West Suburbs

8 Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks for Kids and Families in and Around Boston

Whether your family is hitting the rink for the very first time or your kids have already taken several ice skating lessons, gliding on one of the outdoor ice skating rinks around Boston can be a fun, affordable way for families to get outside and stay active in the wintertime. Read on for some of our favorite rinks in the Boston area, with offerings like gorgeous city views and snack bars where you can warm up with a cup of hot cocoa.

Where To See Holiday Lights In and Around Boston

Sure, not everyone goes in for all the traditions and tchotchkes that are associated with the holiday season. But we don't know anyone—young or old—who isn't delighted by winter wonderlands filled with lighted displays, twinkling trees, and sparkling scenes. We've rounded up some of the best light displays in or around Boston, from newer sensations like Blink!, downtown, to the storied La Salette Shrine, south of the city. Whether you venture out to a dazzling display or just drive around to these spectacularly decorated neighborhood homes, set aside an evening, bring a thermos of cocoa, and experience some magic as a family.

Santa Breakfasts for Kids and Families Around Boston

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 the big guy in red. 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!

8 Polar Express and other 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 glorious picture book about 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, of course.

Lucky for us, we have plenty of delightful train ride options close to Boston, from cozy, seaside New England journeys to 4-D movie experiences that feel like a real locomotive ride, right down to the sounds, sights, and even smells. The seats on all these trains fill up quickly, though, so we recommend getting your golden tickets now.

12 Boston-Area Doughnut Shops We Love to Visit with Kids

New Englanders big and small love their doughnuts. And while we’ve got nothing against Dunkin’, we really enjoy visiting local shops, which serve up everything from classic apple cider doughnuts to maple-bacon-flavored beignets. We can hardly think of a more kid-friendly food—especially when sprinkles and frosting are involved—so bring the whole family when you go sample of some of the tastiest treats in the city at a dozen of our favorite doughnut shops.

Patriots, Pirates, Castles: Theme Playgrounds Spark Imaginative Play around Boston

Do you have a child who dreams about being a pro sports star, a pirate, or a princess? A handful of forward-thinking playgrounds in Massachusetts really take imaginative play to the next level. From a pair of Patriots-themed parks sure to thrill G.O.A.T. and Gronk fans to a castle-shaped playground fit for wannabe royals, these outdoor play areas—all within an hour of Boston and free and open to the public year-round—are perfect for kids who love to play pretend. For more parks that justify a trip beyond your own 'hood, check out our recent roundups of our favorite destination playgrounds and brain-boosting playgrounds.

Jack O’Lantern Journey at Franklin Park Zoo: 5 Tips for a Fun Family Evening

Eager to experience some Halloween night magic before October 31? This fall season, Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo is just the place to do it. Through November 4, the zoo is home to the Jack O’Lantern Journey, a spectacular jack-o’-lantern display filled with thousands of intricately carved pumpkins over a half-mile trail. I headed to the event with my two children to find out everything you need to know before visiting. Here are my insider tips to make sure your visit with children is a real treat (with no tricks).

20 Free Halloween Activities and Parades 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 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 no-cist Halloween activities for families—and save your pennies for goodies to give to trick-or-treaters.

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. For more ideas for littler folk, check out our free Halloween picks.

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16 Boston-Area Beer Gardens and Oktoberfests that are Fun for Families

Boston has seen an absolute boom in beer gardens (or biergartens) in the last few years, and luckily for anyone with kids, many are welcoming to families. If you like to sip a craft brew outside, these are the places to go with little ones in tow: Many have live music, lawn games, and great views. From the heart of the city to several of the suburbs and mountain resorts nearby, there’s likely a beer garden near you that's open from summer through fall or just in celebration of Oktoberfest. Sip—and play!

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