optional sidecars for children younger than 8 provided. Sue and her family will also plot custom trips for clients interested in longer rides, different scenery, or preparing for a Jeopardy! audition.
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.
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.