Your whole family will have a blast with these things to do in Boston with kids! If you’re looking for an urban family getaway, this Massachusetts city should be your destination of choice. Whether you plan to stay a long weekend or an entire week, you will not run short on family-friendly activities in Boston. The city is steeped in history, culture, and is home to some of the U.S.’s most prestigious colleges. Boston also offers great shopping and amazing restaurants, as it’s easy to get around on foot and by using public transportation. Boston has one of the oldest subway lines, referred to as the T, that will is simple to use, inexpensive, and will get you to most places you want to see. If you need help planning your own Boston itinerary, we’ve compiled a list of the Best Things To Do In Boston With Kids!
Visit the New England Aquarium
The New England Aquarium, located on the Boston Harbor, is a favorite for visitors of all ages. Although a bit smaller than some other aquariums, it’s great for kids and parents alike. Upon entering, you’ll be amazed to see a massive, 4-story, spiral tank in the middle of the building! It holds 200,000 gallons of water and about 1000 animals, including a 90-year-old sea turtle named Myrtle. The aquarium also offers a penguin and seal exhibit. Spend plenty of time checking out other exhibits, including animals from the Amazon rain forest and a large floor-to-ceiling aquarium with fish from the Indo-Pacific Coral Reef. Don’t let the kids miss the Giant Pacific Octopus, it may be their favorite part! There’s also the Simons Imax Theater, a giant screen experience equipped with high-backed seats and a six-story projection screen. Kids will love the feeling of being fully immersed in the movie!
Walk the Freedom Trail
If it’s history that you’re after, take a walk down memory lane on the Freedom Trail. Located in downtown Boston, this historic trail is 2.5 miles long and could take a better part of the day, especially if you plan to stop at some of the historic sites along the way. For parents who aren’t history buffs or familiar with the sites, you may want to consider doing a Freedom Trail Tour. You can find different types of tours on the Freedom Trail website. Experienced guides will take you through this Revolutionary War trail, pointing out important places along the way. Parents will enjoy listening to tales of the past. Meanwhile, kids will love having a tour leader fully dressed in period costumes! Expect to see will see places like the Massachusetts State House, Paul Revere House, Faneuil Hall, Old North Church, and the site of the Boston Massacre.
Learn American History at the Tea Party Museum
If you want to start a revolution, let your kids throw crates of tea into the Boston Harbor. Well maybe not a revolution, but they can throw crates of tea just like the rebels did at Boston’s Tea Party Museum! Located on the Boston Harbor, it comes complete with a living history museum and a replica 18th-century sailing vessel. The museum also offers a tour with guides outfitted in period costumes, starting in the room where it happened, the Meeting House. Let Sam Adams tell your family about one of the most important events in American history. From here, you’ll be guided through the sailing vessels and wharf. The best part? Kids get to reenact throwing crates of tea into the Boston Harbor! They will love this part of the visit and will even get to see the only surviving crate from the Tea Party rebellion of 1773.
Pro Tip: Consider purchasing tickets to The Tea Party Museum prior to your visit.
See the City with a Boston Duck Tour
A Boston Duck Tour is a great way to see a large amount of Boston both on land and in water. Lasting around eighty minutes, the tour is given on an amphibious vehicle that drives through the famous streets of Boston and continues in the famous Charles River. Families will get to see and learn about historic sites, prestigious shopping streets, a beautiful historic garden, and explore the winding Charles River. The tour guides, also known as, conDUCKtours, make the trip interesting, interactive, and very entertaining. Parents will love that it’s not a boring lecture and kids will find themselves laughing while also learning. Everyone will gasp when the car suddenly becomes a boat and goes straight into the Charles River! Parents: be forewarned that your kids will come off this tour with a duck whistle. Anticipate a lot of quacking in your future!
Explore the Museum of Science
One of the most popular, highly visited museums in Boston is the Museum of Science. Located in Science Park by Boston’s West End, this is surely one of the best things to do in Boston with kids. Little ones will want to spend the entire day checking out all of the excellent exhibits! They can go from being engineers to exploring the human body, then becoming a paleontologist. Kids will love the live, walkable insect zoo and the behind-the-scenes viewing of the live animal caring center. Parents will love seeing their kids so engaged during their visit to the Science Museum of Boston. Families can also experience the excitement of being in the arctic tundra or searching out distant planets. Besides the engaging exhibits, the museum is also home to a 5-story Imax theater and a 4-D movie experience. There’s truly something for everyone at the Museum Of Science!
Test Your Creativity at the Boston Children’s Museum
Let your kid’s imagination fly free at the country’s second-oldest children’s museum! Located on Fort Point Channel at the Children’s Wharf, The Boston Children’s Museum is one of the best things to do in Boston with kids. Plus, it’s close to many other must-see attractions, but you may have trouble pulling your kids out because it’s too much fun! Many exhibits focus on STEAM and health and fitness, so they’ll have a blast with hands-on engagement and interaction while also learning. Explore vintage collections consisting of dolls, dollhouses, clothing from the ancient world, toys from the Victorian Era, and even a snuff box collection. The Museum is also home to a 100-year-old fully functional Japanese house. Kids will love removing their shoes and imagining they are walking down the street in Japan while also exploring the small rooms of a historic Japanese home.
Spend Time at Martin’s Park
If your kids are still bouncing with energy following a visit to the Children’s Museum, then parents will appreciate Martin’s Park. Located right outside of the museum, visiting here is one of the best things to do in Boston with kids on a sunny day. At this small, but busy park, there is plenty of things that will help kids expend some energy. Kids will love climbing aboard a wooden sailboat, climbing a hill, or perhaps hanging upside down from a geometric climbing structure. Parents will enjoy challenging kids to a climbing hill or guiding their little ones down one of the two metal slides. Martins Park is a great outdoor playground that will for sure keep the kids busy for a while!
Go Whale Watching
If you visit Boston in the spring or summer, consider a whale watch excursion. Boston Harbor City Cruises has partnered with the New England Aquarium to offer daily seasonal whale watch excursions, complete with a naturalist on board. Departing from Long Wharf, the boat heads out to the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, a feeding ground for many diverse creatures including whales, dolphins, and marine birds. Families will enjoy being out on the open water searching for marine life not typically seen from shore. If you’re lucky, you may see a whale breach, or jump out of the water. Kids will be so excited, they’ll want to come back for more! Although recommended for all ages, families with very young children may want to wait until they’re a bit older. Since the trip takes about 3 ½ to 4 hours, kids ages 5 and up would enjoy the whale watch.
Enjoy an Exhilarating Codzilla Boat Ride
If you like excitement, speed, or hairpin turns, and want to do it all on the water, then check out Boston Harbor City Cruises’ Codzilla Boat. As one of the best things to do in Boston with kids, this adventure will make any roller-coaster seem like a cakewalk. This thrill water ride will for sure put a smile on your kids’ faces, and make adults hold on for dear life! At about 70 feet long, the boat is capable of doing 360 turns and spins in seconds at 40 mph speeds. Kids will love getting wet from all the twists and turns on the ride. Parents make sure to secure all belongings like hats, glasses, and bags. Although the ride does not have an age limit, parents may want to be a bit cautious if they have young ones who are afraid of high-speed thrill rides.
Watch a Game at the Famous Fenway Ball Park
Visiting Boston as a family should include a visit to the famous Fenway Ball Park. Fenway opened its doors to spectators in 1912 and has been referred to as “America’s most beloved ballpark.” If you can’t score tickets to a Red Sox game, that’s ok, you can still take a tour of Fenway. Lasting about an hour, kids and parents alike will learn about the ballpark and some of its most famous players. The best part about the tour is taking in the view atop the Green Monster at a height of 37 feet and 2 inches, looking over left field. If the hour tour is too long, there’s also a shortened version for 15 minutes. Once you see the park in the middle of the city, you will understand why it is so impressive! It also has an easy location reachable via walking or public transportation.
Stroll The Public Garden & Boston Common Park
The Public Garden is the first public garden established in the U.S. Located in downtown Boston, families can marvel at the well-designed display of plants, trees, and flowers. While visiting the Public Gardens, make sure you also take a ride on the famous Swan Boats, some of which date back 100 years. No reservations are needed. If you happen to be in Boston during the colder months, pop on over to the neighboring public Boston Common Park and go ice-skating on the frog pond. A stroll in the Boston Common is also a perfect way to give kids a break during the day. During the summer, you may want to consider packing a blanket and getting some food to go for a lovely picnic near the playground. Kids will quickly discover the carousel and a spray pond. Pack a bathing suit and let them splash around for a bit!
Wander Around Boston’s North End
The Boston North End neighborhood, sometimes referred to as “Boston’s Little Italy,” is a vibrant and historic destination. It’s also one of the best things to do in Boston with kids! Visiting here will make you feel like you’re in a historic neighborhood in Europe with winding, narrow roads, and old homes. Within the North End, families will discover historic treasures like Paul Revere’s House and the Old North Church with its impressive 191-foot steeple. If it’s the food you and your family are after, make sure to check out some of the foodie tours of the North End. Or, treat your kids to homemade cannoli at one of the many well-known bakeries. While kids are busy snaking on their sweet treats, parents should grab an espresso. You’ll fit in just like a local.
Travel Back in Time at the USS Constitution Museum
Commissioned in 1797, the USS Constitution Museum was named by George Washington and made famous for its part in the War of 1812. Today, a visit to the USS Constitution Ship will introduce kids and parents to life on a warship in the early 19th century. Not only do you get a tour of the ship with period costumed guides, but kids will also have hands-on experiences in the museum. They’ll love the challenge of scrubbing the deck and learning how to tie a slip knot. Parents will also want to get involved and try their knot-tying skills. You’ll find out why the undefeated ship, sometimes referred to as Old Ironsides, is so famous. Kids will enjoy learning about the life and struggles of sea life over 200 years ago. Parents will love those free tours and are given every 30 minutes throughout opening hours.
Ride the Rose Kennedy Greenway Carousel
The Rose Kennedy Greenway is a perfect place to go for a stroll in between attractions visits. Located along the Boston Waterfront, this popular, family-friendly place is an attraction within itself. Connecting many Boston neighborhoods, the area is filled with different plant varieties, sculptures, and mini gardens. If you’re visiting during the summer months, bring some towels or bathing suits for the kids. Throughout the Greenway, kids can find spray gardens to cool off under. Kids can even enjoy a stroll in the Chinatown Stream complete with cascading waterfalls and a bamboo walkway. After splashing around, you can take little ones to the Greenway Carousel. Kids will love the ride and parents will appreciate the hand-carved characters inspired by the air, land, and sea animals of the Boston Harbor. No wonder this is one of the best things to do in Boston with kids!
Appreciate the Sights of Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Originally opened in 1743 as a meeting hall and market, Faneuil Hall Marketplace continues to be a vibrant marketplace full of shops, restaurants and is buzzing with visitors. As one of the best things to do in Boston with kids, we recommend this activity if you have some extra time on your itinerary. Faneuil Hall is also referred to as “The Cradle of Liberty,” as many meetings took place here to discuss independence from Great Britain. Families can bring the kids to discover the famous hall followed by a stroll of the marketplace. Try some food from various vendors, and see if you can haggle a deal on souvenirs. Kids will love the many street performers that come out to show their talents during the day. Parents will love the multitude of specialty stores and Boston-themed stores.
Sample Quintessential Boston Cuisine at Quincy Market
After a stroll through Faneuil Hall, take time to visit the historic Quincy Market. Also located in downtown Boston, it has served as a marketplace for over 150 years. Kids will love walking around and discovering all of the different food stalls. They may be drawn to the sweets, but parents should make sure to try some of the offerings including local flavors like clam chowder, pronounced chowda or lobster, pronounce lobsta, rolls. As a plus, the market is clean and there are plenty of restrooms in case of a pit stop. Quincy Market is a wonderful place to stop, sit down, take a break, and have a good meal. It’s also a perfect place to cool down during the summer and warm up during the winter months. No matter what time of year it is, this is definitely one of the best things to do in Boston with kids!
Tour the Boston Public Library
The Boston Public Library is the oldest and first public library in the U.S. Located in Copley Square, it dates back to 1895 with its ornate designs, a children’s room, and a central courtyard. Before you even go inside, take a minute to appreciate the architecture and sheer size of the library. Kids will be awestruck by the enormity of the building, including the grand entrance. Of course, history buffs will have a field day here. In addition to its stunning interior, the library also frequently displays rare and old texts and papers for the public to view. Families can take free tours which typically last an hour. You will get a good look at the Abbey Murals, the architecture, and some of the grand staircases throughout the building. It’s not surprising this is one of the best things to do in Boston with kids!
Appreciate the Art at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Imagine if you could visit a 15th-century, Venetian-style mansion filled with a personal collection of European, Asian, and American art in the heart of Boston. You can at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Built by philanthropist and art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner at the turn of the 20th century, the collection includes works by some of history’s most renowned artists and sculptures. Keep an eye out for Titian, Rembrandt, Manet, Whistler, and Sargent. Some of the rooms are recreations. For example, there’s a Spanish chapel room and a cloisters room. When entering, take time to sit in the calming courtyard and enjoy the surroundings before checking out the collection. Parents may want to consider doing a tour in order to engage in conversation and discovery. It may also help kids and parents alike to understand what they are seeing and the importance of a piece of art.
Say Hi to Dinosaurs at the Harvard Museum of Natural History
The Museum of Natural History has an impressive collection ranging from gems and rocks, insects, paleontology, marine life, and so much more. Located at Harvard University in Cambridge, this family-friendly spot is worth the day trip. Carve out plenty of time if you do choose to visit, as the exhibits are extensive and the building is rather large. Whether you have a budding earth science child or an entomologist wannabe in the house, your kids will find plenty to see and learn about at the museum. Little ones will love the exhibits and will likely want to spend hours learning more. One of the most impressive and unique museum collections is the Glass Flowers. This collection was created by a father and son team of Czech glass artists in the early to late 19th century. The glass models represent 780 different species of plants/flowers with over 4300 models made.
The Harvard Museum of Natual History is currently closed, make sure to check the website for updates.
Shop in Harvard Square
Bring the kids for a stroll through the famous Harvard Square in Cambridge! It’s one of the best things to do right outside of Boston with kids, and a great way to keep little ones entertained for the afternoon. Visit some of the eclectic shops that have been around for a while or pop into one of the coffee shops where you can lounge around instead. Kids will love going to get some Harvard swag at the university bookstores. If you are lucky, you may catch a street performer/singer in the Square. You never know, they could be the next up-and-coming break-out star! While in Harvard Square, stroll over to the main Harvard University gates for a perfect photo-op. Perhaps this could be your child’s future home of learning. Don’t forget to stop by Milk Bar for a sweet, unforgettable treat before leaving!
Immerse Yourself in Nature
Boston and its outskirts have plenty of places to immerse your family in nature! For more outdoor space, take your kids to Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum. Enjoy 281 acres of open spaces, trails, gardens, and lawns. There’s plenty of plant life to discover and a vast collection of Bonsai plants. The Arnold Arboretum is also a short bus/Uber ride from Cambridge. If you have a car, there is ample parking available. For more nature, check out Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center and Wildlife Sanctuary. Located a 10-minute drive from the Arboretum, this 67-acre center has plenty of short trails, nature exhibits kids will love, picnic tables, and even tours. Kids will love grabbing a bug net and magnifying glasses to get up close and personal with their finds. Look for birds, you’ll find an array of them. Get your cameras ready to catch a shot of your child in nature!
Take a Day Trip to Salem
A visit to Boston should include Salem, Massachusetts. Famous for its 17th-century Witch Trials, kids will love witnessing the place where this historical event happened. Plus, it’s less than an hour away from Boston, which makes it perfect for a day or weekend trip. If you don’t have a car, no problem! Families can also take the Boston Harbor City Cruises to and from Salem. What you should plan to do depends on which time of year you visit, though. Some popular things to do with kids include visiting the Salem Witch Museum, the Witch Dungeon Museum, or Peabody Essex Museum. Don’t forget to stroll around Salem Willows Arcade and Park or the Salem Witch Village, where you can walk down spooky paths or through haunted houses. Of course, the city is particularly busy around Halloween in October, so make sure to plan ahead. Other months aren’t as crowded.
Where to Stay in Boston with Kids
Need family-friendly accommodations in Boston? Depending on what neighborhood you want to stay in, you’ll find lots of options for your family. In Boston’s Back Bay, The Colonnade Hotel, The Westin Copley Place, and The Sheraton Boston have convenient locations and a pool to enjoy after a long day of sightseeing. In Downtown Boston, stay at Omni Parker House or Kimpton Nine Zero Hotel, which are both right by Boston’s famous Freedom Trail. Families who want to stay by the water will love Boston Marriott Long Wharf. In Cambridge just outside of the city, you can stay at the Kimpton Marlowe Hotel or the Royal Sonesta Boston.
If you’re still curious about Boston accommodations, check out our in-depth list of Best Hotels In Boston For Families.
We hope you liked this list of Best Things To Do In Boston With Kids from our top contributor Alison Netzer! Whether you’re visiting for a short time or taking an extended vacation, we know you’ll love visiting this famous Massachusetts destination. Enjoy Boston with your kids!
*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the attractions, accommodations, or things to do on this list may be closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision.
*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.
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