Our Boston kids museum guide collects all of the best family museums in the area, along with parent reviews.
Discover the children's museums Boston families love, plus all-ages picks with interactive exhibits and hands-on experiences that make them especially kid-friendly.
Visit our list of Boston museum free days to see when you can visit some of these favorites for nothing!
Amanda Banta: Battleship Cove combines history with an exciting hands-on museum experience for families. The complex is home to five vessels that are National Historic Landmarks, including the USS Massachusetts, built in and launched from Quincy in 1941. There are exhibits on board the ships as well as in the Maritime Museum, which celebrates Fall River's maritime history. Also within the complex is a restored antique wooden carousel dating back to 1919.
The Children's Museum in Easton
Amanda Banta: At the Children's Museum in Easton, kids can get a hands-on learning experience in everything from dinosaurs to rocket ships, with a pretend theater, STEM lab and a fishing boat in between. Also, there is an outdoor space used in good weather for a butterfly garden, a tree house exploration and for fossil discovery.
The Museum is housed in a former fire station and there's still a brass fire pole in the building. Kids can channel their inner fireman and slide down the pole on the way to an emergency!
Blue Hills Trailside Museum
Erin P.: The Blue Hills Trailside Museum is located within the 7,000-acre Blue Hills Reservation. The museum is home to a natural history museum as well as outdoor wildlife exhibits. The wildlife exhibits feature animals, such as snowy owls and a river otter, that have been rescued and would not be able to survive on their own in the wild.
Closed Monday & Tuesday
Amanda Banta: The highlight of the Waterworks Museum is the set of towering 19th century steam engines that once pumped millions of gallons of fresh water into Boston. Kids can learn about one of the first metropolitan water systems through a variety of exhibits and special events.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Tracy Snyder Molina: Set in a beautiful 15th-century Venetian-style palace with 3 stories of galleries including a gorgeous flower-filled courtyard, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a unique museum with lots to look at and enjoy for visitors of all ages. Family guides are available free of charge at the information area in the Living Room. The Education Studio offers Saturday drop-in art activities for kids over 7.
Harvard Museum of Natural History
Tracy Snyder Molina: Explore thousands of specimens drawn from Harvard’s vast research collections including dinosaurs, meteorites, gemstones and animals from around the globe. Be sure to check out the world’s only mounted Kronosaurus, a 1600 pound amethyst geode and the world famous Glass Flowers exhibit.
Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Tracy Snyder Molina: The MFA is one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world with nearly 500,000 works of art. For a fun family activity, try the Art Connections Cards. Search for objects and images to learn interesting facts and get ideas for art-making activities!
Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
Tracy Snyder Molina: The Peabody Museum is among the oldest archaeological and ethnographic museums in the world with one of the finest collections of human cultural history found anywhere. Kids will particularly enjoy the impressive and towering Native American totem poles and ancient Mayan sculptures on exhibit.
Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East
Tracy Snyder Molina: The Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East houses more than 40,000 Near Eastern artifacts including a full-scale replica of an ancient Israelite home and famous Mesopotamian monuments, mummy coffins, and tablets containing some of the earliest forms of writing. Other artifacts include pottery, coins and sculptures procured on many museum excavations which help explore the vibrant history of cultures bound together by the family of Semitic languages.
Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library
Tracy Snyder Molina: The Mapparium's world-famous, 3-story, stained-glass globe offers a three-dimensional perspective of the world of 1935, enhanced by A World of Ideas, an original presentation that features a rich orchestration of words, music, and LED lights to illustrate how ideas have traversed time and geography and changed the world.
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Tracy Snyder Molina: The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is dedicated to the memory of our nation's 35th president and to all those who seek a better world through the art of politics. School-aged children familiar with this period of history are best suited for a visit to the museum exhibits. Younger children will enjoy the museum's free family Celebrate! Events.
Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate
Tracy Snyder Molina: The EMK Institute for the United States Senate is designed to bring the history of the U.S. Senate alive – using technology to engage and inspire like never before. In the full-scale replica of the U.S. Senate Chamber, families can participate in voting on legislation of the day. Be sure to check out the Future Senator Program (5-11 years) which introduces visitors to the legislative process.
Museum of Science
Tracy Snyder Molina: A host of science-based exhibits thrill families, including a garden walk & insect zoo, indoor lightning demonstrations and a play-based park exhibit where kids can learn about the science of motion. Dinosaur lovers won't want to miss the nearly-complete triceratops skeleton and full-size T-rex model. Kids love shows in the 4-D theater, planetarium and IMAX dome.
The Sports Museum
Tracy Snyder Molina: The Boston Sports Museum, housed on the 5th and 6th levels of TD Garden, holds a half-mile of exhibits with some of Boston's best sports memorabilia. Visit exhibits dedicated to Boston hockey legend Bobby Orr, mementos from the original Boston Garden, Adam Vinatieri's Super Bowl shoes and more. A great stop for any Boston sports fan!
Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum
Amanda Banta: Families can learn the history of the Boston Tea Party at this unique museum experience. Attend a colonial town meeting, learn about the colonists' lives and board a full-scale replica 18th century ship to dump the tea overboard.
Boston Children's Museum
Tamara Klein Bowman: With an emphasis on the power of play, and interactive exhibits - like dinosaurs - this is our kids' dream destination for a half day or day trip. From bubbles to the KidStage, to the Construction Zone and Art Studio, it's as exciting for the parents as it is for the kids. The New Balance Foundation Climb with its curves and height is a great way for kids to conquer their fears, gain confidence or just burn off some energy. My kids always want to go back to the amazing museum in Boston that has so many fun things to do.
USS Constitution Museum
Tracy Snyder Molina: Perfect for families to gather and discuss the history of "Old Ironsides," the USS Constitution Museum features several hands-on exhibits. The USS Constitution Ship offers self paced tours of the top three decks. Crew members are on hand to answer questions and give oral presentations about the ship's storied past.
Paul Revere House
Amanda Banta: There is much more to Paul Revere than his midnight ride to Lexington during the American Revolution and families can explore more behind the life and legacy of Boston's famous silversmith. Revere's house in the North End is a stop on the Freedom Trail, and is downtown Boston's oldest building.
Bunker Hill Monument and Museum
Amanda Banta: Climb 294 stairs to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument to get a bird's eye view of the Boston skyline alongside your history fix. The granite structure, towering more than 200 feet high, is a tribute to one of the first battles of the American Revolution. If you aren't ready for that climb, you can enjoy the green area around the structure and explore the Bunker Hill museum across the street, which is an old branch of the Boston Public Library.
The Institute Of Contemporary Art
Tracy Snyder Molina: The ICA features exhibits on contemporary photography, painting, sculpture, architecture and video performance art in styles that appeal to even the youngest viewer. The museum is very child-friendly with several kid-oriented events. On the last Saturday of every month, their Playdates program offers free admission for a full day of activities—including hands-on art-making, performance, family gallery tours, films, and more.
Hull Lifesaving Museum
Closed Tuesday & Wednesday
Amanda Banta: The Hull Lifesaving Museum honors the Greater Boston area's maritime history with a unique space that will intrigue visitors of all ages. The museum is based in the former Point Allerton U.S. Lifesaving Station, which originally was led by Joshua James, a founder of the U.S. Coast Guard, and whose crew is credited with saving more than 500 people from shipwrecks in Boston Harbor. The museum has a dedicated children's area and offers children's programs throughout the year.
Amanda Banta: With both indoor and outdoor exhibits, Plimouth Plantation is a museum alive with New England and United State history. Tours and visits of Plimouth Plantation are available for the various sites under the plantation's umbrella, from the 17th Century English Village to the replica Mayflower II
stationed at the Plymouth waterfront area. Visitors will learn how the passengers traveled across the Atlantic and settled and lived in their new homeland.
Primary photo: Boston Children's Museum © Joel Haskell
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