One of the perks of living in a big city is being able to leave the car at home and get around via public transportation instead. Whether you take the T's Green, Blue, Orange or Red Lines, there are plenty of fun stops to make along the way, especially with kids in tow. On the Red Line you can do everything from bask in nature and tour some of Boston’s most historic sites to visit several terrific museums. Here’s what we recommend for making the most of taking your kids on the Red Line.
Alewife in North Cambridge is the first stop on the northern end of the Red Line. Since it’s located out of the hustle and bustle of the city, it offers some unique activities for kids without having to roam too far from home. Top picks nearby are taking to the trails either on foot or bike: both the Minuteman Bikeway and the newer, shorter Fitchburg Cutoff Path start right outside the station. Danehy Park is close by too and it’s a fantastic place for a picnic or to play ball.
Davis Square is Somerville’s only Red Line stop and it’s definitely worth disembarking to check out this up-and-coming city. The paved Community Path is a great place to take a walk, especially with pit stops at the Community Garden to check out what’s growing and at Lexington Park for a play break. Somerville is home to many fun festivals throughout the year, most of which are perfect for kids. In the spring, bring them to Somerville Open Studios or PorchFest, in the summer check out ArtBeat (pictured), and in the fall, don’t miss HONK!
Harvard Square takes you back into Cambridge. This iconic square is a can’t-miss stop with kids. Spend the day at the Harvard Museums or pop into the World's Only Curious George Store to find books and unique merchandise starring everyone’s favorite monkey. Lunch at Mr. Bartley’s Burgers in Harvard Square will keep you fueled for the rest of your journey.
Central and Kendall Squares are where you’ll want to stop on the Red Line to visit the MIT Museum. It’s right between both stops on Mass Ave., so stop at whichever one you please to make your way there. The interactive, entertaining and educational exhibits at the MIT Museum make it a favorite with kids, especially tweens and teens. Head to the nearby Flour Bakery after for lunch or a pastry for a special treat.
Charles/MGH is the Red Line’s first stop on the other side of the Charles River in Boston. The Esplanade, a fun place for families, is right across the street from the T station. Beyond just walking along the path that hugs the river, the Esplanade is home to three playgrounds and a spray deck for cooling off on hot summer days. The Hatch Shell hosts the annual Boston Pops Fourth of July concert and fireworks plus other family-friendly events like music and movies. And if you’re looking to get out on the river, Community Boating is the place to go. Kids 11-18 years old can sail all summer long for only $1!
Park Street is where to stop to immerse your kids in Boston history. It’s steps from the Boston Common, which is home to the Tadpole Playground and the Frog Pond—fun for splashing in the summer and ice skating in the winter. Next door to the Common is the Public Garden, where kids will love a visit to the Make Way for Ducklings statue and a ride on the swan boats. You can also pick up the Freedom Trail near Park Street and take it to see some of Boston’s most famous historic sites.
South Station is the place to get off the Red Line to visit two places that are great for kids: the Tea Party Museum and Boston Children’s Museum. Make your way across Fort Point Channel on Congress Street and you’ll find the Tea Party Museum. This floating museum educates through fun, interactive exhibits, like pretending to throw tea overboard, and has a tea room for snack time. Nearby, Boston kids cannot miss a visit to the Children’s Museum, which educates and entertains through hands-on activities.
Andrew T station is only about a 15-minute walk from the beach. That’s right, Carson Beach is right off the Red Line, and when you take the T, you won’t have to worry about jockeying for parking. Carson Beach has a storied past, but the water is cleaned up now and the bathhouse was recently renovated. So bring a picnic and some towels and make a day of playing in the sand with breaks for strolls along the Harborwalk.
JFK/UMass is where you’ll feel like the Red Line not only brought you to your destination, but also took you back in time. Head to this T stop to learn all about Massachusetts’ most famous political family at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum (kids under 12 are free) and at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate (Massachusetts’ kids 17 and under are free). It’s about a mile to walk from JFK/UMass to the museums, but there’s a free shuttle that runs from the station so you can save those little legs for your visit.
Braintree is the last (or first depending on where you’re coming from) T stop on one branch of the Red Line and it’s also the last stop on this list. Just a few blocks from the Braintree station is French’s Common, a great park where you’ll often find baseball games and events taking place, plus it boasts a really fun playground. A little farther down the road is Sunset Lake, where you can swim, fish, play or attend one of the summer music events.
Top image of ArtBeat in Davis Square in Somerville