North Suburbs

All Aboard The Polar Express: Christmas Train Rides Near Boston

What is it about trains and Christmas? The two have become inextricably linked—especially since The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg's picture book about believing in the magic of Christmas, captured the hearts and imaginations of kids and adults alike. During the holiday season train rides complete with hot chocolate and visits from Santa bring Christmas stories like The Polar Express to life for all who believe.

Although we could make the trek to New Hampshire's White Mountains for a magical Christmas train experience, we have plenty of delightful options much closer to Boston. The seats fill up very quickly, though, so we recommend getting your golden tickets now.

7 Festive Brunches with Santa or Mrs. Claus for Boston Kids

One of the quintessential holiday activities for kids is meeting Santa and telling him their Christmas wishes. Make this tradition even better this year when you and your family attend a breakfast or brunch with Santa—or the lady who we suspect might really run the show, Mrs. Claus. At these events, you’ll get to enjoy a delicious holiday meal, spend some extra time with Mr. or Mrs. Claus, and participate in other seasonal activities. Bring your camera to capture all of the festive fun and make your reservation early—spots at some of these events go quick!

5 Boston-Area Museums With Big Membership Perks for Families

Let’s be honest: Going to the museum can be an expensive proposition, especially with a whole family. Buying a membership might save you some money if you visit on a regular basis, but it has considerable up-front costs as well. When you’re thinking of making a commitment like that, it’s good to know which museums have special perks for their members. Some offer reciprocal memberships to other museums in the area and beyond, some provide entry to special events, and others give you a discount on food or items for sale in (or even outside) the museum. Whichever you choose, be sure to make the most of your membership (which, by the way, is 100% tax-deductible). Our city has some of the best museums for families in the U.S.!

Just-Spooky-Enough Haunted Houses and Halloween Attractions for Boston Kids

Halloween is a holiday that everyone from toddlers to grandparents can enjoy, but the fear factor can be a little intense for some kids. While there are many gory and gruesome options for 'tweens and teens, it can be hard to find Halloween activities that can feel suitably exciting (but not terrifying) for the elementary-school set. Here are six local activities with varying levels of scariness that will entertain kids ages 6 to 12 without scaring the pants off of them. And for even littler folk, check out our Halloween picks for toddlers and preschoolers.

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20 Free (or Almost Free) Halloween Activities for Families in and Around Boston

The days finally have a real fall crispness to them, the leaves are turning, and front steps are flickering with the glow of carved pumpkins at night. There’s lots of spooky fun and not-so-spooky fun to be had, from costume parades to pumpkin festivals, and there's plenty to do for free. Take the kids to a few of these free Halloween activities for families—and save your money for goodies to give to trick-or-treaters.

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Weekday Picks for Boston Kids: Halloween Art, Pumpkin Science, and Jack-O-Lanterns; Oct 2-6

From storefronts to Starbucks beverages, pumpkin is everywhere. But don't think kids are tiring of seeing, tasting, or celebrating the humble squash that heralds Halloween season. This week, they can get their fix at a number of events that feature pumpkin-themed activities. Artsy kids can make some spookily beautiful holiday decor close to the city, while science lovers are invited to dig into pumpkin science in the north 'burbs. At the the end of the school and work week, a trip to Providence would be well worth it, since the region's most stupendous Jack-O-Lantern display is illuminated at the zoo.

For more science, drop by Brighton for a kid-friendly exploration of buoyancy; or for more Halloween fun, don't miss the big parade that officially kicks off seasonal fun in Salem. Whatever you do, don't forget to bookmark our Events Calendar, since we're adding new activities to the mix each day.

Halloween Events at Zoos Around Boston

How do you possibly make Halloween even more fun for children? By adding some real live animals in the mix! Zoos in New England are getting into the Halloween spirit and inviting guests to visit in costume to trick or treat with the critters who live there. Halloween events at all zoos are even included with the price of admission...and costumes are highly encouraged, of course.

Weekday Picks for Boston Kids: Banned Books, Fun Physics, and Giant Pumpkins; Sept 25- 29

What would we do without our libraries? For one thing, we wouldn't necessarily know about all the interesting, commemorative months and weeks being celebrated around the country. This week kicks off with a nod to Hispanic Heritage Month with an event to open preschoolers' eyes (and ears) to Spanish music, when Berklee dynamo Naty Hernandez leads a singalong on Boylston. A day later, older kids can take a stand against censorship with a clever craft project for Banned Books Week in the North End. 

You wouldn't know it by the balmy temps outside, but some outdoor programs are ending for the season, and a public arts' program on the Greenway closes with a showing of a Tim Burton classic. Physics takes the spotlight with a new program in the south 'burbs, while up north, the Topsfield Fair gets going with our favorite fall spectacle of all: gargantuan pumpkins

For more interesting activities this week in Boston and beyond, check out our Events Calendar.

Halloween Events in Salem, MA: Spooky, Not-Too-Scary Fun for Little Ones

If your kids are like mine, they started getting excited for Halloween about the time the 4th of July fireworks ended. From the costumes to carving pumpkins, it’s a whimsical time full of imagination, and revolves around children like no other holiday. And we’re lucky to live very close to what may be the Halloween capital of the country: Salem

But despite what you might have heard about "Witch City," it’s not all scary stuff. Many of the events happening in Salem over the next month are tailor-made for families, replacing most of the tricks with treats. This year, the town has introduced a new Wednesday program just for kids, and have made some old favorites more fun than frightening. If you've never done fall in Salem, it's time!

Cooking with Kids in and Around Boston: Classes, Camps, and Parties

Whether our kids are adventurous eaters or too timid to try anything beyond boxed mac ’n’ cheese, teaching them about food prep, healthy eating, and nutrition is one of the more important things we as parents can do for their well being. Cooking together at home is one way to do this, but there are also plenty of opportunities for “instructive” fun through kids’ cooking classes and workshops.

One of the appealing aspects of kids’ cooking instruction is that it quite often takes the form of a single-class workshop or two- to three-session program. So, even if your children have regular sports team commitments or semester-long dance or music classes, they can still satisfy their inner foodies without missing a goal or a beat. Plus, many kids’ cooking classes are offered during those long school vacations or summer breaks—just the thing to keep kids engaged and entertained. Cooking workshops also make fun birthday parties - kids learn something, have fun, and are well fed. And (maybe best of all!), no mess for the parents. (More cooking party ideas here.)

We’ve rounded up five places that offer kids’ cooking classes and workshops in and around Boston. Get ready for your kids to cook up something great!

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