A Century old Grand Dame's Birthday; Shear Madness, the Zoo, iMax, Skywalk and Top of the Hub

Forty-eight hours visiting Boston's best venues for city fun for kids
The lobby of the Fairmont Copley Boston is a trip back to the Belle Époque, a time when the grandest of the grand hotel were built. The Fairmont Copley Plaza is among the best examples.

This year The Fairmont Copley Boston on Copley Square in Boston's Back Bay will celebrate its centennial with 100 days of celebration leading up to its anniversary on August 19, 2012.

It's not an exaggeration to say that they just don't build hotels like this any longer.
A different view with our room reflected in the Hancock Tower next door and the Trinity Church and Copley Square to the left.
Together with Trinity Church and the Boston Public Library, two next door neighbors, this landmark hotel is one of the architectural jewels of Copley Square. 

From community events and historic tours to weekend packages to a search for hotel memorabilia, the hotel will celebrate this milestone in grand style.  In addition to centennial celebrations, the hotel will also debut a complete restoration totaling in excess of $20 million.        

The hotel is poised at one of the most exciting times in its history, according to Paul S. Tormey, regional vice president and general manager.

This hotel is next to the city's most desirable shopping meccas, Copley Place and Boylston and Newbury Streets.

Our visit

When we visited last weekend with our two grandchildren we stayed on the Fairmont Gold level, which has undergone a magnificent remodeling bringing this always delightful top flight hotel up to the latest in 21st century appurtenances.

When we arrived on a Friday evening this month, we were running late for our Charles Playhouse theater date.  Luckily for the four of us, the nightly hors d'oeuvres and munchies in the Gold Lounge were so impressive, we were tempted to not bother about going out for dinner.

I was so impressed with the tiny espresso maker in our room I asked my granddaughter to find it on the web, and we bought one for home.

On to "Shear Madness"

We first saw "Shear Madness" at the Charles Playhouse thirty years ago, and it's even funnier today.

This rollicking beauty salon "comic murder" opened in upstate New York in 1978, and the producers scheduled a brief run at the historic Charles Playhouse in Boston's Theater District to begin January 29, 1980.

A third of a Century later it's still here and wowing audience every performance. Some have seen it a dozen times.

Voted "Best Comedy of the Year" seven times by the Boston Globe and recipient of the  title "Best Play of the Year" by both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Philadelphia Enquirer, "Shear Madness" has also received the Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America and has been inducted into the Comedy Hall of Fame, the first play ever to receive that accolade.  "Shear Madness" is listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the longest running play in the history of the USA.

This unique comedy-whodunit takes place today in the "Shear Madness" hairstyling salon and is chock full of up-to-the-minute spontaneous humor.  During the course of the action, a murder is committed and the audience gets to spot the clues, question the suspects, and solve the funniest mystery in the annals of crime.The outcome is never the same, which is why many audience members return again and again to the scene of the mayhem.

See the "Shear Madness" website here.

Franklin Park Zoo is 100 years old this year too, celebration starts Saturday

This is the Bear cage at the zoo when it opened in 1912. No cages today, and things have changed.
Even Lions need a little love as this family discovered at Franklin Park Zoo.

Visiting a distant cousin at the Franklin Park Zoo where
The Lovebirds may get in your hair.
Franklin Park Zoo is a 72-acre site nestled in Boston’s historic Franklin Park, and has long been considered the “crown jewel” of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace Park System. Construction of the Zoo began a century ago, and the zoo officially opened in 1912.

It seems crazy, but we've spent dozens of weekends in Boston with our children and now grandchildren, and we never thought to visit perhaps one of the best zoo in America.

There are no bars here, just huge open spaces, and the atmosphere is quite wonderful.

This Saturday, May 19, starts the zoo's 100th Birthday Celebration called Zoo 100 Day.

It's the start of a summer-long series of celebrations marking this milestone, and on Saturday,  and the first thousand visitors will receive a mini-cupcake of frosting shot, and all the animals will be getting surprise birthday present throughout the day.

Zoo New England is two zoos, the Franklin Park one and the Stone Zoo in Stoneham. It's mission is to inspire people to protect and sustain the natural world for future generations by creating fun and engaging experiences that integrate wildlife and conservation programs, research, and education.

On to The Skywalk, Top of the Hub and iMax at the Aquarium

On Sunday we brought the kids to the Skywalk Observatory, Boston's only sky-high vantage point for sweeping 360 degree views of Greater Boston and beyond. You could never have imagined Boston so beautiful and laid out below you.

We then went to The Top of the Hub for a magnificent Sunday Brunch, located on the 52nd floor of the Prudential Tower. The restaurant has an elegant decor and a romantic atmosphere.

The kids reveled in their fun food choices while I had a truly remarkable Duck Confit Hash
Queso Cotija, of Poached Eggs, Crisp Tortillas, and Salsa Ranchero, and my wife had the Crispy Bell & Evans Chicken Breast, Black Forest Ham, Aged Gruyère, and Shallot Mustard Cream Sauce.

The menu will make your mouth water.

After brunch we drove five minutes to the iMax at the Aquarium on the harbor, and saw the softer side of the frozen North as you tag along with a mother polar bear and her two growing cubs in To the Arctic 3D. Join the trio as they struggle to survive and thrive in a frigid environment of immense glaciers, spectacular waterfalls, snow-bound peaks and melting ice.

At the Aquarium's Simons IMAX Theatre, you won't just watch a film, you'll be there, thanks to amazing IMAX 3D technology. It's 12,000 watts of digital sound and New England's largest screen. Don't miss the most cinematic way imaginable to see these beautiful and astounding creatures of the deep.

Come back for your wedding anniversary

If you had your honeymoon at the Fairmont, you can return now at that long-ago room rate, maybe $7 a night.

Always a great popular place for weddings and honeymoons in Boston, The Fairmont Copley Plaza is inviting couples back to celebrate their own anniversaries at their original room rate.  For example, a couple who spent their honeymoon at The Copley Plaza in 1947 would have paid a rate of approximately $7 per night.  The Anniversary Package includes accommodations in a newly renovated guestroom and a hotel history booklet. This package is available for a minimum two night stay, based upon availability.  Present the original folio, and enjoy one night at the original rate paid and the second night at the hotel's best available rate. This package is available through December 30, 2012.

Throughout the year, there will be a number of Centennial activities including hotel tours, memorabilia displays, historic programs and a ribbon cutting event.  For a full schedule of community events, please visit fairmont.com/cop/copley100 or become part of The Fairmont Copley Plaza's online communities at facebook.com/FairmontCopleyPlaza or twitter.com/FairmontCopley.

For reservations or additional information please visit fairmont.com/copleyplaza or call (800) 441-1414.

The links to fun in the city:

Sheer Madness
top Of the Hub Restaurant
Sky walk top of the hub
Franklin Park Zoo
IMax New England Aquarium
Faneuil Hall Market Place
Fairmont Copley Boston


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