Ready or not, summer is just a few months away and it's time to plan a way to keep your Boston kids occupied. This is especially true for preschool-aged kids, for whom summer planning can be particularly tricky: They're old enough to want (and need) some mental and social stimulation outside the house, but not so mature that you can plant them at any old camp and trust they'll make do (or articulate why they're not). The good news is that the Boston area offers lots of great summer programs for preschoolers, from traditional day camps to out-of-the-box options. We've listed some of our favorite summer camps that cater to the little kids, even as young as toddlers.
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Dreaming of warm waters and balmy temperatures? A tropical vacation may be out of the question, but an indoor water park venture is just as thrilling for kids (and a lot less debilitating to the budget). We've reviewed seven water parks—some big and splashy, others small and convenient— that are within a one- to five-hour drive of Boston. Whether you’re looking for a quick day trip or a weekend escape, there are plenty of options for sneaking in some water fun before swimming season officially begins. No matter where you go, be sure to call ahead and check about special rates; and consider planning a trip for a weekday or weeknight outside of school vacation to steer clear of crowds.
Hayrides are an autumn ritual for many families. Depending on the age of your child, you might be in search of a gentle meander through fields or a spine-chilling adventure that sparks Halloween excitement. Dozens of Boston-area farms offer hayrides, and we’ve rounded up them up for you here. The best part? Most of these farms also offer other activities to entertain your family, like apple picking, corn mazes, and delicious cider doughnuts. Happy—or spooky—trails!
We all could use a dip in the pool during Boston's humid summertime. If you're looking for a little more than the basics you'll find at Boston's free or nearly free pools, you might want to consider paying for a day pass or a seasonal membership at one of the splashier aquatic centers around town or the 'burbs. Here are seven gloriously refreshing options, many with slides and spray features that will keep kids entertained all day. On a scorcher of a long day, the fees—and a bit of a drive, in some cases—will feel well worth it.
Playgrounds just aren’t what they used to be, and that's a good thing. As more attention is being paid to playground design concepts, the scorching metal slides and concrete jungle gyms of our childhood are giving way to nature-inspired layouts, brain-boosting equipment, and wheelchair-accessible structures that promote—and model for kids—inclusivity. These new-school playgrounds—two of which are also on our "destination playgrounds" list—are beautiful, safe spaces for kids of all ages and abilities to entertain and challenge themselves, so parents can watch from a distance as kids do what they were born to do: play.
If your Boston kid is enchanted by things that grow in the dirt, whether they're pea shoots or baby piglets, it might be time to consider farm camp. Trust me when I tell you your kids will love it—when else are children encouraged to get messy and play with farm animals? Hosting summer camp on the farm offers kids the chance to explore the countryside while still in close proximity to the city, and your kids will get to be outside, do a lot of learning about ecology and environmental science, and discover the wonders of vegetables.
Here are five summer farm camps within about a half hour of Boston in Newton, Waltham, Natick and more nearby cities and towns. Please check the websites or call for exact prices, which may fluctuate seasonally.
Zoos are a popular destination for families with kids of all ages—who doesn’t love to gawk at giraffes and roar like a lion? While Franklin Park Zoo is a popular (and wonderful) option, there are six others within a 90-minute drive of Boston that each offer something unique for animal aficionados. Whether it’s Franklin Park’s sister zoo in Stoneham or York’s Wild Kingdom in Maine, there is an option for you within day-trip distance, offering entrance to another world of miraculous and mysterious creatures not normally seen around Boston.
It's finally mid-April again, and Boston’s time to shine. Marathon Monday brings out the best of Boston, as half a million people come together to cheer on competitors from around the world. With 26 miles to choose from, it’s hard to know the best places to go to get the best view, while staying away from rowdy crowds. Here are a few spots along the marathon route where you can get a great view, while staying close to transportation and places to eat. If watching fife and drum brigades, battles, and other historical enactments is more your family's speed, check out these other Patriots' Day activity ideas.