Okay, so the title is slightly misleading: you would probably not call visiting a chocolate factory or a cemetery adventurous, unless very little else is going on in your life. But these are two unique, fun, and inexpensive things worth doing in the Boston area, and I had the opportunity to explore both in the past couple of weeks. So although I don’t have a full list for you the way Michelle did, I can definitely recommend the following as worth a visit if and when you’re in the area.
- Taza Chocolate in Somerville – If you like chocolate – real chocolate and not some overly manufactured stuff with a ton of added flavors and caramel or crispy bits – this place makes the best.
They give factory tours several days of the week (when you may actually get to watch chocolate being made) and on weekends (when you won’t see it made because it’s a kosher facility); whenever you go, you get treated to a ton of free samples. It’s $5 per person to take the tour, which is about an hour and walks you through their bean-to-bar process while you wear the ever-stylish hairnets they hand out and ponder the innards of a cocoa pod. This place is cool for a bunch of reasons, but here are some of my favorites: they handwrap all of the thousands of chocolate bars and discs they produce; they deal directly with farmers, mostly in the Dominican Republic, to ensure fair trade; they will deliver your chocolate by bicycle if you’re in Cambridge or Somerville because they are that committed to sustainability; and many of their bars have only three ingredients. Because they don’t refine their chocolate a lot, it has a somewhat grittier texture than some other chocolate, but I think this makes the flavor much better. If possible, I suggest you go with a small child so that you can watch him or her freak out with delight at all the chocolate he or she is suddenly allowed to eat. Then try to escape the Taza Factory Store before the subsequent meltdown over not being able to buy every type of chocolate they produce. Last but not least, watch as said toddler passes out in the car seat from a chocolate coma, clutching a bag full of Taza Chocolate Discs to inhale later.
- Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge and Watertown – The first time someone told me I should go take a walk around Mount Auburn Cemetery, I was slightly creeped out. Why would I go hang out in a cemetery that didn’t have Jim Morrison’s grave in it? (Cliche, yes, but I did make the trek to find it when I spent a semester in Paris, like it was some sort of required rite of passage, even though I was never that into The Doors.) As it turns out, however, I’ve made several trips to Mount Auburn, and, well, you should really go take a walk around it, too. Founded in 1831, its 175 acres were intended from the start to be both a burial place and an extensive garden, a beautiful and peaceful spot to wander and take in nature while perhaps reflecting on such profound topics as life and death, or at least which family has the most impressive crypt.
These days, it still functions as a cemetery and a sort of outdoor museum, with two chapels, lots of statues, and my personal favorite, Washington Tower, which rises 125 feet above the Charles River and affords amazing panoramas of downtown Boston and the surrounding areas. It’s worth walking the paths of Mount Auburn to see the many species of plant and animal (or at least fuzzy caterpillar) that call it home, too.
So, now you know that Boston is not only the place to go for the Freedom Trail, Sam Adams beer, and trying to find that one North End street from the chase scene in “The Town,” but also for candy and garden cemeteries. Enjoy!