Boston for Visitors: Must-Do Activities for Tourists with Kids
With fantastic things to do from the Cape to Concord, as well as a plethora of highlights right in the center of town, we Bostonians consider ourselves lucky that there's so much in our midst. Although we have a list of 100 things to do with kids in Boston before they grow up, we understand you may not have time for everything on it during a visit. So, we've picked our very favorite things to do—not-to-miss sights, activities, and eats for families visiting Boston. You can certainly fill up a week with the itinerary below, or choose your favorites if you're in town for a shorter stay. Enjoy our fine city!
As far as iconic spots in Boston go, not many beat the Swan Boats at the Public Garden. The relaxing jaunt around the lagoon soothes even fussy passengers, and a stroll through the park afterward brings everyone right up to the famous Make Way for Ducklings statue, where kids can even climb on the ducks for a photo opp. Just across Charles Street, the Boston Common offers the Tadpole Playground, carousel, and the Frog Pond, where kids can refresh themselves in the spray pool in summer or hit the ice in winter. Round out the day with a fancy afternoon tea.
Logistics: Sunday is the best day of the week to hit the area, when you can generally find street parking and leave the car as long as you want for free. Alternatively, take the subway. (Talk like a local and call it "the T.") Take the Green Line to Park Street or Arlington.
The iconic Swan Boats glide around the lagoon in the Public Garden.
We in Boston are extremely lucky to have our pick of great museums, and they're just as appealing to visitors as residents. The top dog (or aardvark) for visitors with younger kids is the Boston Children's Museum, offering a separate playspace for babies and toddlers as well as an amazing climbing structure and Japanese house for everyone. For visitors with older kids, the Museum of Science is a must, with everything from an electricity show to a giant dinosaur to the Hall of Human Life.
Logistics: Garages are available for both museums (the Museum of Science's garage is attached to the museum, and a garage around the corner from the Boston Children's Museum validates parking), but taking the T is a good option for both if you've got additional plans. The South Station stop on the Red Line is closest to the Boston Children's Museum and the Science Park stop on the Green Line is closest to the Museum of Science.
The multi-level Boston Children's Museum offers lots of ways for families to play together.
Let Freedom Ring!
The Freedom Trail is a must-see for most visitors to Boston. Walking the trail is a great way to see all the historical sights and learn about our country's revolutionary roots. You could either plan for an entire day on the trail (it's quite long), including grabbing some tasty eats, or combining one or two stops with lunch before moving on to something else. For a super-quick way to combine history and tourism, visit Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market for a snapshot of the trail.
Logistics: Parking is tight in Boston, so especially if you plan on spending the full day in town, taking the Orange Line to Haymarket or Downtown Crossing is your best bet.
Cheer Like a Bostonian
For sports fans, a visit to Fenway Park is an absolute must. Best of all would obviously be taking in a Sox game, but if you can't get tickets or if it's off-season, you can still visit the park on a tour (available year-round), which is great for baseball fans of all stripes. Another great pick for sports fans is the Sports Museum just down the green line at TD Garden.
Logistics: Especially if you're making a day of it and hitting both Fenway and the Public Garden, the T is the way to go. The Green Line will take you far with this itinerary.
A trip to Boston isn't complete without a visit to historic Fenway Park, whether it's for a tour or a game.
Let the Locals Show You Around
Visitors new to Boston really love a tour, and while walking tours are my personal favorite, I've heard plenty of out-of-towners raving about the amphibian vehicles that take you through town and on the Charles. With starting points at the Museum of Science or New England Aquarium, you can easily combine the tour with a visit to the Museum of Science or to Faneuil Hall (just down the block from the Aquarium). Or, if you've got an older group that includes some teens or tweens, you might want to begin at the Prudential and spend some time shopping on Newbury and Boylston to round out the day.
Photos by Tara D. Jackson