Kids have boundless energy and idealist hearts, which makes them perfect volunteers. But it can be tricky to find giving opportunities open to the whole family. As any parent who’s tried to vacuum or bake cookies in the presence of a young child knows, little kids really, really want to help out, but making sure their efforts aren't counterproductive requires masterful delegation—or even creation—of tasks they can handle independently. Not surprisingly, many volunteer organizations limit involvement to kids who are in their pre-teens or older. Boston, luckily, is home to several organizations and activities designed with families and young kids in mind. If the community spirit of the marathon and Earth Day has you and your kids feeling inspired, read on for ways to give back.
Latest posts by Jon Gorey
Like your wise but slow-moving granddad, baseball is showing its age—its TV audience is now the oldest among major American sports. And so savvy teams like the Boston Red Sox are bending over backwards trying to get more young fans to the game. In just the past few years, for example, the Red Sox have added Gate K, a kid-friendly concourse in right field, along with Wally’s Clubhouse, a climate-controlled game room that’s open from the third to seventh inning. That’s in addition to bobblehead doll giveaways, pre-game entertainment on Yawkey Way, and other ongoing efforts to make Fenway more fun for your little one. We know, we know; there are a lot of spring activities around Boston that cost less; but if you time it right, a Fenway family outing might prove to be the highlight of the season.
There are plenty of family-friendly ways to get in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, from a free dose of Irish step dancing in Dorchester to the annual parade in South Boston. But perhaps the most authentic and enjoyable way to immerse the whole family in the Irish experience is right around the corner—at your neighborhood pub.
Kids at the pub? Absolutely. In Ireland, you see children in pubs all the time, especially in rural areas. Traditionally, the pub is the cultural focal point of the town. “Gathering as families is very important in Ireland. And for a whole variety of reasons—some as banal as the weather—the most ready place is the pub,” says Brian O’Donovan, native of West Cork and host of A Celtic Sojourn on WGBH 89.7 FM. “They’re open to all without invitation and provide warm, congenial spaces to chat with neighbors, find out what’s happening, share or listen to a song or tune, or even join in a dance. I think that tradition and welcoming atmosphere has passed over here to their American equivalents."
Now, be sensible: I’m not recommending that you drag your kids to the jam-packed downtown pubs after work on Friday, where the drunken revelry of St. Patrick’s Day can rival that of New Year’s Eve. But if there’s a true Irish pub in your neighborhood, it’s likely fine to bring the kids for lunch or an early dinner—and some places even go out of their way to welcome the whole family.
Much like air travel, going to a Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox, or Patriots game is expensive enough for just one person, much less an entire family. Fenway Park, of course, is consistently ranked the priciest ballpark in America when it comes to tickets, concessions, and parking. Tickets to see the Patriots at Gillette Stadium—if you can even get them—average $90 apiece, making it the 6th most expensive place to see an NFL game. And the median price of a single Bruins ticket on the resale market is currently $170, according to VividSeats.com.
The good news: We’ve got dozens of colleges in and around Boston, many of which host competitive, exciting, top-tier games in all of those sports and more—for a fraction of the price.
The Patriots are in the Super Bowl this Sunday, and if you have children, they're probably just as stoked as you to watch it. But while your toy-strewn living room might have sufficed for an early season matchup, it may not inspire the appropriate excitement now that the team is playing in the biggest game of the year, with a chance to make history. Then again, you don't want to take the kids to a crowded, testosterone- and beer-soaked bar, either. So, to kick off a fabulous February of fun events with kids, we've compiled a number of family-friendly venues around Boston where you can take the whole clan to cheer on the Pats with fellow fans.