Best Things to Do with Kids in Boston

Boston with Kids: Area Attractions Add More Fun to Your Family Vacation

There's no shortage of fun for families in the greater Boston area. With a variety of museums, activities and tours that will trick even the most reluctant learner into enjoying science and history our 10best picks for family attractions let mom and dad be amazing for a few hours.

When you choose to visit the Tea Party Ships and Museum, you'll learn about the night that brought forth the American Revolution while taking part in a reenactment. Alongside period actors you'll be come a member of the Patriots and even toss tea into the harbor. 

Give kids hands on learning at the New England Aquarium, Museum of Science and Boston Children's Museum. These museums are very different, but have one thing in common, the chance to touch. 

Take a tour that is sure not to bore young minds: Boston Duck Tours. An amphibious vehicle will drive you through the city streets and waterways all the while narrating what you pass and quacking at locals walking by. Enjoy a few laughs while taking in the fun facts.

Get outdoors at Blue Hills, the Franklin Park Zoo, Boston Public Garden or on a cruise to a Boston Harbor Island.

Or escape the elements and bowl for a bit at Sacco's Bowl Haven where good times and good food come together for an ideal indoor family day.



Blue Hills Reservation
Photo courtesy of iStock / Vivvi Smak

Minutes outside of downtown Boston, is the Blue Hills Reservation. Here nature enthusiasts can hike, bike, ski, swim, and even enjoy a zoo experience at the Trailside Museum. Spanning over 7,000 acres along Boston's closest suburbs, this is a true green oasis for city dwellers. Plan to spend a day exploring this area because you'll want to wander for hours. Kids get a kick out of the animals at the museum and winter skiing is offered for those who want to take a few runs without going far from the city. Great Blue Hill peaks at 635 feet, the highest of the 22 hills in the Blue Hills chain. This summit provides visitors with a view of the entire metropolitan area.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Blue Hills Reservation let's you get outdoors just miles from Boston's downtown; enjoy a family hike, winter ski, or visit the nature center.

Jessica's expert tip: Enjoy the Blue hills year-round, not just for hiking or swimming, this reservation offers winter skiing as well.

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Sometimes you just want to bowl. For those times, head to Sacco's Bowl Haven in Somerville. Sacco's has a laid back vibe that is welcoming to the most novice of bowlers. Even the youngest. A Candlepin alley, Sacco's small ball sizes make bowling a bit easier for the pint sized. Not to mention that Sacco's Bowl Haven is housed within the walls of the Flatbread Company where you'll find good eats the kids will like (flatbreads) and craft beers to please the adults. Sacco's Somerville (Davis Sq) location caters to city dwellers, and can get quite crowded, especially when a birthday party is underway. Be ready to wait a bit for an available lane.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Sacco's Bowl Haven is strategically placed inside the Flatbread Company; combining indoor activity for the kids with good food and craft beer for the parents.

Jessica's expert tip: Sacco's candlepins are excellent for small hands, but harder to use; request bumpers with young bowlers to avoid frustration.

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Boston Public Garden

Take a leisurely stroll through the oldest botanical garden in the United States and get a feel for Boston's charm and grace. 1877 marks the start of the Garden's fame for the Swan Boats that float along the pond when the weather warms; a necessary ride for the kid in all of us. The Swan Boats do not get all the attention, as the grounds truly are a sight to hold. Pack a picnic and sprawl across the lawn to enjoy the beauty of this inner city treasure. Year round, the beauty of Public Garden shines, and makes for excellent photo opportunities.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The Boston Public Garden lets kids run around, climb on the Make Way For Ducklings Statues and ride the Swan Boats.

Jessica's expert tip: Pack a picnic and a blanket and spread out on a patch of grass while the kids let out a bit of energy.

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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 Things to Do with Kids because: The Boston Children's Museum caters to kids from age 1 allowing family fun when you have kids of multiple ages.

Jessica's expert tip: The Children's Museum is hands on learning; bring extra clothes along and skip the worry over getting wet.

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The Boston Harbor Islands are unique part of the National Park system. 12 ready to explore islands offer a variety of activities for an active island adventure like checking out historic sites, spotting wildlife, taking a hike, getting in the water on a kayak or for a swim, sharing a picnic, doing some fishing and even camping. The islands can easily be explored on your own, but to enhance your visit you may want to partake in one the programs or tours offered on each. A short boat ride is all it takes to spend your day off the coast of Boston having your own island adventure.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Explore the Boston Harbor Islands with your kids; a short boat ride lets you can hike, take part in water-sports, fish, and camp.

Jessica's expert tip: Each of the Boston Harbor Islands has something different to offer; check what each has before choosing your adventure.

Read more about Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area →

Board a WWII-style amphibious landing vehicle, and get ready for a thrilling ride that's sure to make a splash. Adults and children of all ages will love learning about Beantown from a knowledgeable "ConDUCKtor" who will spout off quacks between explanations of what you're seeing. The tour covers historical sites of the city and then plunges into the Charles River for a unique view of Boston. Kids aren't the only ones who will enjoy quacking at passersby and the chance to drive the DUCK; you'll see adults fighting over the helm of the vehicle as well. Departing from various locations throughout the city, Duck Tours take various routes allowing you to try each for a more complete exploration of Boston.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Kids and adults alike will get a kick out of quacking their way around Boston & splashing into the Charles River on this amphibious vehicle.

Jessica's expert tip: The tour the locals love is a MUST for visitors. ConDUCKtors are fun, and make sure you enjoy the ride. You may even get a turn a wheel while in the water.

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Part of the Emerald Necklace, famous for the loop of green space that circles the city, is the Franklin Park Zoo. You can spend the day roaming the grounds of the zoo and checking out the many species housed within. Kids will love the open space, and modern playground, as much as they'll enjoy seeing what lives in the cages on site. One of the best Zoos around, the Franklin Park Zoo is worth seeing. Franklin Park Zoo is a 72-acres packed with wildlife that has been in Boston's historic Franklin Park for one hundred years! Along with their usual animal exhibits, the Zoo often holds special events, celebrations, and wildlife exhibits.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Heralded as a top zoo to visit, the Franklin Park Zoo's spacious inner city grounds are filled with exotic animals.

Jessica's expert tip: The Franklin Park Zoo is a great place to visit, but it is THE attraction within its neighborhood., Before and after Zoo plans should take place elsewhere.

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Head to the New England Aquarium for marine themed fun. Here you and your children will enjoy exploring the oceanic wonders that await at every turn. The 2013 renovation of the Giant Ocean Tank has made room for more ocean life to wow you. The addition of a new exhibits, including the interactive learning nook of the Blue Planet Action Center make learning about the challenges facing the ocean fun. While the shark and ray touch tank bring you up close and personal with the creatures you're admiring. Be sure to check out one the daily shows where you can be thrilled by the antics of the sea lions and seals on display.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The New England Aquarium is an undersea adventure for budding oceanographers; here the ocean is at your fingertips.

Jessica's expert tip: Take advantage of buying timed tickets in advance during peak visiting times like school vacation weeks and summers to be sure you are spending time exploring rather than waiting.

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

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 and started a revolution. At the Tea Party Ships and Museum, 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 that will have you taking on a whole new persona, and enjoying being a part of the action, both on-board and inside the museum itself.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is an interactive tour that let's you become a part of the Boston Tea Party.

Jessica's expert tip: This tour is ideal fro children ages 8 and up.

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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 Things to Do with Kids because: The Museum of Science is a museum that grows with your kids; allowing them to find something new on every visit.

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

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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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