Surely you've heard (or seen the giant billboard on the Pike) about the newest Museum of Science exhibit, Nature's Superheroes: Life at the Limits. Or, if you have an animal-crazed nature nut like my seven-year-old son, you haven't stopped hearing about it since learning the traveling exhibit was Boston-bound in 2019. My son and I checked it out the day after it opened, and weren't disappointed: From a micro-animal that could survive temperatures on Pluto to lizards that squirt blood out of their eyes, the fascinating, strange, and downright gross creatures we learned about are excellent kid-conversation fodder. Here's a preview if you decide to make a February staycation outing or winter day trip out of it.
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With three boys who are outgrowing indoor play spaces, I'm always on the hunt for spots where they can get their energy out in cold or wet weather. Indoor obstacle courses, bowling alleys, go-karts, and laser tag often fit the bill, but recently, I kept hearing other moms talk about a new place in Marlborough that combines these activities and more under one (ginormous) roof. The other week, we made the trek to Apex Entertainment Center, and after lifting jaws that had dropped to the ground at the place's sheer size—80,000 square feet!—my kids smiled and whooped their way through three hours of sporty and techie fun. Here's what to expect at the place that bills itself as New England's biggest family entertainment center.
Letting a restaurant take care of family dinner is the dream—until the kids find "nothing good" on the menu, everyone is antsy before drinks are even served, and a fat check arrives anyway. Luckily, Boston and the surrounding 'burbs are home to some fantastic, family-oriented restaurants. Some feature play areas where children can get their energy out while you linger over your meal. Others, listed here, allow kids to eat for free. At these local eateries, children dine gratis on certain days or times, allowing you to enjoy family time without stressing about the bill. We know what you'll be making for dinner tonight: reservations.
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.)
What's easier than skiing, more thrilling than sledding, and a wicked big deal here in the Boston area? We're talking about tubing, in which kids (and adventurous parents) can launch down a well groomed trail in a soft-sided innertube, maximizing both comfort and pure, giggle-inducing speed at once. What we love most about tubing is how pretty much everyone, from little kids to grown-ups, enjoy it. For a low-stress, relative low-cost family day that will earn you major points with the kiddos, check out one of these tubing parks, all within (or in two cases, around) a two-hour drive of Boston.
Teaching a child to ski is no easy feat. Between the gear, ticketing costs, and power struggles, it can often be a better bet to sign a child up for ski lessons. Luckily, within an 80-minute drive of Boston, there are a half-dozen simple ski facilities—five downhill mountains, and one cross country course—with gentle, wide-open slopes that are perfect for learning this great winter activity. All offer rentals and lessons, courtesy of experienced instructors who are accustomed to working with new (and sometimes overwhelmed) skiers, and a family-friendly atmosphere where a slopes-confident parent can, alternatively, have plenty of space to teach a child on their own. While a good snowstorm can happen at any time, the mountains are making as much snow as they possibly can. Call or register online ahead as far in advance as possible, and take heart—just like a potty training and two-wheeling, they will get the hang of it eventually! After a few lessons, your family may even feel a bit more ambitious and ready for a classic New England ski weekend getaway!
Ah, winter—the season of cozy togetherness, indoor fun, and, yes, the need to escape the house (at any cost). While a trip to a local museum or play place often fits the bill, sometimes, we all feel the need to stretch our horizons beyond the I-495 corridor. There's plenty of nearby skiing and indoor water park action to be had, of course, but in the event you're looking for something mellower (and, let's face it, cheaper), we have some ideas for you. Here are five day trips that allow you to wake up and fall asleep in your own beds, while packing in lots of beyond-Boston fun in between.
For some of us, it's a struggle to string our own little Christmas trees without losing a bulb (or our tempers). Others—including some of our Boston neighbors—are veritable pros at decking out their homes for the holidays. All over Boston and the 'burbs, there are spectacular public holiday light displays, but also families who've made a tradition of creating special sparkle on their own properties. So next time you have a free evening, pack some hot chocolate in a thermos, buckle up the kids, and take a road trip to see some of these joyful dwellings. It's sure to inspire holiday spirit (and maybe some ideas for your own abode). Note that some homes and neighborhoods might be still finalizing displays or take periodic days off...drop us a tip at email@example.com if you have any updates.