100 Things To Do in Boston with Kids Before They Grow Up

100 activities for boston families
Throw tea boxes overboard at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Photo by Michael Blanchard Photography

There are so many things to do in Boston with kids. Our historic city—steeped in history, compact, and easy to navigate (on foot, at least)—offers a wealth of opportunities for family fun that are hard to pass up.

With our list of top family activities in BostonMommy Poppins Boston can help to make sure you don’t miss any of the best, most memorable things to do. We’ve included well-known favorites like the Esplanade and Boston Common, but of the 100 not-to-be-missed, family-fun things to do we’ve come up with in and around Boston, there are likely a few you haven't done.

Here they are, then (in no particular order):

  1. Go on a behind-the-scenes tour of Fenway Park. Kids under 3 are free!
  2. Take in an IMAX movie at the New England Aquarium.
  3. Indulge at the Chocolate Bar at the Langham Hotel
  4. Go on a free artsy playdate with your kid at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA).
  5. Tour the State House and look for the "sacred cod fish" on display.
  6. Get to the Free Friday Flicks at the Hatch Shell early enough to find a really great spot on the lawn.
  7. Throw tea crates over the side of a ship at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.
  8. Bring a picnic to the Boston Pops’ Fourth of July concert at the Hatch Shell
  9. Ride the Green, Red, Blue and Orange lines on the “T” (and learn the words to "Charlie on the MTA").
  10. Stop and smell the wildflowers at Garden in the Woods in Framingham.
  11. Take in the panoramic view from the top of Washington Tower at the Mount Auburn Cemetery.
  12. Visit the Skywalk Observatory at the Prudential Center.
  13. Find a good spot to cheer on Boston Marathon runners (Apr)
  14. Catch a show in Brookline at Puppet Showplace Theater or The Regent Theatre
  15. Take advantage of Friday evening $1 admission at the Boston Children’s Museum
  16. Go ice skating (winter) and cool off in the fountain (summer) at the Frog Pond
  17. Enjoy a glassblowing demonstration at the Diablo Glass School.
  18. Learn something about the Kennedy legacy at the JFK Presidential Museum and Library
  19.  Get your hands on the plasma globe at the MIT Museum. Photo by Lisa Abitol
  20. Explore science and technology at the MIT Museum
  21. Visit the Old South Meeting House
  22. Try the chowder that has been served at every presidential inauguration since 1981 at Legal Sea Foods
  23. Take a ride on the one-of-a-kind Swan Boats in the Public Garden
  24. Watch BC, BU, Harvard and Northeastern battle it out during the Beanpot hockey tournament (Feb)
  25. Sit in the bleachers for a Red Sox game at Fenway Park
  26. Visit with gorillas, giraffes, and lions in the middle of Boston at the Franklin Park Zoo
  27. Sample some Italian pastries from Mike’s Pastry (or any of the other tempting bakeries) on Hanover Street in the North End
  28. Take a walking tour of Boston
  29. Explore the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA)
  30. Visit the Bunker Hill Museum, across the street from the monument (free)
  31. Listen to a story at the Harvard Coop, downstairs in the Children’s Bookstore (Tue & Sat)
  32. Take a Walk with an activities backpack or go snowshoeing around the grounds of Gore Place
  33. Test out the sleeping hammocks at the USS Constitution Museum. Photo by Greg M. Cooper
  34. Visit the USS Constitution Museum
  35. Tour Fort Warren on Georges Island
  36. Watch the Bruins at the Garden
  37. Enjoy afternoon tea overlooking the Boston Public Garden at the Four Seasons
  38. Go to the BPL’s Central Library; read a story in the Margret and H.A. Rey Children’s Room and have lunch in the courtyard
  39. Take a Boston Whale Watch cruise—whale sighting guaranteed!
  40. Walk through the gates of Harvard University and around Harvard Yard
  41. Hike the trails that ring Walden Pond and see a replica of the one-room cabin where Thoreau conducted his "experiment in simplicity.” (spring/fall)
  42. Watch the street entertainers at Faneuil Hall Marketplace
  43. Browse at the SOWA Open Market on a Sunday afternoon
  44. Learn to sail on the Charles River
  45. Visit the Hull Lifesaving Museum
  46. Learn about American history and see the annual Family Trees exhibit at the Concord Museum
  47. Take a Chocolate Trolley Tour
  48. Try some of the hands-on activities at the Museum of Science’s Discovery Center
  49. Hike or ski the Blue Hills and explore the Blue Hills Trailside Museum
  50. Step inside the world at the Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library
  51. Visit the Paul Revere House.
  52. Enjoy the spring blooms at the Arnold Arboretum. Photo by Jon Hetman/Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
  53. Get in touch with nature at the Arnold Arboretum
  54. Be part of the Fisherman’s Feast in the North End (Aug)
  55. Visit one of Boston's unique bookstores
  56. See the Museum of African American History 
  57. Visit the 9/11 Memorial at Logan Airport
  58. Cheer on the Celtics at the Garden
  59. Go to Improv Boston for a Saturday Family Show
  60. Cheer at “The Game” when it’s Harvard’s turn to host Yale (Nov)
  61. Visit the reconstructed Chinese House at the PEM in Salem
  62. Take a self-guided walk along the Freedom Trail
  63. Try a bunch of different flavors at a J.P. Licks 
  64. Follow the Black Heritage Trail and explore the history of Boston's 19th century African American community.
  65. Take a Duck Boat Tour that includes a splashdown into the Charles
  66. Ride a carousel at the Frog Pond or on the Greenway
  67. See the New England forests, over 500 taxidermy animals, and Glass Flower Exhibit at the Harvard Museum of Natural History
  68. Start a holiday tradition: Christmas Revels (Dec)
  69. Take a tour of the Old North Church, where “the” lanterns were hung
  70. Duckling Day Parade. Photo courtesy of Friends of the Public Garden
  71. Bring the little duckies to the Duckling Day Parade in the Public Garden (May)
  72. Try some new food at one of the many Faneuil Hall Marketplace Food Court booths
  73. See the Boston Ballet perform The Nutcracker (Nov/Dec)
  74. Learn more American history at the Museum of National Heritage in Lexington (free)
  75. Observe the night sky through telescopes and binoculars at the Coit Observatory at Boston University (free; Wed evenings)
  76. See the antique fire trucks or celebrate a birthday at the Boston Fire Museum
  77. Join the crowds celebrating Independence Day during Boston Harborfest (July)
  78. Take a ferry out into Boston Harbor
  79. Visit the farm animals, owls, geese and nature center at Drumlin Farm
  80. Check out the Waterworks Museum
  81. Look for artifacts of bygone times and sea glass on Spectacle Island
  82. Explore science & technology during the Cambridge Science Festival (Apr)
  83. Ring in the New Year amid ice sculptures, concerts, and fireworks during Boston’s First Night (Dec)
  84. Stroke a cow nose ray or bonnet head shark at the New England Aquarium’s Shark & Ray Touch Tank
  85. Bike along the Minuteman Bikeway
  86. Tour the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides)
  87. Swim in Walden Pond
  88. Sample some chocolate during a Taza Factory tour
  89. Watch a Revolutionary War-era re-enactment during Patriots' Day in Concord (Apr)
  90. Join a DCR Park Ranger for a tour of the Charles River Dam
  91. Have afternoon tea at the American Girl Place (Natick)
  92. Explore the sculptures at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln
  93. Explore the working waterwheels, hot forges, mills, and historic 17th century home of the Saugus Iron Works (Apr-Oct)
  94. Cheer on your favorite college during the Head of the Charles Regatta (Oct)
  95. Bring the family to a New England Revolution game
  96. Climb the 294 steps to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument
  97. Rent a kayak and paddle on the Charles
  98. Spend the day at Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester or at one of the other top Boston area beaches for families
  99. Walk along the Esplanade and stop at one of the playgrounds along the river
  100. Photo opp! Climb on the Make Way for Ducklings sculptures in the Boston Public Garden (read the story, too!)
  101. Have some fresh seafood — in the Kennedy Booth if possible — at the Union Oyster House
  102. Sit way up front for a Blue Man Group show
  103. Visit the Topsfield Fair (Aug/Sep)
  104. Explore the night sky at the Charles Hayden Planetarium

Originally published December 2012 by Audrey T.; updated November 2014, January 2015