A distant adventure (and yet so close to home)

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For many obvious reasons, even if the pandemic has subsided this year, many of us will spend our free time near home in the summer of 2021, taking day trips or short overnight stays. With this in mind, we started looking for a few “ideas for a stay” within an hour’s drive from Boston. We came back rejuvenated with a welcome reminder that another world doesn’t have to be far away.

On the back streets of Framingham, near the Sudbury Line, Garden in the forest immerses visitors in a forest reserve that displays the native plants of New England. It only takes a few minutes for your heartbeat to slow down and your day-to-day work to slip away. Only the occasional, faint sound of a lawn mower or a barking dog brings back the surprising fact that this sanctuary has neighbors.

Griffin Barber, 4, on a visit to the Garden in the Woods in Framingham.Jonathan Wiggs / Globe Staff

From high-bush blueberries and prickly pear cacti to the region’s most extensive Trillium collection, the botanical garden encompasses almost 50 hectares of mountain ridges, gullies, ponds and streams. The place is characterized by a sensory overload of microhabitats, which are located along a winding, kilometer-long main loop and various remote hiking trails.

The late landscape painter Will C. Curtis bought the first 30 acres for allegedly $ 1,000 in 1931 and began making plans for his garden. When Curtis died in 1965, he bequeathed the property to the New England Wild Flower Society, now known as the Native Plant Trust.

A bumblebee in the garden in the forest.
A bumblebee in the garden in the forest.Jonathan Wiggs / Globe Staff

The Trust has a comprehensive botanical guide on its website that has recently been developed a helpful app which can be used for the garden site map, plant identification, and more.

Children will enjoy the water lily pond with its frogs and turtles, an activity area made of tree trunks and the stegosaurus sculpture made from a boulder by metal artist David Phillips.

“We all think it’s a hidden gem,” said a gardener named David recently on a weekday as he surveyed the hill under a gentle drizzle.

A turtle in the garden in the forest.
A turtle in the garden in the forest. Jonathan Wiggs / Globe Staff

It was damp the day we drove to Gloucester to visit the mansion of a great – and somewhat eccentric – inventor. That Hammond Castle Museum was full of tourists who were probably hoping for a day at the beach.

John Hays Hammond Jr., who held more than 400 patents (once an unmanned boat sailed from Gloucester to Boston and back by remote control), designed his castle in the European style in the 1920s. With elements of medieval Gothic cathedrals and French castles, Hammond Castle has drawn tourists, school classes, and movie scouts for decades.

Ante Bing photographs his friend Mary Bai, both Boston residents, in front of 12th and 13th century Italian arches in front of the Hammond Castle Museum in Gloucester.
Ante Bing photographs his friend Mary Bai, both Boston residents, in front of 12th and 13th century Italian arches in front of the Hammond Castle Museum in Gloucester.Matthew J Lee / Globe staff

If it wasn’t you, it’s a whim. Hammond, who once appeared on the cover of Time magazine, which has been dubbed America’s “Most Radically Democratic Millionaire,” specialized in building musical instruments and sound innovations. He also developed military technologies and anticipated the ideas of RVs and a home shopping network.

The palace’s more than 15-meter-high Great Hall houses a huge pipe organ, which is considered the largest in a private home. The museum’s non-profit organization is preparing a multi-million dollar fundraiser to get the organ back in working order.

The Great Hall at the Hammond Castle Museum contains a large pipe organ that was used for concerts and recordings by many famous organists such as Richard Ellsasser and Virgil Fox.
The Great Hall at the Hammond Castle Museum contains a large pipe organ that was used for concerts and recordings by many famous organists such as Richard Ellsasser and Virgil Fox.Matthew J Lee / Globe staff

A courtyard that looks like a French village features a pool with a fountain and a life-size, nude bronze statue of Hammond himself, a gift to his wife Irene. Our guide explained how Hammond moved the statue to the end of his driveway at one point as a greeting to his neighbors here in the coastal enclave of Magnolia. The locals apparently played a game of who could collect the most fig leaves that cover the not-so-private parts of the statue.

The museum is planning a whole series of special events this summer, including a film series on the theme of the castle (“Young Frankenstein”, “The Princess Bride”) and a performance by folk violinist Emerald Rae. in the Great Hall on August 4th, a native of Gloucester.

The Hammond Castle Museum was the home and laboratory of John Hays Hammond, Jr., an inventor who pioneered remote control research and held over 400 patents.
The Hammond Castle Museum was the home and laboratory of John Hays Hammond, Jr., an inventor who pioneered remote control research and held over 400 patents.
Matthew J Lee / Globe staff

“This is my cup of tea,” said Loretta Iannicelli, who lives west of Boston. She spent the day at the castle with a friend from Florida.

She particularly liked the musicians’ gallery, a niche high above the Great Hall where music could be heard.

“I could have stayed in there all day alone,” said Iannicelli. “In such surroundings you get thoughtful. It is tempting for the senses. “

World's End is a 250 acre peninsula bordering Hingham Harbor, south of Hull and Nantasket Beach.
World’s End is a 250 acre peninsula bordering Hingham Harbor, south of Hull and Nantasket Beach. John Tlumacki

Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted is best known for New York’s Central Park and the Emerald Necklace in Boston. A decade before he died in Belmont in 1903, Olmsted accepted the assignment to take his work to the end of the world.

The end of the world is a 250 acre peninsula bordering Hingham Harbor, south of Hull and Nantasket Beach. The origin of the name is unclear, but given the fantastic view of the Boston skyline, 15 miles away, over Boston Harbor, it seems appropriate.

A curious deer looks up as it eats grass in the pasture at the end of the world.
A curious deer looks up as it eats grass in the pasture at the end of the world.John Tlumacki

John Brewer, a businessman who owned the land, suggested that Olmsted design a housing estate that never came about. Instead, World’s End was considered the seat of the United Nations and then a nuclear power plant. In the 1960s, the peninsula was acquired by the Trustees of Reservations.

On a Saturday, numerous hikers and bikers used the horse-drawn carriage paths that meander around the drumlins on the coast – spoon-shaped hills left by receding glaciers. Many had leashed dogs in tow. There were extensive meadows, a rocky beach, and a tidal swamp to explore.

A goldfinch sits on a rock by a stream that flows next to a path at the end of the world.
A goldfinch sits on a rock by a stream that flows next to a path at the end of the world.John Tlumacki

A five-minute drive away, the trustees operate the Weir River Farm, where visitors can stock up on local and organic food. This summer the working farm is hosting an outdoor art exhibition along the paths with landscape paintings by the former owner of the farm, Polly Thayer Starr. There is a live music and picnic series on the farm on Thursdays through October 7th. There is also a barn yard, the residents of which are very popular with young animal lovers.

“You managed!” roared a man who led his dog to the furthest point at the end of the world.

Yes, we had made it to the end of the world, so to speak. Even if you stay close to your home, you don’t know what’s around the next corner.

Children from the Hingham Parks and Recreation Deptartment stop to look at a giant boulder along the coast of World's End.
Children from the Hingham Parks and Recreation Deptartment stop to look at a giant boulder along the coast of World’s End.John Tlumacki

Garden in the forest, 180 Hemenway Street, Framingham. Open daily through October 15, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $ 6-14, free for children under 5.

Hammond Castle Museum, 80 Hesperus Ave., Gloucester. Open daily through October (Nov-Dec. Friday-Sunday), 9:30 am to 4:00 pm $ 10-18, free for children under 4.

The end of the world, Martins Lane, Hingham. Open every day, 8 a.m. to sunset. $ 6-8 $, children and trustees free.

James Sullivan can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @sullivanjames.

Tree roots form a pattern along Land's End shoreline.
Tree roots form a pattern along Land’s End shoreline.John Tlumacki



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