In the early ’70s, Boston-area resident Mike Farny dreamed of creating affordable outdoor recreational activities for his community to enjoy. In May of 1973, Mike set up shop in the MDC Norumbega Police Substation of Newton/Auburndale and began realizing his dream. The location—directly next to the historic Totem Pole Ballroom—perfectly enabled the environmentally friendly practice of canoeing and kayaking. Mike's vision blossomed over the years to include four other locations, each offering rentals, tours, and instruction.
Today, on-staff guides lead tours of the Charles River and Boston Harbor to educate participants in ecosystem conservation, view the skyline and sunset, or explore historic structures. Select trips also include lunch to fuel participants as they navigate difficult waterways and jump through flaming hoops. To prepare customers entering the water for the first time, instructors coach riders of all levels in private or group lessons at the paddling school, which draws on more than 30 years of instructional tradition. Team members also organize paddlers with sufficient experience to compete in Run on the Charles, an annual canoe and kayak race down the river. Staffers can also equip boaters in the shop—where Tiderace and Boréal kayaks hang alongside Tahoe paddleboards and Wenonah canoes, dreaming of one day being the inspiration for a traditional sea chantey. Crew members help clients choose from this selection of new rides and accessories through free daily demonstrations.
Saba Alhadi, a former travel agent, began building a photographic portfolio as she turned her lens on Boston and developed photography walking tours through historic neighborhoods in order to share her knowledge of Boston's history and inspire others to become better photographers by capturing the beauty that surrounds them.
On a given tour, she reveals historic details about Boston's hidden houses, the swamp that become a French-inspired neighborhood and public garden, and the famous patriots of the American Revolution. Meanwhile, she interlaces the history with creative photography tips on how to understand camera settings, how light strikes different buildings, and how a reflection in a window can become a composition. She also devises scavenger hunts throughout Boston, sending participants scattering to decode cryptic clues that draw on notable local facts.
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Ann and Michael Martini have long shared a love and familiarity with Rhode Island's culinary landscape. Ann left her post at Rhode Island Monthly to work with chefs, restaurants, and food events, and Michael, a professional chef, has let his knives fly at upscale Rhode Island eateries for more than 25 years. Together, they bring outsiders into New England's culinary gems to sample signature dishes, tour kitchens, meet chefs, and get lucky guests’ tongues autographed. Ann coordinates each tour, then sends Michael off with up to a dozen people to receive insider access to restaurants, gourmet shops, and other palate-pleasing stops. For two hours, groups cover about 2 miles of ground at a leisurely pace. There are treats to sample at each stop—although, according to the Sun Chronicle, "What's almost as good as the food is the fact that the chefs welcome tour guests into their kitchens, which in many cases have sous chefs and other personnel beginning to prepare for dinner service."
Eco Pedicab melds eco-friendly travel with engaging urban tours. Its squad of cyclists and city guides usher riders along city streets in pedicabs that eliminate the release of harmful emissions produced by cabs or buses. Knowledgeable guides share the sights and tastes of the area during tours of historic locations, chic eateries, or local breweries. The bike pilots are also on call throughout the week to take riders for quick trips around town and to save them from having to track down a taxi or weightlifters willing to give out piggy back rides.
Since its inception as a nonprofit organization in 1985, Community Rowing Inc. has guided more than 15,000 students in invigorating rowing sessions held on the Charles River. Their experienced staff of Olympians and coaches helps students to become familiar with industry-standard boats and rowing machines through comprehensive introductory lessons and extended handshakes with the rowing arms. After gleaning the skills necessary to properly use equipment, students gain access to locker rooms, training areas, and any additional courses on the Charles River. The full-body, calorie-burning workouts are available throughout the week, allowing students to learn essential techniques such as sweeping, sculling, and dealing peacefully with the water road rage of aggressive gondoliers.