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If you are planning a family getaway, there is no better place to start with than Boston. This historic metropolis overflows with classic attractions that keep everyone in the family, from toddlers to grandparents, in good spirits. If you are exploring Boston with kids, keep these places in mind when planning your adventure.
With so many things to do in Boston, compiling a list of a select few attractions can be challenging. Still, listed here are the most iconic spots to visit with kids while ensuring the trip is just as much fun for you.
Things to do in Boston with Kids
The two and a half mile Freedom Trail is a great way to introduce history lessons while also seeing the city. Educate them about the importance of the sixteen authentic sites found along this route. From gaining knowledge about the American Revolution to visiting cemeteries, churches and museums, this tour has a tale to tell at each step.
The Freedom Trail Foundation conducts public tours. Start from either the Visitor Information Centre or Faneuil Hall every day, throughout the year.
This 50-acre public garden is one of the oldest parks in America. Young and old alike can play and recharge in green surroundings. The Parkman Bandstand and the Frog Pond are some of the popular spots for families to relax and watch the kids play.
Swan boat tour
Ride this iconic swan boat in Boston Common.
These odd boats in the shape of a large swan were initially created by designer Robert Page in 1877 to introduce the history of Boston to children in an informal but educative manner. Kids get a thrill out of steering their odd watercraft through lagoons and marshes impersonating the swashbuckling pirates. Call them before embarking on this tour as boats don’t run in inclement weather.
New England Aquarium
For the ultimate marine-themed fun, children will be awestruck by the ocean wonders they see at every turn in the New England Aquarium. For budding oceanographers, the underwater close encounters with manta rays and sharks will wow them to no end. Interactive exhibits and daily programs make discovering the challenges faced by ocean life great fun for everyone.
The showpiece of this breathtaking aquarium is the 200,000-gallon replica of a saltwater Caribbean coral reef. Peak hours can result in long lines. Therefore, buy tickets in advance and utilize your time being spellbound by the underwater world here.
Boston Harbor boat ride
With the harbor within easy reach, spend quality family time on the high seas. A unique part of the National Park System, the chain of twelve islands in the Boston Harbor offers a great opportunity to introduce kids to all of the historical sites in the area.
From spotting wildlife to fishing and camping, each of these islands has a different kind of adventure to experience. Enhance the trip by hiring a private tour while joining in the programs offered by each of them.
Boston Duck Tours
A lighthearted eighty-minute tour aboard a WW2 amphibious vessel mixes humor with information. Cruise past some of the iconic landmarks of Boston.
Tours are expensive, so book online before 10 am to get an early bird discount.
Three different kinds of whales congregate on the rich feeding grounds of Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary. Boston is a prime place for watching these beautiful mammals.
Delightful cruises are on offer, with knowledgeable naturalists on board who relate information about the different animals and birds found in the sanctuary. Ocean waters can be rough, so the trip is advisable for older children and parents ideally.
City View trolley tour
This unlimited hop-on hop-off trolley service is ideal for families with children. Navigate different areas of the city with specific tours. Nine pickup stations are spread across the city allowing a taste of Boston in an extremely comfortable interior.
The service is time-saving while the bus drivers are informative and entertaining. Plus, they know interesting facts about each spot. Definitely a great way to experience Boston with kids.
This 750′ high glass-lined walkway sits at the top of the Prudential Center and offers 360-degree views of the city up to 80 miles in any direction. Kids will marvel at listening to the many audio programs that point out all the important sights you should know about.
Boston Segway Tours
If you are tired of walking, but still want to enjoy the outdoors, try a segway tour.
Children may not be thrilled when asked to go on a walking tour, but throw in a segway and you will immediately get them fired up. This tour option is appealing for older age (14 and up) groups only due to the prevailing city rules. A Boston Segway tour allows you plenty of photo opportunities at the many cool spots to help you document your adventures together.
Paul Revere’s House
Built in 1860 by the legendary patriot Paul Revere, this is the only house on the historical Freedom Trail. Learn about three centuries of Boston history in this landmark property set in an intimate courtyard garden. The Education and Visitor Center houses a museum and displays captivating exhibits about Revere’s personal life.
Also referred to as North End, Boston’s Little Italy is an extremely popular neighborhood to explore. Home to generations-old resident Italians, the place is famous for its authentic dishes, cultural programs, and a historical buildings. Take the kids to sample cookies and authentic cannoli at Mike’s Pastry, a legend on the Boston dining scene since 1946.
Blue Hills Reservation
This year-round destination actually allows visitors to enjoy skiing, hiking and swimming a few miles out of Boston. The kids get a kick out of climbing the many hills of the Blue Hills range and viewing the animals at the museum.
The 7000 acres of green space serves as a peaceful oasis for nature enthusiasts, hikers, and families. Wander around here for several hours enjoying the invigorating environment of this wonderland.
Boston Children’s Museum
Established in 1913, the engaging Boston Children’s Museum is said to be the oldest of its kind in the world. The museum has pioneered many interesting activities, but none so enjoyable as the New Balance Climb. It’s a three-story vertical maze that challenges children and adults alike. Once at the top, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of downtown Boston.
If you are headed to Boston with kids, this is one place you should not miss.
Boston Tea Party Museum
This fun and very informative tour will educate you about the famous uprising which changed the course of American history. Collect your very own protest handbill at the Meeting House. Then, listen in on the details of the fateful night of December 16, 1773, retold by one of the ‘colonists’. Finally, jump on board a ship and dump tea in a defiant act. Just like the one that awoke America to fight for its freedom.
Franklin Park Zoo
This top-notch 72-acre conservancy has many features to keep the young ones occupied for the whole day. Admire different animals from the world over. Plus, see an Aussie Aviary and a Butterfly Landing enclosure as you explore.
Encourage children to interact with friendly sheep and goats at the Franklin Farm. Plus, train trips, carousel rides and a wildlife-themed playground round out your family experience.
Legoland Discovery Center
This indoor playground is the perfect break for children aged between three and ten years old. Children will get inspired at Miniland with models of the best Boston landmark buildings and trying to replicate them with Lego bricks. Filled with imaginative rides and play zones, young children are encouraged on the slides, climbing walls and jungle gym.
Located in Charleston Navy Yard, the USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship still active in the world. Nicknamed ‘ Old Ironsides’, it has to its credit a victory over four British Frigates during the battle of 1812. Its hull was reputed to be so thick that cannonballs failed to penetrate it.
George Washington launched this ship in 1797, in an effort to safeguard the ports of the country. Kids get a chance to unfurl the sail and have a swing on the hammock.
John F Kennedy Library
Learn more about this great US president from within his own library.
Watch clips of his many innovations, including the Peace Corps, throughout the building.
Theaters bring to life events like the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. From May to October, visitors can explore Kennedy’s personal sailboat, the 26′ Victura.
Martin’s Park and Playground
Commissioned in the summer of 2019, this recent playground is dedicated to the memory of Martin Richards. Children can revel in the lush green landscape with spectacular views of the ocean.
While the kids are at play, parents can relax on the many wooden benches carved out from logs. Visitors can walk up a slope to an observation deck across a pedestrian bridge to enjoy the Boston Skyline with the sea offering a stunning backdrop.
This is Boston’s only high-speed thrill boat that zooms over the waters at 40 mph. The two diesel turbo-powered engines move at high speed while the loud noise itself is a thrill for the kids. Chances are you will get soaking wet, but that is a part of the adrenaline rush. Your guides will happily take photos of your antics as you speed past the Boston skyline.
For an activity-filled family day head to the Castle Island waterfront located in South Boston. There are acres of open spaces for kids to wander around and watch planes taking off from the nearby Logan Airport.
Sullivan’s famous snack shack serves excellent hot dogs and ice creams in case you want to plan a picnic of sorts. Children can cool off at the small beaches or go on a free guided tour of Fort Independence, the oldest fortified military site of North America.
This stunning 265-acre park, under the care of Harvard University, is a living demonstration of some 7000 species of trees and plants collected from all over the world. If that doesn’t fire up the imagination of the children, the bike and scooter rides along the well-paved paths surely will. Established in 1872, the Arboretum is a lovely place for the family to spend the day and study the plants as well.
One of the city’s weirdest landmarks is the Mapparium, a building that houses the world’s biggest walk-in globe.
Located inside the Mary Eddy Baker Library, this three-story-high model of a globe built to scale will leave the children bewildered. Traversed only by way of a glass bridge, the kids will love the quirky acoustics and the replica of the planet as it looked like in the 1930s when the Mapparium was created.
As far as child-friendly cities go, few are as manageable and comfortable for parents as Boston is. This is because adults can have an amazing time here too. Exploring Boston with kids is the perfect family-friendly destination in the US.
Moreover, if you buy a Boston CityPass it offers discounted tickets to most of the major attractions and can save you both time and money (up to 50%). So if you want to explore American history and see some sights along the way, take the family to Boston!
For more family-friendly travel with kids, check out the following:
- 7 Things to Do in Chicago with Kids
- Best Family Vacation Destinations in the US
- San Francisco with Kids – 5 Don’t Miss Attractions
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