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50 Things To Do with Kids around Boston Before They Grow Up

Jun19

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By Christina of Fairly Odd Mother

What I love about raising my children around Boston is the variety. Want to take them to a museum? There are many. Feel like sitting by the ocean, a lake or a river? No problem. In the mood for sunny picnics or icy cold skating? Coming right up, give or take a few months.

Boston can feel like a big city or a quaint neighborhood. Travel less than an hour and you are in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or even on the ocean with no land in site. The trouble with compiling a list is narrowing down the options. I’ll give it my best shot and share with you my favorite things to do with my kids while they are still young enough to want to be seen in public with me. Everything listed here should be within an hour’s drive, but all bets are off if you get stuck in traffic on the Southeast Expressway. Please feel free to add to this list; I look forward to hearing your ideas.

Hope you enjoy this trip through Boston!

Things to Do With Kids in Boston
1. Splash in the outdoor fountain at The Frog Pond in Boston Common. Bring a picnic lunch and, when the kids tire of The Frog Pond, bring them to the adjacent playground to climb and slide. Oh, yeah, they can get wet there too.

2. Grab a blanket and watch a movie under the stars at the Hatch Shell’s Free Friday Flicks, running from June through August.

3. Hit all the best ice cream hot spots around town: Christina’s, J.P. Licks, Emack & Bolio’s, Herrell’s, Toscanini’s (and don’t forget the suburbs!).

4. One sweet word: Scooperbowl .

5. Experience Castle Island in South Boston. Grab cheap eats at Sully’s, run around the playground and then search for cool rocks and shells on the beach. Every minute or so, pause to watch planes fly directly overhead.

6. Grab a ferry to the Boston Harbor Islands. Go fly a kite at Spectacle Island, see Boston Children’s Theatre at Georges Island, or even camp out overnight on Grape, Bumpkin or Lovells Islands in a little patch of secluded heaven.

Things to Do With Kids in Boston

7. Visit the new and improved Boston Children’s Museum (renovated in ’07), and watch your kids climb three stories up a funky enclosed staircase. When hunger strikes, walk behind the Children’s Museum and grab lunch at Flour Bakery. Their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a (kid) connoisseur’s dream.

8. Visit Canton’s Blue Hills Reservation and hike to the Observatory. You can also swim, ski, ice skate or hike, depending on the season.

9. Take a ride over the Zakim bridge at night and see the most visually stunning aspect of the massive Big Dig project. Tell the kids that they are riding on the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world.

10. Indulge your child’s inner actor and bring the family to one of the ImProv’s Family Nights held Saturdays at 6pm.

11. Take the elevator to the top of the Prudential Tower (“The Pru”) and get a high-flying bird’s eye view of the city.

12. Catch a ride on a Duck Tour and lose all dignity as you quack your way through the city.

13. Take them out to the ballpark with a Fenway Park Tour.

14. Explore the Museum of Fine Art, using their guides and activity sheets just for kids.

15. Stroll through the North End, stopping for a lobster tail or cannoli from both Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry. Debate the relative merits of each before succumbing to the sweetness of it all.

16. Salem for the month of Halloween. ‘Nuff said.

Things to Do With Kids in Boston

17. Read Make Way for Ducklings and then go meet Mrs. Mallard and her ‘acks in Boston Public Garden. Especially cute is the Duckling Day Parade on Mother’s Day.

18. Watch your kids on stage at the Lyric Stage Company’s Once Upon a Stage with Kidstock.

19. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it among the animals at the Franklin Park Zoo.

20. Attend the annual Christmas Tree lighting in the Boston Common with music, food and, of course, Santa Claus.

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21. Listen to E.B. White read The Trumpet of the Swan on audio book and then head down to the Public Garden for a ride on the Swan Boats. Do you hear Louie?

22. If Red Sox tickets are out of reach, take a drive to one of the family-friendly Minor League parks to see the Lowell Spinners or Pawtucket (RI) Red Sox.

23. Baby Loves Disco! A monthly kid party at Revolution Rock Bar.

24. History doesn’t have to be boring: let the kids reenact the Boston Tea Party with the Freedom Trail Players on the Liberty Clipper tall ship.

25. Pick your own berries, apples or pumpkins at Belkin Family Lookout Farm, just 30 minutes from Boston. Let the kids loose in their large play area featuring pony rides and a burlap maze.

Things to Do With Kids in Boston

26. Visit the Museum of Science Boston for hands-on exhibits, Butterfly Garden and the Planetarium. The Discover Center gives the littlest ones a space of their own.

27. Head up to Arlington for Robbins Farm Playground (aka Skyline Park) for not only the fun playground, but also the gorgeous view of Boston.

28. Attend First Night Boston and ring in the New Year with their 7pm Family Fireworks.

29. Check out a different kind of New Year’s celebration: Chinese New Year.

30. Bundle up and go Ice Skating at The Frog Pond in Boston Common.

31. When you absolutely must have some water fun, hit CoCo Keys in Danvers.

32. Find a spot and park yourself on the Esplanade for the Head of the Charles for a fun mix of families, college students and crew enthusiasts.

33. Catch a Boston Harbor Cruise shuttle from Long Wharf to Charlestown Navy Yard to see the famous USS Constitution.

34. Animals, cotton candy and midway rides all at the Topsfield Fair, less than an hour north of the city.

35. Grab a lobster roll at Jasper White’s colorful Summer Shack and then knock down some pins downstairs at the uber-cool Kings Bowling.

36. Wild and fast: Snowtubing at nearby Amesbury Snow Park, for kids over 4.

37. Immerse yourself in nature without leaving the city at the Arnold Arboretum.

Things to Do With Kids in Boston

38. Plan a day at Canobie Lake Park in nearby Salem, New Hampshire, where there is a ride for everyone, a wet play area for hot days and even a serene boat ride around Canobie Lake.

39. The chowder really is tops at Legal Sea Foods. Plus, the bustling Prudential location is perfect for chatty kids.

40. See the Boston Ballet’s annual performance of The Nutcracker.

Things to Do With Kids in Boston

41. Almost an hour south in Carver, the holiday lights and music will put you in the mood at Edaville Railroad. Take a warm train ride after dark and then brave the (cold) amusement park rides if you dare.

42. Got Chocolate? Yeah, it’s fancy and decadent at the Langham Hotel’s Chocolate Brunch, and your kids will think you are the best parent ever.

43. Go sledding at Larz Anderson Park in Brookline.

44. The Boston Sports Museum, for the next generation of Boston sports fanatics.

45. At least once, brave the crowds to see runners in the Boston Marathon whiz by. The Newton Hills provide loads of drama with a teeny bit more elbowroom.

46. Lie on the soft, white sands of Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester. Go at low tide so the kids can climb on the rocks and splash in the shallow water.

47. The New England Aquarium‘s penguin exhibit enthralls and amuses all. Try to catch a feeding.

48. Fly through the air with the greatest of ease: yes, you can ride a trapeze at Jordan Furniture’s Reading location (it’s pricey but also fun to just watch). There is also a jellybean town, food at FuddRuckers, an IMAX theater and random water fireworks (of course, they have furniture too).

49. The DeCordova Sculpture Park allows kids to experience art over acres and acres of green lawns and woods.

Things to Do With Kids in Boston

50. Spend a day on the high seas looking for whales with a Boston Harbor Whale Watch.

If you’re looking for Baby Activities in Boston head on over to Boston Mamas which features a sample weekly itinerary that will make any rookie mom in Boston look like a pro.


(This series was inspired by Mommy Poppins’ 100 Things to Do with Your Kids in NY Before They Grow Up.)

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23 Responses to “50 Things To Do with Kids around Boston Before They Grow Up”

  1. MarcyM Jun 20 at 11:57 am Reply Reply

    I think I’ll go to Boston just for the Langham Hotel’s Chocolate Brunch. And next year I definitely want to attend the Scooperbowl with my kids.

  2. Chicky Chicky Baby Jun 20 at 1:09 pm Reply Reply

    Fantastic list! I will be bookmarking this one for when the kids are slightly older.

  3. Mrs. Q. Jun 21 at 11:26 am Reply Reply

    With gas prices so high, we’re looking forward to having fun a little more locally this summer. Thanks for the great tips!

  4. Velma Jun 21 at 8:02 pm Reply Reply

    I found myself going through the list, thinking “Yup, yup, ooohh yeah!” This is a great list, and many of these things have become traditions in my own family.

  5. Mom101 Jun 22 at 9:08 pm Reply Reply

    Wow, Boston sure is a different city with kids than it was when I was a blue-haired college student. Suddenly I have a hankering to head up north…

  6. gray matter Jun 29 at 7:38 pm Reply Reply

    Ok, I am beyond impressed. And that’s coming from someone who has written two parents’ resource guides in NY. Three words–Fab-u-lous.

  7. kathi Jun 29 at 11:38 pm Reply Reply

    Are there any plays in boston area for a 6 yr old?…Pls e-mail me at kbk1113@aol.com thank you

  8. Ms. Q Jul 01 at 4:54 am Reply Reply

    So many great ideas on this list! We’re moving “home” to the Boston area this winter. This list will keep us busy for a while.

  9. Susan Getgood Jul 07 at 2:56 pm Reply Reply

    I highly recommend combining #33 – shuttle to USS Constitution with #39 – Legal Seafoods for a late lunch, early supper.
    Also, most years (not 2008 though) the USS Constitution does a turnaround cruise 4th of July weekend. They shoot off the cannon and everything. Hard to get seats on the Constitution herself, but many of the sightseeing cruises offer a special package. Definitely worth doing.

  10. KJC Jul 07 at 9:59 pm Reply Reply

    Fenway’s definitely too expensive…and a waste of money for a really young kid if you end up having to leave early. The minor league parks are the way to go — cheaper, family-friendly, and often with fun things for the kids to go. I’d also recommend the Brockton Rox (we went yesterday and had a good time with the kids).

  11. Julie Oct 26 at 11:01 am Reply Reply

    Great list. I plan on taking my kids to Frond Pond and the aquarium next summer.

  12. NextDoor Theater May 22 at 10:21 am Reply Reply

    Have you check out our new kids series called T.K.O?
    Check it out on our website! It’s something to do with your children every Tuesday all summer long!

  13. BermudaNative Jul 19 at 12:01 pm Reply Reply

    Do you no anything that 12and 10 year olds could do?

  14. Fairly Odd Mother Jul 20 at 9:02 am Reply Reply

    Hi BermudaNative,
    A lot of the options above would work with older kids as well: I’d specifically recommend #’s 2-4, 6, 8-16,19-22, 24, 26, 28-37, 39, 40, 42-50. . .
    Older kids may appreciate the Freedom Trail and some of the other historical tours. There is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, indoor rock climbing at Metro Rock or another nearby gym, a Circus Smirkus or Big Apple Circus show. Have fun!

  15. jana Aug 05 at 7:16 pm Reply Reply

    i believe there is also a company that does a guided waklng tour of historical Boston geared towards children ages 8 and up.

  16. Gail Aug 11 at 12:15 pm Reply Reply

    What a FANTASTIC list. We thought we knew all of the “hot spots,” but you have some of the greatest ideas! :) Thank you SO MUCH for sharing!

  17. carole Aug 28 at 11:55 am Reply Reply

    thank you so much– this should keep us busy for a good long time ;)

  18. Eric Apr 20 at 3:36 pm Reply Reply

    Halloween’s not a month.

    Nuff said.

    • Isabel Kallman
      Isabel Apr 20 at 4:14 pm Reply Reply

      aren’t we sassy.

      I guess you’re new here, because we love to celebrate Halloween on this site all month long.

  19. Kate @ Boston On Budget Jun 10 at 8:07 pm Reply Reply

    Love this list! A lot of must do’s! Thanks!

  20. Molly May 27 at 12:48 pm Reply Reply

    What a wonderful list!  Another great thing to check out with your kids is  new indoor playground in Cambridge, Imagine: A Center for Community and the Arts.  Imagine offers a spacious, clean indoor playground for children of various ages.  It features puppet theater / stage, dance floor, music, arts & crafts, jungle gym, bouncy tent, build it area, library, and tons of educational and imaginative toys.  
    Separate rooms are available to rent for birthday parties and other functions.  Other amenities include a snack area and free parking.   
    A unique gallery of original art featuring “Scenes from Childhood” adds color and joy.
    Future plans include role play town, retail, teen lounge, internet cafe, community events, CPR / First Aid, & more.

  21. Emma Bail Sep 22 at 3:10 am Reply Reply

    wow… i think these are the best things we can do it with our kids.Really cool post thank you so much for sharing such a Nice ideas.will surely follow this to make some new plans.

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