What to Do with Kids in Boston

This post covers things to do with kids in Boston, including free options, nighttime activities as well as places to eat. This post is intended for tourists and visitors and is updated for 2020.

 

 


TOP 10 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO

In the following section, we will cover our top ten things to do with kids in Boston. We’ll be sure to make a note whenever any of these activities are fun after the sun goes down, free to enjoy or good ideas for older kids.

You can also find more family-friendly attractions and events on our list of things to do in Boston.

Don’t forget that some of the most popular attractions in this city are included with various different Boston tourist passes. This is a great way to save money on the best activities in the city.

 

 

If you want to learn more about Beantown, consider taking one of our pay-what-you-want Boston walking tours. There are also hop-on-hop-off bus tours you can take and boat tours which cover a lot of interesting details about this historic location.


1) Walk the Freedom Trail

Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States, and there are a lot of historically relevant things to see and do while you’re here.

If your children are currently in grade school, chances are that they’ll be learning all about our nation’s history. As such, a visit to Boston represents an excellent opportunity to bring the story of this country to life before their very eyes.

 

 

Thankfully, there is a walking trail that includes most of the notable landmarks in the area. The Freedom Trail is pretty easy to find because it is marked by a brick pathway that extends throughout the city.

While walking this path, you’ll see notable sites such as Paul Revere’s House, the Old South Meeting House, Faneuil Hall, the Old North Church, and the Granary Burial Ground.

You can walk this trail for free, but we actually provide a pay-what-you-want guided tour of the Freedom Trail which will include a lot of valuable information about each of the major sites along the path.

Alternatively, you can use our free self-guided tour of the Freedom Trail to learn more about the history of Boston.


2) Visit a Museum

There are a lot of great museums to see in Boston, including several locations that kids might enjoy. While some places cover historical details about the city, others are more focused on providing hands-on experiences for young visitors.

One of the more popular locations for kids is the Boston Children’s Museum. Kids are encouraged to interact with exhibits and learn through play.

This is almost like an inside playground where they can actually discover things about the world around them that they might not have known about.

 

 

Tickets are somewhat affordable, and admission is included with the Go Boston Card.

If your kids love firefighters, the Boston Fire Museum is another great place to visit. Admission is always free, and they provide a lot of artifacts from throughout the history of firefighting in this city.

There are dozens of additional museums in Boston that kids will love. If you want to learn more about some of the other locations you can take them, check our full list of family-friendly museums.


3) Go to a Concert/Musical

There are a lot of great venues in Boston that host concerts throughout the year. You never know which musical artists will show up in this city, but chances are that at least a few of them will be kid-friendly and potentially even family appropriate.

Check out our things to do by month posts for concerts taking place when you are here.

In addition to some great live music, you could also take your children to a musical or a theatrical performance. Productions such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and School of Rock have been available in Boston in the past, so it’s very likely that whenever you choose to come, there will probably be a fun show to see with the kids.

 

 

Alternatively, you may also want to consider going to a puppet show. Faneuil Hall offers the Rosalita Puppet Show for free and there is also a popular option known as Puppet Showcase Theater in Brookline Village which doesn’t cost much to enjoy.

If all else fails, there are usually a lot of street performers in large public areas (such as Faneuil Hall). These performances are typically free, although they do accept donations.


4) Grab Some Kid-Friendly Grub

In addition to all of the great seafood and clam chowder you’ll find in Boston, there are also a lot of family-friendly restaurants with great menu items that your children will enjoy.

The Friendly Toast is a great family-style restaurant with tons of great breakfast foods available. One of their most interesting options is a breakfast sandwich with french toasted donuts, a meal that is sure to be a hit with younger visitors. This is a wonderful place to grab a bite, and it’s right across the street from a playground.

If you happen to see the yellow Roxy’s Grilled Cheese food trucks parked nearby while you’re doing some sightseeing, consider dropping in for one of the tastiest grilled cheese sandwiches you’ll ever eat.

Emack & Bolio’s is one of the best places to get a treat in Boston. A very popular menu item is an ice cream cone with sweet cereal plastered all over using a marshmallow coating.

For more delicious food that your kids will love, make sure to read our list full of family-friendly restaurants below.


5) Attend a Sporting Event

Boston hosts several professional sports teams throughout the year, so no matter when you visit, chances are you’ll have the opportunity to attend a game. If you have any young sports fans in your family, this could be a great activity.

You can tour Fenway Park

 

Here are a few of the more popular teams in this city:

  • Baseball | Red Sox (April – October)
  • Basketball | Celtics (October – April)
  • Hockey | Bruins (October – June)
  • Football | Patriots (September – December)
  • Soccer | Revolution (March – October)

If you’re interested in college sports, it’s worth noting that this city has several collegiate teams playing throughout the year.

In particular, Boston is a great city to visit if you’re interested in the NCAA. There are 7 different teams that compete in Division I alone, so there should be plenty of great games to attend.

TIP: Red Sox fans should keep in mind that both tickets and tours of Fenway Park are included with the Go Boston Card. This is a great way to save money on both activities.


6) Visit a Playground

Most cities have at least a few public playgrounds, so it probably won’t surprise you that there are plenty to choose from in Boston. 

One example is the Esplanade Playspace, which is located right across from the Hatch Shell in the park. Further down the Esplanade, you’ll find the Charles Bank Playground just past the Alfond Memorial Spray Deck.

You’ll also find the Tadpole Playground in Boston Common. This play area is right next to the Frog Pond, a popular wading pool for children in the summer.

Just west of here you’ll find the Swan Boats which are perfect for kids during the warmer months of the year, and they are included for free with the Go Boston Card.

If you want to find even more great playgrounds you can visit in Boston, make sure to read our much larger list in the free things to do section.


7) Enjoy Some Sightseeing

Of course, our pay-what-you-wish walking tours are #1. They are high-energy and fast paced and your kids (and wallet/purse) will love them. 

If you’re looking for a great way to discover Boston with your family, you may want to consider taking a Duck tour. These amphibious vehicles will drive you through the city and head directly into the water for a quick cruise through the Boston Harbor.  

Tickets are included with the Go Boston Card.

 

 

Alternatively, you may also want to consider taking a Boston Trolley Tour. These trolleys are pretty fun for kids, and they will take you to each of the major landmarks in the city. Much like the Duck tours, this service is also included with more than one Boston tourist pass.

Parents with older kids who are more interested in the haunted history of Boston may want to consider taking a ghost/crime tour instead.

We offer a Beacon Hill Crime Tour which covers a lot of the darker criminal history behind the city in ghostly detail. As with all of our tours, this one is pay-what-you-wish!

Another affordable option is Boston By Foot, which offers a walking tour specifically aimed at children from 6-12 years old. During this walk, they will see such sites as the first public school in America, the location of the Boston Tea Party, and even the statue of Benjamin Franklin.


8) Check Out Some Kid-Friendly Attractions

There are a lot of great places in Boston for kids to visit with their parents. One of the best places to visit is LEGOLAND, which has a variety of fun activities for kids to enjoy. Even if you don’t want to pay for entry, there is a LEGO store on-site that your children can visit for free.

 

 

Visitors who are looking for free things to do might want to consider a trip to the New England Aquarium for their free Harbor Seals exhibit.

Alternatively, you could also go to Harvard Square and see the Curious George store.

For more great attractions, make sure to visit our free things to do, nighttime activities and fun with older kids sections.


9) Take a Day Trip

If you’re going to be in the Boston area for a while, you might want to consider making a day trip to one of the many popular locations nearby.

History buffs may want to consider a trip to towns such as Salem, Concord, Plymouth, Lexington or Cape Cod. Each of these locations played a pretty interesting role in the story of our nation, and there is a lot to see and do while you’re in the area.

 

 

Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a bit more fun, you might want to consider a trip to Six Flags New England, which is roughly 1 ½ – 2 hours outside of Boston.

Tickets to this fantastic amusement park are included with the Go Boston Card, which means you’ll only have to pay for the road trip!

This tourist pass also includes tickets for the HighFlyer Zipline at Foxwoods Resort & Casino, which is about 2 hours outside of the city. Aside from gambling, there is also an arcade and bowling lanes for families at this location. In addition to these activities, you might also visit when a popular family-friendly concert is taking place.

Needless to say, there are a lot of great things to see and do just outside of Boston. Keep a day trip in mind if you start to get tired of city life!


10) Consider Getting a Tourist Pass

No matter what you choose to do while visiting Boston, you should probably think about getting a tourist pass to save some money on several popular family-friendly activities. The following attractions are included at a sharp discount with at least one Boston tourist pass.

 

 

  • Boston Duck Tour
  • New England Aquarium
  • Boston Red Sox Ticket
  • Fenway Park Tour
  • Boston Trolley Tour
  • Skywalk Observatory
  • Boston Children’s Museum
  • Six Flags New England
  • Franklin Park Zoo
  • The Mapparium
  • LEGOLAND
  • Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
  • HighFlyer Zipline at Foxwoods Resort & Casino
  • Swan Boats of Boston Common
  • Museum of Science
  • Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
  • And more!

Depending on which service you choose, you could save up to 55% on admission prices for each of these locations. Some tourist passes also allow you to pick which attractions you want to visit as you go, allowing your kids to spontaneously decide where they want to go next.

For more details, make sure to read our full post covering Boston tourist passes.

 


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FREE THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS IN BOSTON

In this section, we will cover some of the best activities you can enjoy for free while spending quality time with your children in Boston.

If you want even more great ideas, consider checking out our post full of free things to do in Boston and/or watch the video below. 

 

 

Don’t forget to look at our other sections for things such as the Curious George store, the Astronomy After Hours and the Freedom Trail.

You may also want to think about taking one of our pay-what-you-wish walking tours which are very affordable (the price is up to you!).


Visit the Esplanade

There are a lot of great things to see and do at the Esplanade, and most of them are entirely free. Here are a few of the best activities you can enjoy without paying a dime:

See a Show at the Hatch Shell

During the warmer months, this outdoor venue provides a lot of great concerts, theatrical performances and other events which are entirely free to the public.

Go to the Playground 

You’ll find this wonderful playground near the Hatch Shell, and it’s the perfect place to take the kids before going to a free summer concert. Needless to say, it won’t cost a dime for your children to enjoy this attraction.

Alfond Memorial Spray Deck 

If you head up the Esplanade a bit, you’ll eventually run into this great little water park for kids. Jets of water spray up from below, and you never quite know when or where they will come!

Charles Bank Playground 

Believe it or not, there is yet another playground available on the Esplanade. This one is close to the Alfond Memorial Spray Deck, and it’s a great place to take your kids if you’re planning to be in the area. 


See the Harbor Seals at the New England Aquarium

Believe it or not, there is actually one thing at the New England Aquarium that you can enjoy without the purchase of a ticket. While we recommend paying for admission to see everything they have to offer, their Harbor Seals exhibit is entirely free.

 

 

All you have to do is walk over to the right of the ticket booths and you’ll see the seals in their habitat near the entrance to the building. There you will have the chance to see these beautiful aquatic animals as they play around and have fun.

If you want to see the rest of this fantastic aquarium, don’t forget that admission is included with both the Boston CityPASS and the Go Boston Card. Using these services, you could get tickets for more than half off full price.


Go to a Playground

As we mentioned in the Top 10 section, there are a lot of great playgrounds for kids in the Boston area. While we can’t cover all of them, this list will provide details about a few of the more popular locations where your kids can run around and have some fun for free!

Tadpole Playground

  • Near the Frog Pond in Boston Common
  • Close to the Freedom Trail

Esplanade Playspace

  • Located at the Esplanade
  • Near the Hatch Shell
  • Close to the Harbor

Charles Bank Playground

  • Near the Alfond Memorial Spray Deck
  • On the Esplanade
  • Not far from the Hatch Shell

Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park

  • Near the Harbor
  • Close to the Rose Garden
  • Across the street from Greenway Carousel

North Point Park

  • Close to the Museum of Science
  • Near Duck Boat Crossing
  • Great selection for both young and old kids

Alexander W. Kemp

  • Close to Harvard
  • Several wooden structures
  • Located in Cambridge Common

Frieda Garcia Park

  • Across the street from The Friendly Toast
  • Near Fenway Park
  • Great Jungle Gyms

Franklin Park

  • Close to the zoo
  • Plenty of room to run around
  • Great place for a hike

If you’re looking for even more great playgrounds, check our post, Free Things to Do in Boston for an even bigger list. 


Ride the T

If you’re going to be traveling around the Boston city center, you might want to consider riding their subway system (known informally as the “T”). While tickets are required to ride the T, the price is so low that it’s practically free.

This transportation system stretches throughout the city and it’ll take you pretty much anywhere you want to go. 

 

 

Even if you’re just planning to use this service to reach some of the more historic locations in the city, it’s a great way to get around.

Their train lines will take you to locations such as the Old State House, Faneuil Hall, the Symphony Hall, the Museum of Science, and TD Garden (home of the Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins).

For more information about how to ride the T and get the most out of your experience, read our post about navigating the Boston subway system


Go to a Free Museum

There are a lot of great museums you can visit in Boston for free. While some only open their doors to the public on certain days, others are always free to visit no matter when you choose to come.

It’s also worth noting that there are a few locations that offer heavily discounted tickets at specific times, and others that offer admission to children at no extra cost.

Most of the free museums are focused on the history of Boston. One great example is the U.S.S. Constitution Museum, where you can actually take a tour of Old Ironsides. While they request a donation, it is not required to pay anything to get inside.

If you’re going to be in the area of this historic vessel, consider stopping by the Bunker Hill Museum. Not only do they offer free admission, but they actually provide passes to climb to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument.

These aren’t the only museums that children can visit for free in Boston. For other museums your kids can visit at no additional cost, make sure to check our list of family-friendly museums. 


Visit Faneuil Hall

This historic marketplace is actually one of the best places to take your kids if you want to enjoy some free activities. Not only are there businesses that offer fun attractions at no cost, but chances are that you’ll also run into some talented street performers while you’re in the area.

If you have younger kids, they might be interested in seeing Rosalita’s Puppets. This puppet show is held every day at 10:30 am right outside Wagamama. When the weather gets wet or cold, they will sometimes hold this show in the nearby rotunda.

 

 

Alternatively, there is also an art class offered for free just outside of Uniqlo. Kids are welcome to create their own artwork and all materials will be provided for them.

When the kids get a little tuckered out, take a look around the market to see if any stores are offering free samples. Faneuil Hall is noted for being one of the most popular locations in Boston to score some free treats from time to time!

If you’re looking for even more to do, keep in mind that there is actually a free tour you can take at the nearby Quincy Market.


Spend Some Time at Harvard Square

If you’re going to be visiting Harvard, make sure to stop by this location to see if there is anything going on. Harvard Square is often the site of several events in Cambridge, including carnivals, musical performances, and even chocolate tasting festivals!

In addition to these activities, you can also drop by the Curious George store which is right across the street. While the products they sell won’t be free, they don’t charge anything to enter and look around.

 

 

This is the only store in the world that exclusively features items based on Curious George, one of the most beloved children’s books of all time.

After spending some time in this general area, you might want to think about heading North to Cambridge Common. This is where you’ll find the Alexander W. Kemp playground, which is a great place for kids to have some fun.

Alternatively, it’s worth noting that Harvard University provides free tours throughout the year. Even if you choose to visit at a time when these services are not available, you can always take our pay-what-you-wish Cambridge and Harvard Tour or simply take our self-guided Harvard Tour instead. 


Go to the LEGO Shop

Located at the site of the LEGOLAND Discovery Center, this LEGO store is actually a pretty good place to take your kids without worrying about your budget.

The LEGO Shop is free to visit and they have a lot of building blocks for your kids to play with on-site. They don’t charge a dime for these play areas, so you don’t actually have to spend anything while you’re here.

In addition to the free play areas, there are also special events from time to time where they will give away a small playset or a limited edition minifig.

If you’ve got a LEGO fan in your house, they definitely won’t want to miss out on these awesome giveaways. Keep an eye on their events page to find out when the next big free activity is scheduled to take place.

TIP: If your kids just can’t handle getting that close to LEGOLAND without going inside, keep in mind that admission is actually included with the Go Boston Card.

For more information and ideas for fun activities, make sure to read our post about free things to do in Boston

 


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NIGHTTIME ACTIVITIES

In addition to all the great activities for children during the day, there are several fantastic attractions you can visit with your family at night. This section will cover a handful of places that your kids might want to see after dark.

Don’t forget to check our other sections for ideas such as the Children’s Museum, concerts/musicals, Lego-land, visiting Faneuil Hall and sporting events, all of which take place at night or have night hours.

We also have even more nighttime activities that are family-friendly on our things to do at night in Boston post.


Enjoy Some Stargazing

Despite the fact that Boston is a pretty big city, there are still a few great places to see the stars. Best of all, each of these locations actually offers free nights for families to visit and explore the universe.

The Museum of Science offers an event known as Astronomy After Hours on Friday evenings from April – October. On clear nights, you can use their telescopes to see planets, stars, the moon, and many other fantastic things in outer space.

 

 

Alternatively, you can also head to Coit Observatory on Wednesday nights throughout the year. They offer a similar opportunity to the public which requires tickets to enter.

Thankfully, the tickets are entirely free and all you have to do is request them ahead of time. There is limited space available, so it will be important to ask for tickets as early as possible.

Though these are the main free stargazing options in Boston, you can visit at least one of these locations on other nights for a similar experience.

Admission to the Museum of Science is included with both the Boston CityPASS and the Go Boston Card.


Go on a Haunted Tour

With a history that stretches back to the foundation of the United States, Boston is often considered one of the most haunted locations in the entire country. As a result, there are quite a few tours you can take which focus on some of the darker stories from the city.

 

 

One of the most popular options comes in the form of a spooky bus tour. The Ghosts & Gravestones Tour will take you to four locations in Boston that are thought to be haunted.

In addition to driving around to see some of the creepiest sites, this service also includes walks through two of the oldest graveyards in the city.

Alternatively, you can also take our pay-what-you-wish Beacon Hill Crime Tour. This trip will cover subjects such as the Boston Strangler and several other grisly murders that have taken place in this city over the years.

While these tours might be a good idea for younger children, it might be a hit with older kids and teens who won’t get too frightened.


See the City from an Observation Deck

One of the best ways to see Boston is from a viewing deck such as the Skywalk. Thankfully, this popular landmark is actually open after dark, allowing you to get a good look at the city lights at night.

Though it is only open until 8 pm during the winter, hours are extended until 10 pm in the warmer months. We have a post on Boston observation decks.

 

 

If you’re looking to save money on admission, tickets are included on both the Boston CityPASS and the Go Boston Card.

Another option is to head to the old Boston Customs House, which has one of the best observation decks in the city. Although this historic landmark is now a Marriott Hotel, you can still visit the 26th floor where this viewing deck is located. 


Go on a Sunset Cruise

Most of the cruise services offered at night are dinner cruises, and some of them offer a buffet-style meal which will give your children the opportunity to pick their own food.

 

 

In addition to these services, you may also want to consider a tall ship or sailboat cruise. During the warmer months, this is a great way to see the city during the evening.

In the summer, some companies actually provide pirate ship cruises which are perfect for kids. While most of them take place during the day, you might be able to charter a trip such as this if you have the money for a private outing.

For more details about taking a cruise after dark or at sunset, make sure to read our post about Boston boat tours.


Spend a Night at the Museum

In addition to all of the free museums you can visit in Boston, there are also quite a few locations you can visit after dark. While you can’t necessarily stay overnight, the following museums offer later hours than most.

This is a great way to cap off the night and wind down after a fun and exciting day.

  • Museum of Science
    • Open until 9 pm on Friday
  • Children’s Museum
    • Open until 9 pm on Friday
    • Tickets for only $1 from 5 pm – 9 pm on Friday
  • Boston Fire Museum
    • Open from 5 pm – 8 pm on Friday
    • Free to visit
  • Museum of Fine Arts
    • Open until 10 pm Wednesday – Friday
    • Free for kids 6 and under
  • Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
    • Open until 9 pm on Thursday
    • Free for kids under 17
    • Free for anyone named Isabella

Each of these locations has exhibits that kids can enjoy, and the Museum of Science even offers their Astronomy After Hours program during the warmer months. Most of these museums are also free or very cheap for kids, making it easy to drop in at the end of the day without worrying about your budget.

TIP: Admission for both the Museum of Science and the Museum of Fine Arts is included with each of the major Boston tourist passses. You can also get tickets for the Children’s Museum and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum with the Go Boston Card.


Take the Kids Bowling

This is always a great activity to enjoy with your children after the sun goes down, and there are several great bowling alleys in Boston.

One of the best options available is actually a restaurant known as King’s Dining & Entertainment. If you’re familiar with places like Dave & Busters, this establishment should be somewhat familiar. In addition to great food, they also have bowling lanes, arcade games, sports TV and more.

There is also a Lucky Strike bowling alley located in Somerville near the LEGOLAND. If you’re going to be in the area, this could be a great place to stop and enjoy a game of bowling. There is also a Lucky Strike in the Fenway area, which is obviously close to Fenway Park.

Visitors in East Boston might want to check out the old-school Central Park Lanes. This location still uses traditional technology from back in the day, so it’s a great way to show your kids the roots of this popular game.

Check this list of the best places for bowling in Boston for even more great locations you can visit.


Go to a Musical or Concert

This is actually one of our top 10 activities to enjoy with kids, and it’s important to note that many of these shows are actually available after the sun goes down.

While some musicals and theatrical performances in Boston take place during the afternoon, a lot of them start between 7 pm – 8 pm at night.

Although it’s true that some of these shows aren’t aimed at children, there are a lot of great musicals and concerts that are family appropriate. Recent examples of this include School of Rock, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Blue Man Group and many others.

If you’re looking for a great show that your children will enjoy after dark, make sure to check our monthly posts covering fun things to do in Boston.

We typically include some of the best concerts and musicals available each month, making it easier to find an activity that you and your family can enjoy while you’re in the area.

We also have even more nighttime activities that are family-friendly on our things to do at night in Boston post.

 


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FAMILY-FRIENDLY RESTAURANTS IN BOSTON

We’ve already covered a few of the best restaurants for kids in our top 10 section, but there are plenty of great locations that offer a family-friendly experience. Here is a list of the best places in Boston to take your children for a meal.

If you’ve got a picky eater, consider taking the family-friendly Secret Food Tour. This outing includes samples of brick oven pizza, lobster rolls, cannoli, Italian sandwiches and more!

And if you are considering a tourist attraction discount pass, most offer some array of discounts to restaurants such as Hard Rock Cafe.

Hard Rock Cafe

  • Near Faneuil Hall
  • Rock & Roll inspired interior

King’s Dining & Entertainment

  • Bowling, Arcade & More
  • Close to Children’s Museum
  • Near Boston Fire Museum

Summer Shack

  • Close to Fenway Park
  • Beach inspired decor

The Friendly Toast

  • Breakfast food variety
  • Across from Frieda Garcia Park

James Hook & Co

  • Near the Boston Harbor
  • Great place for lobster rolls

Boston Chowda Co

  • Located at Faneuil Hall
  • Quick stop for great chowder

MMMac & Cheese

  • Located at Faneuil Hall

Regina Pizzeria

  • Great local pizza chain
  • Close to Esplanade

Finagle a Bagel

  • Close to the Hatch Shell
  • Great for a snack or breakfast

The Fill-A-Buster

  • Near Boston Common
  • Great burgers and fries
  • Traditional American fare

Boston Sail Loft

  • Close to Christopher Columbus Park
  • Fantastic seafood on the waterfront

Stash’s Pizza

  • Near Franklin Park Zoo
  • Variety of menu options

Tasty Burger

  • Right next to Fenway Park
  • Another location near Harvard
  • Open late, great food

Pinocchio’s Pizza & Subs

  • Near Harvard Square
  • Great pizzeria for families

Shake Shack

  • Near Harvard Square
  • Great burgers, fries and milkshakes

Roxy’s Grilled Cheese

  • Food trucks that travel around Boston
  • Great place to stop for lunch

Emack & Bolio’s

  • Close to Fenway Park
  • Great treats for kids

Mike’s Pastries

  • Near Paul Revere House
  • Cure your sweet tooth

This list would be a mile long if we mentioned every single restaurant that provides an excellent experience for kids, so just keep in mind that these are some of the best family-friendly locations where you can grab a bite to eat.

If you want to learn more about the various restaurants in Boston, there are several different food tours you can take. One great option is our pay-what-you-want Little Italy food tour, but there is also a Chocolate tour that covers a lot of great locations for anyone with a sweet tooth.

For a fun variation, take your kids on a Dinner Cruise! While some of these services offer a three-course meal, others provide a buffet-style dining experience that kids will love. This is a great way to do some sightseeing while letting your children pick their own food for dinner.

 


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THINGS TO DO WITH TEENAGERS

If your children are getting a bit older, chances are they won’t be as interested in things like playgrounds or the Curious George store. Even so, there are still quite a few fun activities you can enjoy with them.

This section will cover some of the best things to do in Boston with older kids. Don’t forget to check our other sections for additional ideas. 


Go to the Mapparium

This interesting attraction allows you to literally walk into the center of a globe. Older children who are learning about geography in school might enjoy the opportunity to see the Earth from an entirely different perspective.

 

 

The Mapparium is only accessible via a tour, but tickets are pretty affordable and it’s definitely worth the price of admission.

Although younger kids might not get as much out of the experience, this activity is actually free for kids 5 and under, so you can bring the whole family without worrying about your budget.

  • Tickets: $6/Adults | $4/Seniors, Students, Youth, Military
  • Free for children 5 and under
  • Free for Blue Star families
  • Availability: Daily
  • Hours: 10 am – 5 pm

TIP: Admission is included with the Go Boston Card. If you’re already planning to use this discount pass to save money, keep in mind that you can use it to visit this attraction for free.


Go on a Sightseeing Tour

While the Duck tours might not thrill your teenager, there are quite a few sightseeing tour opportunities in Boston that might pique their interests. We’ll cover a few of the best options for older children below.

 

 

Beacon Hill Crime Tour – Great for teens and young adults who are interested in criminal history. This is a pay-what-you-want walking tour.

Chinatown Tour – Always a fun place for teens and older kids. Sites include Hot Pot Buffet, Clay Pot Cafe, Peach Farm and more. This is a pay-what-you-want walking tour.

Ghost & Gravestones Bus Tour – This trip covers the supernatural history of Boston, which is great for kids who have an interest in otherworldly topics.

TV + Movie Tour – A lot of notable films and television shows have been shot in Boston. If your kids have an interest in film, consider taking them on one of these tours.

Little Italy Food Tour – If your kids love Italian food, this is a fantastic opportunity. On this trip, you’ll visit bakeries, pizzerias, pastry shops and other locations with wonderful treats. This is a pay-what-you-wish tour.

Segway Tour – This 2-hour tour will take you through Boston, Charlestown, and Cambridge. There’s no need to worry about falling off, because they provide 30 minutes of training time before departure. Helmets, bottled water, and ponchos are included for free. Not recommended for kids under 16 years of age. This activity is also included on the Go Boston Card.

These are just a few of the great sightseeing tours you can enjoy in this city. For more ideas, make sure to check our post about free walking tours in Boston.


See a Musical/Concert

As your kids get older, they might not have as much interest in seeing puppet shows or some of the musicals aimed at younger children. That said, there are still plenty of shows that teens and young adults might enjoy. During 2019-2020, you can expect some great performances to be available in Boston.

School of Rock – Based on the hit film, this touring musical tells the story about a substitute teacher who inspires his students to become a great rock band.

The Sound of Music – This classic musical tells a story that younger kids might not understand or appreciate, but older kids will probably enjoy.

Dear Evan Hansen – Aimed at teens and young adults, this musical tells the story of a high school boy who learns an unfortunate lesson after telling a lie that hurts an entire community.

Hello, Dolly – This is yet another example of a classic musical that younger audiences might not appreciate, but teens and young adults might enjoy.

Shows change and new ones come along so there will be endless possibilities that your older children might like to see. To see a list of musicals and concerts playing during your visit, see our posts on Things To Do in Boston listed by month.


Take Sailing Lessons

Although younger visitors might not be quite ready for this kind of activity, older kids and teens often jump at the opportunity to learn how to do something fun. There are a few different companies in Boston that provide sailing lessons to kids from the age of 10-17.

Community Boating Inc. offers a youth program during the summer where your kids can learn how to sail, paddle, or even windsurf. Prices depend on a variety of factors, but the all-inclusive cost will be no more than $350.

If you’re looking for sailing lessons in the spring or fall, Black Rock Sailing School offers their services from May 1st – October 1st. Pricing is available upon request, and you’ll have to contact them to figure out how much it will cost.

Alternatively, you can also just enjoy a nice sail during the warmer months. These services are usually a lot more affordable for families, but you won’t necessarily learn how to sail.

Instead, a sailing cruise is more about sightseeing and relaxing out on the harbor. For more information, make sure to read our post about sailboat tours in Boston.


Visit the John F. Kennedy Museum

When your kids start entering middle school/high school, they’ll be learning a lot more about some of our nation’s most famous and beloved presidents. John F. Kennedy is definitely one of the greats, and a trip to the JFK Museum is an excellent idea for older kids and teenagers.

This presidential museum features exhibits which include photographs, artifacts and historical information from throughout the lifetime of John F. Kennedy. One of the more interesting galleries focuses on the US Space Program, a subject your kids may be very interested to learn about.

  • Tickets: $14/Adults | $10/Teens (13-17) | $12/Students & Seniors
  • Free for kids 12 and under
  • Availability: Daily
  • Hours: 9 am – 5 pm
  • Purchase tickets or learn more

NOTE: Admission is included with the Go Boston Card. If you’re planning to visit a lot of popular attractions, this is a great way to save money while you’re in the city.


See the New England Holocaust Memorial

The subject of this historical event can be difficult for younger children to handle, but if you’ve got some older kids and teens with you, this could be a great attraction to visit. Located just down the street from Faneuil Hall, the New England Holocaust Memorial is actually included as a site on the Freedom Trail.

This memorial is an outdoor space and it’s open to the public for free, both day and night. There is a self-guided tour available that covers a lot of important information about the structure. Alternatively, you can also take a fully guided tour of the New England Holocaust Memorial if you make reservations ahead of time. Both tours are free of charge.

TIP: This site is just down the street from Faneuil Hall. If you’re going to be in the area, you might want to consider stopping by to have some fun at this historic location.


Take a Campus Tour

If your teens are getting old enough to think about where they’re going to go for college, you might want to think about taking them on a campus tour. There are a few universities in the Boston area, and they’re all excellent schools to attend.

Harvard University – This famous school provides free tours of the campus while school is in session. If you happen to visit while they aren’t available, consider taking either our pay-what-you-want Harvard & Cambridge tour or our self-guided Harvard tour.

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) – In addition to their fantastic museum, this school also provides campus walking tours to the general public. Alternatively, you can also take their self-guided tour.

Boston University – Much like the other college campuses in this city, tours are available when school is in session. If you want a campus tour, you should schedule your visit ahead of time. They also have a virtual tour that you can use to find some of the most notable sites in the area.


Tour the Massachusetts State House

Although younger kids probably won’t be interested in visiting this historic location, some teens and older children might want to learn about the Massachusetts State House. This location is still in use today, and it’s home to the State Legislature where both the House of Representatives and the Senate decide the laws of the land.

The Massachusetts State House provides a free tour that lasts 45 minutes and covers a variety of topics. In addition to discussing the history of the building, a professional docent will also take visitors around to see some of the more notable art collections on display.

Tours are available from 10 am – 3:30 pm each day and they begin in Doric Hall. Groups are advised to schedule in advance, but most families won’t have trouble simply walking in and taking the tour.

 


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Kid-Friendly Museums in Boston

There are a lot of museums to visit in Boston, and many of them are great for kids. Although we’ve covered a few of these locations in other areas of the post, this section will provide a full list of great museums that your kids might enjoy.

Children’s Museum

Bunker Hill Museum

  • Free to visit

U.S.S. Constitution Museum

  • Free to visit (they request a donation)

Harvard Museum of Natural History

Museum of Science

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

  • Free for everyone under 17
  • Free for anyone named Isabella
  • Included on Go BostonCard

Tea Party Ships and Museum

  • Includes hands-on re-enactments
  • Opportunity to try 5 different types of tea
  • 3D VR experiences available

Boston Fire Museum

  • Free to visit

MIT Museum

  • Free for children under 5
  • Free on last Sunday of each month (Sept – June)
  • Included with Go Boston Card

The Mapparium

  • Affordable tickets
  • Free for kids under 5
  • Free for Blue Star families
  • Included with Go Boston Card

The Coit Observatory

  • Free public open nights in the summer

Museum of Fine Arts

JFK Museum

Old South Meeting House

  • Free for kids 5 and under
  • $1 for all other kids (5-17)
  • Included with Go Boston Card

The Paul Revere House

  • Free for kids 5 and under
  • $1 for all other kids (5-17)
  • Included with Go Boston Card

Dreamland Wax Museum

  • Free for kids under 4

As you can see, most of these museums are either offer free admission or are included with a Boston tourist pass. This means that it’s pretty affordable to visit a bunch of museums in Beantown. If you’re looking for a fun and interesting activity that won’t cost much, chances are you’ll find at least one location that your kids will enjoy in the list above.

 


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MONTHLY AND SEASONAL ACTIVITIES

If you’re looking for the best seasonal activities and attractions that will be available when you visit this city, it will be important to read our monthly things to do in Boston posts. You can select the month of your trip from the list below.


CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES

This section will cover some of the best things to do during the holiday season in Boston. All of these activities are annual events which you can expect to take place every year. If you want some ideas for fun seasonal activities that are only available during the time you choose to visit, make sure to check our list of monthly things to do in Boston.

If you’re looking for even more great things to do at this wonderful time of year, make sure to read our post covering holiday events in Boston.


Go Ice Skating 

There are a lot of great places to enjoy ice skating in Boston. Best of all is that some of the skating rinks in the city are open throughout the winter, so even if you’re coming earlier (November) or later (January/February), this is one activity that you should be able to enjoy with your kids. Here are a few of the best ice skating rinks in Beantown:

  • Boston Common Frog Pond
  • Steriti Memorial Rink
  • Simoni Skating Rink
  • Kelly Outdoor Rink
  • Johnson Ice Rink
  • Murphy Memorial Skating Rink
  • Emmons Horrigan O’Neil Memorial Rink
  • Community Ice Skating @ Kendall Square

Tickets will range from $10-$20 depending on which location you visit and whether or not you choose to rent skates. Our post, Ice Skating in Boston, has much more information.


See the Tree Lighting at Boston Common

Every holiday season, Boston Common hosts a Christmas tree lighting event. This is a great activity that families can enjoy every single year. Even if you can’t make it for the tree lighting ceremony, you should still head to the park and see this beautiful symbol of the holidays in all of its glory.

While you’re here, you could also stop to enjoy some ice skating at the Frog Pond. All in all, Boston Common is definitely one of the best places to visit when this time of year rolls around.


Visit the Downtown Holiday Market

During the winter, there is usually a wonderful holiday market that you can enjoy in the downtown area. You’ll find this marketplace near Boston City Hall, but the location can change from time to time.

Several local businesses participate in the event, giving you the opportunity to really look around and find the best gifts for your family.

While a few of the partners are bigger businesses, most of them are small companies that provide a variety of creative and interesting products.

Here are a few examples of companies that have participated in the Downtown Holiday Market in the past:

  • Russian Dolls
  • American Bead Collection
  • Botanical Springs
  • Liquor Wicks
  • New England Dog Biscuit
  • Felt N Wool
  • Mistura Timepieces
  • Bare Hand Creations
  • Brothers Artisan Oil
  • Intaglio Antique Maps & Prints
  • Boston Salt Cellar
  • Celtic Crests
  • And More!

If you’re still looking for holiday gifts, consider heading to Faneuil Hall. There are a lot of stores in this area, and they usually have at least a few events during the holiday season.


Attend the Boston Pops Holiday Concert

Every Christmas, the Boston Pops perform a fantastic holiday concert at the historic Boston Symphony Hall. You can expect this famous band to perform a wide range of Christmas music during the show.

This is a great way to get into the spirit, and chances are that even your kids will appreciate this experience.

In addition to seeing a Boston Pops concert, you can also take a tour for free. If you want to learn more about the history of this building and get a behind-the-scenes look at the venue, make sure to check our post about visiting the Boston Symphony Hall.


SUMMER ACTIVITIES

In this section, we will provide a few great ideas for things you can do with your kids during the summer months. If you’re looking for more ideas, make sure to check our other sections for activities such as sailing, going to the Esplanade, or attending a sporting event.

Each of the following activities typically takes place on an annual basis, so it should be available no matter what year you choose to visit the city.

If you’re looking for activities that are only happening during the specific month you plan to visit, make sure to read our monthly things to do posts.


Go to an Open-Air Concert or Movie

When summer rolls around, some of the parks in Boston will provide free public concerts and movie nights.

One of the most popular sites for this is actually the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade. They not only offer several free movies, but they also have a great 4th of July concert before the fireworks show on Boston Harbor.

There is a playground nearby where your kids can play while waiting for these events to begin.

 

 

You can also see some great movies at the Lawn on D, which is just down the street from both the Children’s Museum and the Boston Fire Museum.

This is a great place to visit during the summer, and you might want to drop by and see if there’s anything going on while you’re in the area.


Go Whale Watching

While there are a few different businesses that will take you out on the harbor for some whale watching, the New England Aquarium provides one of the best opportunities in Boston.

This program is only available during the warmer months, so it’s a great idea for families who are visiting in the summer. 

Although some companies can’t promise that you’ll see whales, the New England Aquarium actually offers a guarantee. This 4-hour cruise will take you across Boston Harbor, allowing you to see a variety of aquatic life.

TIP: Whale watching is actually included with the Go Boston Card along with admission to the Aquarium itself, making it pretty easy to save some money on this activity.


Visit the Beach

There are a lot of waterfront locations in Boston, but most of them do not provide beaches for visitors to walk along. If you’re looking for a great place to cool off and relax on a warm summer day, consider heading to one of the following sites:

  • Carson Beach
  • Constitution Beach
  • Malibu Beach
  • M Street Beach
  • L Street Beach
  • Tenean Beach
  • Castle Island

Many of these locations actually have playgrounds and other fun amenities available. If you’re looking for an alternative, you can always take a day trip to Cape Cod or Plymouth, both of which are located just down the coast from Boston.

 


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About the author

Manager | Boston

Brian was born in Cambridge and has been living in the Boston area all his life. He is a graduate of Boston's Emerson College with a degree in communications with a journalism/history focus.

He has been leading tours for Free Tours By Foot Boston since it was started in the city of Boston in 2012, and enjoys sharing his knowledge of Boston's rich history with not only the guests on his tours, but with everyone he meets.