Best Family-Friendly Museums in Boston

Get Familiar with Boston's Best Family-Friendly Museums

Boston area museums range from art and cultural meccas to historical reenactment spots and even spaces for scientific exploration. You can find museums for a quick visit or for a full day of fun. And you can enjoy your day with your family.

Little ones can do no wrong at the Boston Children's Museum where each and every exhibit is made for interactive fun. Touching is encouraged and experimenting with messy substances is a must. 

Future firefighters will flip for the real fire engines form the past that are available for your exploration at the Boston Fire Museum where a half hour lets you make the most of what they offer.

Art enthusiasts have the most to choose from as many of the area's museums offer kids, day, and exploration opportunities. Make your way to Framingham where the Danforth Museum dedicates an entire section to younger children and offers older kids a scavenger hunt to complete .Head north to the Peabody Essex Museum and find fun in their discovery drawers or stay inside city limits where  the ICA offers free family days one Saturday of every month. Don't forget the MFA, the best art museum in Boston that let's you plan a visit suitable for your family using their online planning guides.


Upon entry into the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) you'll be stunned by its beauty. Along with galleries, you can peek into art studios and the auditorium where the museum's collections include a compilation of contemporary and historic pieces including those of American, Asian, Maritime, Oceanic, Native American, and African origin. Be sure to check out the American and Chinese houses that have been recognized as some of the finest you'll find. With children in tow utilize the offerings of the museum to guide your way around and teach your kids about pieces within. Be sure to visit the Art & Nature Center where you'll be able to get hands-on. Find fun in the discovery drawers, play the games provided and enjoy the interactive exhibitions. PEM also offers treasure hunts, and holds many festivals that include dance, music, and art.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: PEM is known to have excellent children's programs that entertain and teach young kids to appreciate art.

Jessica's expert tip: PEM with kids is fun, be sure to bring or rent strollers for little ones as there is a lot to be seen.

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Boston Fire Museum
Photo courtesy of Ashley Dickson

The Boston Fire Museum allows visitors a look into fire fighting's past in an historically significant structure, and former fully-functioning fire house. Enter the Fire Museum to see the antique fire trucks, uniforms, equipment, fire alarms and photo displays that now call this museum home. Exhibits include hand drawn pumper and ladder trucks (including what is said to be the oldest engine constructed), photo displays from fires of the past, and retired fire equipment including uniforms with everything from helmets to boots.This building is an architectural buff's dream, built in 1891, it broke the rules by suspending the second floor from above rather than supporting it by use of columns or poles from below. This National Landmark is free (donations are gladly accepted) and open only on Saturdays. Fire fighters are around to tell you about the sights and even give helmets to little tykes.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: Climb on fire trucks, and meet real Boston fire fighters in this small museum.

Jessica's expert tip: A perfect place to visit for kids after a morning at the Children's Museum. Allow less than an hour to enjoy.

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Roam the galleries or watch a show in a waterfront building that is as beautiful as what is housed inside. The modern art is an eclectic mix of what may sometimes seem to be mayhem. Funky fun displays rule the roost at this cutting edge art museum. Kids will marvel at the art inside because unlike traditional museums some of the stuff at the ICA looks more like stuff that's familiar. The ICA offers playdates every month that maximize your time inside. These days are designed to bring fun to art and the free family admission on these days includes hands-on art-making, performance, family gallery tours, and films. The ICA also has a fourth floor area designed for further exploration, ideal for non-playdate days.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The ICA playdates are ideal to expose kids to contemporary art in a way that engages them.

Jessica's expert tip: When you've had your fill of what's inside, exit and enjoy the view from the Harborwalk; one of the city's best!

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Founded in the mid-70s, the Danforth Museum offers visitors the chance to view the work of artists, both European masters and locals. A myriad of classes and workshops offered each month allow members of the community to have some on-hands involvement with the museum, and the Danforth's permanent collection includes a broad sampling of 19th and 20th century art, including pieces by Gilbert Stuart, James McNeill Whistler, Thomas Hart Benton, and Albert Bierstadt. With a focus on educating youngsters, the Danforth is happy to provide not only a children's floor where you'll find artwork with accompanying children's literature but also areas for kids to let loose or try their hands at making a masterpiece.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: Danforth Museum of Art has an amazing Children's area where art and literature come to life.

Jessica's expert tip: Ask for a scavenger hunt for older kids and bring younger ones to the Chidlren's area where you'll little one can learn without you worrying.

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Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The MFA is one of the largest museums around. An entire day could be spent admiring the works, both ancient and modern, that live within these walls. Along with many amazing (and famous) paintings, the MFA offers visitors the chance to enjoy artifacts from around the world. Home to four dining venues, there is a choice for all tastes eliminating the need to exit throughout the day. The MFA hosts many unique events including lectures, music, films, art opportunities for kids, and even cocktail parties. The gift shops offer art inspired items that allows guests to reflect on their favorite parts of the museum.Set to teach youngsters about art the MFA offers everything from classes to kids kits to toddler times.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: With an excellent family planning tool online you can prepare your visit to suit your family's specific needs.

Jessica's expert tip: If you want a little more bang for your buck (adult admission is steep- $22 per person) buy a Boston CityPass, for $46 you get a 9 day window for admission to 5 of Boston's best museums.

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Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
Photo courtesy of Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

Although it was not just one night that led patriots to take matters into their own hands to begin a fight for freedom, it was the continued lack of freedoms and representation that brought about the Tea Party. Here, you can relive the catalyst to the American Revolution and see memorabilia from the time and event. The museum holds insight into America's path to becoming a free country. The Tea Party Museum is a guided tour and is about an hour in length giving you a taste of Boston History in a fun atmosphere.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: Families will get a kick out of this interactive museum where you'll become a part of the action.

Jessica's expert tip: Visit with kids over the age of 8 as the hour long tour may bore young ones.

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Harvard Museum of Natural History
Photo courtesy of Harvard Museum of Natural History

Explore the natural world in the detailed exhibits that live at this Harvard University treasure. Examine animals, dinosaurs, fossils, stones, flowers and biology. Also enjoy insight into cultures, by region. A fantastic find for those who desire to learn more about Natural History. Kids go crazy for story time and love walking among the skeletons, fossils and other natural history alive inside this Cambridge museum. In addition to the museum itself, they offer many programs geared towards families. If you can't get your kids to leave, there's an on-site gift shop that sells themed trinkets to remember your trip, and a gift just might entice them out the doors.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Harvard Museum of Natural History offers excellent family programs and allows kids the freedom to explore.

Jessica's expert tip: The museum is free on Sunday mornings.

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MIT Museum

Kids love to explore, and at the MIT Museum you are invited to do just that. Check out invention, ideas, and innovation at the interactive exhibitions, public programs, experimental projects and its renown collections found at the MIT Museum. Here your family will find inspiration in the world of science and technology. Home to a collection that has achieved world renowned status in the realm of science and technology, holography, architecture and design, and nautical engineering, the MIT Museum is like no other. Although the permanent exhibits are not hands on, you will find scheduled programs that allow more interaction (ideal for younger families with kids who just can't help but touch). The unusual and exciting findings at the MIT Museum include an exploding chair that puts itself back together, and even your shadow frozen in time.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: As an innovative science museum, the MIT Museum inspires kids to explore science and technology.

Jessica's expert tip: Bring younger kids when scheduled programs are geared towards their age group as the exhibits typically are not meant to be touched.

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Museum of Science
Photo courtesy of Jessica Polizzotti

Walk into the Museum of Science and come face to face with a life-sized dinosaur. Explore each and every last crook of the Museum of Science and encounter excitement from our past, present and even a glimpse into our future. Make math fun in their popular math room. Kids are amazed by the lightning show and love the freedom to move that this large space allows. Enjoy a show in the Planetarium or take a trip around the world in the Omni theater. Exhibits change often, making the Museum of Science a must see on each and every visit to Boston.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: From life sized T-Rex replicas to hands on exhibits, school-aged kids will go wild in the Museum of Science.

Jessica's expert tip: Book tickets to any of the shows or special exhibits in advance; they often sell-out.

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Boston Children's Museum
Photo courtesy of Jessica Polizzotti

The Boston Children's Museum is a local favorite. Exhibits focus on science, culture, environmental awareness, health & fitness, and the arts, and all encourage kids to interact (via touch). Many amazing adventures await at the Children's Museum; kids can climb the centrally located maze, blow big bubbles in the dedicated bubble room, build something solid in the construction zone, learn about culture, and even countdown to kindergarten in the make-shift classroom. The Boston Children's Museum also features the perfect place for the under 3 crowd, Playspace. This room comes complete with crawling structures, small-scale slides, cars to drive and even daily crafts. There is no doubt that kids will have fun here, but adults will also enjoy returning to childhood at the Boston Children's Museum.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: The Children's Museum is an interactive wonderland for kids that let's them learn about science.

Jessica's expert tip: After a morning at the Museum, make your way around the corner to Flour for some of the best baked goods/sandwiches in the city.

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Meet Jessica Polizzotti

Born and raised in Boston, Jessica knows her city like the back of her hand.  Always looking to uncover something new, Jessica keeps up on the latest and greatest Boston offerings. 

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