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 from the Freedom Trail to our glorious shoreline, but of the 100 not-to-be-missed, kid-friendly activities, there are likely a few even native Bostonians haven't done.

How about a handy checklist to put on the 'fridge or family bulletin board? We've made a printable version of this list that features 50 of our fave Boston-based family activities. 

  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.
  9. Spend the day exploring tidepools at Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester or hit another family-friendly local beach.
  10. Stop and smell native wildflowers at Garden in the Woods in Framingham.
  11. Gawk at priceless art and beautiful gardens in one gorgeous setting at the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum.
  12. View the city from the Skywalk Observatory at the Prudential Center.
  13. Find a good spot to cheer on Boston Marathon runners (April).
  14. Catch a world-class marionette troupe in Brookline at Puppet Showplace Theater.
  15. Go ice skating in the winter and cool off in the summer at the Frog Pond.
  16. Enjoy a glassblowing demonstration at the Diablo Glass School.
  17. Learn something about the Kennedy legacy at the JFK Presidential Museum and Library.

     
    Get your hands on the plasma globe at the MIT Museum. Photo by Lisa Abitol

     

  18. Explore science and technology at the MIT Museum.
  19. Visit the Old South Meeting House, where the Boston Tea Party began in 1773.
  20. Search for sea glass on Spectacle Island.
  21. Scramble up the climbing sculpture at Boston Children’s Museum.
  22. Take a ride on the one-of-a-kind Swan Boats in the Public Garden.
  23. Watch BC, BU, Harvard and Northeastern battle it out during the Beanpot hockey tournament (February).
  24. Sit in the bleachers for a Red Sox game at Fenway Park.
  25. Visit with gorillas, giraffes, and lions in the middle of Boston at the Franklin Park Zoo.
  26. Choose your favorite chowda at the Quincy Market food court.
  27. Sample some Italian pastries from Mike’s (or any of the other tempting bakeries) on Hanover Street in the North End.
  28. Take a walking tour of Boston that's just right for little legs.
  29. Tour the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA)—don't forget to ask for a kids' activity tote with sketching supplies.
  30. Expend some energy at Cambridge's Alexander Kemp Playground or another of Boston's most unique playgrounds
  31. Listen to a story Tuesday or Saturday morning at the Harvard Coop, downstairs in the children's section.
  32. Take a walk with an activities backpack or go snowshoeing around the grounds of Gore Place.


    Test out the sleeping hammocks at the USS Constitution Museum. Photo by Greg M. Cooper
     

  33. Tour the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) and experience a sailor's life at the USS Constitution Museum.
  34. Take a ferry to Fort Warren on Georges Island.
  35. Watch the Bruins light the lamp at the Garden.
  36. Enjoy afternoon tea overlooking the Boston Public Garden at the Four Seasons.
  37. Go to the BPL’s recently renovated colorful, playful Central Library.
  38. Take a Boston Whale Watch cruise—whale sighting guaranteed!
  39. Walk through the gates of Harvard University and around Harvard Yard.
  40. Swim or hike around Walden Pond, where Henry David Thoreau found poetic inspiration.
  41. Watch the street entertainers at Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
  42. Browse at the SOWA Open Market on a Sunday afternoon.
  43. Learn to sail on the Charles River.
  44. Visit the Hull Lifesaving Museum.
  45. Learn about American history and see the annual Family Trees exhibit at the Concord Museum.
  46. Try some of the hands-on activities at the Museum of Science’s Discovery Center.
  47. Hike or ski the Blue Hills and explore the Blue Hills Trailside Museum.
  48. Step inside the world at the Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library.
  49. Visit the Paul Revere House; you might catch a fife and drum concert in the courtyard.


    Enjoy the spring blooms at the Arnold Arboretum. Photo by Jon Hetman/Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
     

  50. Get in touch with nature at the Arnold Arboretum.
  51. Be part of the Fisherman’s Feast in the North End (August).
  52. Visit one of Boston's unique children's bookstores.
  53. See the Museum of African American History.
  54. Visit the nation's Halloween capital, Salem.
  55. Root for the Celtics at the Garden.
  56. Go to Improv Boston for a Saturday Family Show.
  57. Cheer at “The Game” when it’s Harvard’s turn to host Yale (November),
  58. Visit the reconstructed Chinese House at the PEM in Salem.
  59. Take a self-guided walk along the Freedom Trail.
  60. Try a bunch of different flavors at a J.P. Licks.
  61. Follow the Black Heritage Trail and explore the history of Boston's 19th-century African American community.
  62. Take a Duck Boat Tour that includes a splashdown into the Charles
  63. Ride a carousel at the Frog Pond or on the Greenway.
  64. See the whale skeletons, a giant amethyst, and over 500 taxidermy animals at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.
  65. Start a holiday tradition: Christmas Revels (December).
  66. Take a tour of the Old North Church, where “the” lanterns were hung.


    Duckling Day Parade. Photo courtesy of Friends of the Public Garden
     

  67. Bring the little duckies to the Duckling Day Parade in the Public Garden (May)
  68. Try some new food at one of the many Faneuil Hall Marketplace Food Court booths
  69. See the Boston Ballet perform The Nutcracker (Nov/Dec)
  70. Learn more American history at the Museum of National Heritage in Lexington (free)
  71. Observe the night sky through telescopes and binoculars at the Coit Observatory at Boston University (free; Wed evenings)
  72. See the antique fire trucks or celebrate a birthday at the Boston Fire Museum
  73. Join the crowds celebrating Independence Day during Boston Harborfest (July)
  74. Take a ferry out into Boston Harbor
  75. Visit the farm animals, owls, geese, and nature center at Mass Audubon's Drumlin Farm.
  76. Check out the Waterworks Museum.
  77. Look for artifacts of bygone times and sea glass on Spectacle Island.
  78. Hobnob with scientists and try hands-on activities during the Cambridge Science Festival (April).
  79. Ring in the New Year amid ice sculptures, concerts, and fireworks during Boston’s First Night (December).
  80. Stroke a cow nose ray or bonnet head shark at the New England Aquarium’s Shark & Ray Touch Tank.
  81. Bike along the Minuteman Bikeway.
  82. Dress up and enjoy the magical Nutcracker Ballet experience over Christmastime.
  83. Sample some chocolate during a Taza Factory tour.
  84. Watch a Revolutionary War-era re-enactment during Patriots' Day in Concord (April).
  85. See Boston's most iconic landmarks recreated with more than 1.5 million Lego bricks at the Lego Discovery Museum.
  86. Sing along to carols at a Holiday Pops family concert.
  87. Roam the giant lawn to find your favorite sculptures at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln.
  88. See how the pilgrims lived at Plimoth Plantation.
  89. Cheer on your favorite college during the Head of the Charles Regatta (October).
  90. See the six-time-Super-Bowl-champ Patriots play at Gillette Stadium; of just tour The Hall at Patriot Place in Foxboro for memorabilia.
  91. Climb the 294 steps to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument, and then visit the museum across the street.
  92. Rent a kayak and paddle on the Charles.
  93. Ride the GreenRedBlue and Orange lines on the “T” (and learn the words to "Charlie on the MTA").
  94. Walk along the Esplanade and stop at one of the playgrounds along the river.
  95. Climb on the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture in the Boston Public Garden (read the story, too!)
  96. Have some fresh seafood at the Union Oyster House (in the city) or the North Shore (after a day at the beach).
  97. Sit way up front for a Blue Man Group show.
  98. Visit the Topsfield Fair, a classic New England fall fair (September-October).
  99. Explore the night sky at the Charles Hayden Planetarium.
  100. Make like a local and make a day or overnight trip to the Cape. Got a weekend? Hit Nantucket or the Vineyard.

Originally published December 2012

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