If you have a family of American history buffs, or just enjoy big cities, Boston doesn’t disappoint. With attractions for all ages from the aquarium to baseball games, a weekend in Boston is not enough to cover it all. I am thrilled to have Robin from Luxe Recess sharing her favorite things to do in Boston with kids. If anyone knows what to do, it is a local!
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Family Friendly Things to Do in Boston
Boston offers a family vacation that few cities can rival in beauty, historical significance, and family fun. There’s a reason why so many Europeans consider Boston their favorite American city. Here are five of the best things to do in Boston with family, although the list varies based on the weather.
1. The Boston waterfront
The Boston waterfront offers a full day’s activities like the New England Aquarium and whale-watching tours, but we’re big fans of walking the new Greenway. We love its splash fountains, the food trucks like the Cookie Monstah, and its breathtaking carousel that includes sea life native to the New England waters.
This greenspace is adjacent to the downtown Boston financial district, the North End, and Fanieul Hall (I used to work next door for years and don’t understand its appeal as a tourist destination. The shops are the national chains and the food halls are meant for tourists.)
2. The Institute of Contemporary Art
The Institute of Contemporary Art is Boston’s beautiful museum along the waterfront. On the last Saturday of the month, ICA offers a fantastic family program of children’s crafts. Adults are admitted free when accompanied by kids, making this a no brainer if you find yourself downtown on a Saturday.
3. Charles Street
Charles Street is the main shopping and dining district of Beacon Hill, one of Boston’s oldest, most picturesque neighborhoods. It is the perfect shopping and eating itinerary in Boston for families because it is easy to do and concludes at the Boston Common and Public Garden. Savenor’s at the far North end is a tiny gourmet grocer that was made famous by one if its most loyal shoppers, Julia Child. Grab picnic items for a stop in the Common later.
Gift and novelty stores like Black Ink will entrance tweens, and one of Boston’s best clothing stores is on Charles: The Red Wagon. Tatte Bakery offers high end treats and sandwiches, and JP Licks, a local chain, serves ice cream and coffees. Take a quick detour up the hill to see Mount Vernon Square, one of Boston’s most prestigious addresses, to savor the beauty of the architecture.
4. Boston Common and Boston Public Garden
Boston Common and Boston Public Garden are a must do, and provide seasonal activities and a charming walk in what is much like the Central Park of Boston. The Common offers an ice-skating rink in the winter months at the Frog Pond, which becomes a massive wading pool in the summer time next to a carousel. There is also a playground at the Northeastern corner approaching the gold-domed State House of Massachusetts.
Boston Public Garden is the site of the Swan Boat Rides and a bronze sculptural installation paying homage to the classic Make Way for Ducklings. Both should be on your Boston vacation photo bucket list. The Public Garden’s entrance faces the beginning of Commonwealth Avenue along Arlington Street. There are many performers and balloon artists scattered around the garden in good weather, and you’ll catch both locals and tourists pushing strollers and setting up picnics.
5. The Museum of Science
The Museum of Science is one of my favorite Boston Institutions. If the weather is less than favorable during your visit, head here. I can easily spend a full day exploring the exhibits with my kids. There is a higher quality cafeteria with a nice salad bar, and the movies at the Planetarium and the simulator ride are wonderful, too. There is a play area for children that even has something educational for infants, and a playground exhibit set up to educate about the laws of physics. A combination of the physical and educational work well for a full-day’s outing in rain or cold weather.
Other ideas for a Boston family vacation
American history fans with older children won’t want to miss the Freedom Trail, the Paul Revere House, the Boston Tea Party museum, and the USS Constitution. Baseball fans shouldn’t miss a trip to Fenway Park to see the Boston Red Sox. Young children will love the Boston Children’s Museum and the Franklin Park Zoo.
Looking for Boston hotel recommendations? Check out Trip Advisor’s Best Hotels of Boston HERE.
About Robin: I launched Luxe Recess: For Parents Who Like Really Nice Hotels as a luxury hotel magazine for family travel. I am happiest with a Canon around my neck snapping hotels, sunrises, and architecture or helping friends and readers plan their next adventure.