I was born and raised in the Boston area, and my mother always filled our weekends with activities and outings. So I have brought a bit of that into my own parenting! Plus, as a preschool teacher in Boston, I hear so many great ideas from other families about the best places to bring children on a weekend.
There are so many kid-encouraged museums and experiences in our city. Whether you’re visiting Boston for the first time or are a local family looking for new ideas in the city, you’ll love these child-friendly sites!
Check out our curated itinerary of popular spots in Boston for children, then read on for more great info on visiting Boston with kids!
WHAT TO DO IN BOSTON
The Museum of Science is the best family-friendly museum in Boston. It has something for everyone, often found in the same small area, so families of various ages can enjoy the interactive exhibits. This museum runs great presentations as well. The lightning show is a favorite, but check out some of the lesser-advertised programs, too, like the live science presentation, where you might learn what happens to a balloon when it’s put in liquid nitrogen!
The Children’s Museum is really fun, and children have the time of their lives here. There are exhibits for all ages — I fondly remember going to the Japanese house exhibit as a child and making sushi for my cousins!
Just down the sidewalk from the Children’s Museum is Martin’s Park, named for Boston Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard. It’s one of the best play areas in town! There are so many places to play and, even in its busiest times, it lends to a peaceful atmosphere.
The USS Constitution might seem like a place designed for history buffs and older kids. However, the museum is so kid friendly, it’s easy to spend a few hours at this donation-based-admission museum. The first floor boasts historical relics and Bunker Hill information. But the second floor is all for the kids. There is a play area where the youngest sailors can practice cooking on the ship, climbing masts, and completing their daily chores. There are also games and biographies of people who were really on the Constitution!
The New England Aquarium is a great experience for all, with a large aquarium in the middle of the building and a spiraling walkway all the way to the top. See Myrtle the turtle, who has been a tenant at the aquarium since before I was born. If you have an ocean aficionado, this is a great stop. If a long aquarium visit isn’t your thing, though, be sure to at least swing by the building to visit an outdoor tank for harbor seals. There are picnic tables nearby, so it’s a great option for stopping and having a snack.
WHERE TO EAT IN BOSTON
There are awesome kid-friendly restaurants all over Boston, like Legal Seafood right by the aquarium, Sorelle Bakery for sandwiches near the Children’s Museum, and even the food court in the mall at the CambridgeSide Galleria near the Museum of Science. Faneuil Hall is very close to the aquarium and offers great food to eat on the go. Lobster rolls, BBQ sandwiches, and even a fruit smoothie are among the delicacies found here. If you have picky eaters (like I do) I’ve found that grabbing a bite here and heading outside to watch street performers is a perfect way to eat (and enjoy) in Boston.
If you are a lunch packer, there are a ton of great places to pull out your picnic lunch and eat. Sit in Paul Revere Park to watch the boats and commuter rail go by as you have a sandwich. Hang out on the Greenway near the aquarium to have your lunch and check out the fountains or art installations. You would be surprised how much amazing outdoor space is available to enjoy the views in our busy city.
HOW TO GET AROUND IN BOSTON
The Museum of Science and the Constitution museum are within walking distance of each other. The aquarium and Children’s Museum are also about a 15-minute walk from each other. But the real treat is getting between the two areas. There is a ferry that picks up passengers right near the Constitution and drops them off right outside the aquarium. It is a great way to see the harbor at a great price. The ferry is $3.50 per adult, and children under 12 ride for free! It is about 15 minutes long — the perfect amount of time to sit back and watch the sites before the next museum!
That said, there are many T stops near each of these museums. The Green Line stops in front of the Museum of Science, and North Station is also a few minutes’ walk from both the Constitution and the Museum of Science. South Station on the Red Line is close to the Children’s Museum, and the aquarium has its own stop on the Blue Line.
HIDDEN GEMS IN BOSTON
The playgrounds in Boston are really great for all ages — and a wonderful way for adults to sit for a few minutes between walking to each museum. Check out Paul Revere Park, Martin’s Park, and the Mayor Thomas M. Menino Playground at Spaulding. Finding times for the children to burn some energy while the adults regain theirs is key to keeping morale high!
Boston does not have a shortage of hotels. Consider staying near North Station or South Station, as many hotels charge hefty fees for parking (and even more for valet). It just isn’t worth it to bring your car into the city. The Onyx Hotel near North Station is very family friendly and offers a continental breakfast, which isn’t as common in Boston as it may be in other areas. Near South Station, check out the Westin Seaport. They have an indoor pool for rainy and cold days, plus an American restaurant on site for easy meal planning!
BEST SOUVENIRS IN BOSTON
Faneuil Hall (right near the aquarium) has some great Boston-themed shops, as well as typical outdoor mall stores. I grab a Red Sox hat whenever we go, because as a Sox fan, I’ve found I can never have too many! There are hoodies and shirts available at a few carts to wear your Boston pride. At the Museum of Science, grab some astronaut ice cream (and skip the plastic dinosaur toys that are only fun for a few minutes). They have a few different flavors, and it is an experience in itself to eat!
If you watch Shark Tank, there are two Shark Tank investments right in Faneuil Hall, too! Wicked Good Cupcakes has a kiosk, and Love Pop can also be found right in the middle of the building.
If you live in the area, reach out to your local library for passes — most branches offer discounted tickets or free passes. Though the New England Aquarium is amazing, it is pricey, and (especially if you have a toddler with a shorter attention span) it doesn’t take more than a couple of hours to see it all.
Most places are stroller accessible, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy! Consider babywearing or at least choosing a lightweight stroller in case the elevator line is seven strollers deep. Use the central spiral walkway at the aquarium to limit elevator needs, and at the Museum of Science, use the Green Wing elevator, as it is larger and quicker than the one in the Blue Wing!
For bigger places, like the Museum of Science, consider looking on their website and picking two “must-see” exhibits, and include any kid-friendly temporary exhibits. You may not be able to see everything in one day, so don’t get caught up with a less-exciting exhibit that takes time away from the more appealing ones!