Boston is one of the most kid-friendly and easy large cities to navigate with kids. There is so much to do and see that will entertain and educate family members, from toddlers, to teens, to parents. The hardest part about visiting Boston with kids is narrowing down the list of things to do. Here are some of our favorite things to do in Boston with kids to help you make a plan for your next vacay!
Things to Do in Boston with Kids
Hop on a Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour
One of our top things to do in Boston with kids, or any city we are visiting for the first time, is to hop on a bus or trolley tour. It helps us get our bearings, allows us to get some background on the most famous sites in a city and gives us the option of hopping off to explore further. Sometimes we simply kick back and enjoy the scenery while being entertained, noting places we’d like to visit later on our journey. Do you want to see where Paul Revere made his horseback ride to warn the Minutemen that the British were coming? History-lovers can hop aboard the climate-controlled bus of the USA Guided Tours: Discover Boston Full-Day Bus Tour or the Colonial Half-Day Bus Tour to see that location and many, many others.
Follow the Freedom Trail
If your tadpoles have recently studied American Revolutionary History, then the Freedom Trail will help bring some of that history to life. Even if they haven’t reached that stage yet, the red brick Freedom Trail is definitely one of the top things to do in Boston that you don’t want to miss. It will definitely reboot your knowledge base of the early days of our country. Put on your walking shoes for the 2 ½ mile walk through history. You’ll see famous sites such as the Old South Meeting House, Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, the Paul Revere House and the Old North Church. You can do a self-tour by following the trail on the ground as it takes you through the city, or join a walking tour to get some extra stories and background on what you are experiencing. You can pick up brochures for self-guided tours at the Visitors Centers at Faneuil Hall and Boston Commons.
Hit the Water
There are a number of ways to explore or experience Boston from the water — harbor, ocean, pond or river — during the warmer months. You can hop on Swan Boat as you are paddled around the Public Garden Lagoon for a peaceful 12- to 15-minute ride. This Boston tradition has been kept alive by the same family since the 1870s and is available usually mid-April to mid-September.
With the Boston Duck Tours, a sightseeing amphibious vehicle will transport you through the Boston land sites, then will excite your tadpoles as you plunge right into the Charles River. The Boston Duck Tours offer beautiful views of Boston and Cambridge and make for an 80-minute adventure your kids will never forget.
Boston offers great whale watching as these giant sea mammals migrate to their feeding grounds. Older children will enjoy watching the humpback whales leap out of the water and splash back into the sea. Naturalists will help fill you in on everything you want to know about the different whales, dolphins and seabirds you’ll encounter. You’ll want to wear a jacket, apply sunscreen and put on a hat on for the journey, as well as taking seasickness medicine the night before so it’s well in your system. (That’s a hop tip from Mommy Frog, who is prone to getting a little greener than usual when on boats, but only if she forgets to medicate early.)
There are Boston Harbor Cruises, sunset cruises and historic sightseeing cruises. You can also take a ferry ride to areas outside of Boston. Provincetown is a 90-minute ferry ride that takes you to “P-town” for beaches, sand dunes, bars and restaurants. Closer to Boston, you can take a ferry to the Boston Harbor islands to explore the unique islands and their history, hiking trails, beaches and water sports. For a quieter journey, you can rent kayaks and sailboats along the Charles River Esplanade.
Play in Parks
Boston is home to many beautiful and famous parks. Boston Common, the Public Garden and the Charles River Esplanade are among our top things to do in Boston with kids.
At the southern end of the Freedom Trail, you’ll find Boston Common. You’ll want to bring swimsuits to Boston Common in warm weather and allow some hop-around and splash time at the Tadpole Playground or to wade in the Frog Pond. You can guess why that’s our family favorite! In winter, you can even ice skate. Historically speaking, the Boston Massacre Memorial is there, and Boston Common forms the southern foot of Beacon Hill.
The Boston Public Garden is adjacent to Boston Common. Besides beautiful flowers, trees and walkways, this is where to find the bronze Make Way for Ducklings statues. You can watch or ride the Swan Boats, visit the giant George Washington statue and reflect on the beauty of this amazing city.
The Charles River Esplanade follows the shoreline of the river with running trails that can be explored on foot or by bike. There are playgrounds for every age group there, as well.
The Christopher Columbus Park is a playground near the water. This is another park where you’ll want to have a swimsuit handy for your little ones for splash time in the water spray.
Go Overboard at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum
The Boston Tea Party is one of the most memorable moments of the American Revolution. Kids will dive into exploring the replica of the ship and learning about The Tea Act, the Sons of Liberty and the Committees of Correspondence.
Check out the USS Constitution
The USS Constitution Museum offers hand-on exhibits, art and artifacts. The museum is operated separately from the USS Constitution ship. “Old Ironsides” was one of the first ships commissioned for the Navy. It is undergoing a two-year dry-dock restoration, but you can still visit during this time.
Explore and Innovate at Boston Children’s Museum
A perfect rainy day activity is a visit to the Boston Children’s Museum. Get to work in the woodshop, create art, learn about dinosaurs, run and climb and so much more.
Make a Splash at the New England Aquarium
Penguins, sea turtles and sharks — oh my! Animal lovers will flip for the chance to touch sea creatures and feed stingrays and sharks. It isn’t the largest aquarium you will ever visit, but it is well-designed for good viewing and relatively short attention spans.
Cheer on a Sports Team
Depending on the season of your visit, if you have sports fans in your family, you’ll need to catch a game. Visit historic Fenway Park for a Red Sox game, cheer on the Boston Celtics or see the Patriots play.
Take a Trip out to the Cape
Cape Cod is about 60 miles from Boston. You can get there by car, bus, train or ferry. You might take a couple-day break from sightseeing in the city to experience laid-back life on the Cape. You can relax on beaches, visit lighthouses, pick blueberries or even take a day trip via ferry to Martha’s Vineyard.
Get a Bird’s-Eye View from Prudential Sky Walk Observatory
Ascend 50 stories to get a unique view of the city. On a clear day, you can see up to 100 miles away. There is a museum there, as well.
Visit Legoland Discovery Center
You can build up the excitement for your young Lego fans with anticipation of a visit to this indoor family entertainment center. Located just outside of Boston, it offers Lego rides, a Lego play area, a 4-D cinema, a Lego Factory Tour and, of course, a gift shop. It is home to mini Lego versions of Boston, Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium.
Many of the museums attractions and top things to do in Boston are included on a Go Boston Card. We frogs are all about skipping the ticket lines and saving money, so Go Boston Cards offer an especially good deal in terms of saving time and our wallets. If you are still in need of family-friendly Boston hotels or a rental car for your vacation, Undercover Tourist has some hoppin’ deals in the Boston area, as well as some Mom-approved, helpful tips for visiting Boston with kids.
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