Two Great Family Outings West of Boston: deCordova Sculpture Park and Punkatasset Conservation Lands

Looking for a quick idea for an outing around Boston this weekend? Last Sunday, my family took advantage of the current discounted rates at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln and spent a great morning wandering the grounds. And the previous weekend, we saw lots of signs of beaver at the Punkatasset conservation land in Concord.

DeCordova is a 35-acre park with more than 60 modern and contemporary sculptures to view. While signs ask visitors not to climb on the art, a few pieces are interactive: You can make music by dragging a stick across a large set of chimes, for example, and step in and out of a two-room house made of two-way mirrors. My 2-year-old and I also couldn’t resist walking through a Roy Lichtenstein sculpture that she dubbed “big red person.” (The piece is actually called Ozymandius, and a sign provides the Percy Bysshe Shelly poem of the same name for those curious about its story.)

Along a path that winds behind the museum building, visitors have created whimsical cairns, to which we added a few stones and a pine cone. Anyone interested in a longer, wooded hike can access a 3.5-mile loop around nearby Sandy Pond from the parking lot. (It’s described in AMC’s Best Day Hikes near Boston.)

Admission to the sculpture park is free Monday through Friday and half price on the weekends until January 21, because the museum building is closed while a new exhibit is being installed. The store is open, though, so you can duck in to warm up and visit the bathrooms (unisex, with baby changing stations).

Punkatasset is harder to find than the sculpture park, but offers a great set of trails, including a short loop through woods and meadows and around Hutchins Pond that might take half an hour at an adult pace. We hiked it with our daughter in a backpack for part of the time and walking on her own the rest. We saw a few other people, some walking their dogs off leash. The highlight was surely the signs of recent beaver activity, including one tree that didn’t look like it would be standing much longer.

To find this gem, drive on Monument Street from the center of Concord until you are about six tenths of a mile north of the Fenn School. Park on the left side of the road and walk down what looks like a driveway to access the trails. A sign provides a map. The town also has information and a map (PDF) online.

Great Kids, Great Outdoors is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Kristen Laine and Heather Stephenson. Heather wrote this post.

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