I recently received an email from a reader who enjoyed my post on 9 ways to get the kids off the couch during winter break, adding that he’s found a number of unique weekend activities that “do not suck for parents” — his own words — in the Boston area to take his “lovably demanding 3-year-old”.
It helps that the writer, Ben Cohen-Leadholm, works as a marketing executive for the Adidas Group in Canton, so he lives, breathes, and earns his living on fitness. He also blogs about his family fitness adventures, which has tons of resources for those looking to go yurt camping, geo-caching, or maybe hit a local ghost town.
Yes, Massachusetts has them; see the photo above of Ben and his daughter Addison taken at a ghost town site in Cape Cod called Monomoy Island.
I asked Cohen-Leadholm to do a brain dump of his favorite ways to get fit with his wife (who’s pregnant with their second child), preschool daughter, and adult friends without kids who just aren’t into birthday parties at the Little Gym.
He was happy to oblige -- and I didn’t even have to buy a pair of Reeboks. His suggestions:
1. Go geocaching. This involves grabbing a GPS device, hitting a trail, and searching for a hidden cache of treasure. “It’s a hidden box with cool or weird stuff in it like bits of poetry or action figures,” said Cohen-Leadholm. “The only agreement is that if you take something out, you put something back in its place.” The best way to find a geocache is to log onto geocaching.com, sign up for a free membership, and insert your zipcode to take your pick from a list.
Typing in the Boston Globe zip code yielded 21,470 geocache trails nearby marked by their level of difficulty and with details on their location and type of hike. There are several at Boston Harborwalk where you can find a series of magnetic nano caches and a few along the greenway where the Occupy Wallstreet protestors used to camp — as well as hundreds in Boston Common — where Cohen-Leadholm likes to go with his family — and other nearby parks.
2. Take a walk-in Kung Fu class. I was always under the impression that martial arts classes came in programmed sessions with age requirements, but Cohen-Leadholm told me he found a Groupon for a kung fu class in Newton where he was able to walk in with his daughter and for a nominal fee take a single class. There are hundreds of martial arts classes — judo, tae qwon do, and karate — all over the Boston area, but call ahead to make sure they take walk-in’s of any age.
3. Try a round of frisbee golf. No, you don’t have to get the frisbee in that tiny golf hole. You just have to pick a spot that’s not too crowded and set up some landmarks that you need to reach with your frisbee, keeping track of the number of throws it takes to get there. “My preferred spot is Franklin park in Jamaica Plain since there are open fields and wooded areas,” said Cohen-Leadholm.
4. Visit a nearby ghost town. There are about nine ghost towns in Massachusetts, Cohen-Leadholm tells me. But don’t expect the Hollywood-esque abandoned store fronts of the Southwest. These towns often have old roads and trails with markers noting where seaside shops and houses used to stand. Cohen-Leadholm’s favorite? Dogtown on Cape Ann, which was overun by wild dogs in the 1800’s. “It has a creepy story to it,” he said.
5. Yurt camping. These are fancier and more weather-tight than tents — and you don’t have to pitch one yourself. “You rent them out like log cabins, and some are more basic than others,” said Cohen-Leadholm. You can find yurts all over New England, but if you plan to do a winter camping trip, make sure your yurt is equipped with a wood stove. Here are more details on yurt camping.