The MBTA's Blue Line gets a bad rap: It's shorter than the other T lines, such as the Orange and Green lines, and doesn't pass through any particularly hip neighborhoods. But there is a surprising amount of sights families can enjoy at most of the Blue Line's dozen stations. Here's a quick look at the top eight kid-friendly stops along this subway line.
1. Wonderland is, ahem, a wonderful start to the Blue Line because it's right along Revere Beach, a huge, underrated stretch of sand along the ocean. There's a large sidewalk along the beach, and if families walk about a mile north, they'll hit the original (and best) Kelly's Roast Beef shop, where hungry visitors can sit along the seawall, gobble down ridiculous sandwiches, and occasionally fight off the seagulls.
2. Suffolk Downs is named after the now-closed horse racetrack in East Boston, but across Bennington Street from the subway stop is Belle Isle Marsh Reservation, which highlights one of the last salt marshes within the metropolitan area. A few steps onto the dirt trails and one begins to feel completely removed from the bustle of the city. Lookouts include views over the wetlands. The trails are also popular off-leash areas for dog owners.
Belle Isle Marsh Reservation
3. Orient Heights station is in the middle of the neighborhood it is named after. Within easy walking distance slightly south is Constitution Beach, a secluded little area along a Boston Harbor inlet, which means almost no waves. Young plane aficionados can watch Logan Airport's runways just across the water, and for that reason it can be a loud spot when air traffic is busy. Children also get a kick out of the zig-zagging pedestrian bridge that crosses over the T tracks. If kids are in the mood for a tougher walk from Orient Heights station, head up to the top of the nearby hill to visit the Madonna Queen National Shrine, which features a 35-foot-tall statue of Jesus' mother and spectacular views of the Boston skyline.
4. Airport station is convenient to Logan if your family is catching a flight. However, out the station's other exit is the fantastic Bremen Street Playground, which appeals to kids of many ages with different types of play structures and many swings. A spray fountain also operates in the summer.
5. Maverick rises into the heart of East Boston, and a half-mile trek down Marginal Street along the water gets you to Piers Park. There's a small playground there as well as a landscaped pier jutting out into the harbor, with nice views of downtown Boston's waterfront.
6. Aquarium station practically brings people to the front door of the New England Aquarium and its neighboring IMAX movie theater, but even if parents don't want to go in, their kids will enjoy watching the seal tank outside. There's stuff to do in every direction, from the Harbor Walk to Rose Kennedy Greenway to Christopher Columbus Park, as well as the North End's restaurants a short distance away. If you're taking a whale watch cruise from Long Wharf, Aquarium is your stop.
7. State Street station is a good option if parents want to brave Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market to shop, sample the food choices, or catch a street performer. The station itself is kind of nasty, however, so T riders put off by dank train platforms are almost better off just walking from the Aquarium stop. People can connect to the Orange Line at State Street.
8. Government Center station, after being closed for two years for renovations, recently reopened its turnstiles. The stop connects the Blue Line and Green Line. Heading south down Tremont Street one-third of a mile, Boston Common opens up in front of pedestrians, with the gold-domed State House on the right. In the opposite direction from Government Center, about a half mile north, is the TD Garden, which hosts sports and family events.