Things to Do With (and Without) Kids in the Boston Area

Hit the Beach

Although beach-going can be a bit stressful with kids... you just can't beat a day on the sand with the waves crashing around you.  Pack a lunch and make it a budget-friendly day trip.  Here's a rundown of some of the best beaches in New England.

Check out Castle Island

Castle Island in South Boston is a great place for walking/jogging, strolling with a baby, people watching or sunbathing.  There is a stretch of beach, a 3 mile walk and a historic fort.  There is also a great little place to grab some food called Sullivan's but on nice days the line for food can be very long.  Save some time and money by packing a picnic lunch and picking a spot in this 22-acre park to sit and take it all in. There is FREE public parking available at Castle Island and no entrance fees.

Picnic at the Boston Garden

This is a great FREE activity.  Great place for people watching.  For $1.50/child, $2.75/adult take a ride on the swan boats- a favorite for kids in Boston.

Harvard Museum of Natural History

The Harvard Museum of Natural History and Glass Flowers Exhibit are FREE for Massachusetts residents every Sunday morning (year-round) 9am-noon and Wednesdays (Sept.-May) 3p-5p. 

Arnold Arboretum

The Arboretum is great place to walk and check out the plant life.  Admission is FREE to all (donations are welcome.)  April-October there are FREE family activities the last Saturday of every month 11am-1pm at the Arboretum.  These activities are drop-in (no registration necessary) and they include scavenger hunts, stories, crafts, etc. 

Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 Mile walking trail that leads to 16 historically significant sites.  This a a great, educational, FREE activity for families.

USS Constitution Guided Tours

The USS Constitution (the oldest commissioned warcraft still afloat) is one of the stops along the Freedom Trail.  Guided tours are FREE!  Check out their site for details and hours of operation.

Boston Symphony Orchestra Tours

FREE guided tours of Symphony Hall.  Generally available on Wednesdays and every other Saturday during the BSO season but check here for schedule.

Free Concerts on the Hatch Shell!

All summer the Boston Landmarks Orchestra offers FREE concerts on Wednesday nights at 7pm on the Hatch Shell. 

Touch a Truck

This is a FREE program that is offered during the summer in various communities.  There are a variety of trucks from within the community (ambulances, fire trucks, garbage trucks, etc.) that kids can see and explore.  To find an event near you either google "touch a truck" and your county or check out boston central to see where upcoming events will be located. 
There is an upcoming Touch a Truck Event in Danvers on June 19th.

Boston Public Library Tours

The Boston Public Library offers FREE guided tours.  The BPL was the first free library in the U.S. and is full of rich architecture and art.

Boston African American National Historic Site

The African American Historic site is comprised of the most African American owned, pre-Civil War structures in the U.S.  Guided tours are FREE.  There is also a museum which charges a small admission fee.

Minute Man National Park

At the Minute Man National Park it is FREE to see the Road to the Revolution.  There is a $5 charge for Wayside House Tours.  There are a lot of free historical places to visit in the Concord/Lexington area, and the area is beautiful.  True New England.

Zoo New England- Boston

With Zoo New England passes you get admission to the Franklin Park Zoo or Stone Zoo for $2 per person. That's a great savings of $6-$11 per person.  If you can't get a library pass for Franklin Park, everyone is admitted for kids' price on the first Saturday of every month from 10am-12pm. Some local libraries also have discounted passes to Southwick Zoo in Mendon (which is my personal favorite.)
Zoo New England
Southwick's Zoo

Garden in the Woods- Framingham

Trails of plant life and blooms of over 1,000 different plant species.  This is a great little gem and a nice way to spend a quiet afternoon.  Best of all admission is FREE with library passes.  Savings of $4-$8 per person.  Check it out, with all the crazy rain we've had this year the plants are supposed to be especially wonderful this year! Garden in the Woods

Tower Hill Botanical Garden- Boylston

Another great garden, this time in the city.  They have youth gardening programs here as well as award winning plants.  Oh and did I mention that admission is FREE with your library pass?  Savings of $5-$10 per person.
Tower Hill

Old Sturbridge Village- Sturbridge

A place for your child to discover what the world was like before Wubbzy, video games, and playspaces.  This is what New England was like in 1700-1800's.  Adult passes are $9 each which saves you $11 off the cost of admission.

Museum of Science- Boston

The MOS is a great place for learning.  There's the planetarium, live shows, fantastic exhibits, and of course the IMAX theater.  With museum passes, admission is only $5 per person.  Savings of $11-$14 per person.  Not bad for a fun-filled, educational day.  Note: The Planetarium is currently closed through 2011 for renovations.

Massachusetts State Parks- All Over the State

There isn't much better than spending a lazy day at one of this state's great state parks.  They are located all over the state and some offer activities such as Kayak rentals, and all have great places to walk, picnic, or swim.  With the Library Pass parking is free for a carload.  Savings of about $5 per car.  Find a park near you here:
Mass State Parks

DeCordova Museum & Sculpture Park- Lincoln

The DeCordova Museum & Sculpture Park is a 35 acre wonderland of sculptural artwork and natural beauty.  Admission is FREE with museum passes.  Savings of $8-$12 per person.  Be sure to check out upcoming events.  There is going to be a family event at the park on 9/19/10 complete with scavenger hunts and performances.  

Danforth Museum- Framingham

If you haven't heard of the Danforth Museum its about time to check it out.  The Danforth is a Museum that showcases art by established and emerging artists, has fabulous exhibits and art classes for all age groups.  Best of all, admission to the Danforth is FREE with our library passes.  That is a savings of $8-$10 per person.
Danforth Museum

Higgins Armory Museum- Worcester

Ok this place is just plain cool.  Take your little princesses or princes to a place where they can discover the Renaissance!  Keep an eye on the calendar of events for childrens' storyhours.  And yes, it is FREE admission with library passes!  Savings of $7-$9 per person.
Higgins Armory

Plimoth Plantation- Plymouth

Plimoth Plantation is a cultural museum that shows kids what life was like for the Wampanoag and Colonial English people in 1600's Massachusetts.  There's also a full-scale replica of the Mayflower which is fascinating for kids who love all things transportation!  Library passes get you in for $10/adult and $6/child.  Savings of $8-$14 per person.
Plimoth Plantation

New England Acquarium- Boston

Literally an underwater wonderland.  The New England Acquarium is full of exciting creatures for your child to see and experience for the first time!  Library passes get you in for $8 per person which is a great savings of $5-$12 per person.
Note: passes are not valid in July and August.

Museum of Fine Arts- Boston

The MFA is home to some amazing pieces of artwork but before you think this outing won't be appropriate for young kids, check out the calendar of events which includes musical performances and films.  There are plenty of kid-friendly activities to be had.  Check out "FirstFridays" the first Friday of every month for cocktails, tapas, and music.  Would make for a great girls' night out.  With library passes, admission to the MFA is $5 per person.  Savings of about $12 per person.  Admission fees are by voluntary donation on Wednesdays after 4pm.  Children age 7-17 are admitted free all weekdays after 3pm, weekends, and school holidays.  They also have six free community days throughout the year.    

Childrens' Museum- Boston

The Childrens' Museum is the perfect place to spend a rainy (or sunny) day in Boston.  At my local library the passes allow 4 people (any age) to be admitted for $2 each.  That is a savings of $7-$10 per ticket.  Also, Target is sponsoring $1 admission every Friday from 5-9pm (no library pass needed).  Be sure to check out the calendar of events, they have some really neat programs coming up soon.
Children's Museum 

EcoTarium- Worcester

The EcoTarium is an indoor-outdoor museum that's focus is on science and nature.  Great learning experience for all ages.  $5 for adults, $4 for kids with library passes for a savings of $3-$5 per person.  If your library doesn't have passes to the Eco you can download $2 off coupons on the ecotarium's website.

Discovery Museums- Acton

This is a great place for kids (and fun-loving parents too!)  This hands-on discovery zone is really a fascinating place to stimulate your child's imagination.  There are two museums and access to both are included with the library passes for $4.50 each.  Savings of $8.50 per person.
Discovery Museums

Mount Auburn Cemetery

This is a privately-owned cemetery that is open to the public.  There are some famous, historical figures buried here: Isabella Stewart Gardner, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Winslow Homer & Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Not really a place for young children (the gravestones are very old and fragile).

Baby Pictures

Bring your babies to the movies!  National Amusements offers discounted movie tickets in a child-friendly setting for moms/caregivers.  There are lights in the theater, a changing station, and no one cares if your child starts screaming.  Now you don't have to miss the latest in the Twilight saga on the big screen.  Tickets are $6.

Davis' Farmland

This place is really just perfect for kids.  There's an animal showcase, zero depth splash park, and mega maze.  There's also seasonal summer, apple picking and Halloween activities.  
Davis Farmland

Kimball Farm


Minigolf, petting zoo, bumper boats, ice cream and more.  Great family place. Kimball Farm

Battleship Cove

Battleship Cove, in Fall River, is World's largest naval ship museum.  There are military, educational, and AAA admission discounts available.

Trinity Church Tours

There are FREE guided tours of Trinity Church on Sundays at 12:15.

Brewery Tours

Here's an activity to do without the little ones.  FREE tours and tastings are available at the Samuel Adams Brewery, Harpoon, and Buzzards Bay Brewery.  

Norman Rockwell Museum

The Norman Rockwell Museum is located in Stockbridge, MA.  Admission prices are a little steep, in my opinion at $15 but if you are an art fanatic, and are out in Western Mass, it might be worthwhile to check out.

Cat in the Hat Memorial

Again, if you are out in Western Mass this is a neat stop.  This is FREE and great for kids who will recognize the characters from these beloved children's books.

Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

The Eric Carle Museum is also in Western Mass so combine these activities for a great day trip.  Check out the museums website for a list of places to get discount coupons for admission.  For example, there is a 25% discount for AAA members.  

The Zoo in Forest Park

Combine a trip to the Zoo in Forest Park with the Eric Carle Museum and Cat in the Hat Memorial.  This is also in Western Mass, Springfield to be exact.  Admission is relatively cheap at $6 for adults.