50 Things To Do with Kids around Boston Before They Grow Up
Whether you live in Boston or have plans to visit in the future (like who doesn’t want to go there?), keep this insider’s guide to activities in and around Boston handy.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
16. Salem for the month of Halloween. ‘Nuff said.
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 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.
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.
Baby Loves Disco! A monthly kid party at Revolution Rock Bar. (Events currently not being held in Boston)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)