Ever notice how many movies and shows are set or filmed in or around Boston, Massachusetts? There is a reason for that because Beantown – as it's affectionately known – is “wicked cool,” especially for families. There are so many activities in Boston for kids.
Boston is a great place to visit. Even if you are here just for a day or for work, it is well worth planning a Boston itinerary because it is such a unique city.
Truth be told, I am an adopted local, having lived in Beantown on and off for 20+ years. Now that we live here with kids, these are the 15 best things to do with kids in Boston, tried and kid-approved, your kids will love!
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Why Visit Boston With Kids
Many people stumble upon Boston when they come for work or to look at schools. This is exactly how I was introduced to the city in 4th grade. My parents had a conference in Boston and brought us along for the trip, and I fell in love!
We definitely experienced some of the best activities in Boston for kids, so much so that I always dreamed of living here! In fact, there are many amazing things to do in Massachusetts.
But, Boston is particularly special. Here's why you should bring kids to this “wicked amazing” city.
Boston is fascinating and historical and is home to where the first shots of the Revolutionary War took place. This is what ultimately led to the United States becoming a country.
In addition to the historical sites and activities in Boston proper, the towns of Lexington, Salem, and Plymouth are not far. Kids can learn more about the Revolutionary War, the Salem Witch Trials, and the arrival of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower, and the first Thanksgiving. Opening your kids' eyes to history is one of the best activities in Boston for kids because it will bring their history books to life!
Boston's historical and educational sites offer so many activities to do with kids in Boston for homeschooling families or to supplement school. Or, just for them to learn about the importance of this great city.
Boston is a beautiful city. In addition to its quintessential architecture and distinct neighborhoods, it is on the ocean (the Boston Harbor, as it is known.) There are also many nearby beaches and maritime activities kids will love!
With its top-tier universities and medical institutions, many people come from around the world to live, work, and study in Boston. It has quite a diverse and international community. It also has wonderful museums and cultural events, including music like the Boston Pops!
Boston also has a unique local culture of its own. So many of Boston's neighborhoods, restaurants, and traditions are beloved by its' residents.
Of course, it is also a big sports town, home to the Red Sox, Bruins, and New England Patriots. The Fenway Park stadium is a fantastic place to experience Americana and a traditional American baseball game. It is definitely a memorable experience and one of the best activities in Boston for kids.
There are many distinct neighborhoods as part of Boston. It is well worth visiting many of them and their signature spots to get a flavor of the city.
And, it's location makes it perfect for spectacular weekend getaways from Boston to places throughout New England and even New York City!
A very walkable city, with a good public transportation system (known as the T), Boston is fairly easy to get around on foot. It is not great for parking – spots are both expensive and hard to find – and driving can be challenging. But walking from neighborhoods is doable for a lot of the signature places in the city.
The 15 Best Activities For Kids In Boston
Now that you know why you should visit Beantown with kids, let's get to the best things to do with kids in Boston. These are my favorites!
Led by guides in historic clothing, the tour guides take on the role of a real historical figure. It is a real walk into history as you learn about important events that led to the American Revolution through fascinating storytelling and taking you to important sites.
This tour is great fun for adults and kids alike, and it should definitely be on your bucket list of the BEST things to do in the USA! It is a great way to learn about America’s fascinating start in an interactive way and see Boston at the same time. And, it is always one of the best activities for kids in Boston that I recommend to any family coming to the city!
Check out my review of Boston's Freedom Trail Foundation Walk Into History Tour!
2. Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum
A follow-up experience to The Freedom Trail is the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum, another signature moment that contributed to the Revolutionary War. This fun spot is great for kids, as they climb aboard an actual ship, with guides in costume and learn about the Boston Tea Party event. My kids love this experience as they learn a lot while stepping back into time in an interactive way.
3. Faneuil Hall, Charles Street, Boston Common
During the Freedom Trail walking tour, you will get to see Faneuil Hall and the Boston Common. But, if you want to explore these areas a bit more, there is quite a bit to see.
Faneuil Hall includes a few historical displays, such as the first printing press, as well as some great souvenir shops. Right next door is Quincy Market, a lively food hall and shopping area. This is a great spot for lunch and some shopping, as well as for the kids to enjoy the myriad of street performers.
Right off the Boston Common is the historic and picturesque Beacon Hill, one of the most iconic neighborhoods of Boston. A stroll on the lovely Charles Street is a nice way to spend an afternoon and find a café for an afternoon snack.
Across from the Boston Common is the Public Garden, in the heart of the city, where my kids love to see the famous Make Way For The Ducklings statue. This area, the heart of the city, is a lovely spot for enjoying a quiet afternoon or enjoy your snack from Charles Street. And, you are right next to the famed Newbury Street for some additional shopping.
4. Ride The Swan Boats
If you come to the Boston Common, a signature experience (in the warmer months) is to ride the signature Swan Boats in the Public Garden. It is a relaxing boat ride and a unique experience for visiting Boston that kids love!
5. Fenway Park
If you have a bit more time and are visiting in the summer or during baseball season, getting to tour the Fenway Park stadium – or even getting to see a game and the Green Monster – is well worth it. Several weekend games are designated as family events, and our kids love the activities they offer for families.
Of course, getting to see a Red Sox game in Fenway Park is pretty cool too! In fact, it is one of the best things to do in America!
As one of America’s most beloved and iconic baseball teams, few things capture Americana in the way that this old-fashioned stadium of Fenway park does. And getting to see a game is a cherished experience, even for Bostonians!
6. Whale Watching
There are a variety of boat tours and harbor activities you can do from the Boston harbour. But one of the most special is a whale watching tour. Our kids love this experience and getting to see whales breach in the ocean. It is definitely one of the best activities to do with kids in Boston.
7. Boston's Children's Museum
Seen from afar by its signature Hood milk bottle outside, Boston's Children's Museum is a very fun, three-level interactive museum suitable for kids' from toddlers on up. With a large climbing structure in the center, the museum hosts many interactive and educational displays themed around exploration.
Some of the displays are specifically unique to Boston, including their “big dig” area, where kids can discover construction equipment. One of the areas that my kids particularly loved is the Boston Black exhibit. Developed in conjunction with leaders across the city, this exhibit takes kids through a number of Boston neighborhoods. Through interactive experiences that highlight the diversity in Boston's Black community, kids can discover more about the diversity of the people who live in Boston.
8. New England Aquarium
Another kid favorite spot in Boston is the New England Aquarium. Appropriately located right on the harbor, guests are greeted before they enter the building by sea friends in the Atlantic Harbour Seals exhibit. Upon entering, kids can touch rays and sharks, see penguins, meet more seals and sea lions, and discover the sea life in a variety of aquariums throughout the building.
The Giant Ocean Tank in the center of the building is a draw to watch and observe as you ascend to the next level. My kids always love spending time watching to see if they can catch a variety of favorite fish and sea creatures go by! The tank is home to dozens of Caribbean reef animals, including rays, eels, barracuda, and 40-year-old resident Myrtle, the green sea turtle.
9. Visit North End For Dinner
One of our family's favorite things to do is to stroll around and enjoy a meal in Boston's North End. This area is home to Boston's “Little Italy”, and where you find authentic and delicious Italian restaurants of all sorts. A favorite restaurant of ours for family dining is Mi Familia Giorgio.
You will also discover Italian markets selling high-quality products – many of which are imported – and Italian bakeries and cafes. It is also where Paul Revere's home is located and part of the Freedom Trail will take you through this quaint and quintessential neighborhood very special to this city.
10. Stop At Mike's Pastry
While in the North End, after dinner, you must stop at Mike's Pastry for a famous cannoli. Don't be alarmed when you see the massive crowd inside. This place is famous and tourists come from all over to try it and get a box of sweets in one of the signature white and blue boxes.
Mike's Pastry is always well-staffed and used to quickly moving customers along so you won't have to wait long before delighting in one of these incredible treats! Note that it is cash only.
11. Day Trip To The Beach Or Cape Cod
Cape Cod is often listed as having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and a beach day can be had on a day trip from Boston (about an hour or two drive, depending on where on the cape you land.) You can also take a ferry from Boston to Provincetown and walk around this picturesque town.
For a shorter drive from Boston, consider one of the North Shore beaches near Gloucester, Ipswich, or Newburyport. These beaches often close access once the parking lots fill up, so be sure to arrive early.
12. Day Trip To Salem
A great day trip, and another option for a fun historical outing, is a day trip to Salem, Massachusetts. While very popular during Halloween, Salem has much to offer other times of the year too!
Known for the historic Salem Witch Trials, this quaint oceanside town has a fascinating Salem Witch Museum my kids truly enjoyed. There are many historic spots in Salem, including a variety of daily historic and nighttime ghostly tours!
It is also quite picturesque with many shops and restaurants. It's a great New England town to explore, and ones kids will love!
13. Day Trip To Plymouth
About 45 minutes south of Boston in another quintessential New England seaside town of Plymouth. It is home to Plymouth Rock, a reproduction of the Mayflower Ship (called the Mayflower II), and Plimoth Patuxet (formerly Plimoth Plantation), one of best kid-friendly activities in the area.
Families can step into history as you learn about the Pilgrims who landed in America as you explore the Mayflower II, the ship which brought the pilgrims to the American colonies. You can also visit Plymouth Rock, which is where the ship first made landfall.
One of the most fun and educational things to do is visit Plimoth Patuxet, where you will enjoy the experiential site. My kids loved visiting the historic English village with guides in character. It is the site where one of America’s most beloved holidays was born – Thanksgiving.
You can also meet real descendants of the Wampanoag people, who can discuss their ancestors' way of life from a modern perspective. Note that these guides are real members of the Wampanoag community, and not actors (unlike the characters in the English Village), so it is important to respect their culture and heritage.
Plymouth is a fantastic family activity on your trip to Boston.
14. Ghosts and Gravestones Trolly Tour
One of my favorite recommendations to enjoy something fun in the evening in Boston with kids is the Ghost and Gravestones Trolley tour, for anyone who likes ghost stories. After boarding the haunted trolly, ghostly guides dressed in historically haunted clothing, lead families on a frightfully good time of tales of history and the ghost stories that accompany it.
In a place like Boston, a city with so much history and many fascinating stories, it is a great evening activity to enjoy with kids.
15. Boston Duck Tour
A great way to tour Boston and get an overview of the city is on a Boston Duck Tour. These World War II amphibious vehicles travel on land and water, giving a great way to see all that Boston has to offer.
Kids can learn a lot about Beantown as your Duck Boat tours past famous landmarks and historical sites, narrated by the driver. It is also one of the best ways to get a ride on The Charles River, one of the most memorable highlights of the experience! My kids' favorite part is getting a chance to “drive” the boat on the river!
The Last Thought About The Best Things To Do In Boston With Kids
Boston is a wonderful place to put on your family bucket list. Not only will you enjoy a beautiful and walkable city, but you will also learn a lot about American history. It is a fantastic and vibrant place to visit with kids.