Boston Family Vacation Guide
Boston, MA, has an appeal for every traveler; from those who prefer small, intimate, and luxurious hotels, to the family who favors camping out under the stars. Whatever your family’s definition of fun is on an exciting family vacation, you can guarantee that it will be available to you in beautiful Boston, MA. Boston is one of the oldest cities in the entire United States and has remained dedicated to preserving and celebrating its rich history.
However, Boston also has a fun, frivolous side. Your family vacation to Boston will be just what your family needs. A little bit of history—check! A little bit of fun—check! World-class, yet affordable, dining—check! The list goes on and on. All members of the family will love a Boston family vacation. In Boston, your family can have an all-American experience in a cosmopolitan, sophisticated city. From the famous Boston Harbor to a theme park that will leave your family screaming, Boston is booming with fantastic family activities. The hardest part will only be choosing which ones to do!
Tourist Attractions in Boston
Settled by the Puritans in the 1600s, this beautiful city is defined by its history of about 400 years. Several tourists are coming to see the sights that commemorate the vital role that the Sons of Liberty played in the Revolutionary War. When visiting Boston, you can wander along the new Harborwalk, take in a game at Fenway Park, or enjoy a clam bake on an island beach. Boston is considered an attractive travel destination for visitors who are looking for relaxation and fun, too. After the “Big Dig’s” massive 15-year renovation has been completed, the tourist attractions in Boston are more appealing and accessible.
New England Aquarium
Central Wharf off Atlantic Avenue; 617 973-5200
No Boston vacation is complete if you don’t visit the New England Aquarium. Perfect for a family outing, the New England Aquarium invites you to discover a world of mysteries. Live a great underwater experience that you will always remember.
The aquarium was opened on June 20, 1969. At that time, the Giant Ocean Tank, simulating a Caribbean coral reef, was the largest circular saltwater tank in the world. Since then, the aquarium has largely developed. The tank now houses reef-living fish, sharks, turtles, and many other amazing creatures. The penguin exhibit presents several penguin colonies living in artificial rock islands at the bottom of the tank. But that’s not all. We also invite you to a typical New England freshwater environment, rheotaxis, an electric eel, sea dragons, bioluminescent fish, an octopus, small tropical fish, and nautiluses. A harbor seal exhibit will welcome you in front of the aquarium and three northern fur seals will see you out on the harborside terrace, behind the aquarium. Admission is charged.
Children’s Museum of Boston
300 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02210; 617 426-8855
Not only a museum but more a children’s world. On three floors, the Children’s Museum of Boston invites children to have fun in Arthur’s World, a climbing maze, boats, a KidStage, bubbles, a children’s theater, and many other attractions. Prepare yourself for a long visit.
Children’s Museum of Boston is open Saturday through Thursday from 10 am to 5 pm and on Friday from 10 am to 9 pm. It is closed on Thanksgiving and December 25. Admission is charged.
Boston Museum of Science
Science Park, Boston, MA; 617 723-2500
You’ll never get bored at the Museum of Science. Created to instruct and entertain both adults and children through interactive exhibits and stage presentations, the Museum of Science is a must-see. The Theater of Electricity presents the largest Van de Graaff generator in the whole world. Let your children discover the secret of the virtual fish tank and get ready for a new experience. Admission is charged.
The USS Constitution is considered the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat. Berthed at Pier 1 on the Harborwalk, this beautiful wooden-hulled, three-master heavy frigate still sets sail every Fourth of July to commemorate America’s independence. USS Constitution was first launched in 1797 and it was named by President George Washington in honor of the Constitution of the United States. The wooden frigate has gained fame during the War of 1812 when it defeated five British warships.
Boston Common is America’s oldest public park. It was acquired in 1634, by the city’s Puritan founders. The park was first used as a cow pasture, but throughout the years it was also used by the British as a camp at the start of the Revolutionary War. Boston Common is the site of many historic events and you can even find a plaque that marks the spot where public hangings were held. It is a real pleasure to wander around through this park, where you can see beautiful fountains, shady trees, and a pond.
Faneuil Hall is located in Boston’s downtown district. This beautiful brick building is well-known for its role played during the American Revolution. Faneuil Hall was built in 1742 as a marketplace, with funds that donor Peter Faneuil acquired in the slave trade, but after a while, it became a gathering spot for patriots yearning for freedom. These days, the building is used as a marketplace, but also as a place for political debates. Faneuil Hall is one of the most visited places in Boston.
Boston Historical Sites
Because Boston has such an important presence in American history, a family vacation to Boston must include visits to the various historical sites. These sites are not just important to the city of Boston or the state of Massachusetts—the events that unfolded along the streets of Boston have shaped the entire destiny of our nation. One more wonderful thing about a family vacation to Boston is that everyone in the family will find new meaning and have a fresh appreciation for the past of the United States. One place that will immerse your family in American history is the Adams National Historical Park, which is comprised of the birthplaces of historical leaders John Adams and John Quincy Adams.
Civil War Memorial
There are also many places within the city of Boston where your family can pay homage to the bloody side of American history—a visit to the famous Boston Common will lead you to a Civil War Memorial, while the Paul Revere house will re-introduce the story of the Boston Tea Party. The best way to see all of these sights and more is to spend a day tracing the Freedom Trail, which is a three-mile-long ribbon of red paint that takes you from the Boston Common and along famous sites such as the Faneuil Market and the famous location of the Boston Massacre before ending in Charlestown, where you can view the Bunker Hill Monument in addition to the U.S.S. Constitution.
It is true that Boston has so much history as to be slightly overwhelming. The trick to a peaceful family vacation in a busy city like Boston is to schedule and plan your adventures ahead of time. The Freedom Trail allows for easy planning. However, above all, on a Boston family vacation, it is more important to be together as a family than to see every monument and building. If it is downtime you are looking for, never hesitate to grab some relaxation in the form of a family picnic or a day spent lounging around your immaculate family lodging!
Like many large and historic cities, Boston is comprised of different neighborhoods, all of which have a distinct flavor. A great way to experience local culture on a family vacation is to simply roam the streets of the charming city. This is the best way to stumble upon things you may have never seen otherwise—a small little gelato shop, for instance, or a precious antique store.
Visiting Boston neighborhoods puts your family in the position of finding these special moments in a unique and special place. No family vacation guide can truly show your family what they will experience. You must do that yourself!
The first neighborhood to visit on a Boston family vacation is Beacon Hill, one of the smallest and most famous of Boston neighborhoods. Beacon Hill consists of tiny townhouses and historic bricked buildings; the stores and cafes here are pricey and maybe not the most ideal for a family budget. However, the eye candy in this neighborhood is always complimentary, and definitely worth a visit on your Boston family vacation!
Another wonderful, historic neighborhood is Faneuil Hall, which could have literally been designed for a family vacation! This quaint, inviting neighborhood is known for its huge shopping area and entertaining sidewalk performances. This is the tourist part of Boston, but do not let this deter you from stopping here on your family vacation. Faneuil Hall was made for family vacation fun! Harvard Square circles the famous university, however, this neighborhood also offers an enjoyable vacation visit.
Affordable cafes and shops make it a great place to grab a bite to eat, and the slow-paced, academic nature of Cambridge will be everything you expect it to be—brick cobblestoned streets, students buried in thick textbooks, and best of all, a communal atmosphere, where academic, tourist and locals come together.
While there are many more Boston neighborhoods to visit on your family vacation, one last one to mention here is the North End, where the streets are small, confusing, and seemingly jumbled together. All of this makes your visit to the North End of Boston more exciting. As one of the oldest working-class neighborhoods in Boston, there is a historical site on every street. There are fancier neighborhoods in Boston, but you would be hard-pressed to find a neighborhood that has as much character and friendliness as the North End.
Boston Family Activities
Your family can spend an entire Boston family vacation just by taking in the astonishing city and visiting the historical sites. However, there are many places where a family can just relax and have a great time. A Boston family vacation can often make a family feel like they can never put their guidebook down. This sometimes creates disharmony within the family. This need not be the case on a Boston family vacation!
Boston Harbor Islands
For a really unique experience, take your family to a picnic on the Boston Harbor Islands. Go for a walk, visit Fort Warren, sunbathe on the Lovells Island beach, or just explore wildlife, the choice is yours. To visit Georges Island, you may take daily ferries from May to mid-October. From the Long Wharf to Georges Island, the ride takes 45 minutes.
Drumlin Farm Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary
208 S. Great Rd. Lincoln, MA 01773; 781 259-2200
Let your child feel happy and free in the middle of nature. The 232-acre center offers beautiful ponds, pastures, and woodlands, plus a large number of farm and wild animals such as pigs, horses, sheep, chickens, deer, pheasants, and owls. Opossums, foxes, and woodchucks will be waiting for you at the Burrowing Animal Building. You can also have a picnic here, so I bet you’ll have a great time.
The Drumlin Farm Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary is open March through October from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the rest of the year from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The center is closed on January 1st, Thanksgiving Day, December 24, 25 and 31. Admission is charged.
Blue Hill Ski Area
If your family vacation is during the winter months, you need not let the frosty winter snow keep you indoors. The Blue Hill Ski Area, located just 12 miles from downtown Boston, offers something for every member of the family, from the snowboarding addict to the cute toddlers who prefer the easy bunny hills.
Another great thing to do on a Boston family vacation is to experience firsthand why Boston is indeed Title Town U.S.A. Attend a game of NBA champs, the Boston Celtics; NFL champs; New England Patriots, or perhaps, (most authentically Bostonian of all) the 2007 World Series champs, the well-known Boston Red Sox. Any local Bostonian will tell you that there is no better place to see Boston culture at its finest—and most fun—than at a Red Sox game at the new Fenway Park. Even a family who does not enjoy professional sports will appreciate seeing Boston fans cheer on their local team.
A Boston family vacation is never complete until your family has made a trip to Fenway! If you want to please every member of the family on a Boston family vacation by indulging in one of the greatest of family pastimes, then visit a thrilling theme park. The best and biggest Boston theme park is Six Flags in Springfield, which is just a short drive from Boston and is home to the #1 Steel Coaster in the world, Bizarro!
Boston Performing Arts
One wonderful thing about a Boston family vacation is when your family can decide to let someone else do the entertaining! It is relaxing and satisfying to sit in a comfy theatre seat (with or without the giant bag of popcorn) and enjoy a show taking place in front of you and your family. Boston has everything from a world-renowned symphony and ballet company to productions that are more appropriate and appealing to small children.
American Reparatory Theatre
The American Reparatory Theatre, located inside Harvard Square, offers both traditional and contemporary theatre productions that cater to both adults and families. Check their website for what is playing during your Boston family retreat. Consistently rated as one of the top theatre companies in the United States, the Boston A.R.T. is a can-not-miss event on your Boston family getaway. Adults will enjoy a performance of the famous Boston Symphony Orchestra, but perhaps a more family-friendly event on your Boston family vacation may be a trip to see the Boston Pops, which plays lighter, more modern music to entertain every member of the family.
Another fun performance venue in the Boston area is the Lyric Stage, which features smart, edgy comedy for the adults and good old-fashioned musicals like Kiss Me, Kate that even young members of the family will love. There will never be a dull moment upon your Boston family retreat. In fact, the biggest worry on a Boston family vacation is that the family will tire out before everything is seen and done. In Boston, you will learn a little, play a lot, and come together as a family!
Boston on a Budget
Now offering private rooms, hostels are a great budget accommodation option for families. It’s not just the price of a room where you can save money; breakfast and internet access are usually included too. Hostels might also offer free city tours, games, and movie rooms which will keep the kids entertained for a couple of hours. Feeding a family on holiday can get pricier three times a day, but families can use the hostel self-catering facilities to prepare a few meals and packed lunches. Try a Hostel in Boston.