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Things to Do in Boston with Kids

Fun Things to See and Do with Kids in Boston

Anytime is a great time to get out and discover all of the wonderful Museums that Boston has to offer.  The Museum of Science is a great destination for families with kids, and it's full of mind-expanding exhibits and activities for you to explore.

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Parents and children alike will marvel at the exhibits at the Boston Museum of Science .  If you are a local, a membership is well worth the cost as it includes 2 hours of free parking per visit, guest passes, and tickets to see IMAX movies, planetarium shows. 

The musical staircase called Soundstair is a cool place for kids to burn off some energy,  as well as  the interactive playground at Science in the Park where you can learn about momentum, mechanical advantage and harmonic motion. 

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Learn all about harmonic motion, momentum, and mechanical movement.  Hop on a swing and measure how long it takes to go back and forth.   It's a fun challenge for families or friends to work together to try to balance on a seesaw; or for kids to race a fast-moving row of lights to discover their speed.   

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Photo Credit ©: Nicholas Czarnecki

Within the Museum, The Mugar Omni Theatre is a dome-based IMAX experience that always has exciting new documentaries to enjoy.   The theatre is located right next to the planetarium (toward the back of the museum), which also offers a variety of timed shows and presentations. 

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Boston Children's Museum

For the younger set,  Boston Children's Museum is chock full of entertaining things for kids to do & explore.  Located in the Fort Point Channel, you can enjoy great views of the city over the waterway, refreshing breezes, and even a snack at the famous Hood Milk Bottle, that is now run by the local favorite snack shack, Sullivan's.   

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Upon arrival to the Children's Museum, you are greeted by the 3 story New Balance climbing structure - a favorite with kids.  The 3-story New Balance climbing sculpture is made of flowing curved platforms, rising up through the glass lobby of Boston Children’s Museum and inviting children to scamper and scale this vertical maze. 

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Young kids will have lots of fun in the bubble room, exploring Peep's World, which is full of river- like water tables, and check the schedule to see if you can catch one of the fun, interactive performances at the Kidstage.  

Just steps away, Martin's Park, the new outdoor playground dedicated to the memory of Martin Richard, is slated to open in summer 2019. 

New England Aquarium

Of course, a visit to Boston wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the New England Aquarium on Boston's scenic Waterfront.  The unique four-story central tank shows off all the colorful inhabitants of its Caribbean coral reef, complete with small sharks, many varieties of fish and a huge sea turtle. 

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Colorful & educational exhibits feature more than 8,000 aquatic creatures throughout the aquarium, including the playful penguin pool featuring three different species of more than 80 penguins that dive, swim, waddle and frolic in the first floor waters. 

The rockhoppers are popular for their punk-rock hairdo of wild yellow feathers. The African penguins are known for their loud call, which sounds like a donkey’s bray. And everyone loves the little blue penguins, which are the smallest penguin species in the world.

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Out in front of the Aquarium, (and free to see), frolicking sea lions swim back and forth in their tank entertaining walk-up visitors.  Out back, near the pier, Northern fur seals and California sea lions cavort and Atlantic harbor seals swim out front.

Be sure to check the daily activity schedule so your family can attend some of the special presentations that take place, like penguin feedings, harbor seal training sessions, live animal interactions, and divers descending into the Ocean Tank.

The Aquarium also shows animal-themed films on New England’s largest I-Max screen at the Simons IMAX Theatre.  The Theater is in the building adjacent to the Aquarium on the wharf, and movies are mainly animal themed and all family-friendly.

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Other purely Boston adventures include taking a ride on a swan boat in the middle of the Public Garden, visit a historic fort, (Fort Independence at Castle Island) or visit the Boston Tea Party Ship & Museum and reenact historical events.  It all makes for great fun as a family, offering experiences that are both educational and entertaining.

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Explore 12,000 specimens drawn from Harvard’s vast research collections at the University's most visited museum --The Harvard Museum of Natural History.   Dinosaur fossils, meteorites, gemstones, and animals are on display from around the globe.  

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Visitors will get a  closer look at hundreds of animals including giraffe, elephant, rhino, tigers, lions, birds of the world, armadillo, platypus, giant whale skeletons, & more.  

Old Ironsides and the USS Constitution Museum

Old Ironsides in Charlestown is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world.  A free tour of this 200-year-old ship may give your little landlubber a chance to get his/her sea legs.  Steps away, The USS Constitution Museum  houses over 3000 original artifacts, and opportunities for lots of hands-on activities for little ones. 

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Thomas Menino Park & Playground

Just a 10 minute walk up the pier, you'll find the Thomas Menino Park & Playground.   This playground is adjacent to the Spaulding Rehabilitation Clinic and features a wonderful array of play structures for kids to climb on.

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Photo Courtesy of Plasli.com

Legoland Discovery Center

Budding architects shouldn’t miss a stop at Legoland Discovery Center, set in Somerville's Assembly Row shopping complex.  It’s a solid choice to visit whenever the weather is too hot or too cold, and in addition to playing with LEGOs, kids of all ages can marvel at a miniature Lego Boston built by master crafters, see a 4D movie, or play in the climbing-wall area.

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Photo Courtesy of LEGOLAND DIscovery Center, Boston

The Lawn on D

The Lawn on D  is a newer park and playground oasis for children and adults near the Boston convention center.  The park features art installations, live music, and very cool LED illuminated circular (glowing) swings. Visitors are welcome to play popular backyard games like cornhole, ping pong, bocce, Jenga and more. 

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Photo courtesy of The Lawn on D

Boston Tea Party Museum

The Boston Tea Party Ship & Museum is a re-creation of the famous protest in a full scale replica of the tea party ship, also museum exhibits.  It's a great place for kids to learn first-hand what happened at the Boston Tea Party.

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Each interactive tour will last about one hour with a guided experience throughout the ships & museum. Your 18th Century Host will lead you through a colonial town meeting, where you will play the part of a historic participant, and then move onto one of the ship to "dump the tea" into the harbor. 

Inside, exhibits, shirt films and artifacts are displayed, and to round out your experience, you can visit Abigail's Tea Room, where you can enjoy freshly baked goods, and of course, a cup of tea. 

Paul Revere House & Old North Church

old-north-church-paul-revere-statueThe Paul Revere House is the oldest standing private home in Boston and once belonged to Paul Revere. It is a small museum comprised of rooms decorated in authentic colonial style.  Visitors can take a guided tour of the house in about 30 minutes and the nominal admission it cash only. 

The Old North Church & Historic Site is famed by Paul Revere's 'One if by land, and two if by sea' lantern ride. Built in 1723, it has the city's tallest steeple in Boston at 191 feet.  Old North Church is right in the heart of Boston's North End, so be sure to grab a cannolli at Mike's or Modern pastry or some delicious Italian food as you pass through. 

The Freedom Trail

Take Walk into history on the Freedom Trail!  Follow the path yourself, and let your kids guide you; or join a Colonial guide dressed in old fashioned garb as he or she takes you on a 90-minute walking tour, from Boston Common to Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market.

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Can you follow the Freedom Trail all the way to Bunker Hill Monument?  That's quite an accomplishment. 

Bunker Hill is located over the bridge (just a bout a mile from TD Garden).   The obelisk that was built to commemorate the famous Battle of Bunker Hill has 294 steps and you can challenge kids of all ages to climb to the top.   There is only one way up and one way down.  The views (and bragging rights) are worth the climb.

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If you you do make it all the way to Bunker Hill Monument, reward yourself with a quick visit to see Old Ironsides. and then a scenic ferry ride back downtown from Charlestown pier.boston-harbor-ferries-atlantic-wharf

Boston Harbor Islands

A great day trip might include taking a ferry ride out to visit one of the scenic Boston Harbor Islands.   Ferries depart from Atlantic Wharf with destinations of Spetacle Island or Georges Island and Historic Fort Warren.  During the summer months, the parks host a number of performing artists, and structured activities geared especially for kids. 

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Codzilla

If ferries are too slow for you, you may be into taking a ride on Codzilla!  Boston's only high-speed thrill boat ride featuring two turbo-charged diesel engines generating 2,800 horsepower and speeds of approximately 40 miles an hour.  It's fun, loud, and ya go fast.

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Boston Segway Tours

Another great tour option that might appeal to older children is a Segway Tour of Boston.  They may grumble about a historic walking tour, but throw a segway into the mix and you've got a captive audience.  Riders must be 14 years of age and weigh at least 100 lbs. (due to city ordinance).   There are plenty of stops for cool Boston photo ops - so you can document this unique and fun experience of seeing the city together. 

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The Greenway

One of our favorite excursions on a nice sunny day is to walk through the Rose Kennedy Greenway.   There is always something going on, and lots of things to see as you meander through one of Boston's most vibrant parks.   

You can start at  Chinatown or Dewey Park near South Station and stroll way all the way up to the North End, or vice versa.   Dewey Park features it's signature red aiderondack chairs and a giant colorful mural backdrop that changes annually.

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From the manicured flower beds, and wide open green spaces, to Rings Fountain, and the beautiful Greenway Carousel - kids & families are sure to have a great day.   Plus, there are plenty of permanent and rotating art pieces that you'll encounter - great for photo ops as you stumble upon them.  

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Kids and tweens will enjoy the challenge of the labrynth maze at Armenian Heritage Park.  It's fun to see who can walk through it the fastest. 

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The beautiful Greenway encompasses gardens, plazas, and tree-lined promenades.  Offering lots of open space for relaxation within the heart of Boston's urban environment, the Greenway is a key feature of that came out of the famed Big Dig project

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The park area nearest the North End features relaxing swing benches, that overlook a lush green lawn and a series of fountain jets that kids love to frolic in on hot days. 

Food Trucks are common fixtures along the park for snacks, and lunch - and on weekends, it's fun to peruse the art vendors selling all sorts of unique creations.

Parallel to the Greenway, and just across Atlantic Avenue, the Boston Harborwalk is a near continuous, is linear park & walkway that runs along Boston Harbor.   If you walk through the city on the Greenway you can turn around and walk back on the Harborwalk for a completely different, waterfront experience. 

Take a Tour of Fenway Park 

Are your kids baseball fans?  No visit to Boston would be complete without a trip to Fenway Park!  Tour the home of the Boston Red Sox, including the press box, dugout, field, and more. Tours run daily and leave from the Souvenir Store across Jersey (Yawkey) Way.

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Boston Common

The nation's oldest public park, Boston Common is the site of wide open green spaces, and boasts a bandstand, a carousel, frog pond wading pool and playground, tennis courts, as well as the site of many fairs & festivals.  

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The wide open fields on Boston Common can make for a fun day for any kid.   Bring a ball or a frisbee and romp around in the grass.   Lay in the sun, read, have a picnic or just sit and chat.  You'd be surpised how much fun the simplest activities can be.

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Boston Public Garden

The Boston Public Garden  was the first public botanical garden in America.  It is filled with dozens of beautiful old trees, lush, well manicured flora and fauna, and even some tropical plants.  

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There are a number of interesting statues and small fountains to discover as well, including the famed :Make was for Ducklings" statues and Bagheera Fountain, which is named for the Jungle Book character.

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The Public Garden was decorative and flowery from its inception, featuring meandering pathways for strolling.  Today, parents with strollers and young visitors can still admire the rich and unusual plants, the Lagoon, monuments and fountains, and the Swan Boats created & operated for over 100 years by the Paget family.

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Located in the Public Garden Lagoon, a ride on a famed Boston Swan Boat lasts about 12-15 minutes while the driver pedals you around the Public Garden lagoon.  Each swan holds about 20 people and is a relaxing way to view the beauty of the park, and to spot the ducks and the park's two resident Swans, Romeo and Juliet. 

Community Boating & Sailing

Rent a Canoe, Kayak, or sailboat for the day and cruise around the Charles River at Community Boating & Sailing (CBI).   Single and double kayaks are available, as well as stand-up paddle boards and sailboats. 

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Photo courtesy of Community Boating & Sailing (CBI)

CBI is non-profit organization dedicated to providing sailing and boating opportunities to anyone interested in learning to sail.  They offer fantastic learn-to-sail summer programs for kids of all ages.

Boston Public Library (BPL)

The Boston Public Library's Central Branch is located in Copley Square, and features some amazing architecture, murals, and event an interior, outdoor courtyard.   

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The grand entrance boasts soaring vaulted marble staircases and arches.  People enjoy seeing the 2 stately lion statues who guarding all the splendor that's inside.  Don't miss the mural room upstairs and the expansive reading room, and there's even a cafe!

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The map room is a favorite spot for kids and teens, with small nooks for young kids to sit and explore books about maps and map crafts.  Our favorite destination is the puzzle room, located at the end of the map corridor.   There are always several puzzles to work on, and it's fun to add a few pieces in to the community effort. 

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Mapparium

The Mapparium, the world-famous, three-story, stained-glass globe that you can walk through,  is one of the key attractions at the Mary Baker Eddy Library.  The Mapparium gives visitors a three-dimensional perspective of the world of 1935.  This unique experience is available for view on a tour only, but it's totally worth it.   Tours of the Mapparium run every 20 minutes, lasting 15-20 minutes.

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Photo Courtesy of the Mary Baker Eddy Library

Just outside the Mary Baker Eddy Library, you'll find the The Fountains at the Christian Science Plaza.  During the summer, it's a fun spot for kids & teens to cool off in the spray.   This expansive plaza is home to the 'Mother Church' and is located on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Huntington Avenue.

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Photo Credit: Sarah Nichols FlickR

Kings Bowling

If your kids are into bowling, there are 2 Kings Bowling Lanes locations in Boston.  The first is a 24,000 square foot entertainment facility in Back Bacy, and the other resides in the newly developed Seaport District.  In addition to bowling, visitors can enjoy air hockey, arcade games, skee ball, or catch a game on one of many big screen televisions.

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Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts  (MFA) is an elegant and impressive space filled with captivating masterpieces from around the world. The museum offers many hands-on art and drop-in programs for families and children, as well as revolving, high profile exhibits.

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Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

In our opinion, one of Boston's best kept secrets is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.   Beyond the famed robbery which stripped this museum of 9 priceless works of art, that have still not been found, it is one of the most splendid and unique museums you will ever visit.   

There is always something new to discover here.   And the ever changing courtyard is perpetually being  filled with seasonal plants and flowers.    Kids under age 18 are always free, and adults can grab a library pass for $5 admission. 

 

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Duck Boats Boston Tours

Boston Duck Tours allow kids of all ages to tour Boston in an authentic, renovated World War II amphibious landing vehicle.  These fun amphibious vehicles provide truly one-of-a-kind summer tours of downtown Boston.  The "Duck" tours the city by both land and water, and splashdown into the Charles River is a memorable highlight.  If you are lucky, you might get selected to "drive the boat" which is a really cool photo op for any child.

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Boston Whale Watching Tours

Get a front-row seat to view the ocean’s most fascinating and magnificent animals.  The New England Aquarium Whale Watch conveniently departs from Central Wharf.  

Featuring the only boats in Boston designed specifically for whale watching, with trivia, paper and crayons, snack bar, comfortable main cabin, and restrooms.   Trips range from 3-4 hours, to allow for sea conditions and to maximize time with the whales. 

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Franklin Park Zoo

Franklin Park Zoo is a 72-acre zoo located in Boston, Massachusetts. It opened to the public in 1913, and is currently operated by Zoo New England, which also operates the Stone Zoo in nearby Stoneham,, MA.  

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There are a ton of activities for kids to enjoy here, including a brand new playground at the, a carousel, train rides, an interactive farmyard, butterfly hollow, and some really cool seasonal exhibits.  The zoo is open year round, and the Indoor Tropical Forest, where the Gorilla's reside,  is a warm and inviting respite during the winter months. 

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Photo courtesy of Franklin Park Zoo

Vistors can get right up close to all sorts of exotic animals including lions, tigers, giraffes, and zebras, along with gorillas, tropical birds, butterflies and farm animals.  A large new play area is a great stop for young visitors.

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Castle Island

Another of our favorite off the beaten path spaces is Castle Island.  This waterfront park, (located in south Boston), it is worth the trip as it features the popular Pleasure Bay Beach; plenty of open, walking space; cool views of airplanes taking off from Logan Airport; and free tours of Fort Independence. 

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There is a good sized playground area and several small beaches where kids can take a dip and cool off on a hot summer day.  Bring a picnic or plan on grabbing a hot dog, fried clams or an ice cream from Sullivan’s famous snack shack. 

If you are looking for more of a beach experience, Carson Beach is a public beach just around the circular walkway.  Moakley Park is just across the street offering shade, a playground, tennis courts and other sports fields.

Arnold Arboretum

Harvard University Arnold Arboretum is an oasis of green in the middle of Jamaica Plain.  Head to the visitor center and grab a Discovery Pack full of hands-on activities that help kiddos explore their natural surroundings. The visitor center is also home to other activities such as wildlife bingo, a photo scavenger hunt, and family walks. Bosth Peters Hill and Bussey Hill provide glorious views of the Boston Skyline. 

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Photo courtesy of the Arnold Arboretum

We hope that this list of Fun things to Do in Boston with Kids has been helpful to you.   There is certainly so much more to explore - check out our guide to Free things to Do in Boston here, or some of our Rainy Day guides.