Here we go.

I grew up in Hanover, Massachusetts. It’s not an extraordinarily exciting place, but it was a great setting for a childhood. We had woods, a pond, a horse farm down the street, an exceptional playground and public tennis courts right in the town center. It’s a 30-minute drive to Boston and an hour from Cape Cod, close enough to the beach, close enough to the city, close enough to more rural areas.

Here’s the problem with my hometown: What most people see of it is an ugly stretch of Route 53 just off Route 3, connecting Norwell, Hanover and Pembroke. It’s five Dunkin’ Donuts (in a town of about 14,000), connected by a series of strip malls whose appeal ranges from thriving (the new Target) to vegetative (a closed Borders). It gives the impression that Hanover, my idyllic home — the place where they built the anchor for the U.S.S. Constitution! — is suburban, commercial sprawl at its worst.

Whenever I say I’m from Hanover, the gleam of recognition in people’s eyes isn’t from our picturesque, historic Four Corners neighborhood or the lazy, twisting North River winding under stone bridges. It’s more like, “Yeah, I stopped there on my way to Falmouth once. Crappy mall.”

I have formed the same generalized impressions of other places across Massachusetts, without having wandered beyond their main roads and tourist areas.

This blog will be an attempt to visit all 351 cities and towns in our dear Commonwealth. It should by no means be considered an exhaustive guide to the places I visit on weekends, but I’d like to give readers a glimpse into all corners of the Bay State.

I intend to hit big events and small restaurants. In Boston, I plan to explore and write about certain neighborhoods individually, while avoiding tourist traps. If you want a write-up on Faneuil Hall or popular North End restaurants, pick up a travel guide. I’m looking for the weird, the fun, the inexpensive and the unforgettable. I enjoy spending time outdoors, so many of my adventures will be set outside. Some entries may include more than one town, especially if it’s a great day. I am doing this, essentially, as a volunteer and journalist, with no additional compensation: If I sing the praises of a business or event I visit, it is simply because I enjoyed myself there and think you might, too.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

– Marisa

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