What To Do
Boston offers a wide variety of attractions and diversions for all age groups. There's something to please everyone, no matter what their interests might be. Technology lovers should make sure to visit the Museum of Science and the MIT Museum's Exhibition Center, while teenage shopaholics might enjoy checking out the bargains at Filene's Basement perusing the stores on fashionable Newbury Street or those around Harvard Square. Boston's Children's Museum is one of the best in the nation, with delightful interactive exhibits for the younger set, and history lovers will enjoy the Freedom Trail and Boston's many tours.
Listed below are some of our favorite things to do on a Boston family vacation. All attractions have special holiday, vacation and seasonal hours, so make sure to check the websites or information lines before you go.
The Boston Children's Museum is one of the best of its kind in the country, offering exhibits geared to babies and toddlers, school-age children, as well as pre-teens. This is a great place for kids to play, especially on cold or rainy days. Backstage at the Bigtop allows kids to dress up like circus performers. PlaySpace is great for the baby and toddler set. Climbing the Walls provides a great way for the kids to work off some of that extra energy indoors. The Science Playground offers a number of interactive experiments, and teaches scientific principles while having fun. Teen Tokyo provides a virtual trip into the life of teens in Japan by listening to their music, looking at their fashions, standing on a subway car, seeing comic books, viewing
animation and reading biographies. For more information, visit www.bostonkids.org.
Address: Museum Wharf 300 Congress Street
Phone Number: (617) 426-6500 or 426-8855 for recorded information
Admission: $8 Adults; $7 Senior Citizens and Children ages 2-15;
Hours: Daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Friday 10:00 a.m to 9:00 p.m.
**MIT Museum Main Exhibition Center
This is a high-tech playground for the whole family, and is sure to
captivate lovers of computers and technology. Thinkapalooza, the MIT
Museum's interactive zone, allows adventurers of all ages to explore an
array of fascinating hands-on innovations. Metafield Maze, the
man-against computer exhibit, is one of our favorites, as is the
exceptional hologram exhibit. For more information, visit the Museum's
website at http://web.mit.edu/museum.
Address: 265 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge
Phone Number: (617) 253-4444
Admission: Adults $5, Senior citizens $2, Students with ID $2, Children
5-18 $2, free with MIT ID.
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday,
12 - 5 p.m., Closed Mondays and holidays.
**Museum of Science
This is the largest science museum in the Northeast, and is well worth a
visit. They have 450 interactive exhibits about astronomy, medicine,
physical science and natural history. The Discovery Center is designed
for preschoolers, and The Planetarium features shows about the stars,
planets, and the Milky Way. Other galleries include Science in the Park
with activities centered around the laws of physics, Seeing is Deceiving
which explores the sensory aspects of the human brain, the Theater of
Electricity, and Seeing the Unseen. For more information, visit their
website at http://www.mos.org.
Address: Science Park
Phone Number: (617) 723-2500
Exhibit Halls Admission: $12 Adults; $9 Children ages 3-11, $10 for
Seniors age 60 and older Additional admission prices are available for other buildings and combinations of exhibits -- see the website for more details.
If you have teens and theater/music lovers in your group, make sure to
buy tickets for a performance of the Blue Man Group while you're in
town. Blue Man Group is a creative organization dedicated to creating
exciting and innovative work, and is best known for their unique style
of music and stunning theatrical productions. Their music and
theatrical performances have been nominated for Grammy and Emmy awards.
For more information, visit www.blueman.com.
Location: 74 Warrenton Street, Boston
Phone Number: 617-426-6912. Tickets can be purchased online through
Ticketmaster or by phone at 617-931-2787.
Admission: Contact the above for more information
Hours: One show nightly Wednesday through Friday, two shows on
Saturdays and Sundays.
**Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts is a must see for those who appreciate art and
art history. There are so many masterpieces to admire in the galleries.
The museum offers Family Activity Books to help plan self-guided tours.
Kids will enjoy the Children's Room for ages 6-12 featuring weekly
workshops to highlight the museum's collections. For more information
and details on current exhibits, visit the museum's website at
Address: 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston
Phone Number: (617) 267-9300
Admission: $15 Adults, $13 Senior citizens and college students, $6.50
Children ages 7-17
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 10:00 am-4:45 p.m.., Wednesday through
Friday 10:00 a.m.-9:45 p.m.
**New England Aquarium
Families can easily spend an entire afternoon at the Aquarium, or
combine it with nearby Fanueil Hall for a full-day event. Here, visitors can see more
than 2,000 fish and marine life such as sharks, turtles, eels and other
aquatic animals, take in an IMAX movie, and enjoy the hands-on exhibits.
The re-created coral reef exhibit is particularly good. Feeding time for the sea lions is also a lot of fun. For more information, visit the Aquarium's website at www.neaq.org.
Address: Central Wharf, Boston
Phone Number: (617) 973-5200 or Tickets: (617) 973-5206
Simons IMAX Theatre Admission: $8.50 Adults, $6.50 Children ages 3-11
and Seniors ages 60+
General Admission: $15.50 Adults, $13.50 Seniors (60+), $8.50 Children
Taking a leisurely ride in a swan boat through the lagoon in Boston's
beautiful public garden is a unique experience. The swan boats have been
part of Boston's history since 1877.If your kids have read Make Way for
Ducklings; it's a memory they will treasure. The boats generally cruise
the lake seven days per week, weather permitting, and offer passengers a
15-minute ride. The boats cannot operate on rainy, windy, or extremely
Address: Boston Public Garden, bounded by Arlington, Boylston, Charles
and Beacon Streets. The Arlington Green Line T Stop is the closest
Hours: Vary by season. Spring (April to June 20) 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.;
Summer (June 21 to Labor Day) 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fall (Labor Day to
September 15) 12-4 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends.
**Charlestown Navy Yard
This is part of the Boston National Historical Park. It was built in
1800 as one of the original navy yards in the country. It was a repair
and supply depot for 174 years. The USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides")
and USS Cassin Young (a WWII Naval Destroyer) demonstrate the different
shipbuilding traditions. Tours are conducted daily. For more information, visit
Address: Bunker Hill Pavilion on Constitution Road in Charlestown
Phone Number: (617) 242-5601
Admission: $4 Adults, $3 Seniors, $2 Children
Hours: Daily 9:00am-5:00pm
** Boston Duck Tours
Parents have raved about this experience, suggesting that this is one of
the most entertaining ways to see the sites of Boston. What's so great
about it? It's the way you tour - in renovated WWII amphibious landing
vehicles called "ducks" - hence the name. ConDUCKtors with names like
Vincent Van Duck, Captain Rock Bottom and CPO Duckpin lead the way.
Boston Duck Tours takes its guests on 80-minute land and sea tours of
the city. The land portion visits the State House, Boston Common,
Newbury Street, Old North Church, and other famous sights. Then it's
time to hit the water for a tour of the city. The amphibious craft
meander along the Charles River, providing a great view of the Boston
skyline. These tours can fill up quickly in the summertime, so it's
wise to purchase your tickets up to 5 days in advance or before noon on
the day you'd like to go in order to be guaranteed a seat.
Address: Prudential Center, 800 Boylston Street, Boston and Museum of
Science, Science Park, Boston.
Admission: Adults $23, Students/Seniors $20, Children 4-12 $13,
Children under 3 $.25
Hours: April 1 to November 28, tours depart every half hour from 9 a.m.
until 30 minutes before dusk
**Old Town Trolley Tours
This is a great way to see Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall and 100 points of
interest. The tour is narrated with historical facts provided by expert
guides. You can get off the trolley and reboard at any of the 16 stops
along the route, including the New England Aquarium, the North End, the
U.S.S. Constitution, Boston Common, the State House, Government Center,
Beacon Hill, the Convention Center, Hard Rock Café, the Boston Tea Party
Ship, the Beacon Street Bull & Finch, Bunker Hill, MIT, Newbury Street,
Chinatown, and others. For more information, visit Old Town Trolley
Tours' website at http://www.trolleytours.com/Boston.
Address: Long Wharf, Boston
Phone Number: (617) 269-7010
Admission: A 2-day unlimited pass is $25 for adults, $22 for senior
citizens and students, and kids 12 and under are free.
Hours: Daily 9:00am-Dusk
**The Freedom Trail
You'll find this National Park Service Tour marked with a red line in
historic Boston. The 3-mile long Freedom Trail winds its way past 16
historical sites: Boston Common, Massachusetts State House, the Old
Corner Bookstore, Old South Meeting House, Old State House, Boston
Massacre Site, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere House, Park Street Church,
Granary Burying Ground, King's Chapel, Site of the First Public School
and Franklin Statue, Old North Church, Copp's Hill Burial Ground, the
USS Constitution and the Bunker Hill Monument. You can walk on your own
by foot, or opt to travel by trolley or take a guided tour. Doing the
entire trail on your own will take 2 ˝ to 3 hours, so consider the
endurance level of your group and plan accordingly.
Address: 15 State Street, Boston
Phone Number: (617) 242-5642
Hours: Hours of sites vary - general from about 9:30 a.m. until about 4
p.m. to be on the safe side. Check with tour operators, trolley
operators, or by individual site.
**Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Faneuil Hall is a popular place to grab a meal or spend the day. There
are three buildings full of shops, restaurants, exhibits and
entertainment. The Quincy Market Building has many dining choices (even
for the fussiest eater), Bull Market Pushcarts sells locals artwork and
the South Canopy has boutiques and gift-shops. Entertainment includes
mimes, music and jugglers. Faneuil Hall can get very crowded on
weekends and during the summer, so be prepared with strollers, although
the cobblestone sidewalks can be tough to handle. Check the informative
website: www.nps.gov/bost/Faneuil_Hall.htm .
Address: Faneuil Hall Square between North, Congress and State Streets. Located in the Boston National Historic Park. Alternatively, take the Green Line T to City Hall Plaza.
Phone Number: (617) 242-5675 or 617-242-5642
Hours: Daily 9am - 5pm, except when used for public functions and
**Bull & Finch Pub
This is where the television show Cheers was born -- the place where
"everybody knows your name". T-shirts with the "Cheers" logo are for
sale, and food is served there too. It has become a favorite place for
visitors to the city. Expect some crowds during the summer months, and
Address: 84 Beacon Street, Boston with a replica pub at Faneuil Hall
Phone Number: (617) 227-9605 for the Beacon Street original and
617-227-0150 for Faneuil Hall
Hours: Daily 11:00am-2:00am
**Whale Watching on the Voyager
This is a kid-friendly tour to see the whales, dolphins, sea birds and
other marine life. The adventure begins at the New England Aquarium, and
naturalists from the staff will join you on the 5.5 hour cruise aboard
either the Voyager II or Voyager III. The guides even bring along
creatures for kids to touch. Both the Voyager II and III were built
specifically for whale watching, and television screens allow those
onboard to view the actions of the whales as seen through the underwater
video cameras. The whale-watching season lasts from early April through
the end of October. These trips fill up quickly in the prime summer
months, so advance ticket purchases are recommended.
Address: Central Wharf, Boston
Phone Number: (617) 973-5277
Admission: Call or check online for current prices. Children must be at
least 30 inches tall to take part in this trip. Tickets can be ordered
online via www.museumtix.com.
Hours: Call for sailing times
This 25-minute film and interactive experience provides an excellent
orientation to the city of Boston and its eight primary neighborhoods.
Each member of the audience is seated in front of a touch-screen
computer. After a brief overview, the interaction begins in the form of
neighborhood quizzes. The audience helps to decide the content of the
show. By the end of the program, you'll have learned about five
neighborhoods. Children who are at least 6 and older will enjoy this
program the most. For more information, visit http://www.neaq.org.
Address: Immersion Theater, Central Wharf, Boston
Phone Number: (800) 296-7600
Admission: Adults $4, Senior citizens $3.50, Children 3-11 $3.50,
children under 3 are free.
**Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum
Relive the Boston Tea Party on this replica of the original ship. Crewmembers wear Colonial attire for effect, and explain the story to visitors. There is also a movie that depicts the ship's voyage, the taxing of the tea and the actual dumping of the tea chests into the harbor.
Address: Congress Street Bridge on Harbor Walk
Phone Number: Due to extensive fire damage, the Boston Tea Party Ship will not reopen until Spring of 2004. Please call ahead for information: 617-338-1773 (message only) or 617-269-7150 to speak to a staff member.