Free things to do indoors are the best when the Boston weather gets cold or rainy. Some kids just need the indoor equivalent of a neighborhood playground—a place where they can pop in and monkey around with no admission required. These free indoor play spaces below give kids to the opportunity to play and tinker while you take a load off—for free. Read on for our guide to the best indoor places to play for some free things to do indoors in Boston on cold and rainy days.
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Free Things To Do Indoors in Boston
Boston's indoor places to play often feature colorful toys. Photo courtesy of Magic Beans in Cambridge.
1. Magic Beans – Boston (Cambridge and Wellesley)
Know how you take kids to a toy store and they want to, you know, play with the toys? At Magic Beans, they can: Stores have a cordoned-off play area that's filled with favorite items straight from the shelves. The trick is getting them out of there when it's time to go home.
Lots of libraries have a few wooden toys or blocks sprinkled about, check out our list of very special public libraries with legit play spaces where kids can really have fun. The Central Library in Copley Square has become one of the greatest little kid play areas in the city. The bright, colorful space has loads of soft, squishy toys, several interesting manipulatives, an array of puzzles and games built into the wall at kids' eye level, and lots of room to move.
The Boston Anthenauem is part library, part museum and part cultural center. They have a collection of picture books specifically selected for children 6 and under in the Children's Library as well as books for older children and teens near the lobby. In addition to books, they have lots of hands-on activities to get those imaginations running. The library hosts weekly story times and monthly book and game circles.
Free Indoor Places To Play West of Boston
Located on the second floor in the Natick Mall, The children's play area is helpful for parents who want to take a break from shopping. It's also great for their kids who never wanted to shop in the first place. Kids ages 10 and under enjoy the Boston-themed indoor playground, which features a "Green Monster" to climb, ducklings to ride on, and a big pirate ship.
5. Lego Store – Natick (and Burlington, Braintree, and Peabody)
For kids who are less inclined to climb than tinker, the Lego stores at the Natick, Burlington, North Shore, and South Shore malls are a great outlet between errands. Along with free-build stations that are always set up around the store, there are special activities and challenges every month. Every store has its own calendar describing these events, so be sure to check before you head to the mall.
The Penguins Play Area is in the Children's Room at Waltham Public Library. Photo courtesy of the library
With one of the friendliest staff you'll ever meet, a stop into this university town's public library is a must. The children's room is easily accessible through the back doors near the parking lot. There's a wooden play kitchen with lots of play food and materials; a brand new dollhouse for creative play; a toddler-sized castle/house that has steps and a crawl space underneath; and a train table that is surrounded by comfy window seating and beanbags. And the librarians are constantly updating and creating new activities for seasonal fun and engagement. The selection of children's books at the Waltham Public Library is top-notch, so make sure you have your library card on hand and take home some borrowed treasures after a morning or afternoon of indoor play.
This adorable children's book and coffee shop is a "little shop with a big mission" to inspire the creativity of little minds. They host a free storytime every Monday morning that includes guided readings and a little craft. Children can move about during storytime, no one will be expecting little ones to sit still for the duration of the stories. Afterwards, everyone will be invited to get creative with a little glue, sparkles and stickers. Storytimes are geared towards children ages 2-4, but all ages are welcome.
It's not enough that this store is an incredible resource for educational toys and games, they regularly host free hands-on learning events. Kids will dive into the world of STEM through engaging events such as dinosaur "digs," scavenger hunts and making homemade slime. Plus, parents will receive an exclusive coupon towards a store purchase which is a great bonus because we know your kiddos will want to bring these crafts home!
Free Things To Do Indoors North of Boston
Some free indoor spaces bring new meaning to "play time!" Play area photo courtesy of the Northshore Mall.
Near Macy's—which is also where Santa parks around holiday time—the play area features imagination-building climbing structures that are especially great for the little ones. There's also a small "activity nook" with some manipulative wheels and mirrors for less rambunctious players.
Located near the food court, this indoor play area has a playhouse and a variety of climbing structures situated on a carpet made to look like a natural landscape. Best of all, the entire carpeted space is surrounded by comfortable benches, so it's easy to keep track of the kids while they play.
Free Indoor Places To Play South of Boston
Also located near the Food Court, where you can grab a bite to eat before or after playing, the South Shore Mall indoor play area features the same sturdy, colorful climbing structures, as the Burlington Mall's play space. Our kids have especially enjoyed climbing through the "log" tunnel (again and again and again).
12. Juju B's – North Attleboro
A favorite with local families, this gem of a store has thoughtful, free programming for children as well as a sensory table and rug areas where children can explore. Juju B's regularly offers free craft activities, yoga classes, and other programs ideal for toddlers, all with a chill vibe and a wonderful assortment of consigned toys and clothing. While parents shop, happy little ones push kid-sized shopping carts, read books, or play with toy cars on the rug. A kid-friendly bathroom and easy parking are also available.