As of recent, social distancing has shifted the way the world interacts. Perhaps this is the first era where a shared cultural ‘normalcy’ exists amongst people. Travel has been concentrated locally, rather than extended, globally. Even simple, everyday outings have been adjusted to a new day and age. How does one adapt when everything is changing so quickly? How can one still take a step back and enjoy themselves in world driven by technology?
Personally, I have been distracting, calming, and enjoying myself during this uncertain period by discovering local trails, revisiting favorite outdoor spots, ordering amazing take-out, and, of course, blogging my heart out! Now that the weather is warmer, it is easier to live my best life, put my phone down and get out of the house everyday. Places I can walk freely with noticeably fewer hikers are ideal, but sometimes, hard to come across, especially on the weekends. The same applies for restaurants that are offering takeout; sometimes, I can’t even get through on the phone to place an order. Of course, this is aways after I have scoured the menu and picked the most delicious dish, just to realize the takeout restaurant was closed, or even worse, they are so swamped they can’t even get to my call!
Luckily, there are a few great businesses and recreational areas still open to the public, and I promise, they are totally worth the call and the drive. The next time you have a free morning or afternoon, check one of the places listed below! Perhaps make it a day of local exploration; you never know what will spark your interest or appetite.
Open Trails for Hiking or Walking:
Greenbelt Essex County Land Trust, headquarters in Essex MA. I didn’t realize how much of a hidden gem this website was, until literally a week ago! If you click on ‘Explore Our Properties’ you can search by location, terrain, and activity. They even have parking directions, which is almost unheard of in the world of hiking. Is it just me or does everyone else struggle to find parking when locating trailheads?!
Maybe super vague, but if you Google: ‘Conservation Lands and Trails and the Name of your Town’. You will most likely be directed to your towns .gov website, in which there may be a list of trail maps and scenic view areas. I can’t vouch that every town in Massachusetts has a .gov site with accurate information, but from what I have experienced, more towns do then don’t.
Restaurants Offering Takeout or Delivery Options:
Pressed Cafe, with locations in Burlington MA, Newton MA and Nashua NH. They are open seven days a week and serve breakfast and smoothies all day. They even have gluten free and vegan options. Their location in South Nashua is drive through only, so you don’t even need to step into the place. You can order through their app. or simply walk in and order. This place is a personal favorite of mine and they are always so quick!
Dave’s Fresh Pasta, location in Somerville MA. Don’t even get me started on the deliciousness that is Dave’s Fresh Pasta. Their sandwiches are the best I have ever eaten! Plus they make fresh pasta daily, and you can browse their little grocery store while waiting for your meal. They have a lot of rotating local vendors and unique, but nevertheless, savory finds. Also, their customer service has never been less than impeccable. Can you tell I am a super fan?! Don’t forget to order a giant cookie on your way out! Follow them on Instagram (@DavesFreshPasta) for daily/weekly specials and updates.
Semolina Kitchen + Bar, location in Medford and sister-restaurant to Dave’s Fresh Pasta. Open for no contact patio pick up and local at-home delivery (within a 1.5 mile drive of their location). I would recommend ordering Tuesday – Thursday as they can get packed on the weekends. Still, they are 100% worth the wait, their dishes are so flavorful and incredibly fresh! Follow them on Instagram (@SemolinaKitchenBar) to view their daily specials that they frequently update and post on their stories. Their regular menu is wonderful, but I would highly recommend ordering one of their specials.
Sichuan Garden, location in Woburn MA. It seems that there are very few Chinese restaurants that remain open. It is unfortunate, because my husband could eat Chinese food for the rest of his life! So naturally we went on a quest one weekend to find a local Chinese food restaurant that was open (we were trying to avoid the ridiculous line at Kowloon on Route 1). I would recommend calling Sichuan Garden right before you want to pick up. You can pay at the door, it is usually propped open with a table blocking the entrance inside. You can then wait in your car in the side parking lot. When your foods ready they will give you a ring to retrieve it. If you go early enough there will be next to no cars in the parking lot, hence, no wait and no line!
Ledger Basket brought to you by Ledger Restaurant, location in Salem MA. Ledger Restaurant, recently turned into Ledger Basket, as a cleaver play off Market Basket! They offer a variety of dishes, grocery items, and household supplies with different offerings daily. They have been super active on social media, and have received much praise! It is beyond easy to order your own Ledger Basket with no contact pick up (they even occasionally offer delivery – check their Instagram account for that information). You can order directly through Instagram (@LedgerSalem) by clicking on the ‘Order Food’ button at the top of the page. You can add what you want to your basket and check out, same as if you were shopping online! Don’t forget to set the date/time you want to pick up your special basket before adding anything to your cart. When it is time to pick up, simply drive to their Salem location, park outside (their should be plenty of parking), give them a ring and they will deliver your basket directly to your car. From my experience, their bucket of chicken is a must!! Also, you may have to heat up your food when you get home, which is actually a good thing. Last time I ordered I noticed they put my dish in the fridge to keep if fresh, which actually preserved the food quality!
Woodman’s of Essex, location in Essex MA. Open Friday through Sunday with limited hours, so check their website before driving there. This place can get super busy! I would recommend calling way before you want to place an order and let them know what time you want to pick it up. Honestly, the last time I ate there, I waited a half-an-hour to get through on the phone and then another forty-five minutes for food. Still, their magical gluten-free batter is a staple and their fried seafood is on point! They also have massive parking lot where you can wait, spread out, crank your tunes and simple enjoy Essex. They will text you when your food is cooking and when it is time to drive to the side door for no contact pick up.
What would life be without dessert?! DownRiver Ice Cream, location in Ipswich MA, is still open for business. They don’t have a large parking lot, but you can park on the side street. Also, if you go early enough, odds are, their won’t be a line. Their flavors do rotate often so check the large menu on the side of the building before going up to place your order. They have few standing tables around the ice cream stand and benches in the woods across the street to enjoy your ice cream.
Many local breweries and cideries are offering no contact, at home alcohol delivery, based on location. I personally have not ordered any, so I don’t know how smooth, or perhaps confusing the process may be. List of Breweries/Cideries Open for No Contact Delivery and Pick Up: Trillium Brewing Company (Instagram: @TrilliumBrewing), NightShift Brewery (Instagram @NightShiftBrewing), and Far From the Tree Cider (Instagram: @FarFromTheTreeCider).
I hope this brief, but yet, informative list of outdoor activities and open restaurants offering takeout and delivery options eases your anxiety the next time you feel stuck inside, or have a craving for something delightful!
Remember, it is good practice to always bring a face mask and gloves, in case you come in close proximity others either on trails or picking up takeout. Furthermore, you are keeping these businesses open by ordering local and being thoughtful about their employees’ safety by wearing the appropriate gear.
Stay safe out there!