Awesome Things That Opened in Boston This Year for Kids

The world-famous Boston Pops came back to Symphony Hall for the annual Holiday Pops concerts.  Photo courtesy of Bso.org
The world-famous Boston Pops came back to Symphony Hall for the annual Holiday Pops concerts. Photo courtesy of Bso.org

As 2021 comes to a close and it’s time to start making New Years’ resolutions, it’s also a perfect time to look back and mark all of the new things that made the past year special. There have been delicious additions to Boston's culinary scene, including ice cream and donuts. Museums have had new exhibits and reopenings welcoming kids back to these important discovery spaces. And the joyful sounds of Symphony Hall are back with the Boston Pops holiday show. Our picks for best openings in 2021 brought a little magic to a challenging year.

Check our Boston holiday guide for terrific seasonal activities to close out the year. 

Boston Restaurant Openings

Pon de Joy

Do you love donuts? Love mochi? Then you’ll adore this new mochi donut restaurant newly opened in Allston this year. Starting in October 2021, the mochi+donut combination became a reality as the first store of its kind in Boston opened inside the Super 88 Market. And if you’ve really got a sweet tooth, you’re in luck: check out another new downtown shop, Bakey, for delectable treats including freshly baked babka and bread.

 
Momosan Ramen, founded by Iron Chef Morimoto, also serves sushi. Photo courtesy of Hubhallboston.com

Momosan Ramen at Hub Hall

A brand new food hall opened in Boston in 2021 – Hub Hall. One of the restaurants (and the only sit-down service places) is Momosan Ramen, founded by Iron Chef Morimoto. Ramen is a great dish for the whole family to enjoy. You can choose from the classic noodle bowls, add on some fun toppings, or choose from their sushi and small plate appetizer menu.

Boston Museum Openings and Exhibits

 
Jump into a masterpiece through February 20, 2022 at the Strand Theater. Photo courtesy of Van Gogh:The Immersive Experience

Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience 

One of the most anticipated and most memorable exhibits that came to Boston in 2021 was The Immersive Experience at the Strand Theater. If you’ve ever visited a museum and longed to jump right into one of the paintings and be whisked away, truly immersed in the art, then look no further than this exhibit that takes you on a journey of Van Gogh’s masterpieces. Take a seat under the famous Starry Night, and enjoy 2-story projections of the famous paintings. At the end of the experience, there’s even a surprise for the kids. Tickets are now extended through February 20, 2022, so you didn't miss this unique exhibition.

Trains at the MOS

Back again at the Museum of Science is the temporary exhibit All Aboard! Trains at Science Park. Children can view intricate model trains, expertly designed scenes, and play in the hands-on train table area. Also at the MOS, families can continue the train ride escapades in 4-D at the Polar Express 4-D Experience showing. The Rocky Mountain Express IMAX movie is another hit for train lovers, and the younger children will be eager to visit Thomas and Friends in 4-D. So many trains, you may just have to visit again and again.

Boston's New Indoor and Outdoor Play Spaces


Large boulders act as climbing structures for the little ones when visiting The Rocks at Harbor Way. Photo courtesy of Mommy Poppins

The Rocks at Harbor Way

If trees could talk… well, at this outdoor oasis, the trees sing! Pack a picnic lunch, and surround yourself with nature in the Seaport District. Large boulders act as climbing structures for the little ones. As you walk along the boardwalk, experience the science of nature thanks to PlantWave technology. Small electrodes placed on tree leaves translate detected sound waves into music for visitors.

The Boston Playground

A few new indoor play spaces for Boston kids opened in 2021, but The Boston Playground is open for free play, private bookings, birthday parties, nerf wars, and more fun activities for ages 1 and up. This playground houses a large bounce space, climbing walls, and oversized blocks. It’s a screen-free, creative play area where interactions and imaginative play are encouraged. Parents may play with their children for a day of family fun.

New Boston Zoo Exhibits


Sloth parents Lunestra and Nero now have a little one, Taco, to share with the public. Photo courtesy of the Stone Zoo

Stone Zoo Baby Sloth Arrives

Celebrate the birth of the Stone Zoo’s newest member: a two-toed sloth baby born on July 31, 2021. While the past months have included much loss and hardship due to the ongoing global pandemic, this brand new creature brought a breath of fresh air to the Boston area. Sloth parents Lunestra and Nero now have a sloth baby to share with the public. Whether you’re going to ZooLights at Stone Zoo, or visit often, stop by to see the family of 3 asleep or awake. 

Franklin Park Zoo Gorilla Habitat 

An exciting announcement was made in spring 2021 regarding a new outdoor habitat planned for the gorillas at the Franklin Park Zoo. The new Gorilla Grove exhibit is slated to be an immersive, intimate experience that will bring zoo-goers into the heart of the gorilla world. The 6 gorillas will have more than 360,000 cubic feet to roam and romp. Kids and adults alike will be able to view and observe these animals like never before. Due to construction delays, the grove is now expected to open in spring 2022.

New Holiday Shows

Boston Pops

The sounds of the season are ringing in the air again this year. The world-famous Boston Pops were back at Symphony Hall with the annual Holiday Pops concerts for families to enjoy. Conductor Keith Lockhart leads the orchestra in traditional seasonal tunes that are sure to delight. Santa Claus himself made appearances. The Pops performed Kids’ Matinees and Sensory-Friendly concerts, specifically to support listeners on the autism spectrum and those with sensory sensitivities. There were many more holiday shows for Boston kids to enjoy in 2021.

 
Volunteers for this charity fundraiser create Christmas cheer right on the MBTA for the delight of local children. Photo courtesy of the North Pole Express

North Pole Express

For the littlest ones, it's all aboard Once the North Pole Express chugging along the Newburyport MBTA line, bringing joy and magical memories to all passengers as it heads (south!) for the North Pole. After being canceled in 2020, it felt extra special to ride this year. The 90-minute journey included a live performance of The Night Before Christmas, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, delicious sugar cookies, and a gift from Santa. Polar Express and holiday trains are a favorite Christmas event for families.

 

Kids Only! Holiday Sale
Maud Morgan Arts - 3:00 PM Pick
Polar Express Train Ride on Cape Cod Central Railroad
Cape Cod Central Railroad Depot - various times Pick
Festival of Illumination and Winter Wonderland
Southwick Zoo - various times Pick
The Art of the Brick
The Art of the Brick - various times Pick
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides