Boston With Kids

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Country: 
Kids: 
6 years
8 years
10 years
12 years
Author: 
Parent
Date: 
2013-07-08 to 2013-07-13
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There’s a Veggie Tales song in which a long list of things never done concludes loudly with “I’ve never been to Boston in the fall!”  What a shame, poor veggies, they should hop on a grocery truck right away and get off at the Haymarket in downtown Boston!  Apparently, it’s THE place to see and be seen for Veggies in the Boston area, show up any Friday or Saturday to wander through the maze of stalls overflowing with everything from tomatoes and apples to Halal meat and you’ll see what I mean!  Boston is one of those American “must see” places that should be on every parent’s list before their kids grow up!  It is chock full of history and brimming with fun, all year ‘round… but fall is my absolute favorite!

The problem you’ll have in Boston isn’t what to see, it’s what NOT to see!  

Paul Revere's monument, outside Old North ChurchFreedom Trail

On a brisk fall day, take a walk.  You’ll notice a red line painted on the sidewalks that sometimes turns to a brick line for a while.  This is the Freedom Trail it is a 2.5 mile loop through the city that passes every major historical landmark in Boston and is well worth a wander.  Plan to spend the whole day on it, or parts of several days, as you’ll be stopping lots, and there will be museums to see, churches to wander through, and plaques to read. It will take you past Paul Revere’s House and the Old North Church, past the site of the Boston Massacre, Faneuil Hall, Old Iron Sides and much, much more!  Stop along the way, visit a few of the museums, and introduce your kids to the sites and characters of the American Revolutionary War.  

Boston Common & Public Gardens

For young children there is no way you can miss Boston Common and the Public Gardens.  Make time to play in the playground on the Common and splash in the frog pond (skate on it in winter!).  

Take a swan boat ride in the Gardens (it’s only $2 a person!) and take your child’s picture with the brass ducklings from the popular children’s book Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey.  Sit on the bench by the ducklings and read the book in the shade of the big oak tree. The book can be purchased at any tourist shop or bookstore in the city, it’s iconic.

Wander up the edge of the Commons along Beacon Street to the State House. It’s free to enter, but you’ll have to pass through airport like security, so make sure you plan ahead for scissors and picnic knives! Make sure you have a look at the 54th Regiment Memorial, by Robert Gould Shaw, right across the street from the State House. It pays homage to some of the first African Americans to fight in the civil war. 

Quincy Market OutsideQuincy Market & Faneuil Hall

You can't come to Boston and miss these icons of history and culture! The plaza around the two buildings has become the promenade of the city where people gather for a quick lunch on weekdays, a leisurely stroll on a warm afternoon, or to see the street performers every weekend. It's a great place to pick up a carriage ride in the evening, or to take a few pictures that are definitively "Boston." Be sure to find the "Boiled in Boston" lobster pot photo booth on the harbour end of the avenue, and take a ride on the carousel that is just through the archway on the way to the waterfront. Be sure to head upstairs and see the famous gallery room above Faneuil Hall where countless political moments in American history have unfolded. Go one floor higher and you'll get to see a little known militaria regalia museum that's on the third floor and free to the public. 

Boston Children’s Museum

Pre-school and early elementary aged kids will LOVE the Boston Children’s Museum.  This is one of the best children’s museums in the country (second only to the one in Indianapolis, in my opinion.) It is a garden of educational delight, from the physical exercise afforded by the huge, three story climbing structure, to the multi-cultural experience of the play food market, to the construction themed floor inspired by the Big Dig happening under the city.  The Boston Children’s Museum makes a great rainy day activity, or as a “play day” in the middle of an otherwise busy touring week! Friday nights you can go for a buck between 5-9 p.m. Plan to spend at least half a day at the museum, you won’t want to rush!

New England Aquarium

Plan a half-day for the aquarium, it’s right downtown!  It’s a wonderful place to learn about the marine life of New England and the world.  Be sure to see their Marine Mammal Center.  You can even have your own underwater adventure without ever getting wet in their Imax theater.  With their strong focus on conservation and marine ecology, the New England Aquarium has done a beautiful job of combining education with fun. The best way to get future generations on board with preserving the planet is to put them in touch with the creatures themselves. 

Boston Museum of Science

We had a membership here for several years when we lived near Boston. If your kids are school aged, this is a science center that warrants a full day visit. It goes on and on. Definitely take in one of their ever changing IMAX presentations. The planetarium shows are fantastic. The electricity demonstration with the world’s largest air insulated Van de Graaf generator is nothing short of fantastic. It happens several times a day and is included with your admission.

Here’s a tip: if you are a homeschooler and you make arrangements in advance, the Boston Museum of Science has special rates for school field trips that it extends to home educators who plan in advance! 

Boston Museum of Fine Arts

We’ve been to a lot of great art museums around the world, from the L’Ouvre to the Albertina, in Vienna, to the National Gallery in Washington, but we always go back to the MFA in Boston. It’s got a surprisingly diverse collection. My personal favourite is the wing of Asian art, and the sculptures. If you bring a picnic, there is an inner courtyard that is an outdoor garden where you can eat your lunch and the kids can run around and make some noise between quiet gallery visits. This is another museum worth getting a membership to if you’re going to be around for a while. Sometimes for families, it’s not much more expensive to get the membership, and then you can come and go as you please over the length of your stay!

Prepare ahead by ordering a set of Bird Cage Press’ Close-Up MFA Boston cards. They are art cards that turn the museum into a treasure hunt. For some strange reason, the museum store doesn’t carry these, but they’re well worth buying ahead to enrich the visit for your kids. 

Mike's PastryWhere to Eat

There are so many wonderful places to eat in Boston that I hope you WON’T stop at the McDonalds on the corner of Quincy Market.  Instead, head into the market building and eat from one of the local vendors… a lobster roll, would be traditional for Boston!  Baked beans, maybe?  For desert, there is no contest.  The Bell in Hand Tavern is a family favourite with a range of prices and a very decent lunch menu. Walk into the Italian North End and find Mikes Pastry and order their signature Lobster Tail cream horn, or one of the other many delicacies packaged in a white paper box and tied with a string.  They’ve delivered to the White House, so why not treat your kids to the same desserts that presidents have enjoyed?!

There is SO much more to say and SO much more to see and do in Boston!  This last recommendation is a family secret; so don’t tell.  It’s my husband’s favorite restaurant in the world.  It is where we take all of our friends when they come to town.  It’s L’Osteria.  Be sure you go HUNGRY.  Order the antipasto for four and the Pasta Amatriciana for my husband.  Tip heavy, they’re worth it, and tell them we sent you! 

Gallery: 
Carousel at Quincy Market
The famous duckling statues in Boston Garden
Swan boats, Boston Garden
USS Constitution
Mike's Pastry
Quincy Market Inside
Quincy Market Outside
Reenactor
Playground Boston Common
Fannieul Hall
At the frog pond on Boston Common
Paul Revere's monument, outside Old North Church
The USS Constitution: Old Iron Sides
Boston Children's Museum
Boston!
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Article Type: 
General Destination Info

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