13 Free Things to Do with Boston Kids in January

Warm up in the Tropical Forest pavilion during a free day at the Franklin Park Zoo. Photo courtesy of  Adam Hilliker/CC by NC-ND 2.0
affordable family fun in the winter in Massachusetts

While you may be celebrating that you made it through the holidays (and another year of parenting), you might feel a little less victorious about the state of the family budget. To save a few bucks after a spendy December and still keep the brood busy, check out these no-cost events and activities for January. From a day at the spa to a complimentary afternoon at the zoo, these events are almost too good to be free! 

1. Three Kings Day Parranda and Celebration at the Connolly Branch of the Boston Public LibraryBoston
January 5
Join Hyde Square Task Force to celebrate Three Kings Day and decorate crowns, read a book about Three Kings Day, and learn a traditional parranda song. At noon, kiddos can show off their crowns as they parade and sing down Centre Street with Fabiola Mendez and her band. Refreshments will be provided and each child attending the event will receive a free book. 

2. Light Up Sledding Lanes at Chestnut Hill Farm—Southborough
January 5, 12, 19, & 26
What's better than going sledding? How about sledding at night?! Grab your sled and snowpants and head to this the farm for an evening adrenaline rush!

Families can learn to cross country ski or showshoe together at Winter Trails Day. Photo courtesy of Weston Ski Track/Paddle Boston

3. Winter Trails at Weston Ski Track—Weston
January 6
Get outside and try out cross country skiing or snowshoeing, all for free! You must pre-register for skiing lessons but you can just show up for some snowshoe fun. Everyone receives a free snowshoeing trail pass, and there will be demos as well as free guided tours of the trails.

4. Mom and Me Spa Day at Bright Horizons at Fan Pier—Boston
January 8
After a crazy holiday season, you and your little ones deserve a little pampering! Enjoy a relaxing and engaging spa evening featuring mini manicures, lavender-scented playdough, a DIY scrub station, and a refreshing, healthy dinner. For extra relaxation children are encouraged to wear or bring their pajamas.

5. Storytime at the Curious George Store—Cambridge
January 4, 11, 18, and 25
Every Friday at 10:30, children are invited to listen to stories at the Curious George store. There's a theme every week, from science fiction on January 4th to "opposite day" on January 25th.

6. Snowflake Festival at the Brookline Arts Center—Brookline
January 13
Bring your budding artists to stroll through the studio spaces and try out exciting projects in mixed media, comic creation, jewelry making, 3D sculpture and more. Warm up with some hot cocoa as you watch a live pottery demo, listen to music by Hugh Hanley, and meet the teachers. 

7. Come Explore with the New England Aquarium at Curtis Hall—Jamaica Plain
January 13
Here's a chance to get your aquarium fix without heading to the waterfront. Get your hands wet meeting some cool local ocean animals and take part in family-friendly STEM activities, all curiosity of the New England Aquarium. They'll be bringing their tidepools and educators; you bring your curiosity and questions.

8. Benkadi Drum and Dance: African Freedom at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum—Boston
January 21
Find your rhythm at this performance by this multicultural Benkadi Drum and Dance group. They returns to perform new dances showcasing traditional West African rhythms and movements. With vivid costumes, interpretive dance, and audience participation, folktales come to life before your eyes.

9. Free Zoo Day at the Franklin Park Zoo & Stone Zoo—Boston & Stoneham 
January 21
In honor of MLK Day, these zoos are offering free admission for you and your little monkeys. Visit with animals and make sure to swing by the Tropical Forest Pavilion to write a message (or drawing) of hope and peace on the communal mural. 

10. Taste of Chocolate Festival at Harvard Square—Cambridge
January 25-27
This delicious three-day festival is a dream come true for your little chocolate lovers! Harvard Square establishments pull out all the stops to celebrate all things chocolate, with local restaurants featuring chocolate appetizers, entrees, desserts, cocktails, cordials, and nightcaps while Harvard Square retailers dazzle you with scrumptious chocolate specials and deals. The highlight of this weekend extravaganza is Saturday's free Chocolate Tasting Event with delicious treats from Harvard Square’s finest purveyors.

11. Feeder Birds for Kids at Maynard Ecology Center—Cambridge
January 27
You may not be able to get out into nature for bird watching during these cold months, but you can still have some feathery fun! You and your little ones will learn about the birds that tough out the cold and craft homemade bird feeders to take home.

12. Ice Skate at Boston Common Frog Pond—Boston
While adults do have to pay $6, kiddos under 58" skate for free. Set in the heart of Boston Common, the Frog Pond is packed with energy and rimmed by trees and some of Boston's most iconic buildings. Skate rentals and sharpening are available. There’s a café for snacking and hot cocoa is for sale at the rental station. Or, check out our roundup of rinks that are totally free for all.

13. Go Sledding!—Boston Area
Got a snow day on your hands? Grab your snow tube, saucer, or sleigh, and hit a sledding hill for some good ol' fashion winter fun. Whether you're looking for speed, a gentle slope, or a less crowded place to coast, this roundup of must-sled hills has what you're looking for. After you've got your snow fix, make sure to check out these delicious spots to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate. 

Maynard Ecology Center
650 Concord Ave.
02138 Cambridge , MA 42° 23' 20.0364" N, 71° 8' 56.4936" W
Harvard Square
1132 Massachusetts Ave.
02138 Cambridge , MA 42° 22' 14.9988" N, 71° 6' 51.156" W
JFK Library & Museum
Columbia Point
02125 Boston , MA
Phone: 617-514-1644
42° 18' 54.1512" N, 71° 2' 6.7452" W
Curtis Hall
20 South Street
02130 Jamaica Plain , MA 42° 18' 31.8852" N, 71° 6' 53.8056" W
Brookline Arts Center
86 Monmouth Street
02446 Brookline , MA
Phone: 617-566-5715
42° 20' 43.278" N, 71° 6' 24.6024" W
Davis Museum on Wellesley College
106 Central Street
02481 Wellesley , MA
Phone: (781) 283-2051
42° 17' 38.7276" N, 71° 18' 26.19" W
Bright Horizons
19 Bond Drive
02210 Boston , MA
Phone: 617-737-1296
42° 21' 14.8608" N, 71° 2' 44.1348" W
Boston Public Library
433 Centre Street
02130 Jamaica Plain , MA 42° 19' 14.1744" N, 71° 6' 39.978" W
Franklin Park Zoo
One Franklin Park Road
02121 Boston , MA
Phone: 617-541-5466
42° 18' 10.1772" N, 71° 5' 15.6876" W
Weston Ski Track
190 Park Road
02493 Weston , MA 42° 20' 7.5084" N, 71° 16' 1.2756" W
Stone Zoo
149 Pond Street
02180 Stoneham , MA
Phone: 617-541-5466
42° 27' 45.936" N, 71° 5' 38.1156" W
Chestnut Hill Farm
Chestnut Hill Road
01772 Southborough , MA 42° 18' 43.9848" N, 71° 33' 26.262" W