One of America’s most historic places (and my hometown!), Boston boasts classic experiences for everyone to enjoy. Catch the Red Sox at Fenway Park, cruise Boston Harbor aboard the USS Constitution, then head to Boston Public Garden for a ride on the iconic Swan Boats. The city is overflowing with history and plenty of kid-friendly attractions to introduce youngsters to America’s revolutionary past. They can even get in on the action by tossing bales of tea into the Boston Harbor at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. As far as cities go, few are more kid-friendly and manageable than Boston!
“Boston is safe, clean, and filled with charm—a perfect city for families looking to see the sights, explore our nation’s history, and have a heck of a good time along the way!” – Smarter Travel
BEST ACCOMMODATIONS FOR FAMILIES
This historic hotel is directly on the Freedom Trail, making it a superb choice if learning about Boston’s revolutionary history is on your family’s agenda! The Omni Kids Crew gives their youngest guests a backpack filled with stickers, an activity book, crayons, binoculars, and a small tabletop game at check-in. But your kids will really feel like V.I.Ps when milk and cookies are delivered straight to your room on the first night of your stay!
Originally built in 1901 and used as a sugar and molasses warehouse, the Residence Inn Downtown/Seaport is now a modern extended-stay hotel that integrates its history into the present. Rooms here aren’t what you’d expect from a chain hotel—suites feature living areas, sofa beds, coffee makers, desks with ergonomic chairs, and LCD TVs with cable and premium movie channels. The suite style rooms make sleeping with the whole family much more comfortable.
A “discovery” theme (hallway carpets patterned with stars and moons), kids’ menus, large guest rooms, and lots of freebies (including welcome treats, bikes and kayaks, a library of books, cribs and playpens, and child-size bathrobes) make Hotel Marlowe a great choice for families. Plus, hotel guests get free use of the telescopes at the Museum of Science observatory, located conveniently across the street.
TOP ACTIVITIES TO DO WITH KIDS
If you are coming to Boston, one of the must-do experiences is to follow The Freedom Trail. It is a 2.5-mile trail through Boston, marked by red brick in most places, that passes by 16 significant locations important to American history and the start of the Revolutionary War. You can grab a guide book and do it at your own pace or go on a guided walking tour – often skip Charlestown and North End – definitely worth the visit on another day. In Charlestown climb to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument for a great view of the city, visit the museum to hear about the battle in the words of people who experienced it and explore ships in the Charlestown Navy Yard.
History comes to life at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Characters in costume share interesting facts and tell the story of the infamous colonists who dumped tea into Boston harbor. You can go aboard a replica of one of the Tea Party ships and even throw some tea over, just like the rebel colonists did! Get one of the best lobster rolls in the city at the nearby J. Hook and Co.
There is nothing more iconic than a ride on the Public Garden’s Swan Boats. Let the kids run off a little steam in the open grassy areas and make sure you take a photo with the famous Make Way for Ducklings Statue.
4: Red Sox Game or Tour of Fenway Park
You don’t have to be a baseball fan to love the charm of Fenway Park. Fenway is the oldest major league baseball stadium still in use. It was built in 1912 and visitors will love a chance to hear tales of Red Sox baseball legends, see iconic features such as Pesky’s Pole and the Green Monster.
5: Duck Tour
If you are a New England sports fan, you will no doubt recognize the WWII replica DUKW amphibious vehicles from the rolling rallies celebrating the New England Patriots’ many Super Bowl wins, Red Sox World Series Championships, the 2008 National NBA Champion Boston Celtics, and the 2011 Stanley Cup Winning Boston Bruins. Duck Tours have become popular in many cities that were established on water ways, but the Boston tour will always be my favorite with colorful commentary about the history, legends and fun facts of the city as well as a chance to drive the vehicle in the Charles River. It is definitely my go-to when entertaining out of town friends. In fact, I love them so much when I was an Orientation Leader for Suffolk University, I used to switch my days off to get to go on the optional early arrival duck tour with new students—in fact, I’ve been on over 70 tours!
This museum, billed as one of the world’s largest science centers, has more than 700 permanent interactive exhibits, a 4D and IMAX theater, planetarium, and live animals. Inquisitive children can climb inside full-sized models of the Apollo and Mercury capsules, take selfies with life-sized dinosaur models, ride a roller coaster inside a simulator, and mingle with butterflies. I always loved the musical stairs!!
At the city’s award winning children’s museum your little ones can climb a three-story, rope-enclosed structure made of curved platforms. They can also channel their inner movie star in the museum’s KidStage, a kid-sized theater. My favorite exhibit as a kid was the replica of a 100 year old Japanese home where you experience Japanese family life, customs, ceremonies, art, architecture and seasonal events.
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 Spectacle 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.
Avoid driving as much as possible—parking is EXPENSIVE! Boston is a very walkable city, and the subway (“the T”) is very easy to use. There are also plenty of cabs and buses if that’s more your style.
Many sidewalks are brick and cobblestone; make sure you pick your stroller and footwear accordingly
You will notice the Boston Aquarium did not make my list. Though it’s fun for locals, I don’t think it’s worth the visit if you have limited time. If you want to visit great aquariums, plan a trip out to California—Sea World, Long Beach, and Monterey are all amazing—or to the Georgia Aquarium or the National Aquarium in Baltimore. My favorite exhibit at the New England Aquarium is the Harbor Seals, which you can see out the building for free!
Visit the different neighborhoods and experience different cuisines in family-owned restaurants!
North End: Italian
South Boston: Irish
Newbury Street/Back Bay: Trendy and upscale
GET EXCITED BEFORE YOU GO!
Paul Revere’s Ride Ages 5-8
Make Way for Ducklings Ages 3-7
Bus Route to Boston Ages 5-7
F is for Fenway Ages 6-9
The Secret of Sarah Revere Ages 10-12
Johnny Tremain Ages 10-12
Fever Pitch 4.5 stars
The Next Karate Kid 4.5 stars
Hocus Pocus 5 stars
Pink Panther 2 4.5 stars
Johnny Tremain 4.5 stars
The Game Plan 4.5 stars
Christmas in Boston 3.5 stars
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