Mattapan

Pumpkin Festivals and Jack-O-Lantern Displays for New England Families

New England is brimming with fall festivals, but kids are particularly enamored with events celebrating the humble pumpkin: the symbol of autumn and Halloween. Whether you stick close to home or make a day or weekend trip out of it, going to a pumpkin festival or visiting a glowing jack-o'-lantern display is a fun, family-friendly way to get into the spirit of the season. Here's a sampling of pumpkin fun in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine over the next month. Get inspired for a trip to the pumpkin patch for a jack-o'-lantern display on your own front porch!

Best Spray Parks and Water Fountains for Preschoolers in Boston

Boston has a lot of big, splashy, exciting spray parks and fountains that can be great fun for families in summer. But I've learned the hard way that not every water playground is suited for preschoolers. 

A few years back, when one of my sons was 4, I took him and his brothers to the Christian Science Plaza fountain along Huntington Avenue. To me as a parent, it was a wise selection: awesome fountain, I didn't have to walk far from the parking spot, and bathrooms were nearby in the Prudential Center. But my 4-year-old kid was horrified by the fountain and how big it was. It took him a half hour to even wander up to the where the water shot out of the ground, and soon after he got soaked and was freezing. It was not the best choice for a young child. 

With that thinking in mind, we've rounded up some gentler, preschooler-friendly local fountains and splash pads. Be sure to check out these outdoor pools with fun slide and spray features for more ways to cool off this summer, or if a climate-controlled environment is more your family's speed, consider a visit to a preschooler-friendly indoor water park. There are plenty of ways to get wet around Boston—without tears!

25 Ways to Spend a Morning with Your Toddler in Boston

Once you've gotten through breakfast and downed your second (or third) cup of coffee, have you ever looked at your toddler and thought, "what the heck am I going to do with you today?" Too young for many full-time schools or camps, too old to just tag along on errands all day, toddlers are suited for fun, interactive activities that don't require a long attention span and will tucker them out for their afternoon nap. Fortunately for parents and caregivers, there are a plenty of great local activities that will get you both out of the house; and many attractions are 100% free for toddlers.

Maple Sugar Festivals and Farms for Boston Families

One of the sweetest things about living in New England is being able to experience maple sugaring firsthand. Bostonians don’t have to go very far to enjoy maple sugar festivals, take tours of farms, watch sap being boiled down in sugar houses, or learn to tap maple trees. Of course, the best part is tasting the final product – in syrup poured over pancakes, as candies, and even in hot dogs. Celebrate maple sugaring season with special events and visits to these local maple farms. 

Top 10 Boston-Area Nature Centers for Young Children

Local mom and “Outdoors with Kids Boston” guidebook author, Kim Foley MacKinnon, shares her best family outing tips and picks with you as part of our guest blog series with the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Kids Outdoors Boston free online community.

Young children are insatiably curious, and nature centers offer a great way to indulge their interest about the world around them. From birding kits to aquariums, to nature-themed games and special programs, several Boston-area centers have plenty to keep youngsters engaged. Here’s our pick of the top ten within an hour or so of the city.

9 Places for Family-Friendly Snowshoeing Near Boston

When temperatures start to drop in Boston, it’s tempting to want to hibernate inside with the kids. But that almost always leads to a bad case of cabin fever. So when winter strikes, we try to embrace it. This means getting out for activities like wintertime walks, skiing, and ice skating. And our other favorite winter activity, that’s perfect for the whole family: snowshoeing. Whether you have your own snowshoes or need to rent them, there are plenty of options for where to try snowshoeing near Boston. 

What to Do at Franklin Park Zoo in Just Two Hours

It was a gauntlet thrown down at my feet as much as my family's: Let's tour Franklin Park Zoo in under two hours.

Why set the timer at two hours? It seemed the like reasonable window to make our way through the zoo without getting tired while also keeping up a good pace. My pre-zoo strategies included feeding everyone lunch beforehand and packing enough food to avoid the snack shacks within the zoo that could eat away at our time. 

Here's a brief journal of how we met our two-hour challenge at Franklin Park Zoo on one recent summer afternoon.

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