12 Free Places to Play Indoors Around Boston

For families with energetic kids, perhaps the biggest bummer of colder weather is losing the ability to while away entire afternoons at a local playground. Sure, we're blessed with a bevy of spectacular indoor play zones here in Boston, but many charge $10 or more per child for an hour or two of fun. Sometimes, what kids (and exhausted parents) really need is the indoor equivalent of your neighborhood playground—an open, public space where they can pop in, monkey around, and socialize for an hour or two, no reservation or hefty admission required. We've tracked down a few spots in and around town where your kids can play—and you can take a load off—for free. (Note that none of these places allow you to drop kids off, unsupervised; but having some new toys and playmates to entertain them will definitely feel like a break.)

Helpful Tips for Watching the Head of the Charles

The Charles is a magnet for many Boston families, whether it's for a paddle down the river or a perfect fall day hanging out on the Esplanade. And this time of year, when the leaves are turning and the riverfront is at its most beautiful, countless families flock to the Head of the Charles Regatta, one of the world’s most competitive rowing races, when more than ten thousand rowers compete for nearly half a million spectators. Watching the rowers from the riverbank is an annual tradition for many Bostonians—but with the crowds and uncertain seating arrangements, it can be tricky to navigate with kids. After several years of attending the Head of the Charles, I have some helpful hints to keep you and your family warm and happy while you watch the race.

Build an Indoor Obstacle Course for Kids in 7 Easy Steps

When beautiful fall days turn into gray, wintry ones that get dark at 4pm, you need ideas of things to do indoors, including sneaky exercise games for the kids. Or, why not build an obstacle course for your kids? They'll love the challenge of having to complete each task, and you'll love the energy it can burn off and time it will keep them occupied. The best part? You can build this one with things you already have around the house. So read on for our guide to building your own in seven easy steps.

10 Free Things to Do with Boston Kids This Week: Oct 16-20

There's lots to love about fall—the crisp weather, the beautiful leaves, and, we're finding, a veritable cornucopia of free activities. This week, the challenge isn't finding affordable family entertaining and enrichment, it's choosing among all the no-cost things to do. Our local libraries are featuring hands-on fun of all sorts, from drama to cooking to science. There are tide pools to explore in Watertown and car seat safety lessons to learn in Sharon. And don't miss the annual Frog Pond pumpkin float—the photo ops alone are worth the (free) admission!

Craving more? Browse our event listings—we add new things to do everyday.

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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Science Meets Football: Catch the New Gridiron Glory Exhibit at the MOS

To say Boston loves its Pats would be an understatement. So it makes sense that the Museum of Science's newest exhibit would be an homage to the sport that this town obsesses over for at least half the year. On Sunday, "Gridiron Glory," considered the biggest exhibit about American football ever created, opened at the MOS, and my three boys and I got an early peek. Even if you or your kids aren't football fanatics, read on: There are plenty of interesting scientific and interactive elements—physics! computer stations! a broad jump area!—to keep most any visitor intrigued. And don't miss these other kid-friendly fall and winter museum exhibits...there's something for everyone in our lineup.

Weekend Fun for Boston Kids: Archeology, Concerts, and Rubber Ducks, Oct 14-15

Calling all budding archaeologists! This weekend there is not one but two family-friendly digs for anyone interested in discovering what secrets lie underground beneath our feet. Speaking of making new discoveries, there's also a nature and art lab featuring Lego critter creations; the Constitution sails once again; and 3,000 rubber ducks are invading Boston Harbor. Kids can makes some Halloween creations (parents too!), Scott Jameson is hosting a magic show, and KERPLUNK!

Free Classes for Boston Kids

Raising a kid doesn't come cheap. There's childcare, plus the downright shocking amount of diapers, clothing, shoes, and food growing bodies go through; tack on some fancy programs, and costs really hit the roof. But that doesn't mean affordable enrichment classes aren't out there; in fact, there are some great programs in and around Boston where kids can learn and hone new skills, at no cost to you. We've listed some of our freebie faves below; and don't forget to check out our new Deals page for lots of free trial classes in and around town.

Weekday Picks for Boston Kids: Sukkot, Fossil Day, and French Fries; Oct 10-13

Here we are, in the thick of autumn harvest season; and along with other fall activities that bring our kids closer to the earth, this week is full of opportunities to discover treasures from the ground. Kids can learn from paleontologists and get an up-close look at some very cool specimens on National Fossil Day, or dig into a farm garden for the makings of a special treat on "Fryday.

There's also a kid-friendly celebration of Sukkot in the Metrowest burbs, and a heartwarming, interactive play about a spelling bee in those parts, too. And don't forget all the Halloween fun, most free, that's sure to get your kids excited for trick-or-treat day. There are even more ideas on our Events Calendar—check in often, since we're adding new activities to the mix each day.

The deCordova: An Art Museum That's Just Right for Families

Art museums and kids aren't always a natural pairing. But here in Boston, cultural institutions like the Museum of Fine Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Art go out of their way to be welcoming to children, providing them with special guides at the door and recurring educational programs. But our family's favorite is one that remains relatively under the radar, tucked away as it is in the farmland of Lincoln: The deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, which reopened on October 6 after a month-long closure as new exhibits were installed. Here are some tips for making a perfect day of it–and helping children appreciate the art and nature that surrounds them.


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