If your plans for winter break include a staycation right here in Boston, you're in luck, because there are tons of cool things to do while the kids are off of school between February 19th and 23rd. Along with some very special exhibits, performances, and activities, we've discovered some drop-off programs for kids of parents who need childcare (or just a break). We're also happy to report that there are also oodles of events that are free (or nearly free). True, none of these events involve lounging on the beach with a tropical drink; on the plus side, they're all easy to get to—and easy on the wallet.
Culture and Brainy Fun
1. Catch a free movie—there's one each night from Monday through Thursday—at Faneuil Hall.
2. Learn the "untold stories" of some inspiring black Americans while soaking up poetry and art-making at the Mary Baker Eddy Library.
2. Brick heads, alert! The new Star Wars-themed Miniland is now open at the Legoland Discovery Center, and all are invited to participate in Star Wars-themed scavenger hunts and free builds all week long.
4. ILowell Kids Week offers everything from free crafts to movies to inventor workshops—all for free. (Just be sure to check out the full schedule and register in advance.)
Feb Fest. Photo courtesy of MIT Museum
5. MIT is celebrating National Engineers Week with their annual Feb Fest—build and learn along with students and scientists!
6. Play gallery games at the Institute of Contemporary Art, and on select days (and see New England Aquarium animals and make art on select days).
7. Celebrate the Year of the Dog at the Children's Museum with all sorts of Lunar New Year activities.
8. There are drop-in, peace-themed art-making activities every day at the Museum of Fine Arts, along with story hours on the 19th, 20th, and 21st.
9. Prepare to marvel (and be a little grossed out) at the brand-new Harvard Museum of Natural History Microbial Life exhibit.
10. you'd simply like to explore some cultural institutions you've never visited (or haven't in awhile), several local museums offer free admission for children (accompanying caregivers in most cases still pay regular admission).
11. Bring the whole gang to a family afternoon at Brockton's Fuller Craft Museum.
12. Enjoy loads of drop-in activities, like Egyptian tablet making, at the Harvard Semitic Museum.
Photo courtesy of Children's Winter Fest
13. The annual Winter Festival will take place on Boston Common on Wednesday, Febuary 21, and include such wonders as the 30-foot-high inflatable Everest Climb N Slide, a 45-foot-long toboggan tunnel, a snow maze, and free skating (and rentals!) on the Frog Pond.
14. If downtown isn't your style, taking the kids on a hike or a winter walk are certainly great ways to shake off cabin fever.
15. Do your part for nature and science by participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count, which can happen right in your own yard.
16. Both the Franklin Park and Stone Zoos will be celebrating the "Analympics": Zookeepers will be hosting special chats about animals' feats of speed and agility and giving critters special enrichment treats and toys to show off their unique physical skills.
17. Motivated by the graceful skaters of the Olympics? Lace up for free skating at these local indoor rinks or low-cost skating at these charming outdoor rinks across Greater Boston.
18. Hit the slopes at one of these nearby ski hills, all worthy of a day trip.
19. An even simpler way to make the most of cold weather: Snowshoeing at one of these local parks, which is great fun (and great exercise).
20. See a free performance of Hansel and Gretel by Boston Lyric Opera in the West End.
21. Sit close to a real ballerina at storytime with the Boston Ballet.
22. Hear the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" bossanova style and other Brazilian music at free performances by Sulinha's Trio at five different branch libraries.
23. Love bubbles? Mike the Bubble Man will be visiting six libraries over break!
24. Kids can play and try instruments at instrument "petting zoos" in Lawrence, the South End, and the Fields Corner library.
25. Dare to Dream? Disney is back with their wildly popular (and downright inspiring) ice show.
26. What's up, doc? The Bugs Bunny Festival is at the Brattle Theatre with shows all week long.
Kids in the Kitchen. Photo courtesy of The Trustees
Drop-Off Camps & Clinics
26. Tire 'em out! My Gym is offering drop-off camps at their Framingham and Boston locations.
27. Kids can get their kicks in at a Presidents Day soccer clinic, and another soccer camp that's four days long.
28. Outdoorsy types will love Rocky Ranger Vacation Adventure at Rocky Woods.
29. Bdding chefs can learn cooking and knife skills at Powisset Farm's Kids in the Kitchen program.
30. Let your kids go wild at the zoo! First through sixth graders will explore the world of endangered animals at Franklin Park Zoo February Vacation Week Program from Tuesday the 20th through Friday the 23rd.
Originally published on 2/8/2016. Updated by Lucie T. on 2/13/2017 and 2/11/2018.