Indoor Fun Bucket List for Boston Families

Boulder on! Photo courtesy of Rock Spot Climbing
Inside playgrounds, winter indoor activities in Boston

When you have active little ones, and live in a region that requires a winter jacket almost half the year, you've gotta have some ideas up your puffer coat sleeve for indoor fun. Good news is, Boston and its 'burbs meet the needs of stir-crazy kids (and their parents) with plenty of options for things to do inside on cold or rainy days. From play zones to award-winning libraries to some of the best museums in the area, we'ved assembled a bucket list of can't-miss inside activities that are unique to our chilly city.

1. Conquer all three stories of the New Balance Foundation Climb structure at the Boston Children's Museum. And then, pull off the bigger challenge: Crawl back down the way you came! Boston

2. Pedal on the kid-powered Merlin's Apprentice ride at Legoland Discovery Center. Somerville

3. Warm up with our town's most iconic soup at Boston Chowda Company at Quincy Market Building at Faneuil Hall. Relax in a seat at the top floor of the rotunda and gaze around at the old-world architecture. Boston

Warm up among the plants. Photo courtesy of Tower Hill Botanic Garden

4. Pretend you're in a tropical climate by wandering around the greenhouses at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden. Worcester

5. Feel a spongy sea star or shy hermit crab at the Edge of the Sea touch tank on the second floor of the New England Aquarium. If you're extra brave—feel the sharks and rays in the touch tank downstairs! Boston

6. Skate in the warmth inside while you gaze outside at the DCR Steriti Memorial Rink, where floor to ceiling windows offer great views of the North End Waterfront. It's our favorite of all the great free indoor skating rinks in town. Boston

7. Brave 75 mph, hurricane-force gusts—but safely inside a wind simulation booth—at the Ecotarium. Worcester

8. Go to a story hour at the candy colored, recently renovated Central Branch Library, the crown jewel of the Boston Public Library system. Boston

Looking northeast from the Prudential Skywalk Observatory; Photo by Bill Damon/CC BY 2.0

9. Our skyscrapers aren't the tallest in the world, but the views from them sure are pretty. Travel up to the Skywalk Observatory at the Prudential Center to see a 360-degree view of the city, harbor, and the Charles River winding through it all. Boston

10. The Museum of Science is a must-do for everyone, but toddlers and preschoolers are particularly taken by the hands-on science in the museum's enclosed, for-little-kids-only Discovery Center. Boston

Gaze at the whales in the Great Mammal Hall at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Photo by Alex Jaffe/ Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism 

11. Look up and see three giant whale skeletons suspended from the tippy top of the Great Mammal Hall at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Cambridge

12. Say hello to the famously friendly Kismet and his other AI robotic friends at the MIT Museum's Robots and Beyond exhibit. Cambridge

13. Shop for doll duds, sip tea, and make a child ridiculously happy with a visit to American Girl Boston at the Natick Mall. Natick

14. Pretend you're a real firefighter and climb on an engine and ring the bell at the (free!) Boston Fire Museum. Boston

15. Land in bouncy house heaven at the closest Jump On In. Boston, Lowell, or Woburn

16. Challenge yourselves on the bouldering wall at Rock Spot or another kid-friendly climbing spot. Boston

Sneaky science is on the table in Acton. Photo courtesy of The Discovery Museums

17. "Ride" a train, play with ball runs, splash at water tables, and marvel at just how much fun can be packed into one Victorian-style house at the Children's Discovery Museum. Acton

18. Catch a train to Brookline Village and walk across the street from the station to see a budget-friendly matinee at the Puppet Showplace Theater. Brookline

Study the heavens at the Charles Hayden Planetarium at Boston's Museum of Science. Photo courtesy of the Museum of Science

19. Lean back and study the heavens at the Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science. Boston

20. Get messy at Muckykids during open studio time or drop in to another arts and crafts spot we love. Cambridge

21. Catch a family flick at the Coolidge Corner Theater—the popcorn is the best! (We heart these other kid-friendly theaters, too.) Brookline

Let someone else clean up the playroom. Photo courtesy of Imagine Playspace

22. Spend a day at Imagine, our Boston Besties Winner for our fave indoor playspace in greater Boston. Cambridge

23. Learn all about local wildlife, including owl sounds and snake habitats, at the marvelous (and under-the-radar) Blue Hills Trailside Museum. Milton

24. Get out some serious energy out on the dodgeball court at Launch—there are separate big kids and little kids areas. Watertown and Norwood

25. Take a tour (and enjoy some sweet free samples) at the Taza Chocolate factory. Somerville