Tag Archives: boston tourism

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum Review

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I’m hardly a JFK phile but when I was doing my Boston research I saw a picture of the JFK Presidential Library and Museum and thought I needed to carve sometime out in my schedule to see it. 

I took the Red Line to JFK/Umass on a Sunday afternoon and waited around for the free shuttle to the JFK Presidential Library and Museum.  Dead easy and dead quick.  The only harsh thing that day was that it was bleeding cold.  Hey when is it not in Boston in November? 😉

As we were travelling by bus up to the library I remembered that Umass is where Frank Black from the Pixies went to University.  😉  It made me smile.  Passing the Umass campus there were loads of people milling about on that cold Boston afternoon taking photo’s as you do of a world renowned university.

When the bus finally pulled up to the JFK Presidential Library and Museum; the photo’s I had seen on line did nothing for how beautiful of a structure it was in person.  It was glorious.  White, clean lines, beautifully maintained, modern and very emblematic of holding a prestigious political figures loving pieces that adorned his home and family’s life while he was alive.

The striking I.M Pei building lies peacefully on Boston’s waterfront.   Located on Columbia Point, the Library and Museum is set on a ten acre park landscaped with pine trees, shrubs and wild roses reminiscent of the landscape of Cape Cod familiar to President Kennedy.

The Museum has three theaters, period settings, and 25 dramatic multimedia exhibits, and enter the recreated world of the Kennedy Presidency for a “first-hand” experience of John F. Kennedy’s life, legacy, and leadership.

There were a lot of kids milling about on the day.   It was neat to see how energetic and excited they were to see historical pieces from their country’s history. 

Pieces from the permanent exhibits that are worth looking at are The Space Program, The Oval Office, First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and The Kennedy Family. 

The special exhibit which was also of interest is ‘In Her Voice: Jacqueline Kennedy, The White House Years’.    Mrs. Kennedy’s 1964 oral history interview which was sealed for 47 years and published in September 2011 is a series of wide-ranging conversations with historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., in which Mrs. Kennedy reveals her thoughts and impressions on topics spanning John F. Kennedy’s early campaigns to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The conversations cover Mrs. Kennedy’s impressions of world leaders and events, her role as First Lady, and her life as a wife and mother living inside the White House.   This in itself is worth the $12 admission.

Jackie’s dresses and jewellery were nicely curated and stunning up close.  I spoke to a staff member who stated that the pieces rotated on a regular basis.  So the pieces I saw today wouldn’t be there next month.  I wished I could see all of her Oleg Cassini numbers that afternoon in one shot. 

I found the highlights from the museum’s artefacts collection to be stunning.  Check it out here for a sneak peek:  http://www.jfklibrary.org/Exhibits/Museum-Artifacts.aspx

How do you get there?

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Columbia Point, Boston, MA 02125

(617) 514-1600

Toll free (866) JFK-1960


The Library and Museum is easily accessed by public transportation. Take the MBTA Rapid Transit, Red Line (any red line train) to JFK/UMASS Station. There is a free shuttle bus to the Library every 20 minutes beginning at 8:00 a.m. and running until Museum closing. Please take the buses marked ‘JFK.’

When is it open?

The Museum is open 7 days per week, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with the exception of New Year’s, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. The last Introductory Film of the day is at 3:55 p.m.

Museum Admission

Adults $12.00, Seniors (62 and over) and Students (with valid college ID) $10.00, Ages 13-17 $9.00, Children 12 and under are free.

Thank you to Rachel Flor for your assistance in helping me put this piece together!

Yours in travel,

Mel xo

Boston Premium Outlets Review: Wrentham Village Premium Outlets – Boston, MA

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While I was in Boston, I wanted to get some good shopping in.  But I didn’t want to bring loads back with me whilst also keeping the spending to a minimum.  I was only taking a wee duffle bag for the 5 days I was there.

I did some preliminary research to see what the shopping was like near my hotel, The Nine Zero and there were just way too many boutique type shops.  I really wanted more bang for my buck and I wanted to have some fun saving cash.

I did a search on Google and came up with Wrentham Village Premium Outlets.  It’s located just outside out of Boston city centre in a quaint lil town known simply as Wrentham.   If you know of the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley, NY (New York City Area) – than you know what you would be getting yourself into at Wrentham.  Same idea…same family of Premium Outlet Malls. 😉

Hmmm – but how do I get there?  I did some more research and found that there were a few options for bus trips up to the outlets.  Hey, I’m in Canada.  It’s hard to check on reputability of these tour companies. 

Upon further investigation I saw that a Bus Company by the name of Boston Common Coach offered trips up to the outlets.  They came recommended by Wrentham Village Premium Outlets on their own website.  For a reasonable rate they could pick you up from anywhere in the downtown Boston are and get you up to the outlets in less than an hour.

I booked my trip for a Friday morning with the lovely George Daou (President of Boston Common Coach).  He mentioned that he could pick me up at my hotel (the bus does its rounds and pickups other hotel passengers/shoppers around the same time) and takes them up to the outlet.  We left a shave after 10 a.m. and go to the outlet for 11 a.m..  We had an option to come back to Boston at 2, 5 or 8 p.m..  The passengers and I opted to come back for 5 p.m. which was a good decision. 

The bus that we took was roomy, comfy and very safe.  The driver kept the chatting to a minimum but was very lovely and efficient.  It was a nice opportunity to chat with the other passengers and share stories where we were all from.  I was the only Canadian; there was an American woman and 4 other Brits.  I found out later when speaking to Susan Bladd, Marketing Director at Wrentham Village Premium Outlets that people come from all over the world to visit the outlets.  As far as Asia, Russia, Japan and England for example.  I even witnessed people bringing empty suitcases to the outlet to pop their shopping into.  It was fascinating.

When we finally got to the outlets it was really neat to see the layout.  It was laid out just like a lil New England village.  It was clean, with white painted wooden store fronts and new awnings with designer names beckoning you to check out their wares. 

Inside the shops were spacious, well organized, friendly and helpful staff, the stores were easy to navigate and at the same time provided a leisure shopping experience.

Just some of the shops you can find at Wrentham Village Premium Outlets include of:  Banana Republic, Barneys New York, Burberry, Coach, Cole Haan, Elie Tahari, Hugo Boss, J.Crew, Kenneth Cole, Lacoste, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Salvatore Ferragamo.  Newly opened stores worth checking out are Ted Baker and Tory Burch…hollllaaa! 😉

How to Prep for Wrentham Village Premium Outlets

Join the VIP Shopper Club for free online access to The VIP Lounge and enjoy these member benefits ahead of time.  You get:

Exclusive Online Coupons

Voucher for a Free VIP Coupon Book

Deals Around Town

Inside Info from Your Favourite Brands

Email Updates:   Sales & Special Events

Bring bottled water and your appetite.  Shopping is hard work and there are loads of places to eat (food court, restaurants close by). 

Wear comfy shoes and layered clothing in case you need to strip off after a while of walking.  There is a lot of walking so be ready to get work it.  As a head’s up there are storage locker rentals if you need to store your shopping and jackets.  Don’t stress about carrying that stuff around.  It will weigh you down and get in the way of your shopping fun.

Lastly and most importantly go to the customer service area of the outlet which is located in the same area as the food court and get a coupon booklet.  There are ones specifically for AAA members and even a Platinum VIP Passport for even better savings.  Plus they are FREE!  😉

The Shopping Experience

Well I’ll be honest when I got there I felt a bit overwhelmed.  It was a lot to take in.  But once I got my bearings and just went with it – it was easy to navigate.  If you have a map then it will help you target those shops you want to hit first or if you’re like me and just want to get lost in the experience – wander but keep an eye on time for rests, water breaks and snack breaks.  It’s necessary and it will keep you motivated.  Look you may only be here once people.  😉  Try your best to split with your man or partner – I saw loads of men sitting around with their wives and gf’s shopping.  I said to one man sitting with 4 big white Coach shopping bags, ‘Wow, you went crazy at Coach again huh?’.  He smiled knowingly at me.

The stores I liked and got the best deals at were:

Levi’s – spend $100 and get $15 off with an AAA Membership coupon booklet.  I bought 4 pairs of vintage skinny’s, a fitted jean shirt and a looser jean blouse.  Some of their pieces were a bit pricey for the outlet but I knew comparatively speaking I couldn’t find these pieces in Toronto anywhere close to the same price and for the selection.

Adidas – At the time there was a buy one and get the other item half price.  I picked up a Celtics jersey for $7.49 and a cool black Celtics baseball hat for $20.

Bass – I have always been a huge fan of Bass.  I wanted a pair of burgundy penny loafers but didn’t want to spend any more than $50 U.S.  A sales girl rooted around for me and found me a pair for $34.99 and also a cool green Bass moccasin to kick around the office in for $24.99.  Because the total came more than $50 I saved an additional 10% with an AAA membership.

The bottom line is you need time and patience.  Really I encourage you to take it slow.  If you rush through it, you might miss some cool things.

How do you get there?  Easy:

By Car:

Wrentham Village Premium Outlets is located on Route 1A in Wrentham, MA at the intersection of I-495.

From Boston: I-93 S to I-95 S, to I-495 N, Exit 15, or I-90 W to I-495 S, Exit 15, Wrentham

From Providence: I-95 N to I-495 N, Exit 15, Wrentham

By Tour Bus:

Boston Common Coach

(877) 723-3833

Servicing Boston and Cambridge hotels

Now servicing select Boston area Colleges and Universities

By Taxi:

Foxfield Transportation

(508) 543-2828

Servicing Boston and Providence

Discount shopping packages available. Call for reservations and information. 

Franklin Taxi

(508) 528-8294

Servicing MBTA Franklin Line Commuter Rail Passengers 

Store Hours:

Bloomingdale’s Outlet Store Now Open

Regular Hours

Mon-Sat: 10am-9pm, Sun: 10am-6pm

Holiday Hours

Mon, Nov 28 – Fri, Dec 23

Mon-Sat: 9am-9pm, Sun: 10am-7pm

Christmas Eve: Sat, Dec 24


Closed:  Christmas Day: Sun, Dec 25

After-Holiday Sales: Dec 26 – Jan 1

Mon, Dec 26: 7am-9pm

Tues, Dec 27: 9am-9pm

Wed, Dec 28: 9am-9pm

Thu, Dec 29: 9am-9pm

Fri, Dec 30: 9am-9pm

New Year’s Eve: Sat, Dec 31


New Year’s Day: Sun, Jan 1


By the way, Premium Outlets are all over the United States and as well in Puerto Rico, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Mexico.  Check it out for additional locations here:  http://www.premiumoutlets.com/centers/index.asp

A special shout out to George Daou (President at Boston Common Coach), Susan Bladd (Marketing Director at Wrentham Village Premium Outlets) and Mallory Dion at KORTENHAUS COMMUNICATIONS.  Thanks for your feedback and support in helping me construct this piece.

Happy Christmas shopping everyone and tell me what you buy please! 

Wrentham Village Premium Outlets

One Premium Outlets Boulevard

Wrentham, MA 02093

(508) 384-0600  http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/outlet.asp?id=10

Yours in fashion,

Mel xo

Boston Bakery Review: Mike’s Pastry (Boston, MA)

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Mmmmmmm as I flip through my Boston travel pictures I’m reminded instantly of the lovely scents of baked goods at Mike’s Pastry in the North end of Boston.

I was on a walking tour of the North End one afternoon when I asked the tour guide, Michelle, why it seemed like every other person had a Mike’s Pastry box.  She mentioned, well Mike’s is the place you go when you want great desserts.  It’s either you like Mike’s or Modern’s baked goods when you live in Boston. 

So one night after walking around town all day – I found myself starving and got on the trolley a few stops to Haymarket Subway station and walked across the street to find a place to catch some dinner.  The wait for one restaurant was endless so after popping my name down I wandered over to Hanover street determined to pick up a couple of treats for my after dinner meal.

According to Mike’s Pastry’s website:

‘The streets of Boston’s North End have been in no small part defined by the ongoing legacy of Annette and Mike, their ancestors and enormous extended family and the spirit and inspiration brought to the North End of Boston by this neighbourhood-defining family.’

What do they sell?  Well Italian pastry, biscotti, cakes, cookies, pies, squares, torrone, American favourites, gelati and marzipan.

I had no idea what to get when I got into the bakery.  There were people everywhere and man it was overwhelming.  By the time I go to the counter I saw the red velvet cupcakes just staring at me and the lemon cello cupcakes looked amazing too.  There were rows and rows of cannolli’s, cakes, slices of cakes, brownies….oh man. 

When the lady behind the counter asked me in a traditional Bawstin accent (tee hee) what I wanted I gave her my order and also asked her which cannolli was the most popular.  She told me the chocolate chip cannolli was a hot seller.  So she added that to my order too.

After my meal at the restaurant I got back to my hotel and put the kettle on.  I got into bed and peeled the wrapper off the lemon cello cupcake.  I bit into it and a lemon jelly oozed out of it.  The cake was velvety and so fresh.  The icing was very sweet but tied the cake and jelly together perfectly.  I went into sugar shock after that.  I don’t think I got out of bed for awhile after that and I my tea was already steeping.  Ughh.

After my shower – I dove into the chocolate chip cannolli.  Man, heaven.  In Toronto the cannolli’s I usually buy tend to be too crunchy and the mascarpone cheese slightly hard.  Mike’s cannolli’s, the pastry was soft but not too soft and the cheese was luscious.  The chocolate chips were just enough and not overpowering.  I ate small bites as I sipped my second tea that night.  Pure joy.

When I woke up the next morning I was so tired but I remembered I still had the red velvet cupcake in the box on my desk.  I picked up the cupcake and took a bite….the cake again was velvety smooth with a hint of cocoa.  The icing was so overindulgent.  I really should not have been having it for breakfast but nevertheless it went down quickly and man I felt like a lucky girl after it.

 I wish I had more time in Boston to indulge in Mike’s goodies…but maybe it was a good thing that I discovered him on my last night in Boston.  Especially for my waist line’s sake. 😉


Mike’s Pastry

300 Hanover St  Boston, Massachusetts 02113, United States

 (617) 742-3050

Yours in baking,

Mel xo

Boston Hotel Review: The Nine Zero a Kimpton Hotel

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I’ve always been a fan of Kimpton Hotels.  They are a swish, young, civilized, hip boutique hotel chain that really is the only hotel chain you should be patronizing when you travel.  Tall order?  Well I stand by it.

The first Kimpton Hotel hotel I stayed at was when I moved back from Manchester, England and booked a quick Vancouver getaway on my own at the Pacific Palisades.  I had read about Kimpton and their brand of offering a cheery, upbeat, a lil bit eccentric but overall cool hotel experience that you won’t get anywhere else.  Since then I have also stayed the Hotel Triton in San Francisco over a 5 day birthday vacation 3 summers ago.  Both experiences were simply divine.

After my summer holiday debacle in Chicago I wanted a cool, leisure and really decadent fall vacation.  I had 5 days to play with so I booked a holiday to Boston.  I did some thorough research and after looking at crazy expensive hotels in the city centre and bed and breakfasts; I settled on the Nine Zero Hotel.  I knew the Kimpton brand would offer me what I needed.

The Nine Zero Hotel sets the Standard for Boston Boutique Hotels.  That’s what I was aching for.  Perfection.  Comfort is not sacrificed for the sake of style at Nine Zero Hotel. All 190 sumptuously appointed guestrooms invite guests to relax. Custom-designed beds, billowy down comforters, and a wide selection of pillows complement the beautiful furnishings, plush fabrics, soothing color scheme and elegant lighting throughout.

When I flew into Boston I took the free shuttle to the subway and hopped on the train which took me to Government Centre Station.  Total travel time was 15 minutes.  Easy.  Upon leaving the station I walked up a couple of blocks with my duffle bag to the Nine Zero.  Again, easy.  By the way, the hotel takes its name from its street address 90 Tremont Street.

The staff at the desk was super friendly as we exchanged booking details.  I was greeted by Thomas.  Thomas prior to my arrival had sent me a lovely email days in advance asking if I needed anything and saw to it that I had all my needs met prior to my arrival.  Efficiency at its best.

He was authentically friendly and lovely.  He even arranged to have a lovely platter of fruits, nuts and specialty water placed in my room as a welcome treat.  He also went beyond the call of duty by providing me with the lushest room on the 19th floor facing Boston Common.  The room was nicely dressed; it was clean and very warm.  Lastly, Thomas also sent a kettle, mugs and some gorgeous Mighty leaf Tea to my room.  That was the most helpful accommodation he could have provided me with.  Being a tea lover I love starting my day lounging, sipping tea, reading and watching t.v..  Just that simple touch made me feel at home and yet still lost in my vacation moments.  😉

The funky robe in my hotel bathroom always made me chuckle.  But again exuded warmth and comfort for a weary traveller.

Whenever I came into my room on a long day out the room’s CD player was on and playing jazzy, bluesy tunes, the linens were always turned down, the lights were low and the lovely chocolate beckoned me from my desk.  Consistency to detail is what Kimpton does well.  I felt like I had a personal maid taking care of my space when I was out but not overly present.  Those were nice touches.

Other cool amenities that the Nine Zero offers include of:

Complimentary in-room wireless high-speed Internet access for Kimpton In Touch members

Complimentary morning newspaper upon request

27″ Flat screen TVs and in-room laptop safe

iHome docking station

24-hour room service

Windows that open, breathe…

Fully-Stocked Honor Bar (for those late night munchies)

“Forgot It? We’ve Got It!” essential travel items

“Mind. Body. Spa.” in-room spa services as well as exercise programs for yoga, Pilates and core strengthening

Etro Bath Amenities, ooh la la!

Lastly, cable t.v. with a wide selection of channels.  For a girl who doesn’t have cable in my own house…it was awesome coming back to my hotel room, lying in bed and watching some pretty amazing t.v..  Lil luxuries go such a long way on vacation mode. 😉

I know staying in a hotel right in the city centre could be pricey.  But I encourage you to think of this, when you travel and you’re out all day and need a break – staying local is important.  You can go back to the hotel for a nap, drop of gear, change clothes, use the bathroom, have a shower and then get out again.  Paying a lil extra especially whilst on holidays is so worth it.  You work hard for your money, why not splurge a lil?  I’m so glad I did.  The hotel sits close to both Park and Government subway stations.

The Nine Zero is also close to:

Beacon Hill, Orpheum Theatre, the Wang Center for the Performing Arts and the Boston Ballet, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Museum of Fine Arts – Boston, the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum, the Museum of Science and the Children’s Museum, The New England Aquarium, Boston Common, Copley Square, Boston’s Public Library,  Trinity Church, Newbury Street and Public Garden.   

So yes, those were all very good things.  Anything bad?  Well in my room the air filter rattled relentlessly on my last night.  It really hindered my sleep and man it was quite upsetting.  It was too bad the hotel staff didn’t pick up on that when they were in the room daily.  The other slightly annoying thing was that I was charged (but then credited upon check out) for using an item from the honour bar in my room.  It was an honest mistake.  But curious.  Lastly, when I made a request for some teabags one night it took almost 45 minutes to get them from hospitality.  Again not a big deal but it wasn’t that late and dropping off teabags to one’s room really shouldn’t take that long.

Would I stay at the Nine Zero again?  Sure!  I loved the banter with Andrew Smith (Front Office Manager), Thomas Burke (Lead Concierge) and the comfort they were able to provide for the duration of my stay at the Nine Zero Hotel Kimpton Hotel in November 2011.  Also a special thank you to Stacey!  Go Kimpton!  Rating out of 5?  I give them a solid 5/5!  😉

NINE ZERO HOTEL:   90 Tremont Street, Boston, MA  02108  http://www.ninezero.com

Reservations:  (866) 906-9090 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (866) 906-9090      end_of_the_skype_highlighting     

Hotel:  (617) 772-5800