When you have active little ones, and live in a region that requires a winter jacket almost half the year, you've gotta have some ideas up your puffer coat sleeve for indoor fun. Good news is, Boston and its 'burbs meet the needs of stir-crazy kids (and their parents) with plenty of options for things to do inside on cold or rainy days. From play zones to award-winning libraries to some of the best museums in the area, we'ved assembled a bucket list of can't-miss inside activities that are unique to our chilly city.
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Picking the" best" sledding hills is dicey business. Like sports teams and pizza places, most people are partial to the ones they grew up living near, and going to; proposing that someone crosses town lines to sled seems ludicrous, even treasonous, to some. Yes, a big part of the fun of sledding is running into (sometimes literally) the neighbors you haven't seen since the end of Daylight Saving Time. And yet, we still think it's a blast to throw the saucer or tube in the back of the car and scout out some fresh terrain—sledding tourism, if you will. Luckily, because we live in a manageable-sized city, it's reasonable to hill-hop when sled-worthy days are plentiful. Here are sledding spots we think are worth driving to; and if you haven't missed our rundown of places to go tubing, check that out, too.
Despite the expense, the cold, and the gauntlet of gearing up kids, family ski trips are tough to beat. Skiing is one of the few sports where kids can quickly learn to meet—or in our family, surpass—parents' ability, and conquering a tough slope or cruising together down an easy one are the stuff of great and lasting memories. That said, not all ski resorts make it easy for families to deal with real parenting needs while on the slopes, but we found some gems that do. A few weeks ago, we covered great nearby spots for first-time skiers within an hour of Boston, and this week we venture northward to find resorts in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine that cater to families with plenty of green slopes, daycare, lots of food options, condo-style lodging, and more. Here are our picks.
For parents, New Year's Day is a time to focus on the 3 Rs: rest, resolutions, and—finally!— routines, which we can all finally get back to now that holiday "break" has passed. But even for those of us who couldn't be more eager for the rhythms of school and work to start again, it's a treat to take one last day to close out the holiday season and officially welcome winter. Here's what's happening—or simply open—on January 1.
What holiday show is blissfully brief, requires no reservations, allows spectators to jump around, and—best of all—free? Tailor-made for revelers with limited attention spans and a penchant for eye candy, Blink! is a growing Boston tradition that's splashier than ever this year with more colors and songs, and special events for kids. Centered around the 85-foot fir tree (the Northeast's largest) in the middle of the Faneuil Hall marketplace, Blink! is a light show incorporating some 350,000 LED bulbs set to flash in time to piped-in holiday music, from Mariah Carey to the Pops.
Homemade gifts are sooo adorable; a home covered in glue and paint, not so much. Holiday time and winter weekends are an ideal to time for kids to unleash their creativity, preferably a distance from your own upholstery. With "open studio" hours that welcome kids without a reservation, these crafty spots provide a variety of artistic materials for children to choose from and plenty of room to experiment. They'll be entertained; and you may even get a cute keepsake for yourself out of the bargain.
All elementary schoolers learn about the first Thanksgiving and early Native American and colonial life. But did you know that Boston kids are less than an hour away from a living museum where this era is reenacted almost everyday? Plimoth Plantation, located 2.5 miles north of modern-day Plymouth, is a wonderful place to visit anytime, but is particularly special during November and December when seasonal presentations and historic feasts bring the first holidays to life. Bundle up and make plans for a cozy, fascinating day on this bustling property; whether they share a meal with a "pilgrim" or play a traditional game with a member of the Wampanoag Nation, your kids will definitely leave Plimoth with a taste of how their New England forebears lived.