Staycation ideas in the western suburbs

If you and the kids are taking a break this summer but staying local, the western burbs are a great place for a staycation. From kayaking to sand painting to candlepin bowling, check out our ideas for seven days of family fun close to home.

Day 1 — Get outside

Every Monday at 10 a.m., there’s a different nature topic to explore at the Caterpillar Club, hosted by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s Gardens at Elm Bank in Wellesley. The drop-in sessions are designed for children from preschool through second grade.

Putting its 210 acres to good use, Fruitlands Museum in Harvard hosts dog-friendly, kid-friendly summer concerts on Thursdays at 7 p.m. (Picnic grounds open at 5:30 p.m.)

At Garden in the Woods in Framingham, kids can pick up a scavenger hunt sheet, tailored to their age group, with admission. The Edible Garden and Invasive Plant Jail are also popular with younger visitors.

Day 2 — Get wet

You can swim, kayak or canoe at Hopkinton State Park, where the vendor Boating in Boston also rents out stand-up paddle boards, pedal boats, windsurfing boards, rowboats, and (for season pass holders) sailboats.

With a spray park, water slide, and filtered pond, Springs Brook Park in Bedford is a good place to ride out a heat wave. There’s also a sandy beach, playground, and concession stand at the town-run recreation area.

Day 3 — Get artsy

ArtBeat in Arlington is an open studio where children (age 4 and up) and parents can exercise their crafty side with decoupage, painting, sand painting, candle decorating, doll making, and pillow making. Open seven days, Artbeat provides free instruction, and crafters pay for the materials they choose.

Paint your own pottery, fuse a glass picture frame, or string some bead jewelry at Clay Time in Shrewsbury. Open seven days; reservations are recommended for holidays and rainy summer days.

Instructors at Paint ’n Pour in Maynard will guide you in reproducing a painting. Weekend family classes include kids age 7 and up.

Day 4 — Get playing

Families can squeeze in some Massachusetts Revolutionary history while playing miniature golf at Golf on the Village Green in Natick, open seven days. The course, which turns 50 next year, features replicas of the State House and Old North Church, among other famous landmarks.

With candlepin bowling, an arcade (skeeball!), and 1950s-themed diner, Acton Bowladrome and Arcade offers old-school family fun. Unlike the days of yore, however, eager bowlers can reserve online (or just walk in). Closed Mondays unless it rains.

Day 5 — Get moving

Noon Hill and Shattuck Reservation in Medfield offer 7.5 miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking, with views of the Charles River as payoff for your efforts. Open seven days, sunrise to sunset, admission to the Trustees of Reservations properties is free. If you want to go even farther, pathways link up with the 200-mile Bay Circuit Trail.

Walk along the boardwalk or hiking trails at the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Norfolk and you could spot geese, swans, great blue herons, and snapping turtles. Wildlife are particularly active around the wetlands in the morning and evening hours, staff say.

Day 6 — Get inside

PlayTown Express recently moved its bouncy houses and giant slides from Hopkinton to Southborough. There are also ride-on toys, a traverse wall, and a little town with a small workshop, café, and market. Open for drop-in fun Monday through Saturday (Sundays are reserved for birthday parties), the indoor playground includes an area for infants and Wi-Fi for parents.

Using hand and shadow puppets, “The Yankee Peddler” will feature a collection of New England folk tales and songs to a backdrop of live music. That’s just one of the ever-changing performances coming up at Brookline’s Puppet Showplace Theatre, which is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

Day 7 — Get farming

At Belkin Family Lookout Farm in Natick, young visitors can explore the play area, which includes farm animals, a caterpillar ride, climbing equipment, hay pyramid, and burlap maze. Currently open only on weekends, the seasonal operation goes to seven days on Aug. 5. And starting next month, visitors can also take the train to pick their own peaches, plums, and nectarines.

Tangerini’s Spring Street Farm in Millis, open seven days, has pigs, chickens, and baby goats to show off and ice cream to eat, but the real attraction is the variety of “u-pick” produce available. Blueberries are now in season, and next month visitors can harvest their own tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, sweet corn, cantaloupe, and watermelon.

Lisa Kocian can be reached at lkocian@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeLisaKocian.
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