Boston is a charming oceanfront city in Massachusetts and the largest city in the New England region. With a unique blend of old and new architecture, history, and innovation, Boston is a melting pot of ideas and cultures. The city is also home to some of the world’s leading universities, hospitals, and biotech companies that attract teachers and students from all over the world.
With 4 distinct seasons, visitors can experience something different each time they visit. Whether it’s for lobster rolls and a trip to the beaches in the summer, foliage in the mountains in the fall, or a ski trip in the winter, there is something in or around Boston for everyone no matter the time of year.
Just a few hours by car to New York City, or a bit longer to Montreal, Boston is a great destination by itself or part of a longer trip. If you are flying into town, Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) is just 3 miles from downtown Boston which means you can get from your terminal to your hotel in just minutes if you are lucky. Public transportation is cheap and easy to use as well, which is a great way to see and get around the city.
While Boston is big enough to have everything you need and keep you busy for a long weekend, it is small (and safe) enough that you can walk it without getting overwhelmed.
Thanks to some excellent family-friendly museums, dining, theaters, sporting events, and outdoor spaces, finding something to keep the kids entertained will not be a problem. The only issue will be choosing between all of the options. While this list isn’t exhaustive, it will give you a little bit of everything so you can start planning your next trip to Boston like a local.
Let’s take a look at some fun things to do with small children in Boston!
The Best Activities in Boston With Kids
1. Go for a Ride on Codzilla
If you are looking to start your trip off with a little bit of adrenaline, be sure to book a ride on Codzilla.
The 70-foot speedboat picks up passengers right next to the New England Aquarium in downtown Boston and takes them on a wet and wild ride through the harbor at speeds up to 40 miles per hour.
With engines putting out almost 3,000 horsepower and a crew that likes to entertain, you would be hard-pressed to go for a ride and not leave with a giant smile on your face. Just be prepared to get wet and hold on to your hats!
2. Explore the City on a Duck Tour
Boston is a beautiful city but you can only appreciate so much by walking the streets. That is where Boston Duck Tours comes in.
Instead of a traditional tour bus, these military-style duck boats will not only take you through the famous and historic cobblestone roads of Beantown, but they also splash down into the Charles River to give you a whole new perspective of the city.
Cruise the river with Cambridge (home to Harvard and MIT) on one side and Boston on the other while admiring the skyline and getting a history lesson from the fun tour guides. If you’re lucky, the captain might even let your little one steer the boat when it’s in the water!
With pick-up points throughout the city, this is a fun and educational option to get to know Boston. And what kid wouldn’t want to drive a bus into the water?
3. Go Ice Skating on Frog Pond
If you are visiting Boston in the winter, there are few things as iconic as ice skating on Frog Pond in the Boston Common.
With snow-covered trees and a giant Christmas tree in the background, sipping hot cocoa and then taking a few laps around this downtown landmark will be sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face, regardless of their age.
There is no need to bring your own skates as you can rent them on site, so all you need to do is be sure you have a good coat, gloves, and a hat because it can get very cold in Boston in the winter!
If your little one isn’t confident on skates, you can rent “Bobby the Skating Seal” which is a support device (in the shape of a seal) that kids can push around and hold onto for balance.
4. Rent a Sailboat or Kayak
Getting out on the water is a great way to see the city from a different angle, and getting on a boat is always fun for kids.
Thanks to Community Boating Boston, you can rent a sailboat, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard and explore up and down the Charles River with your family.
Located on the famous Charles River Esplanade, just a quick walk from many of the popular hotels in town, you can pack a picnic and spend a day on the water taking in the sights like a local. The man-made lagoon is great for calm paddles, or head out into the river to try and catch a breeze in your sailboat.
With affordable prices and stunning views, this could quickly become a favorite family activity.
5. Go on a Whale Watch
If you are looking for a guaranteed good time for the kids, taking them on the NE Aquarium Whale Watch Cruise is a surefire way to so.
The New England Aquarium partnered with Boston Harbor City Cruises to create an educational, front-row expedition to see some of the most magnificent animals in the ocean. And to make it even better, they guarantee that you will see whales or you will get a voucher to go back on a future trip!
Boston is fortunate to be just a short ride from the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary which is abundant with humpback, finback, mink, and pilot whales, as well as dolphins, sharks, and sea birds. If you are lucky, you might even spot an endangered right whale.
For those who don’t have their sea legs yet, fear not. You will be cruising in one of the largest and fastest catamarans in the country. That means that you will get out to sea quickly and incredibly stably. To top it off, there is a climate-controlled area inside with a snack bar and comfortable seating. Think of it as a floating lounge with great views!
Trips generally leave in the morning, last about 3 to 4 hours, and drop you back off in downtown Boston. So even after your adventure, you will still have a full day to explore the city.
Hot Tip: If you are in New York City and want to visit Beantown, here are the best ways to get from NYC to Boston.
The Best Museums in Boston With Kids
6. Boston Children’s Museum
There are over 50 museums in and around Boston with everything from art and history to science and even a presidential library. But few will spark the creativity in your kid like the Boston Children’s Museum will.
Founded over 100 years ago, the Boston Children’s Museum is the second oldest children’s museum in the world and is consistently recognized as one of the most influential of them as well.
With countless exhibits and activities, your little ones will have plenty of educational, hands-on stimulation that they will love. Whether it be climbing the massive rope structure that covers 3 floors or spending time in the STEAM Lab, creativity and curiosity are more than encouraged.
The Boston Children’s Museum is located near the very popular Seaport District which has great shopping and dining, so there will be something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
Hot Tip: The Boston Children’s Museum is right across the bridge from the InterContinental Boston, which is a great IHG point redemption property.
7. New England Aquarium
There are few things as cool for kids (adults, too!) as walking up to a massive aquarium full of sharks, fish, turtles, and other animals that we would otherwise never be able to see up close. The New England Aquarium is home to thousands of these animals from seals to penguins and everything in between.
In addition to getting up close to, and even touching some of these incredible animals, kids will learn about the challenges these animals face in the wild and how we can help protect their natural habitat.
If you were planning on going on a whale watch, you can get a package deal for both the Aquarium and the whale watch to save some money. Located downtown, the New England Aquarium might be right near your hotel, so it is a convenient option for families on foot.
8. Museum of Science
One of the premier museums in Boston (and the region) is the Museum of Science. With a mission to “inspire a lifelong love of science in everyone,” visitors are sure to have an experience like few museums can deliver.
With constantly evolving and rotating exhibitions, no 2 visits to the museum are the same. With everything from “The Science Behind Pixar” to 65-million-year-old fossils to full-size models of the Apollo and Mercury space capsules, even if you had an entire day you wouldn’t be able to appreciate all of the exhibits.
Add on Omni films, a planetarium, live presentations, and more, and your kids will be having so much fun that they won’t even realize that they are learning!
9. LEGOLAND Discovery Center
While LEGOLAND Discovery Center may not fall under the traditional museum category, it’s definitely fun and there are some learning opportunities as well.
Located just outside of Boston in Somerville, kids will be able to run free in “the ultimate indoor LEGO playground” where they can build, problem solve, go on a ride, and even take in a 4D film.
With a little bit of everything for all ages, this will be sure to be a family favorite. Although it is outside of the city, it is just a few stops on the subway (Orange Line T stop) from downtown Boston and there is plenty of shopping and dining in the Assembly Row complex.
Hot Tip: If you are looking for an affordable place to stay for your holiday, check out the best cheap hotels in Boston.
The Best Sports in Boston With Kids
10. Fenway Park
A trip to Boston wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the legendary Fenway Park, home to baseball’s Boston Red Sox and over 100 years of iconic sporting events.
Built in 1912, it is Major League Baseball’s oldest active ballpark. The relatively small and uniquely shaped park makes for a very fun and intimate setting either for a concert or a ballgame.
Whether you go for just a tour or to catch a game, it is a special experience that even non-sports fans can appreciate. With special family sections and plenty of ice cream served in mini baseball helmets, there is plenty to make the kids smile.
Hot Tip: If you want to check out a Red Sox game but don’t want to commit to a 3+ hour event, get a cheap “standing room only” ticket so you can gain entry and then walk around the park during the game.
11. TD Garden
Sports are a big deal in Boston, and while the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox often get a lot of the attention, the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins also play in town and call the TD Garden home.
Located directly above the North Station subway station, the venue is very easy to get to no matter where you are staying. With over 3 million annual visitors, it is the most visited arena in all of New England. In addition to professional basketball and hockey, you can expect to see college sports tournaments, concerts, and shows at “The Garden” throughout the year.
If you wanted to catch a game, tickets are relatively easy to come by thanks to the nearly 20,000-person capacity.
Hot Tip: Flying into Boston? Here is the ultimate terminal guide for Boston Logan International Airport (BOS).
The Best Walks in Boston With Kids
12. Boston Common
Boston is often referred to as “America’s Walking City.” While some joke that this is because driving and parking are so bad that you are better off walking (which is not untrue), Boston is really a nice city to walk around. With a relatively flat layout and cute, district neighborhoods to explore, walking is a great way to get to know the city.
Right in the middle of this walkable city is the Boston Common, a 50-acre central park which is the oldest city park in the U.S., founded in 1634! Major historical events occurred on this land, including serving as a camp for the British before the American Revolutionary War, where George Washington went to celebrate the nation’s independence, and where anti-slavery meetings were held during the Civil War. Needless to say, it is a big part of Boston’s (and the country’s) history.
Nowadays it serves as a park for residents and visitors to enjoy, with a subway stop, a playground, a baseball field, and more. With some great sandwich shops on the surrounding streets, this is a nice area to have a picnic and enjoy an afternoon.
13. Charles River Esplanade
Separating Boston and Cambridge is the Charles River, and along the Boston side is the Charles River Esplanade, which is 68 acres of parks for the public to enjoy.
With jogging trails, playgrounds, a concert venue, ballparks, and a beer garden, this is one of the more popular spots to visit in the summer months. This is also where you can find the lagoon for renting sailboats and kayaks, as mentioned above.
While parents may want to hang near the beer garden, the kids will surely have their eyes on the many unique playgrounds scattered along the waterfront.
14. Freedom Trail
If you are going to go for a walk in Boston, 1 walk that you cannot miss is along the Freedom Trail.
A history lesson paired with some exercise, this 2.5-mile path takes you through downtown Boston passing by 16 locations that are very significant to the history of the U.S., including Paul Revere’s house.
While kids may not want to go on a guided tour, parents can easily create their own self-guided tour by following the red bricks throughout the city.
Hot Tip: For more suggested historical sites, as well as free attractions, events, and activities by season, check out our full guide to the best things to do in Boston.
15. Public Garden
Right next to the Boston Common you will find the stunning Boston Public Garden, the first public botanical garden in America, established in 1837.
This gorgeous 24-acre park is meticulously curated and cared for with over 80 tree species, unique statues including the famous Make Way for Ducklings and George Washington displays, and the most popular attraction — the swan boats.
Whether you decide to just walk around with the family and enjoy the beauty, or go for a paddle in the pond, the Public Garden is deserving of a visit on your next trip to Boston.
16. Seaport District
One of the fastest-growing and most popular neighborhoods in Boston is the Seaport District.
With great shopping, dining, museums, new hotels, and views, walking around the Seaport District will be entertaining for the entire family. In the summer, one of the more popular spots is The Lawn On D which is an outdoor space with games, pavilions, and the Instagram-famous swings.
Grab the kids, order some Ben & Jerry’s, and enjoy a nice summer evening on the grass while listening to the sounds of the sea and the city.
Boston is a relatively small city but has all the goodies to compete with the big cities and make it worthy of a trip by itself.
With everything from world-class museums and dining to great shopping and outdoor spaces, you are sure to find something in “America’s Walking City” that will be fun for you and your small kids.
Whether you are visiting in the winter and do some ice skating and then catch a Celtics game or visiting in the summer and you prefer a bit of kayaking and whale watching, your next trip to Boston is going to jam-packed with fun ideas after reading this article.
If we missed something or you have a question about your vacation to Boston, leave a comment below or join our private Facebook Group, Level UP Travel, and chat with fellow travelers!