Travel


Helpful Massachusetts Websites

Whether you are a visitor of Massachusetts, or a local looking for something new and exciting, we’ve found the best online resources when to comes to places to see and things to do in Massachusetts!

Planning a Vacation to MA

One of the best sites to look at if you are planning a Massachusetts getaway is http://www.massvacation.com/ .  Not only does it list great vacation spots in the Bay State, but it also features daily deals all over Massachusetts and a listing of 50 things to do in MA under $50.  They are also currently offering site visitors the chance to enter to win a prize package to Plymouth county which includes a two night stay and multiple gift cards to local restaurants and museums!  This site is the ultimate guide to planning a vacation or even a day trip to Massachusetts and we highly recommend you check it out!

Getting Around MA

If you’re not familiar with the area, navigating the roads in Massachusetts can be an intimidating task, especially if you are visiting popular tourist destinations like Boston.  The Mass Gov website has a large selection of different maps for different cities and towns, Mass. State Highway Maps, and even maps for people who will be commuting via MBTA.  This site also has a great feature called “SmartTraveler” which has detailed info on local weather, traffic conditions, alerts, and location-specific traveler warnings.  For those of you that want a taste of the outdoors, this site also has maps of ponds and national parks available.

Local Events in MA

If you have an idea of what you want to do in Massachusetts but aren’t sure where to start, there are two great websites that have great info on local events.  For those of you that are looking for family friendly events, Boston Central has hundreds of listings that are broken down by date and categories such as arts and crafts, animals, food fun, and music. This makes it a lot easier to break down your search process if you have an idea of what you want to do.  If you’re looking to get out with friends or for a romantic getaway, Visit-Massachusetts is a better site to search.  You are also able to search by date and category on this site, and although there is an option to search for children’s events it is definitely geared more towards adults.  Event categories on this site include food, wine and beer, historic events, parties, dances, balls, visual arts, and antiques.

National Parks and Landmarks

Massachusetts certainly has the best of both worlds when it comes to cities and the countryside.  Boston is a hub of activity, tourism and excitement but there are also beautiful mountains and landscapes across the state.  These rural landscapes also have a lot of history associated with them. Whether you want to visit Lowell and check out the National Park and Boot Cotton Mills where the industrial revolution began, or take a hike and go for a swim at Walden Pond where Henry David Thoreau was inspired to write his famous book “Walden”, the National Park Service has listings of parks in every area of the state as well as listing of other historic landmarks.  According to their website, there are 15 National Parks in Massachusetts, 11 National Natural Landmarks, and 185 National Historic Landmarks along with over 4,000 National Register of Historic Places Listings.  This website is a great resource that focuses on the natural beauty of Massachusetts as well as the history.

Staying Up-to-Date

For the most up to date news in Massachusetts, Boston.com is definitely the website to visit.  Not only do they feature breaking news stories, they also have stories from the Boston Globe and daily updates on local, national, world, business, health, and many other categories of news.  You can browse by town or category and their site also has great stories on sports, things to do, and have info on cars and real estate for sale.  This website features hundreds of stories each day but also has information on events and information that is helpful to know in Massachusetts, especially if you are traveling through.

Massachusetts Auto Insurance

When it comes to car insurance, visit us! Visit MassDrive to get a quote or talk to an agent today!

Whatever information you are looking for when it comes to Massachusetts, these websites are a great starting point, and of course if you think of a helpful resource that we should add, leave a comment and let us know!

Photo by sixninepixels

The Best GPS Systems: Our Top 5 Picks

Loads of GPS devices in our car

Remember the days when you had to print out directions or actually memorize the roads that you were traveling on?  Although it wasn’t really that long ago, it seems like it would be impossible for many of us to live without our GPS navigation systems and go back to traveling the old fashioned way.  GPS systems are so readily available it wouldn’t make sense not to use them, more cars and phones are coming with them built in and they offer great driving tips, list the posted speed limit, and often have tools to help find nearby restaurants and gas stations.  With so many different options on the market it can be overwhelming when it comes to deciding which one is right for you.  We’ve researched some of the most popular GPS systems out there and listed some of their coolest features so you know exactly what to look for.

The TomTom Go Live 2535M is a great choice for frequent travelers and those that enjoy pit stops on their journey as it features multiple apps that list local restaurants, attractions, and stores.  It connects to apps such as Yelp, Google, Expedia, Twitter, and Trip Advisor which allow the user to search for nearby stops.  It is also able to provide you with local weather, traffic, and gas prices which is great for those that travel often to places that are unfamiliar.  This GPS also includes premium maps of the US, Canada and Mexico and hands-free Bluetooth calling ability.  http://www.tomtom.com/en_us/products/car-navigation/go-2535-m-live/

For those of you looking for your first GPS or something a bit less complex, the Garmin Nuvi 50 is the perfect choice.  The touch screen offers two initial options, “Where to?” and “View Map”.  It has a large screen that makes reading easier and turn by turn directions are spoken through the device.  It also has a “Where Am I?” emergency location feature that will ensure that you are never lost.  It is a simple GPS that has a large screen which makes it perfect for someone who has never used a GPS before or for someone who is a bit older.  https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=92845&ra=true

Like to stay organized and plan vacation itineraries?  The Magellan RoadMate 5175T-LM Traveler is your new best friend.  Not only does it allow users to search local restaurants and attractions, but it allows you to plan an itinerary on the GPS itself and use it to find the fastest routes in between destinations.  This GPS also has Wi-Fi connectivity to keep you connected to the web and has traffic, travel, and speed limit alerts which will ensure you have the most pleasant journey possible.  http://www.magellangps.com/Products/RoadMate/Magellan-RoadMate-5175T-LM

For those of you that are really bad with directions and need very precise instructions, the Garmin Nuvi 1450 LMT is a great choice because it has a lane assist feature which tells you exactly what lane to be in for highway travel so you can avoid missing the exit you need to take.  This is a great feature because it is very specific when it comes to driving and allows you to focus more on the road than following directions. It also has a map that can be displayed in either 2D or 3D view and a world clock if you are embarking on a journey that will take place across multiple time zones.  Believe it or not it also has a currency converter and MicroSD card slot to copy pictures from your vacation.  For those of you that are environmentally friendly you will love the ecoRoute feature of this GPS which tracks fuel usage and finds the most fuel-efficient route to your destination.  https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=87481

If you’re looking for a GPS that has all of the typical bells and whistles plus a bit extra, check out the Magellan Maestro 4700.  It has a large touchscreen, Bluetooth hookup, lane assist, and a predictive traffic routing feature which predicts the best route based on past traffic patterns.  Users can also set up voice activated commands such as “Go Home” or search for the nearest hotel, gas station, and restaurants. It also allows you to select favorite destinations in different cities to pull up at later points in time. Using this GPS to make phone calls is easier than ever as it allows you to store up to 1,000 numbers and the microphone cancels out road noise such as car horns, etc. which makes it easier for the person on the other end of the phone to hear more easily.  http://www.magellangps.com/Products/Previous-Models/Magellan-Maestro-4700

Many GPS systems out there have very similar features but we’ve complied a list that diversifies some of the top products out there so that everyone can find the perfect GPS system that’s perfect for them!

Anyone Say Roadtrip? Check Out Our Top Massachusetts Spring Vacation Ideas

Spring Vacation Ideas

As hard as it is to believe, the Winter season will soon be coming to an end here in the Bay State, and all of this unseasonably warm weather already has us prepared for Spring!  For the many college students in the area, Spring also brings one of the most exciting weeks of the year, Spring Break.  If a trip to Cancun or Miami is out of the question, there are a bunch of awesome spring vacation spots that are all within driving distance of Massachusetts! Whether you want to relax on the beach, hit the clubs, get a taste of some history, or try your luck at the casino, there are spring vacation ideas for everyone to check out this season.

Looking for a party this Spring Break? With over 300 clubs and endless VIP events, Montreal is the place to be.  It is especially popular with college students because parties and clubs are all 18 plus.  It is about a five and a half hour drive from Boston and brings you up through the scenic White Mountains of New Hampshire, and then Vermont until you cross over the Canadian border. During the day there are plenty of surrounding mountains for those that love to ski, such as Mont Tremblant which is about an hour an a half outside the city.  If you’re more inclined to stay in town, there are over 260 local bands to check out along Mont Royal Avenue, St Laurent or St. Denis Street which also have a large selection of different restaurants, museums, spas, and shops.  All in all it’s a great option if you don’t mind the cold, are under 21, or are looking to experience a different culture.  http://gomontreal.about.com/od/montrealattractions/tp/spbrk.htm

While we can’t guarantee you’ll be able to retire early, Atlantic City is the place to be if you want to try your luck.  They have 11 casinos to choose from, which offer slot machines, blackjack, poker, keno, roulette, craps, race books, baccarat, as well as specialty table games for all of you high rollers.  Casinos are open 24/7 and the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk is right along the beach.  Having been called “the grandfather of boardwalks” by National Geographic and named one of the top “Best Boardwalks” by USA Today, it has shops and restaurants that will keep you entertained for hours.  There are several piers jutting off of the Boardwalk with attractions such as the aquarium, historic museums, and a Boardwalk walking tour.  This city has something for everyone and is only about 6 hours from Boston so it’s a very manageable drive and will bring you by New York City if you want to make a pit stop.  This is a fun destination that has casinos, history, and the beach, what more could you ask for? http://www.atlanticcitynj.com/visit/visitors_casino.aspx

Our Nation’s Capital may not be the most conventional Spring Break vacation spot but that doesn’t mean it lacks excitement!  If you’re a history buff you couldn’t ask for a better spot. The Lincoln Memorial, Library of Congress, the Whitehouse, the Reflecting Pool, you name it the list of historic monuments and museums goes on and on! It’s a great place to get more in tune with the history of our nation and there are dozens of museums to check out that cater to a variety of interests, and many of them are FREE!  The Holocaust Museum is said to be a great stop to visit but is definitely a tear jerker.  If you’re into art the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Gallery of Art are popular attractions.  Georgetown is a close by stop that offers shopping, spas, and restaurants.  Washington DC may not be party central, but it’s definitely a historic trip where you will see beautiful sights while also learning something. It’s about an 8 hour drive from Boston but there are a bunch of beautiful stops along the way including the harbor in Mystic, CT or Amish country in Lancaster, PA.   http://dc.about.com/od/hoildaysseasonalevents/a/springbreakinDC.htm

If the cold isn’t for your and you’re looking to warm up a bit, head south to Myrtle Beach.  While the weather may not be as hot as Florida, Cancun, or the Bahamas, it’s still a great escape from the New England chill and there is more than enough to do!  It’s definitely more of a haul than any of the other destinations (about 15.5 hours from Boston) but is by far the warmest option.  There is plenty to do on the beach and a bunch of clubs to check out.  Besides the beach there’s also jet skiing, scuba diving, dolphin watches, casinos, golf courses, shopping, and hundreds of other activities to keep you entertained, DJ Pauly D is even making an appearance this year. http://www.celebrationsnitelife.com/spring_break_myrtlebeach.htm  Myrtle Beach has long been a hot spot for college students on Spring Break so you’re guaranteed to make a few new friends.  Because it is such a popular destination, there are deals specifically for students offered by the local hotels, clubs, and restaurants that provide huge discounts off of their services. If you’re willing to make the drive this is a great alternative to more expensive trips further south!  http://springbreakmyrtlebeach.com/

Whatever you’re plans are this Spring Break, these spring vacation ideas will all ensure one thing, that you have fun!  That’s the most important part of Spring Break isn’t it?

Fight Off a Case of the Winter Blues With These Events in February!

As we have seen in the past few months, this winter has been anything but typical.  The warm temperatures and lack of snow have made it difficult to enjoy a traditional New England winter by venturing out into the snow for entertainment.  However, there are plenty of events taking place across Massachusetts this month that will keep you entertained and help you fight off a case of the winter blues!
  • Are you a fan of Mexican food? The Rattlesnake Bar and Grill in Boston is holding their second annual Burrito Bowl in honor of the Super Bowl.  This event will bring together some of the top chefs in Boston and have them compete to create the best Burrito.  Each chef will create a burrito named after the city of their favorite NFL team. Attendees and special guest “referee” judges will determine the winner.  The event costs about $17 per person and begins this Saturday, February 4th from 1:00-4:00 PM.  https://poesburritobowl.eventbrite.com/
  • Even though the Olympic Winter Games do not take place this year you can still get your sports fix by attending the 2012 Bay State Winter Games from February 10-12th in the Northern Berkshire region of Massachusetts.  Sporting events include alpine skiing, figure skating, and masters ice hockey competitions.  http://baystategames.org/html/bsgwww/wintergames/index.html
  • Looking for an event that will get the whole family up and out this winter? Check out the Winter Family Fun Safari taking place Saturday February 11th at 1:00 PM in Milton, MA.  It is a free event and families can meet up at Houghton Pond before exploring the woods and going on a hike to Rutherford explore what happens throughout nature during the winter.  This is a great family friendly event that is educational and a great source of exercise!  http://friendsofthebluehills.org/?p=4139
  • Salem, MA is celebrating the season of love this year by hosting the 10th annual “Salem’s So Sweet” chocolate and ice sculpture festival.  Admire the beautiful ice sculptures lining the streets of downtown Salem before stopping in a local establishment for some chocolate and wine tasting! http://salem-chamber.org/salems-so-sweet-44.html
  • Want to really surprise that special someone this Valentine’s day? The Top of the Hub is offering a four-course prix-fix menu on Tuesday, February 14th from 4:00-10:00 PM. The event costs $125 per person (which does not include drinks, tax, or gratuity) and although it is a bit pricey the view from the top of the Prudential Building and romance factor can’t be beat.  http://calendar.boston.com/boston-ma/events/show/239027644-top-of-the-hub-celebrates-valentines-day
  • Nick’s Comedy Stop, located within the Theater District of Boston, is hosting an Open Mic Night Thursday, February 16th featuring some of the most entertaining up and coming comedy acts in Boston.  Stop by for a few drinks and laughs to get your evening started on the right note.  Tickets are $12 per person and the event begins at 8:00 PM. https://openmicfeb.eventbrite.com/?ref=ebtn&nomo=1
  • You may have thought pageant season was over after the Miss USA pageant last month, however luckily you would be mistaken.  The Miss Boston 2012 pageant takes place Sunday, February 19th at 5:00 PM at the Omni Parker House in Boston.  Contestants will compete for the chance to move on to the Miss Massachusetts pageant in June and will compete in interview, talent, swim suit, and evening wear categories. http://www.missboston.org/Miss_Boston_2012_Pageant.html
  • Explore the nautical side of New England this winter in Provincetown and meet Delilah!  Delilah is an inflatable, life sized North Atlantic Right Whale that guests can tour while learning about these rare and beautiful animals.  There are only 475 of these whales left in the world and over 300 of those whales visited Cape Cod Bay in 2011.  This is a free event taking place on February 24th from 11:00 AM-12:15 PM.  http://www.capecodmagazine.com/Cape-Cod-Magazine/Calendar/index.php/name/MEET-DELILAH-THE-RIGHT-WHALE/event/8313/
  • Before the start of baseball season and after the Super Bowl mania has come to an end, all of you sports fans can still get a taste of the excitement at the Golden Gloves Boxing tournament in Lowell, MA.  The event is held annually and takes place on five different nights throughout the month of February as contestants try to move their way up through the competition.  This event has launched the careers of boxing legends such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Micky Ward, and Rocky Marciano.  For ticket information visit http://www.lowellgoldengloves.com/3/online_payment.htm
Make sure that you enjoy the rest of this winter by getting up and out! Whatever your interests are, there is an event for everyone taking place this February across Massachusetts!

Bored and on a Budget? These events in Massachusetts are all Free this Month!

As the days of winter continue to get colder, many of us are searching for activities to get us up and out of the house in hopes of avoiding a case of cabin fever.  The lack of snow makes it difficult to enjoy typical winter activities such as sledding, building snowmen, or having snowball fights.  Luckily, we have come up with a list of some of the best events and things to do in Massachusetts in the month of February, and the best part is that they are all FREE!

  • If you’re looking for a great event for young children, The Discovery Museums in Acton, MA invite guests to join them for free on the first Friday of every month.  This Friday, February 3rd they are hosting a special program called “Reaction Station: Adventures for Young Chemists!” Children will be able to test mystery liquids, powders, and more at reaction stations. The event runs from 4:30-8:30 PM.   http://www.discoverymuseums.org/programs-events/february-programs
  • Want to showcase your poetry skills, voice, or performance skills? More Than Words is a nonprofit organization that empowers children  who are homeless, in foster care, or the court system to improve their own lives by giving them real world experience controlling a business.  The organization is hosting an open mic night this Friday February 3rd in Boston.   The event is from 6:00 PM-8:00 PM and guests are encouraged to sign up and participate in the performances. This event will take place on the first Friday of every month.  http://www.yelp.com/events/boston-first-friday-open-mic-night
  • Celebrating other cultures can be an entertaining and educational experience for the whole family! The Villa Victoria Center for the Arts invites the public to come celebrate the Year of the Dragon with them this Saturday, February 4th at 3:00 PM.  Acrobatics, art, drumming, and dancing are a variety of the displays and activities being put on by these talented artists.  http://www.villavictoriaarts.org/performances_020412.html
  • If you’re looking for a winter themed event for the whole family, the Franklin Park Golf Course in Dorhester is hosting a free event this Saturday, February 4th from 12:00 PM-3:00 PM.  Guests are invited to come sled, snowshoe, build snowmen, track animal prints in the snow, enjoy some hot chocolate and play board games. Sleds will be available for those that don’t have their own. For more information or to RSVP visit:  http://www.yelp.com/events/dorchester-franklin-park-snow-festival
  • Boston College is hosting a Composer’s Concert featuring the works of composers Thomas Oboe Lee, Ralf Yusuf Gawlick and Christopher Willcock S.J., all of whom work at Boston College.  The event is being held Thursday, February 9, at 8PM at Boston College Gasson Hall, Room 100.  http://www.artsboston.org/event/detail/441519473/Boston_College_Composers_Concert
  • Valentine’s Day is not the only holiday taking place this month, Mardi Gras is Tuesday, February 21st! From 10:00 AM-6:00 PM Artbeat in Arlington, MA is providing visitors with a free mask making project!  Masks are a Mardi Gras tradition that allow people to disguise their true identities which allows role reversal and outrageous behavior.  This event is open to all ages.  http://www.artsboston.org/event/detail/441515727/Mardi_Gras_Special_Treat
  • MassArt Family Day is an event put on twice a year by the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.  It is open to visitors of all ages and guests are able to enjoy art-making projects (all materials are provided), guided conversations, interactive activities, and refreshments.  Gallery Education Staff as well as MassArt Students facilitate the tours, discussions, and activity tables where guests are able to discuss and gain a better understanding of the arts.  This event is on Saturday February 25 and runs from 11:00 AM-4:00 PM.http://www.massart.edu/Galleries/Programs_and_Events/Family_Day.html
  • If you have an interest in radio or television, WGBH is offering ongoing free studio tours every Wednesday at 2PM and the first and third Saturday of the month at 2PM.  It is a 45 minute tour recommended for ages 16 and up, and you never know who you might run into in the studio!  Photographs are also permitted.  The tour welcomes walk-ins of groups of 5 people or less, groups of 6 or more must schedule a group tour.  http://www.wgbh.org/studiotours
  • Boston is known as one of the most historic cities in the country, so why not spend a few hours exploring one of the most famous antiques in the city? The USS Constitution docked in the Charlestown Navy Yard offers free tours to guests every Thursday through Sunday this winter from 10:00 AM-4:00 PM.  Tours are approximately 30 minutes and are recommended for ages 6 and up.    http://www.bostoncentral.com/events/tour/p1635.php

Remember, all work and no play makes for a dull winter! Instead of another trip to the movies, try taking family or friends to one of these educational and exciting events! Even if you’re on a budget, these free activities are the perfect excuse to get up and out!

Have to Drive in the Snow? Winter Driving Safety Tips

Snow Covered Car

After last weekend’s storm and the upcoming snow expected to arrive this Sunday, it is extremely important to keep in mind a few winter driving safety tips during this winter weather.  This time of year results in snow, ice, and sleet, all of which create hazardous road conditions for the most experienced of drivers. Drivers are highly recommended to stay indoors in such weather, however if you must venture out wait until plows and sand trucks have gone by.  If you find yourself in a situation where driving in the snow can’t be avoided, keep these simple defensive winter driving tips in mind to improve your safety on the road:

  • Allot extra time to get to your destination.  It is vital to decrease your speed while driving in the snow, and you should also leave about three times more space than usual between yourself and the car in front of you to give yourself plenty of time to stop.  Getting on the road 20 minutes earlier than you usually do should give you enough time to drive slowly and safely and also reach you destination on time.
  • If your car starts skidding, don’t panic!  Slamming on the breaks and turning the wheel to avoid a crash are actually more likely to result in an accident.  If you are sliding on ice and your tires suddenly regain their grip, the car will turn whichever way the tires are pointed, which can be detrimental if you have suddenly jerked the steering wheel in a certain direction. The appropriate reaction to this situation depends on which wheels are actually skidding out, front or back.  If your back tires are skidding out and you have begun to “fishtail”, take your foot off the gas, steer the car in the direction that the back tires are skidding in, and gently apply the break.  You may have to steer from right to left until you regain control of the vehicle.  If your front tires begin to skid, take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, this will slow the car down as the wheels skid sideways, and you will slowly regain traction.
  • ALWAYS drive with your lights on in the snow, even if the sun is still out.  Visibility is much lower when it is snowing which is why it is so important to keep your lights on and make yourself known to other drivers.
  • Check your levels of windshield wiper fluid!  This fluid is helpful in improving visibility as it can be used to melt snow and ice on the windshield.  It definitely won’t replace a scraper, but it can be helpful if you find yourself driving in the midst of a storm or have a light layer of snow or ice on your car.
  • Use extra caution when driving over bridges as they are more likely to freeze first. Unlike roads, which only lose heat from their surface, bridges are more exposed to the wind and therefore lose heat on all sides, top and bottom.  This results in snow and rain freezing more rapidly, which often leads to black ice.
  • Do not use cruise control. In conditions that are more dangerous than usual it is important to have as much control over the car as you possibly can. Utilizing the cruise control ability of a car can delay your reaction time should your car begin to skid.
  • Do not attempt to pass by snow plows. These trucks typically have limited visibility and you’re better off sticking behind them and driving on a freshly plowed road, than passing them and struggling with roads that are full of snow.
  • Should your car get stuck in the snow, do not hit the gas!  This will only spin your wheels and dig you in deeper, instead turn the wheel from left to right in an attempt to loosen snow from around the tires.  Keep a bag of salt, sand, or even kitty litter in your trunk, these can all be sprinkled around tires that are stuck to gain traction.
  • Consider alternate forms of transportation.  On snowy days it may be more convenient and safer to rely on public transportation such as trains or buses.  If they are not in service due to the weather, take it as a hint that you shouldn’t be out driving either.
  • Make sure you have proper car insurance coverage for the risks on winter roads. If you are unsure what types of coverage you need, call a MassDrive agent to learn more.

At MassDrive we want all drivers out there to practice safe winter driving.  These simple tips can go a long way when it comes to ensuring that you will be as safe as possible on the roads this winter.

Winter Vacation Destinations: Top New England and Massachusetts Ski Resorts

Killington by yourcoco on Flickr

Even though we are yet to see a snow storm here in Massachusetts this winter (rain, rain, go away!), the upcoming long weekend is the perfect time to hit the slopes! Skiing is a winter hallmark and although the resorts have not been getting any help from Mother Nature, they’re ready for action. The majority of New England and Massachusetts ski resorts have snow-making abilities and have opened many trails this season. Go ahead and plan that relaxing getaway on the slopes, and despite the lack of storms here in MA, you need not look any further than our list of top rated Massachusetts ski areas and beyond!

  • Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, MA is approximately an hour outside of Boston and features multiple different varieties of trails and is open until 10PM every night!  It is also accessible by public transportation and visitors who want to stay overnight are welcome to book a room in the Wachusett Village Inn.  Lift ticket prices vary. (Western MA) http://www.wachusett.com/TheMountain/AboutWachusett/DirectionsHours/tabid/56/Default.aspx
  • Berkshire East is a family run mountain that features 45 trails, 18 for night skiing, as well as tubing trails.  While there is no lodging facility on site, there are multiple B&B’s in the area.  There is also a children’s play and ski center which offers child care and a “Learn to Ski” program for children ages 2-5. (Western MA) http://www.berkshireeast.com/
  • Ski Butternut is also located within the Berkshires, however is in the southern region of the mountains. Featuring 110 skiable acres, Butternut is the perfect vacation spot for both skiing experts and beginners. There are endless activities to keep the entire family busy including terrain parks, a tubing center, a ski shop, ski lessons, and also snowboarding lessons. Afterschool lessons are also available for locals and theme days such as retro day and a Jimmy Buffett festival are scattered throughout the season. Ski Butternut is the perfect place to experience big mountain skiing while staying close to home. (Western MA) http://www.skibutternut.com/
  • Gunstock Mountain Resort is the closest major ski resort to the Boston Area. Located just two hours outside of the city, Gunstock offers a nationally recognized and award winning learn to ski or ride program, Mountain Magic, perfect for first time skiers. It also includes tubing trails, snowboarding and skiing trails, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing facilities. Gunstock is associated with multiple lodging partners in the area as well for the convenience of their guests. (Lakes Region of NH) http://www.gunstock.com/
  • Mount Sunapee Resort is located about 90 minutes from Boston and often features races, scavenger hunts, camps, contests, and clinics. Currently, 37 trails are open for business while snowmaking which is underway will allow more to open as the week goes on.  Ski and Stay packages are available for guests looking to stay overnight. (Western NH) http://www.mountsunapee.com/mtsunapeewinter/index.asp
  • Okemo Mountain resort is about a three hour drive from Boston and is a top rated ski resort in Vermont. They pride themselves on constantly improving and demand very high standards when it comes to customer service. With 96% snow coverage and 119 trails, Okemo is definitely one of the larger mountains in the area.Don’t miss their savings event going on this January offering up to 33% off lodging and kids ski and ride for $1. (Southern VT)  http://www.okemo.com/okemowinter/
  • Killington is another well-known Mountain region in Vermont which features “The Beast”, a series of six mountains, 140 trails and over 70 miles of terrain at Killington which will keep the whole family occupied for hours. They have the world’s most extensive 600 acre snowmaking system as well as 250 inches of annual snowfall! With these conditions there will be no shortage of powder on the slopes! (Central VT) http://www.killington.com/winter/index.html

Ski season in New England is already in full force!  Don’t miss your chance to take advantage of these Massachusetts winter getaways before it’s too late!

All these New England ski resorts are within driving distance. Be careful out on the winter roads! Brush up on driving in the snow and make sure your auto insurance policy is up to date. Stay safe!

Photo by yourcoco

Holiday Travel Tips

Holiday Travel in MA

The holidays! What’s not to love? There’s great music, pretty lights, parties aplenty and, if you’re lucky, a great gift waiting for you under some adorable holiday-themed paper. The holiday season does come its share of challenges amongst the joy, and one of my least favorites is holiday travel in Massachusetts and its surroundings, and all the traffic that goes along with it.

Like any good journey,  the holiday travel season requires some thinking ahead and preparation. Make sure you’re prepared to hit the road with these Massachusetts holiday travel and safety tips.

Be Mindful of Massachusetts Law

  • In the state of Massachusetts, all occupants of your vehicle are required to wear seat belts. Make sure you have a seat and working belt for every passenger and yourself when traveling this holiday.
  • The speed limit on most Massachusetts highways is 65mph, however, some can be as low as 55mph. Leave with plenty of time to get where you’re going this holiday season and pay attention to the speed limit – nothing says “Bah Humbug!” like shelling out for a speeding ticket.
  • If you hit any rotaries on your journey, remember to yield to those already in the rotary when entering and always enter to the right.
  • Texting while driving has been banned in Massachusetts. Let it wait until you get there or you could face $100-$500 in fines, depending on whether it is your first offense. This applies to when you’re stopped at red lights. Again, nothing says “Bah Humbug!” like a hefty ticket. Or a crash, for that matter.

Be Ready for the Road

  • Sign up to get a free FAST LANE transponder and cruise through the tolls on the Turnpike, the Sumner and Ted Williams Tunnels, and the Tobin Memorial Bridge on the way to Grandma’s. If you’re heading out of state, your FAST LANE transponder can be used anywhere E-ZPass is accepted.
  • New England weather is unpredictable, so make sure you’ve winterized your car. Snow tires, an ice scraper, and perhaps a foldable shovel will keep you safe on wintery roads.
  • With a lot of people on the road, wintery conditions and the stress of the holidays, anything can happen. Make sure you’re covered with auto insurance.

Have Fun! But Not Too Much Fun…

  • Turn up the Christmas music while you travel! Most stations will play Christmas music mixed in with their standards, but there are a few stations that play strictly holiday themed music. In Massachusetts, Oldies 103.3 and 105.7 WROR play Christmas music round the clock, and WROR has an adorable segment where kids can call into Santa.
  • Plan ahead if you plan on drinking, and make sure have a designated driver for when you need to get home. The legal limit is a blood-alcohol content under .08. Drunk driving increases over the holidays, and Massachusetts police will be on the lookout for drunk drivers. Not only does driving under the influence put you in danger of getting arrested, it puts everyone you pass on the road in danger. Err on the side of safety and avoid a drunk driving accident by making sure you have a sober ride home.

Regardless of what you’re celebrating or where you are celebrating, we wish you safe and easy travel and a very happy holiday season!

Photo by freakapotimus

Logan Airport Enlists New Security: LandShark Series D

The Massachusetts Police Force revealed the Black-I LandShark Series D at the Detroit Auto Show last week. The mini go-cart sized robot will be the newest edition to the Logan Airport’s domestic war on terror. Designed and manufactured by Black-I Robotics, a local company based out of Tyngsboro, the LandShark has been customized for the Logan International Airport bomb-squad.

“We made this robot faster, stronger and cheaper than anything else on the market, and in the next months we will focus on making it smarter,”

-Brian Hart, Co-Founder of Black-I Robotics


It took engineers four years to design and manufacture the Landshark Series robot. A single robot, like one deployed at Logan Airport, is estimated to cost a whopping $125,000 to manufacture. Luckily private funding and an $800,000 grant in a government contract secured in the 2008 Defense Appropriations Bill were able to foot the bill. According to Robert Hughes, Black-I Robotics Vice President, the robot can be guided by remote control at distances of up to a half-mile with its four cameras allowing operators to monitor the robot’s activities on a computer screen keeping loved ones out of danger’s way.

Co-founders of Black-I Robotics, Brian and Richard Hart, have worked to create technology keeping United States troops safe on the front lines since the death of Brian Hart’s son in a roadside bombing in 2003. Brian Hart has mentioned Black-I Robotics has sold different versions of the robot to the Navy and Department of Energy. He anticipates these robots being able to secure the perimeter of military bases at night so that soldiers do not have to conduct continuous rounds.

How Can We Make the Roads Safer?

The Ford Motor Company and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working together to advance automotive technology to reduce driver stress. Officials from Ford and MIT strongly believe that lowering the stress levels of drivers will increase the safety of the roads. Working together, they would like to use vehicle techologies to decrease stress and consequently improve safety.

Jeff Rupp, a Ford manager of active safety research explains the process and implementation of the research:

The project will identify specific stress-inducing driving situations, monitor a driver’s reaction to the situations using biometrics and evaluate methods to incorporate new stress-reducing features into the next generation of Ford products.” Rupp strongly believes that by reducing stress load placed on a driver, “through the use of our existing technologies such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning … our voice-activated communications system, we are proactively guiding drivers away from difficult situations.

Advances in technology directly related to the safety and overall well being of drivers can only mean good things. We would like to extend our thanks to the staff from MIT and Ford, for their dedication to make the roads safer.

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