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25 Fun (and Educational) Things to Do for Free with Kids this Summer

Summer is all about going to the beach, eating ice cream, exploring the outdoors, and having family-friendly fun—no "reading, writing, and arithmetic" allowed...Right? Well, it turns out that there's a whole world of educational fun to be had while your family enjoys summer, from exploring marine habitats at the beach to learning about science while making your own ice cream.

Whether your summer vacation takes you to the forests of Yosemite or the beaches of Mexico, here's a list of 25 ways to keep kids learning—while having fun—all through their school vacation.

7 Mind-Blowing Ice Cream Treats to Try with Kids in Boston: Fluff Cones, Snowdaes, and More

Sometimes you go to an ice cream parlor because it's the neighborhood fave; or maybe you heard it's one of the best in Boston. But on an empty summer's day, it's extra special to go to an ice cream store simply because it has one fantabulous, unique treat that will knock everyone's Crocs off. These are the seven treats we're drooling over this summer. 

20 Easy (But Gorgeous) Hiking Trails To Do with Kids and Babies

By Shanti Hodges

Looking for a hiking trail near you? Great walking trails top our picks for fun summer activities and fall outings with kids. A hike is an opportunity for quality family time, exercise for kids, and of course, discoveries small and large, from bugs to waterfalls.

These getaway-worthy, family-friendly hiking trails are just a sampling of my favorite trails, highlighted in my new book, Hike it Baby: 100 Awesome Adventures with Babies and Toddlers. As founder of Hike it Baby, a nonprofit dedicated to helping families get on the trail with kids, I’ve been fortunate enough to sample nature trails across the country, including at our best national parks and campsites, and even those extra-special, smaller local parks that often offer the best hikes for toddlers and families with little kids.

Now I’m sharing 20 of my favorites, from Connecticut to Florida to Washington state, that are perfect for your next day trip or family vacation. Most are easy loop paths, but I’ve included some moderate trails and top destinations, such as Mt. Rainer and the Badlands. Many of these hikes are FREE, too. The list also highlights family-friendly perks like bathrooms, and benches for a rest or a nursing mom.

Battleship Cove: 6 Tips for Visiting the Naval Museum with Kids

If you’re looking for something new to check off your family’s summer bucket list, there are few experiences as unique as a visit to Battleship Cove. Located in Fall River, just about an hour south of Boston, the museum and war memorial features the world’s largest collection of World War II naval vessels. After an exciting day touring the massive ships with my five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter, I'm sharing tips to ensure a fun visit with your own crew.

11 NYC Neighborhoods to Visit With Your Family This Summer

Whether you're a New York native, a day-tripper, or a tourist from way outta town, summer is the perfect time to explore this action-packed city. And since there's certainly no shortage of warm-weather adventures for kids of all ages, we partnered with the Big Apple pros over at NYCgo to share some of the top can't-be-missed 'hoods worthy of a visit while the sun's out this season.

From sharks to new parks, make it a summer of adventure with these hot, family-friendly neighborhoods across all five boroughs!

Weekend Fun for Boston Kids: MAKEmobile, Machines, and Movies, July 14-15

Makers are going to make this weekend with several cool ways for kids to get crafty including moving machines at Minni Space, the MAKEmobile at the deCordova, and art on an island. Two of MP's favorite summer staples are also happening this weekend at WGBH Family Fest and the always artsy Artbeat in Somerville (happening only on Saturday this year). Want to wind down with a (free) outdoor flick? On Saturday night, you've got two options; one at the Pru and also Tobin Field in Mission Hill

5 Free Outdoor Playgroups for Boston Babies and Toddlers

As soon as the weather turned warm, I couldn’t wait to get outside with my son. And while we love going to the park or playground by ourselves to swing or play with toys, it’s extra fun when a friend or two can join us. So when I started hearing about outdoor playgroups, an increasingly popular alternative to meet-ups in houses and rec centers, I knew we had to check them out. We’ve mostly been going to the Growing Center (see below) because we live in Somerville, but all of the groups look like really fun (not to mention no-cost) ways to soak up the sunshine and fresh air while meeting new friends.

7 Drive-In Movie Theaters Near Boston

For me, a drive-in movie theater evokes memories of playing catch with family and friends on a warm summer night, then settling in to watch movies on the big screen until the kids fell asleep. Those were distant memories until I took my own family to the Mendon Twin Drive-in. The experience was exactly as I had remembered it, and we now try to make it to the drive-in at least once each summer. 

Read on for everything you need to know about a family night at the drive-in, including seven drive-in theaters in the region and five tips for enjoying your experience to the fullest. A few of them might be over an hour away, depending on where you live, but consider that a chance to pack PJs and send kids off to dreamland on the drive home.

7 Hidden Gem Beaches for Families Around Boston

With the Cape, North Shore, and South Shore a drive away, a day trip to a great Boston-area beach is always possible. The only drawback to the most popular beaches is, of course, crowds,—which can make parking, swimming, and watching after little kids somewhat stressful. If a lower key scene is what you're after, check out these sandy spots, which can all be reached in just over an hour from the city. 

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