While you can certainly take your family on a do-it-yourself tour of the Freedom Trail—or any of the historically or culturally significant sights in the area—sometimes it's nice to let an expert do the talking. Since Boston is such a great walking city, there are some excellent choices for tours that keep curious minds happy. As a big fan of lifelong learning, I'm happy to report that even though I'm a proud Bostonian, each of these tours taught me something I didn't know. Best of all, they kept my kids entertained and eager to learn more.
1. The 60-minute Boston by Little Feet Tour offers a great overview of some of Boston's most important history. Though it rained the day of our tour (tours go rain or shine), our guide was so peppy and interactive that all the kids on the tour had a fantastic time. Because it starts at Faneuil Hall, this tour is the perfect addition to a fun day in the city. The tour is less than a mile and leads visitors past the Old State House, the Old South Meeting House, and the original site of the first public school in America, ending up on City Hall Plaza. Along the way, kids and adults alike learn all kinds of cool tidbits about life in Boston leading up to the Revolutionary War.
2. Free tours along the Black Heritage Trail are chock-full of interesting information. To join a tour at one of the appointed times, look for a park ranger at the Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Massachusetts Regiment Memorial. First, you learn some of the details about the memorial—and our guide was great about explaining this to kids. The tour continues through Beacon Hill past some important sights in the struggle against slavery and for equality. The tour ends at the Museum of African American History, but after the 90-minute tour, it's probably best for short attention spans to save a visit there for another day.
3. The Hahvahd Tour is a great option for kids who love Harvard Square as much as mine do. It's also perfect for older kids who've already set their sights on a local Ivy. Guides are all Harvard students, and they share insider info about life at the school as they lead visitors around Harvard Lawn and the surrounding areas. Everyone learns where famous students lived, some of the funniest pranks ever played, and the favorite pizza hangout near campus.
4. If you want the benefit of a guide without the constraints of a formal tour, the Boston Public Garden audio tour might be the right one for your family. Beginning and ending at the bridge over the lagoon, the tour's highlights include the Make Way for Ducklings statue and the Swan Boats, but stops at other statues and special trees provide a full picture of everything the park has to offer.
5. A visit to the Mt. Auburn Cemetery might sound odd, but it's truly a picturesque, historically significant and family-friendly cemetery. The free app helps visitors tour the grounds looking for notable figures, and seasonal bingo games are also available for kids on the website or at the gatehouse. Some of the must-see spots include the views from Washington Tower and beside Willow Pond.
6. Last but certainly not least, 60-minute Salem Kids' Tours lead families through the center of Salem and into history. Salem might be famous for its witch trials, but there's plenty more to the city's Puritan past. Costumed guide "Prudence" offers a one-woman show that takes kids back to the seventeenth-century fishing village, when the church and the jail were two of the most important buildings. Whispers of ghosts and a quick overview of the 1692 witch trials satisfy those with a taste for the city's spooky past while saving the really scary stuff for other tours aimed at adults.