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The Boston Globe

Lifestyle

19 places to get a taste of summer in April

Emily Anthony takes the sun with her lunch break at Cold Spring Park in Newton.

SUZANNE KREITER/GLOBE STAFF/FILE 2012

Emily Anthony takes the sun with her lunch break at Cold Spring Park in Newton.

“OK, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties, ’cause it’s co-o-ld out there today!” says the radio DJ — over and over again — in the 1993 Bill Murray comedy “Groundhog Day.” The movie is set in Punxsutawney, Pa., but it could’ve been Massachusetts amid this year’s wintry temperatures, which seem — like Groundhog Day itself in the film — never ending. For those hungry for a sunny beacon of hope, here are some spots that offer a sweet taste of summer, even if the calendar says April.

Pull into the Clam Box in Ipswich, which looks just like its name.

laurie swope for the boston globe

Pull into the Clam Box in Ipswich, which looks just like its name.

GET OUT OF YOUR SHELL

Nothing says “summertime” like a golden jumble of crispy clams, fresh from the fryer. Why wait, when the Clam Box (246 High St., Ipswich, 978-356-9707, www.ipswichma.com/ipswichma/clambox) is open for the season? It’s hard to miss the building — it looks like a giant box of clams — and even if there’s a line out the front door, these briny bivalves are worth the wait. Your mouth will think it’s mid-July when you bite into a delicious, whole-belly clam, sourced from nearby mudflats and perfectly fried. If your kids aren’t into clams, no worries: They sell sandwiches and chicken fingers too.

DOWN WITH BUGS . . .

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Insects may not be an adult’s most beloved sign of warmer seasons, but if your kids are into things creepy and crawly, they’ll love “Backyard Monsters: The World of Insects” at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum (110 Pequot Trail, Mashantucket, Conn., 800-411-9671, www.pequotmuseum.org, adults $20, ages 6-18 $12.) In addition to giant robotic bugs, the exhibit (through May 17) features actual bug specimens, a build-a-bug area, and remote-controlled robo-bugs.

Tiger swallowtail butterflies, native Easterners, at the Butterfly Place in Westford.

AP/FILE 2004

Tiger swallowtail butterflies, native Easterners, at the Butterfly Place in Westford.

. . . AND UP WITH BUTTERFLIES

It could be a while before your first backyard butterfly sighting, but there are hundreds of free-flying Lepidoptera at the Butterfly Place (120 Tyngsboro Road, Westford, 978-392-0955, butterflyplace-ma.com, adults $12, ages 3-12 $8), including tropical species from all over the world. The sunny space and brilliantly-hued butterflies are sure-fire mood boosters.

WE’RE JAMMIN’

Close your eyes, listen to the steel drum music, and feel the Caribbean vibe at the Bud Light Reggae Fest at Sugarloaf Resort (5092 Access Road, Carrabassett, Maine, 207-237-6931, www.sugarloaf.com, April 10-13, outdoor shows free, Saturday night concert $19 in advance, $29 at the door). Sure, it’s Maine, but your ears are thinking “Montego Bay.” Go with it. This year’s festival will feature eight bands playing on three different stages.

82 IN THE SHADE

How does 82 degrees sound? That’s the toasty temp inside the Kahuna Laguna indoor water park at the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort (2251 White Mountain Highway, 603-356-5411, North Conway, N.H., 603-356-5411, www.kahunalaguna.com, adults and children $40 a day, observation pass $10, packages with overnight accommodations available). It’s 40,000 square feet of fun, with water towers, cannons, slides, and pools. Splash yourselves silly at CoCo Key Boston (50 Ferncroft Road, Danvers, 978-646-1062, www.cocokeyboston.com, $45 for swimming adults and children over 4 feet tall, under 4 feet $35, nonswimming adults $20). This massive indoor water park, the largest in New England, also features a dip-in theater showing kid-friendly movies. Ask about overnight packages including accommodations at the adjacent DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Boston North Shore (rates vary).

Chicken cutlets with basil parsley sauce at a Eurostoves cooking class.

lisa poole/file 2011

Chicken cutlets with basil parsley sauce at a Eurostoves cooking class.

SPICE IT UP

Enough with steamy soups and heavy stews, and mashed parsnips and baked potatoes. Turn your kitchen into a festival of fresh summertime flavors with the new recipes you’ll master at a local cooking class. Take the lineup at Eurostoves (45 Enon St., Beverly, 877-232-0007, www.eurostoves.com, $75 per person, $150 per couple for a three-hour class), where themes include “Spring Dinner Party” (you’ll make dishes like spring pea soup, a veggie torte, and champagne cake), “Springtime Baking,” “Girls’ Night Out Caribbean Dinner Party,” and a pre-Mother’s Day parent-child cooking class (90 minutes, $49 per parent/child pair for “Parent-Child Cooking Fun With Mom.”)

GET YOUR SAMBA ON

A trip to Brazil — where high temperatures hover around 80 in April — would be dandy, but if that’s not happening for your bunch, take a virtual visit at the “Samba Spirit” show at the Museum of Fine Arts (465 Huntington Ave., 617- 267-9300, museum admission $25 adults, $10 for ages 7-17, www.mfa.org). Featuring modern Afro Brazilian Art, this exhibit is a visual fiesta of “tropical hues, pulsing compositions, and high spirits,” according to Globe correspondent Cate McQuaid.

A DIP IN ‘AMAZON OF THE SEAS’

It will take months for the Atlantic Ocean to heat up enough for a proper swim (without threat of hypothermia). Until then, there’s “Journey to the South Pacific,” an IMAX 3D documentary, now playing at New England Aquarium (Central Wharf, 866-815-4629, www.neaq.org, $9.59). The gorgeous underwater imagery will transport you to the diverse marine habitat of West Papua, Indonesia, called “the Amazon of the Seas.” For 40 minutes (the film’s running time), let the images of Pacific leatherback turtles, manta rays, and 40-foot whale sharks wash over you like so much saltwater.

On the first day of spring last month, man meets gulls on Revere Beach.

PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFF

On the first day of spring last month, man meets gulls on Revere Beach.

HIT THE BEACH

A family hike is a surefire cabin-fever-buster, but woodsy trails are often a muddy slog in springtime. So make it a pre-season beach walk, where the tawny sand, rhythmic waves, and bluebird skies are great reminders of summer days to come. On a recent 45-degree day, Crane Beach (Argilla Road, Ipswich, 978-356-4354, www.thetrustees.org, $8 per car for nonmembers) was a happy scene of smiling families soaking up the sunshine. Revere Beach (Revere Beach Boulevard, Revere, 781-289-3020, www.mass.gov, free) is another long strand that’s great for walking, and you can pop into the venerable Kelly’s Roast Beef for lunch.

S’mores say, “It’s almost summer!” on the Back Deck restaurant in Boston.

DINA RUDICK/GLOBE STAFF/file 2012

S’mores say, “It’s almost summer!” on the Back Deck restaurant in Boston.

S’MORE, PLEASE

Before you know it, you’ll be pitching the ole tent and singing “Kumbaya” by the campfire with your besties. Or not.
Either way, there’s no reason to wait if you’ve got visions of s’mores dancing in your head. At the family-cookout-themed Back Deck restaurant (2 West St., Boston, 617-670-0320, www.backdeckboston.com) they concoct a killer s’more using house-made graham crackers, Hershey’s chocolate (there’s really no substitute), and gourmet marshmallows flavored with peanut butter or espresso ($6). It’s a triumph of messy deliciousness. Or make a DIY s’more on the patio of Belly Wine Bar (One Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-494-0968, www.bellywinebar.com, $4 per person), where the open-top fireplace will keep you warm as you toast their house-made marshmallows to a perfect shade of char.

FROM DESERT TO RAIN FOREST

Visit the hot dry deserts of Mexico or walk through the rainforests of Africa, Malaysia, and Brazil at the Margaret C. Ferguson Greenhouses at Wellesley College (106 Central St., Wellesley, 781-283-1000, www.wellesley.edu, free). This is the best time to visit the cluster of 15 plant-filled houses — in summer it’s too hot! There are more than 1,000 specimens including a 130-year-old-plus camellia that came from the founder of the college. The sun-filled Lyman Conservatory at Smith College (16 College Lane, Northampton, 413-585-2740, www.smith.edu, donations accepted) has one of the best collections of tropical, subtropical, and desert plants in the country. Pick up the kids’ guide to the conservatory; while they’re sleuthing out plants to fill in the scavenger hunt list, you can bask in warm temps and take in the sweet scent of tropical flowers. A visit to the airy and light Limonaia and Orangerie at the Tower Hill Botanical Garden, at the headquarters of the Worcester County Horticultural Society (11 French Drive, Boylston, 508-869-6111, www.towerhillbg.org, adults $12, ages 6-18 $7) is sure to banish winter doldrums. The cathedral-like glass houses are home to thousands of winter-blooming plants.

FEEL THE BURN

Raise a toast to summer (and feel the heat) with one of the quintessential summer sippers: tequila. Zapoteca (505 Fore St., Portland, Maine, 207-772-8242, www.zapotecarestaurant.com) boasts one of the largest selections in New England, with more than 100 high-quality tequilas and margaritas on its menu. Try a flight of three samples served with the house-made tomatillo sangrita ($17-$36) or the signature Habanero Watermelon Margarita ($10).

Istock/Globe staff photo illustration

WARM OF THE ROSES

Feeling cold all the way to your bones? Treat yourself to 50 minutes of steamy, rose-scented bliss at the oceanfront Cliff House Resort & Spa (Shore Road, Ogunquit, Maine, 207-361-1000, www.cliffhousemaine.com) for their signature, splurge-worthy Maine Wild Rose Body Wrap ($115.) That sound you hear is you, moaning with delight.

THE BRINY NOT-TOO-DEEP

Loll on the sunny indoor deck and splash in the saltwater swimming pool at the Royal Sonesta Boston Hotel (40 Edwin Land Blvd., Cambridge, 617-806-4200, from $169; family fun package starts at $209, and includes four tickets to the Museum of Science. www.sonesta.com), a fun local spot for a family getaway. (Since the pool is open only to hotel guests, you’ll need to spring for an overnight.) One of the biggest pools in the area, this urban oasis features an atrium-style pool with a retractable roof and is adorned with plantings that make it seem outdoorsy.

Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at bairwright@gmail.com.

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