A Perfect Fall Day in Boston With Kids: The Esplanade, Boston Common and the Public Garden

Thinking back to my first fall in Boston as a college student, one of my favorite memories is of a day spent outdoors exploring Boston Common, the Public Garden, and the Esplanade for the very first time. It was a perfect day, culminating in a They Might Be Giants concert at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade. That day, I fell madly in love. Not with my first college boyfriend (that was a couple of days later), but with the city of Boston in autumn.

Now I have kids in tow, and ironically, we would be just as likely to go to the Hatch Shell to see They Might Be Giants (since it's a band for kids now). And like that day a few (ahem) years ago, my idea of a perfect fall day in Boston means basking in the beauty of the city's great parks. Boston boasts other gorgeous green spaces like the Rose Kennedy Greenway and the Arnold Arboretum, but to me, there's nothing like strolling through the Public Garden and playing Frisbee on the Esplanade in the fall. Here are 20 of my favorite things to do on Boston Common, the Public Garden, and the Esplanade for a perfect fall day with kids in Beantown.

Fall Lineup of Concerts, Films and Entertainers Just for Kids - Two Boston-Area Series

Each year, two of our favorite local theaters - the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline and the Regent Theatre in Arlington - host special Saturday and Sunday morning shows just for families. The series, geared primarily to kids ages three to 10, run most weekends from October through April.

Many of the offerings are concerts, but there are also films, children's entertainers and dance performances. While there are a lot of well-known, local names on the rosters this season, there’s enough variety to keep families entertained throughout the season. Both theaters recommend purchasing tickets in advance, although you can try your luck at the door. Read on for details.

Family Nurturing Center: Free Parent-Child Playgroups in Boston

Toddlers thrive on structure and routine, but it can be hard to work circle time and play stations into life at home. Family Nurturing Center’s (FNC) free Parent-Child Playgroups in Boston neighborhoods provide an opportunity for stay-at-homers to experience Early Childhood education with their little ones. Children explore new toys and make friends under the guidance of Early Childhood specialists, while parents and caregivers get support for all of the specific challenges of caring for a one-to-five year old.

I have been taking my two-year-old to a Family Nurturing Center Parent-Child Playgroup in Roslindale for a little over a year now. Walking into the community center at Stonybrook Commons, where the group meets, is like walking into a well-funded daycare. The community center playroom has a play kitchen, dress-up clothes for pretend play, puzzles, a variety of different blocks, books, musical instruments, and my son’s all-time favorite: a bin full of cars, trucks and fire engines. 

Boston's New Carousel & Things To Do With Kids on The Greenway

Most likely you’ve heard of – or even lived through – one of the largest, most complex highway projects ever built in the United States. The Big Dig sent our noisy, polluted highways underground so that the lovely Rose Kennedy Greenway could emerge.  It sure took awhile, but boy, am I glad they figured it out! Today, the Greenway stretches the length of the central artery and is nestled in between popular Boston tourist sites like the New England Aquarium and Faneuil Hall.  It features gardens, plazas, and tree-lined promenades. Now, as of late August, it boasts a brand new carousel.

We set out on a sunny day for a ride on the new merry-go-round. Along the way, we found plenty of kid-friendly stops to recommend. Here they are, along with highlights from the carousel and a few bonus insider tips.

Party on the Farm: 5 Places Near Boston to Celebrate Your Child's Birthday

Fall is the perfect time for an outdoor celebration, and there’s no better place than a farm, where the harvest and happenings are plentiful. Whether your child is 2 or 12, a thrill-seeker or an animal lover, there’s a farm party package to fit almost every taste and budget. I’ve rounded up a few places just a short drive from Boston where your child can celebrate the big day with friends, family, and a whole lot of fun. Here are five farms that offer a range of options, including corn mazes, bouncy houses, hay rides, pumpkin decorating, apple picking, homemade gelato, and even a train ride to the party room!

Reporter's Notebook: Volunteering at the Museum of Science

When you take your children to the Museum of Science, chances are you'll encounter at least one museum volunteer while you're there - the men, women, and teens in red coats and aprons that are at almost all Museum of Science exhibits, activities and special programs. And chances are at least one of them will help your children with a special activity, show you where the bathrooms are, or recommend a particular exhibit to see.

I've been a museum visitor plenty of times, but I've often wondered what it was like for someone wearing the red coat. So when the opportunity to spend the day as a Museum of Science volunteer came up, I jumped on it. The most important thing I learned? There is no doubt that the museum values and appreciates its volunteers, and there is no doubt that its volunteers are integral to a positive museum experience.

I arrived for my shift not quite knowing what to expect.

9/11 - Things to Do with Kids in Boston on September 11

We had returned to the US after living overseas for seven years just three days before the terror of 9/11. While it was hardly the welcome home we had expected, with my husband working in NYC at the time (across the street from the WTC) and me trying to unpack boxes and settle two young children into new schools on my own, the day was for our family, as for so many others, a life-defining moment.

Lots of really good things have happened in the subsequent years, but each year, the anniversary of the attacks always gives us pause. There are many ways families can mark the day, remembering the victims and honoring the heroes. Whether you explore an exhibit, visit a memorial or volunteer to help others, there are enriching and educational things to do on September 11 with your kids, some of which we’ve listed below.


Music Classes for Kids in and Around Boston

Whether your child has dreams of being the next rock superstar or is content just humming along to his favorite tunes in the back seat of the car, chances are music is at least a small part of his or her day. For parents looking for ways to help their kids make more music, the choices for classes and instruction appear endless. While we could never cover every one of these programs in one post, we have rounded up some of our favorites in and around Boston.

We’d love your help in growing this list, so if you and your little maestros have a favorite place for music instruction, please add your good experiences in the comments field below, or email us your suggestions. And if you're looking for other types of classes and lessons (sports, art, preschool, after school), please check out our Classes Guide.

Southwick's Zoo: A Zoo Like No Other

Southwick’s Zoo is unlike any other zoo my family has ever visited, and let me tell you, we have been to a lot of zoos. My kids say Southwick's is like a zoo-themed theme park, and I think that’s an excellent way to characterize it. Here are 10 reasons to make the trek out to Southwick’s, plus 10 tips for getting the most from your visit. 

Castle Island in Boston: 10 Tips & 10 Things To Do With Kids

It's nearing the end of summer and half the city tends to empty out as beach goers head down to the Cape and Islands for last minute getaways.  If you are like me and choose staying local over fighting bridge traffic, you can still create your own little beach getaway right here at home.  Castle Island is a 22-acre recreation site located at the tip of the Harbor in South Boston, just 10 minutes away from the Central Artery.   Below are ten things to do there (and ten tips!) to help plan your trip to one of Boston's most popular destinations for tourists and residents alike.


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