It is great to have an independent toy store like Vermont Toy and Hobby in the area, and not have to search wildly or go online for interesting, intelligent games, hobby supplies, and toys. The store has a very good selection of strategy and fantasy games (including a good number by Avalon Hill), as well as card, word, and puzzle games, and games for all ages (from little ones to adults). It isn?t the largest collection I?ve ever seen in a specialty toy store, but it offers real variety. Besides games, the store carries a large selection of Playmobil and Lego, Madeleine dolls and accessories, stuffed animals, train sets, craft kits, puzzles, and more. The store sells some role-playing supplies, but could expand their selection. Prices tend to be a little higher than expected, but the staff is very helpful when it comes to questions and special requests.
Caplans is a somewhat refreshing change from shopping at the larger, national chains. It is an unpretentious store that offers clothing, shoes, and supplies for hiking, camping, hunting, and other outdoor pursuits or work needs. The selection is impressive considering the store?s size, and the prices are quite reasonable. They often carry lower priced alternatives in addition to the more expensive brands. Although you might not find exactly what you are looking for if you have something specific in mind, it is a good place to check out when shopping around. Caplans often has twenty percent off storewide sales, which are always a great time to go. The staff is friendly and helpful.
The Boston Marriott at Copley Place is a luxurious but comfortable hotel. Rooms are large, and the hotel features a nice indoor swimming pool, good fitness center, health club, and on-site car rentals. This Marriott is slightly flashy, with an impressive open multi-story lobby, and celebrates a nightlife. What stands out most about this hotel is that it is connected to the Prudential Center and Copley Place malls, so from your room you are within walking distance, all indoors, to fine shops ? like Saks, Sephora, Tiffany, bebe, and Gucci, to name just a few, restaurants (Legal Seafoods is one favorite), coffee shops, and bars. The hotel is great for larger groups traveling together. Rates are a bit high, but definitely worth it.
The Brick House Book Shop is located in a large, rambling, old brick house. Entering through the front door, you immediately step into collections of used books, stacked on shelves and stairs, filling just about every space available. The store is laid out well, for the most part. Major categories are easy to find, and browse through. Back rooms and enclosed porches don?t feel quite as accessible, but shopping for used books is often an even more enjoyable process when you feel you are simply exploring. One of the strong points of this store is that they offer rather unique selections in among the more popular or well-known titles. The main drawback for me, is that the store sometimes smells a bit musty ? not great for allergy sufferers, though I have not noticed any problems with mustiness in books bought there. Hours are not constant either, so either drop by with the knowledge it might be closed, or call ahead. Prices are generally very reasonable.
Living thirty minutes from a large grocery store, it is important to have a local market that stocks the essentials, for those quick trips when you run out of a staple like milk. Cambridge Village Market stocks so much more than the essentials, that it is now included in my regular grocery shopping ? not just for the forgotten milk, but for gourmet sausage, organic yogurt, artisan bread, and other items. The prices are often surprisingly competitive with larger supermarkets, and the owner is always willing to hear suggestions for new products to stock. I am continually pleased to see new items on the shelves. The staff is friendly and helpful, and the store environment is pleasant. The Market also has a nice selection of very reasonably priced wines.
The Omni Parker House is a beautiful old hotel with a ton of character, and a wonderfully intimate atmosphere. Rooms are not as spacious as in some other hotels, but they are very tastefully decorated and comfortable. The staff is very friendly and helpful. Restaurants in the hotel offer fine dining, specialty foods (the famous ?Boston Cream Pie? originated here, and it is delicious), late night relaxation, and great service. Rates are reasonable, for downtown Boston, and the central location is terrific. There is a real feeling of luxury and charm at the Omni Parker House, and staying there is a pleasure.
Whether shopping for healthy or gourmet ingredients, a homeopathic remedy, or natural skincare, Healthy Living can be counted on to carry what you need. This fully stocked market focuses on quality natural foods, and products for mindful living. All the week?s groceries can be bought at Healthy Living, as well as such extras as alternative medicines, fresh flowers and plants, books, and unique house wares. The prices are sometimes higher than expected, and the bulk food aisles often become a bit crowded, but the people are friendly and helpful, and there?s a good feeling overall. Another great attraction is the in-store caf, which serves a terrific variety of tasty, healthy soups, salads, and entrees, at reasonable prices.
Ryan Books is a very nice shop with a good selection of thoughtful titles for adults, and a terrific section of educational and fun books for children. The store also carries better magazines, and some works by local artists. The atmosphere is quiet, relaxed, and enjoyable. The staff is pleasant and helpful. Ryan Books might not offer quite as many titles as larger independent bookstores, but being centrally located in a small college town, miles from any larger city, it is a welcome and much needed presence.
Bead Crazy offers a very large selection of fine beads, findings, and jewelry-making supplies. It is very well organized and spacious ? shoppers can easily take their time gathering what they want, without bumping into other shoppers. A tally sheet and pencil are provided, to keep track of prices while shopping. Space at side tables allows shoppers to sit down and work out ideas in the store, and the knowledgeable staff is ready to help with advice or suggestions. This store offers a fun and unique selection of classes, as well as parties.
Zoe?s is a great little shop that offers a wide selection of beads, findings, accessories, and materials for other creative pursuits. The beads are displayed openly on a large table in the center of the store, with a few smaller stations on the side. Shoppers are encouraged to gather those they want in little containers. The selection is excellent, the atmosphere inspiring, and the prices are reasonable. Zoe?s also sells handmade jewelry, scarves, candles, and other gifts. There?s a little bit of the mystical to the place, and it?s always fun to shop there.