Johnny’s List of Quirky Boston Events: 08/26/05

Over the weekend, I went to Canobie Lake Park, in Salem NH, the 2nd largest amusement park in New England. I actually like it better than Six Flags New England, because it’s far less commercial, less expensive, a shorter drive (about an hour from Boston), the lines are shorter, and there are actually trees and a lake there. That being said, the sides are a notch or two smaller than the ones at Six Flags. 🙂

My favorite rides are the bumper cars (just like Boston driving), the Haunted Mine which is just corny fun, and the Boston Tea Party which is basically gigantic drop and splash. There is a new attraction, called Castaway Lake (pictured)! It is tons of awesomeness! Basically it’s a playground with slides and water is falling and shooting everywhere. It’s nice because you can just relax and go at your own pace. You can spend a whole hour there just sitting in the sun or running around giggling.

In fact, the secret to Canobie Lake Park is that you can do a lot of relaxing there. Take the train ride or the lake cruise boat ride. Swim in the pool, go to the ferris wheel or merry-go-round, ride the gondola. And if you go 5pm or later it’s only $17 not $26, and they have fireworks on Saturday and a dance party on Friday. Get a coupon from Star Market or AAA. You can slip out of the park easily for cheap eats across the street. And bring a bathing suit! Highly recommended, switches to weekends only but open through September.

So now I feel obligated to write something about Six Flags New England, Springfield MA. I was just there about a month ago. It is two hours from Boston but they definitely have the best rides, including the Superman roller coaster. I had the pleasure of sitting up front with a crazy guy dressed up in a Superman shirt and with a cape who kept telling me that he was Supermand and he wasn’t afraid of dying. The way he kept mentioning the possibility of dying really helping calm my nerves, I can tell ya. 🙂

Anyway, it’s awesome so you should at least go once. The worst thing is the cost. Parking is $10 and the secret is you really have to pay the $60-80 to get LoQ, which lets you slip ahead in lines. Otherwise you will go insane. Get a coupon from Star Market or AAA to ease the pain a little. Another secret, bring a bathing suit since there’s a whole water portion to the park. And while you’re in town consider staying over and going to the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Norman Rockwell Museum, Mass Museum of Contemporary Art, etc. Nothing like a bed & breakfast with a hot tub to make a weekend trip seem like a real holiday. Switches to weekends only but open through October.

This weekend see the Newport Arts Festival, Aug 27-28th, Newport RI. I have not actually been to this one, but expect it to be almost 200 booths with artists selling stuff by the ocean. Basically, it is a good excuse to head to Newport. I recently visited the beach, which is good but full of red seaweed, and the Newport Mansions, pictured, along Bellevue Avenue, which are pretty incredible. There are several old mansions that rich silly people built to impress each other around the 1900 timeframe. Also there is an incredible Newport cliffside walk (off Newport Beach along the mansions). Highly recommended and a true New England experience. That being said, there are many opportunities to visit Newport year ’round. There are regular concerts and festivals.
Another cheesy but fun way to spend the weekend is at Boston Carnival & the Caribbean Festival, Aug 25-28. There is a parade on Saturday in Dorchester, 12pm-6pm. And other events, including one in Franklin Park. I went to one a couple of years ago and it was no big thing but really the people who are in the parade have so much energy and enthusiasm it is impossible not to get caught up in it!