Spring Staycations | Globe Magazine

3 school vacation ideas for grown-ups, because why should kids have all the fun?

Hang out in Harvard Square, take in the art of Lincoln, and drink it up in JP.

Illustration by MASA for The Boston Globe


Start your day with a scientifically superior cup of coffee at Darwin’s, 1629 Cambridge Street (617-491-2999,, where the special brewing system captures pour-over taste without the wait. Get one of the famous breakfast sandwiches, too — Harvard students are known to inhale them — and you’ll be energized for a day of art.

From there, walk five minutes to the Harvard Art Museums: the Fogg, the Busch-Reisinger, and the Arthur M. Sackler (617-495-9400, If you haven’t visited since the renovation and 2014 reopening, prepare to be dazzled. All three museums are now under one spectacular glass roof, allowing for seamless navigation among the collections. Start with the early Chinese art galleries on the first floor, where ancient sculptures of Buddha show beautifully against modern glass walls. Don’t miss Bernini’s terra-cotta angels in the Winter Garden Gallery or the breathtaking “Everywhen: The Eternal Present in Indigenous Art From Australia’’ in the Special Exhibitions Gallery. When you’re ready for a break, the Calderwood Courtyard, modeled to look like an Italian piazza, is the perfect place for una pausa and an espresso.

Exit the museum on Quincy Street, passing through the black wrought-iron gate and continuing to the center of Harvard Yard. Find Sever Hall, with its deeply recessed semicircular archway, and whisper into the bricks on one side to surprise the listener on the other. You’ll be marveling at the acoustical magic as you make your way to the plaza outside the Science Center for a late lunch at one of the food trucks. You can’t miss with a Bon Me pork sandwich with pickled veggies (


If you prefer a sit-down meal and a cocktail, Beat Brasserie in Harvard Square (617-499-0001, will transport you to Paris in the ’60s. Enjoy an artisanal wine on tap and an Earthly Delight Bowl in the laid-back bohemian ambience. Check the calendar for musical events.


Tours of the Sam Adams Brewery include tastings, then take a free trolley ride to Doyle’s for some pub grub.
Boston Beer
Tours of the Sam Adams Brewery include tastings, then take a free trolley ride to Doyle’s for some pub grub.
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Whether you’re a casual imbiber or microbrew buff, the Sam Adams Brewery (617-368-5080, is the best place in Boston to wake up and smell the wort — that sweet, malty liquid made from brewing grains. Parking is limited, so take the Orange Line to Stony Brook Station and walk five minutes to the cheery JP facility. You may even spot craft beer baron Jim Koch, who brewed up the first batch of Boston Lager in his kitchen in 1984. Every variety of Sam Adams since then has gotten its start right here. Free one-hour walking tours leave every 45 minutes on weekdays, every 15 minutes on Saturdays. You may have to wait, but the lobby is chock-full of beer-aphernalia to keep you entertained. The tour is informative, hands-on, and tasty; visitors 21 and older can sample three beers and may be asked to vote on the next new brew going to market.

On your way through the gift shop, pick up a souvenir cap, Marathon-themed glassware, or a bar of beer (yes, beer) soap. Then hop on the free trolley (every 10 to 20 minutes Monday, Friday, and Saturday through April; Monday to Saturday starting in May) for the short ride to Doyle’s Cafe (617-524-2345, This landmark Irish-American pub boasts an extensive menu, with burgers a favorite choice. Show your ticket from the tour and your Sam Adams arrives in a free souvenir “perfect pint” glass.

When you leave Doyle’s, a quick stroll down Williams Street puts you at the entrance to Franklin Park ( Take a left onto the paved path and walk 10 minutes to majestic Schoolmaster Hill, where Ralph Waldo Emerson once lived and wrote. The site offers sweeping views and a chance to enjoy a poetic pause before heading out of the park on Glen Road and catching the T home. For those who fancy a longer walk, the path continues around the park for approximately 3 miles, taking you past a scenic golf course and the Franklin Park Zoo. Both options leave you at the Orange Line’s Green Street Station.


Exterior of Historic New England's Gropius House in Lincoln, MA
Gropius House
Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius designed this Lincoln house, now a museum, for his own family.

At the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum (781-259-8355, in Lincoln, which opens at 10 a.m. (closed Monday and Tuesday through late May), you can forget buttoned-down behavior. These 30 acres of imaginatively manicured landscape invite the visitor to engage with art in a spirited way. As you wander the grounds, you’ll almost certainly fall for several of the large-scale pieces. Take a close look at Jim Dine’s Two Big Black Hearts, which beats with wisdom and whimsy. See how DeWitt Godfrey’s Lincoln tumbles over the terrain. And dance under Stephanie Cardon’s Beacon, a highlight in “Architectural Allusions,’’ one of the first themed outdoor exhibits here.


Though you may be reluctant to leave the grounds, don’t miss the museum itself. First stop by the cafe for the featured coffee drink — April’s is a vanilla hazelnut latte — and sip your beverage on the gracious terrace overlooking Flint Pond. Once you’re refreshed, spend an hour exploring the two exhibitions that opened on April 1: “Urban Camera,’’ featuring mid-20th-century work by photographers Lotte Jacobi and Lisette Model, and “Overgrowth,’’ in which more than 45 artists explore themes of mutation and transformation.

For lunch, make the quick drive to AKA Bistro (781-259-9920,, where the creative French/Japanese cuisine will help you maintain your artistic mood. Start with the deCordova cocktail and portobello mushroom frites with miso, wasabi, and Thai curry aioli. The salmon nicoise salad makes a perfect lunch.

By midafternoon, head to the nearby Gropius House (781-259-8098,; open weekends only until June 1). Walter Gropius, founder of the German design school known as the Bauhaus, combined details of New England architecture with innovative materials to build this modernist gem, now an engaging museum, for his family. Show your ticket stub from the deCordova for half-price admission.

If you still have energy, drive five minutes to Walden Pond State Reservation ( in Concord. Visit the replica of Henry David Thoreau’s modest cabin near the parking lot, then cross the street for a 30-minute stroll on the path around the picturesque pond.

Sandra A. Miller is a regular contributor to the Boston Globe Magazine. Send comments to