Holiday happenings in P-town
Celebrate the holidays with a visit to always-fun-and-festive Provincetown. See the Lobster Pot Tree, a tree-shaped display that’s made from more than 100 stacked lobster pots covered with ribbons and lights. The Canteen features a holiday pop-up market and food options on weekends through Jan. 2. Buy items from local woodworkers, jewelers, painters, and other artisans; go for a spin around the skating rink (free skate rentals) and then enjoy hot chocolate beside a firepit; and indulge in schnitzel, mulled wine, and more at the chalet-style pop-up restaurant. Ring in the new year at First Light, which includes the Light Bright Bike Ride on New Year’s Eve, when locals and visitors decorate their bikes with lights and parade through town, and the infamous Polar Bear Plunge at noon on Jan. 1, followed by a dazzling fireworks celebration at dusk (go to MacMillan Pier to watch). ptowntourism.com.
Explore Boston’s train exhibit
Watch model trains zip around miniature versions of Boston’s Custom House, Zakim Bridge, and other iconic landmarks during “All Aboard! Trains at Science Park” at the Museum of Science, Boston, open through Jan. 17. Elements in this exhibit were made by master model-maker John Goodson, known for his creations in “The Mandalorian,” “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” and “Back to the Future.” See multiple model train layouts among the wintery landscapes and snow-capped peaks, featuring O-Scale, G-Scale, and HO-Scale model trains, a Village Trolley display, and the Boston-themed layout. Don’t miss the hands-on activities: Kids of all ages can lay wooden tracks, design and engineer layouts, and “drive” trains by hand and push-button devices. Admission included with regular Exhibit Hall ticket: $24 ages 3-11, $29 for ages 12 and older, $25 for ages 60 and older. 617-723-2500, www.mos.org.
Take fun classes while traveling
Spend your holiday travel time learning how to start a garage band, speak Spanish, edit and post your travel videos, or create a happiness plan for 2022. Skillshare offers thousands of creative and skills-based online classes — offered by experts in their fields — that you can take from home or while on the road. Choose a topic based on your interests, such as animation, creative writing, photography, music, or Web development, and then select a specific offering — anything from a 52-minute class on outdoor photography to a 19-hour Complete Web Design course. Filter the offerings by choosing the class level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) and length, from less than 15 minutes to more than an hour. Watch from anywhere using your laptop, tablet, or phone or download the class so you can enjoy it on a plane or during a long car ride. $15 per month for an annual membership. www.skillshare.com.
Where gear meets hip hotel
Keep your travels simple and stay at The Hotel Zags in downtown Portland, Ore., where you can borrow everything from cruiser bikes to cameras (choose from a Leica DSLR, a GoPro or a Mini Instamax Polaroid camera). This new modern hotel in the city’s Fountain District has a Gear Shed that’s loaded with items for guests to use for free: soccer ball, backpack, binoculars, fishing pole, guitar, bocce balls, Nintendo games, and even a portable record player. Check the hotel’s website for availability and book items in advance. The hotel has 174 rooms and 6 suites, each one uniquely decorated with bright colors and bespoke furnishings. It’s a short walk from the Portland Art Museum, Powell’s Bookstore, farmers’ markets, food vendors, and the MAX light rail. Guests receive a $15 “treat credit” for mini-bar or sundry shop purchases, 24-hour day passes to a fitness center, and access to the hotel’s game room. Rates start at $99. www.thehotelzags.com.
Sweet dreams are made of HEST
My tweens loved the new HEST Foamy travel mattress so much, they abandoned their beds at home for a weeklong slumber party on the floor — it’s that comfortable. Good news for winter campers: Foamy comes with a top layer of temperature-regulated memory foam that won’t freeze like traditional memory foam — meaning you can use it car camping at ski areas and tent camping year-round — and a firm bottom layer for support and pressure-point relief. The machine-washable cover has a soft material on top for comfort and a waterproof fabric on the bottom to protect the mattress from ground moisture. The best part: the Foamy comes with clips on each side so you can attach it to another Foamy and create a secure, nonslip double bed — ideal for snuggling without falling into the cracks. The compression harness also doubles as a handy welcome mat for shoes, while a side pocket holds your car keys and phone. Roll the mattress up into a compact bundle for travel. $299 for a 25-by-78-inch mattress; $349 for a 30-by-78-inch-wide version. https://hest.com/products/foamy.
A last-minute gift for anyone
Voited’s new Soul Slippers work well for keeping your feet toasty on cold mornings, for dashing out to the mailbox to grab your holiday cards, and for the walk to your hotel’s outdoor hot tub — or even for wearing around town (no one will know). The lightweight indoor-outdoor shoes have a fleece liner and memory foam footbed for keeping your feet comfy and warm. The waterproof outer fabric protects the Soul Slippers in case of light drizzle or spilled eggnog, and the super-grippy (hand-stitched) rubber soles help keep you upright on slippery terrain. For eco-minded souls, the slippers are made using REPREVE fabric, meaning fiber material made from recycled plastic bottles. Available in men’s and women’s sizes. $54.95. https://voited.com.