Boston with Kids: Do, Eat, & Stay
When you think of Boston what comes to mind? History? Seafood? Beans? Fenway Park? Harvard University? Boston has all those things, but so much more! Boston is the capital city of the US state of Massachusetts, sitting on the East Coast alongside the Boston Harbor and Atlantic Ocean. Rich is history and fun activities, visiting Boston with kids makes for the perfect family vacation!
From walking the Freedom Trail to enjoying a Duck Boat Tour to relaxing at the Boston Common and visiting one of the many interactive museums, Boston has something for everyone! Read on to see why you should consider visiting Boston with kids!
What To Do in Boston With Kids:
Options for history, fun, and adventure are plentiful in Boston with Kids!
Walk the Freedom Trail
The Boston Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile walking trail that takes you through the city of Boston and past 16 historical landmarks. Have some fun and make walking the trail comparable to the Yellow Brick Road to Oz and the children will have a blast! A red line marks guides the way through the city and to the many sites. Along the trail you will visit Bunker Hill, tour the USS Constitution, shop at the Faneuil Hall marketplace, stand at the site of the Boston Massacre, and relax in the Boston Common.
The Boston Freedom Trail can be explored on a self guided tour following the red lines and plaques located throughout the city or through public and private walking tours. Some of the locations on the trail will be better suited for younger children, so planning out your route based on your travel party is recommended prior to visiting.
Costs and hours of operation will vary depending on which locations you plan to enter. You can walk the trail at any time, but if you plan on entering some of the locations, such as the Paul Revere House or Old North Church, be sure to check the hours before visiting and plan around them. Also, be aware that while walking the trail is completely free, if you choose to visit any of the sites fees may apply.
Shop at the Faneuil Hall Marketplace & Quincy Market
Faneuil Hall is the site of the first town meeting in Boston and would go on to be the meeting place of many of the important meetings/debates in the history of the nation’s birth, including protests against the sugar and stamp act. Quincy Market is a marketplace located beside Faneuil Hall that was built between 1824 to 1826 to serve that purpose.
Today Faneuil Hall serves as a marketplace with over 100 shops and carts, with a combination of locally owned shops and national chains. You can also find many dining options, with some of the most notable being Ueno Sushi and Bubble Tea, the Boston Cafe, Gourmet India, and Joey’s Gelateria.
For entertainment, you can find street performers located outside in front of Faneuil Hall on a regular basis. On occasion we have encountered clowns making balloon animals, always a favorite with the kids! The musicians were also a big hit with the kids and dancing was a common scene.
The marketplace is open from 10am to 7pm Monday through Thursday, 10am to 8pm Friday and Saturday, and 10am to 6pm on Sundays.
Visit the Boston Museum of Science
The Boston Museum of Science features over 700 interactive exhibits, the Charles Hayden Planetarium, Mugar Omni Theater (IMAX theater), and 4-D theater. The museum also features a butterfly garden, which has been transformed into a Garden Walk and Insect Zoo to meet state COVID requirements.
You can also find live performances throughout the museum. The Live Animal Story Time is the perfect one for children who will be able to listen to a story and meet a furry friend. The Science Live! presentation may also catch their attention, which examines different aspects of the science world. For older children, the Thrill Ride 360 presents a unique opportunity with dynamic simulators and surround sound. The interactive experiences and exhibits make the Museum of Science one of the best attractions when visiting Boston with kids.
The museum is open 9am to 5pm daily. Advanced tickets are currently required and are $29 for ages 12+ and $24 for children 3 to 11.
Relax at the Boston Common
The Boston Common is a large public park located in downtown Boston. The park is the oldest public park in the United States, being founded in 1634. The area has gone from being an area used for livestock to an area for Puritanical punishment to a training site for the Redcoats to the park that it is known for today.
The Boston Common is home to greenery, plenty of picnic space, Frog Pond, and an ice skating rink in the winter. You will also find plaques and monuments throughout the park commemorating the area’s history and soldiers who died during the Battle of Bunker Hill.
The Boston Common is the perfect place to take the kids to relax after a long day of walking and exploring the city and will give their little legs plenty of space to run. Pack your bag and enjoy an afternoon family picnic in the park or grab a bite from one of the restaurants on the streets surrounding the park and enjoy a meal in the park.
Explore the Boston Children’s Museum
The Boston Children’s Museum has one purpose: the entertainment and education of your kiddos. The museum features many hands on exhibits that will get the youngster’s developing minds thinking while giving them laughs and memories at the same time.
The exhibits include an art lab, bubbles, construction zone, explore-a-saurs, Japanese house, Johnny’s work bench, kidstage, STEAM Lab, and more! These interactive exhibits are designed to teach children about the natural world, science, and assist with many skills that are developing as the child grows through something they can connect with-PLAY!
The museum is open daily 10am to 5pm. Admission is $18/person. Hours may vary at this time due to the pandemic and advanced reservations are required. Be sure to check their website for hours and purchase your tickets ahead of time!
Visit the New England Aquarium
The New England Aquarium is not only one of the best attractions when visiting Boston with kids, it is also one of the most popular aquariums in the US. The aquarium is home to thousands of ocean life for the family to discover in their natural habitats. The aquarium also features many specialized exhibits, including the Science of Sharks, the Olympic Coast, Caribbean Reef, and New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center.
Aside from the Aquarium, you can also find the Simmons IMAX theater and Boston Harbor access for the New England Aquarium Whale Watch. The Simmons IMAX theater offers a wrap around IMAX screen with surround sound with films that take you deep into the ocean and its wildlife.
The aquarium is open Monday through Thursday from 10am to 5pm, Fridays 10am to 8pm, and weekends 9am to 6pm. Tickets are $32 for adults, $23 for children, and under 3 are free. Combo tickets are also available that include the IMAX theater (weekends only). Advanced ticket purchase is required at this time due to the pandemic.
Go on a Whale Watch
No matter the destination, whale watching seems to be a favorite family friendly adventure. Boston Harbor Cruises offers 3.5 hour cruises leaving from Long Wharf and going to the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary. Humpback whales are the most commonly seen whales on the cruise, but you may also see Minkes and Finbacks.
You will enjoy a cruise out to the marine sanctuary with the wind blowing through your hair (if you choose to sit on the top deck), which was a great experience in itself for my daughter! Onboard you will have access to a concession stand with snacks and drinks for purchase. Once you arrive to the sanctuary the tour guide will point out any whales in the area and provide insight into what the whales are doing and the species in general.
The tour is $55 for adults, $35 for children 3-11, and $18 for children under 3. If you want to do both you can combine a whale watching cruise with a visit to the New England Aquarium and purchase a combo pass.
Take a Swan Boat Ride in the Public Garden
The Swan Boat Rides in Boston date back to the 1870’s, when Robert Paget was granted a boat for hire license. Boat rides in the Public Garden became increasingly popular and in 1887 the first Boston Swan Boat was developed. Today visitors to the city can take a relaxing, tranquil boat ride through the lagoon in the Public Garden. The boat ride and swan designs will be loved by the kids!
The Swan Boat rides are available daily starting in April and going through Labor Day from 10am to 4pm (Apr.-June 20th) and 10am to 5pm (June 21st-Labor Day). The rides are $4 for adults and $2.50 for children 2-15. Under 15 is free.
***Hint: While in the Public Garden be sure to visit the “Make Way for Ducklings” statue, based on the book by Robert McCluskey. Be sure to read the book with your kids before visiting!”Make Way for Ducklings (Viking Kestrel Picture Books)
Visit the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum
The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum provides a educational and fun experience for all members of the family. The Boston Tea Party was a major event in American History. In 1773, American colonists who were angry that the British were imposing “taxation without representation” held a protest, during which they dumped 342 chests of tea that had been imported by the British into Boston Harbor. The museum includes live actors, interactive exhibits, and replicas of the ships.
You will be able to tour the ship and even throw tea overboard into Boston Harbor. Inside you will find the meeting house where you will meet Samuel Adams, who will give you an overview of the history of the Boston Tea Party. You can also find the only remaining tea chest from the Boston Tea Party on display in the museum.
The museum is currently open Thursday through Sunday 10am to 4pm. Admission to the museum is $29.95 for adults $21.95 for children ages 5-12.
Discover the Harvard Museum of Natural History
The Harvard Museum of Natural History is an interactive museum that focuses on the natural world. The museum is located within the University Museum Building of Harvard University. Exhibits include the Africa section, Arthropods: Creatures That Rule, Asia, Birds of the World, Cenozoic Mammals, Central and South America, Earth & Planetary Sciences, Evolution, Fruits in Decay, and many more! In addition to the great exhibits, the museum also offers public lectures, kids’ classes, family programs, and adult classes.
The museum is currently closed due to the pandemic, but you can enjoy a number of virtual exhibits. When the museum is open, admission is $15 for adults and $10 for students with ID and children age 3-18.
Visit the Legoland Discovery Center
The Legoland Discovery Center is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city or a rainy day activity. The Legoland Discovery Center features many opportunities to build with LEGOs, experience fun rides, meet you (or your child’s) favorite LEGO characters, tour the LEGO factory, and even a LEGO car test track.
The Great Lego Race VR Experience is a virtual experience race that will take you through the twists and turns of the race course on a 360 degree screen. MINILAND is a replica of the city of Boston, made entirely out of LEGOS! Other attractions include the 4D cinema, Kingdom Quest Ride, Merlin’s Apprentice Ride, Duplo Farm, and LEGO city play zone.
The Discovery Center is open 10am to 430pm Thursday through Monday. Tickets start at $17.95/person. Children under 2 are free. Advance tickets and reservations are currently required.
Take a Duck Boat Tour
Boston Duck Tours is a combination land and water tour that takes you through Boston and onto the Charles River. Along the way the ride is narrated by “ConDUCKtors” who make the tour both fun and educational for the kiddos.
The tour has multiple starting points and goes past many of the historic sites in Boston, including the State House, Boston Common, Newbury Street, the Boston Public Library, Trinity Church, and Quincy Market. The tour then continues as the vehicle transforms into a boat on the Charles River, where you will be treated to spectacular views of the Boston and Cambridge skylines.
The duck tours depart from the New England Aquarium seven days a week and from the Boston Museum of Science & Prudential Center Friday through Sunday. The tour is $45.99 for adults, $30.99 for children 3-11, and $10.99 for children under 3.
Need More Help Planning? Check out these Boston City Guides!
Where To Eat in Boston With Kids:
Boston is full of family friendly dining options!
Flatbread Company at Sacco’s Bowl Haven
Combine your evening meal with a night out bowling, perfect for a rainy day! The Flatbread Company at Sacco’s Bowl Haven offers wood-fired pizzas that are made from local and organic ingredients. Try a specialty pizza, such as the Punctuated Equilibrium or Cheese and Herb pizzas. What kid doesn’t love pizza? Aside from pizza, you can find plenty of organic salad options and some tasty desserts, including Sarah’s Chocolate Chip Banana Bread and Matt’s Maine Root Beer Float.
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday 3pm to 8pm
Address: 76 Guest St, Boston, MA 02135
Mr. Bartley’s, located in Cambridge near Harvard University, is home to the world famous gourmet burgers. Not only will you be delighted with the burgers themselves, the witty names of the burgers (many of which have been updated to reflect current events) will give you a laugh! Try the Joe Biden Burger (American cheese/ Bacon/ BBQ sauce with fries (add grilled pineapple, grilled onion or mushrooms), the Viagra Burger (blue cheese / bacon / lettuce / tomato), or the New Normal Burger (cheddar/ bacon/ maple syrup/ cole slaw/spicy mustard). This casual restaurant also features a complete kids menu with classic kids items, including hot dogs, cheeseburgers, grilled cheese, and chicken finger.
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 11:30-7:30pm
Address: 1246 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, MA 02138
Legal Seafood Harborside
Aside from featuring some of that great seafood that Boston is famous for, the Legal Seafood Harborside also offers some great views to keep the kids entertained. The restaurant is a three story waterfront restaurant with views of boats entering and leaving the harbor and on the other side of the harbor the Logan International Airport with planes taking off on occasion. The first floor is for casual dining, the second for private dining events, and the third is a rooftop dining option with a retractable roof for the summer months. Food options include seafood, pizza, and pasta-something for everyone!
Another unique feature of Legal Seafood Harborside is that on the weekends (from 11am to 1pm) the kids are given a net and are allowed to catch fish from the inground tank on the first floor of the restaurant.
Hours: Sunday through Thursday 11:30am to 9pm, Friday-Saturday 11:30am to 9pm (The rooftop is open Monday-Thursday 4pm-9pm, Friday 4pm-11pm, and Saturday 12pm-9pm)
Address: 270 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02210
The Granary Tavern is conveniently located near the New England Aquarium on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The Tavern is set in a historic former grain mill with two floors and two bars. The menu includes a delicious combination of seafood, Burgers, salads, pasta, and breakfast options.
There is also a full kids menu, including chicken tenders, grilled cheese, hamburger, and macaroni and cheese. The Tavern also has plenty of open space away from the bar and crayons/coloring sheets to hold the attention of the kids while waiting for the food.
- Monday-Thursday 12pm to 9pm
- Friday 12pm-10pm
- Saturday 11am to 10pm
- Sunday 11am to 9pm
Address: 170 Milk Street, Boston, MA 02109
Where To Stay in Boston With Kids:
Residence Inn by Marriott Boston Cambridge
The Resident Inn By Marriott Boston Cambridge offers some of the largest hotel rooms available in Boston, with suites and studio-style apartments featuring full kitchens. The hotel also has a free same-day grocery delivery service (with the full kitchen this can greatly reduce costs spent on food in the city). The hotel also has an indoor pool, free breakfast, and a free reception daily with kid friendly foods, including chicken fingers and gold fish crackers.
Average Costs: Average room costs seem to range between $150-370 per night
Address: 120 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02142
The Westin Copley Place
The Westin Copley Place is conveniently located within walking distance of some of Boston’s best attractions, including the Public Garden, Boston Common, and the start of the Freedom Trail (about 1.6 miles). There is also a unique feature that any child will love-upon check in your child will be able to choose a free welcome treat from the “toy wagon.” You can also find onsite restaurants with kids menus, a pool, and kids club.
Average Costs: About $150 to $350 per night
Address: 10 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02116
Royal Sonesta Boston
The Royal Sonesta Boston hotel offers clean and comfortable rooms with great Boston views. The hotel is situated along the Charles River. Onsite you will find the Studio Café & Bakery and ArtBar. The Artbar offers free meals for children under 12 off the kids menu. The hotel also has an indoor pool area with a retractable roof and outdoor deck.
Average Costs: $116-$400
Address: 40 Edwin H Land Blvd, Cambridge, MA 02142
Four Seasons Hotel Boston
If you are looking for a luxury hotel experience, The Four Seasons Hotel Boston is one of the best stays in Boston with kids. It is located across the street from the Public Garden and nearby the Boston Common and start of the Freedom Trail. There are lots of amenities and services focused on kids, including free toys, welcome cookies, child-size bathrobes, children’s menu at the Bristol Lodge, and pool.
Average Costs: Costs generally range between $400-600
Address: 200 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116
Tips For Visiting Boston With Kids
- Don’t forget the car seat! If you are planning on using public transportation (which I would recommend over driving), don’t forget the car seat. If using a taxi and you don’t have a car seat you risk being fined.
- Bring a stroller! Boston (at least the city center) is a very walkable city. Especially if you are planning on walking the length of the Freedom Trail you will want to have a stroller for younger kids. It is about 2.5 miles long, which can be tiring for little legs.
- Plan breaks throughout the day. It is a large city and therefore crowds can be expected. The noise and hustle & bustle can be stressful for young kids at times, so planning breaks where they can get away from all the noise for a bit, whether it be spending some time at the hotel or going to an outdoor park, proves very helpful!
- Plan on visiting attractions early in the morning. This will help reduce the crowds and wait time. I don’t about you, but my experience with waiting in lines with children has not been the most pleasant!
- Bring some snacks with you. While Boston is full of great dining options, kids on the go tend to get hungry and drink a lot, especially on a hot day. I like to use sandwich bags and turn them into grab and go bags, with a healthy snack and drink (juice packs), This makes it easy, saves some space, and saves some money that you would be spending on snacks (and this can get expensive!)
- Do research before visiting the historical sites. Some of them are very kid friendly and cater to any age with interactive exhibits, while others may be found unexciting by your child. You know your child’s limitations, so choose what you do based on that.
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