Winterlights at Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate in Canton by the Trustees (family activities near Boston over Thanksgiving)
Winterlights at Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate in Canton. Photo by Jake Belcher, Courtesy of The Trustees.

Thanksgiving can be a wonderful time to get together with family and loved ones. So many wonderful traditions abound, but keeping kids entertained and occupied in the days after the turkey’s been eaten can be a tall task. Luckily, there are a ton of wonderful Boston-area events and activities during the Thanksgiving break that will take the role of “child entertainer” off of parents!

See a show

The Blue Man Group is a great show for families with kids of all ages, although it will be enjoyed most by the 5 and up crowd. Grab aisle seats in the back half of the theater if you have little ones who might need a break from the show. Older, more adventurous kids will love a “splash zone” seat! Shows take place all Thanksgiving weekend.

The Trans Siberian Orchestra is coming to Worcester’s DCU center on November 25 for two “Ghosts of Christmas Eve” shows. It’s a great way to enjoy some rocking holiday music!

If your little ones are ready to get in the Christmas spirit, check out Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer at the Shubert (shows run November 24-26) or Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker (shows run from November 24-December 31). Both shows are great to start the holiday season and are also good options for children who are newer theater patrons!

(And if you’re looking ahead to other holiday- or Christmas-themed shows to attend in December, we have a roundup of all the shows and performances you could wish for!)

See the lights

The Trustees offers three spots to experience their Winterlights. The Stockbridge, Canton, and North Andover locations are each beautiful and unique grounds. It takes about an hour to walk through the lights and is a wonderful way to burn off the Thanksgiving energy! Visit from November 24 through December 31.

Stone Zoo’s ZooLights offers tree-lined paths of thousands of twinkling lights. This is wonderful for younger children, and although a few animals will be tucked in for the evening, most animals are still on exhibit — and reindeer sightings happen frequently! The lights run from November 17 to January 7.

Many other Boston-area holiday light shows begin in mid-November — the perfect way to kick off the holiday season during your Thanksgiving break!

Tap into history

Plimoth Patuxet Museums are a great place to learn about the origin of Thanksgiving and about the Indigenous people who lived here before us. In addition to walking around the sites and experiencing some exhibits, visit on Friday afternoon, November 24, for a special book launch for Jan Brett’s newest book!

Step back in time by visiting Sturbridge Village’s Christmas by Candlelight. A visit to historic Sturbridge includes lights, classic Christmas traditions, merry music, cooking demonstrations, and LOTS of gingerbread! This event runs Fridays and weekends from November 24 through December 30.

Be a kid again

Don’t Make Me Get Dressed, performed by the Gottabees at Puppet Showplace in Brookline, is a MUST SEE for the younger crowd. But it’s also a great time for parents, as the giggles become contagious. There are showtimes on November 24, 25, and 26!

The newest Trolls movie will be in theaters just in time for Thanksgiving. Fun for the whole family!

Looking for some relaxation? Head to a bookstore, grab a book, and cozy up with your little ones. Some shops, like Barnes and Noble, will be hosting special story times over the Thanksgiving break. While you’re there, you can grab a few holiday gifts and take advantage of Black Friday sales. Times and days of story times vary by location, so look up your local store’s events!

Michelle Mady
Michelle is a lifelong New Englander who lives in Stoneham and works in Charlestown. She is a preschool teacher and Assistant Director at a small private preschool and holds a master’s degree in early childhood education, which has come in useful at both work and home. She has a supportive stay-at-home-dad for a husband and is a mom of five children. She has three boys born in 2005, 2007 and 2008, plus two girls born in 2012 and 2015. Michelle teaches infant and toddler classes for early education teachers and is an adjunct professor for The School Of Mom. She also runs her own business, The Parenting Survival Expert, offering parenting tips and support. In her spare time, she can be found reading a murder mystery novel, sipping far too much coffee, and dreaming of a home in the mountains.