Boston staycation ideas can make just as memorable of a vacation as going far away. Just because you are staying close to home doesn't mean that there is not a ton to do as a family. Many times you forget all the interesting and historical attractions in your city. Now is the time to start planning your vacation in Boston with this great list! What are the best kid-friendly attractions in Boston? What would go on your staycation list for you and your kids?
Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
Tracy Snyder Molina: The Carle collects and celebrates picture books and illustrations from around the world. Spend an hour or two exploring the rotating art exhibitions, reading library and hands-on art studio, and enjoy a picnic on the museum grounds.
Tracy Snyder Molina: The Yankee Candle Flagship store offers a lot more than the vast array of scented candles and accessories they are known for. The 90,000 square foot complex offers tours at their candle-making museum, interactive exhibits including candle dipping, Make Your Own Jar Candle, and Wax Hands, a Bavarian-themed Christmas village where snow falls from the ceiling and numerous seasonal festivals and themed activities.Check out a list of upcoming events here.
Purgatory Chasm State Reservation
Tracy Snyder Molina: Purgatory Chasm is is believed to have been created by a sudden release of melted glacier water near the end of the last Ice Age, approximately 14,000 years ago. Not just another walk in the woods, kids will love climbing big rocks and squeezing into caves with names like The Corn Crib, The Coffin, The Pulpit, Lovers' Leap and Fat Man's Misery. For those less adventurous family members, there are opportunities to watch the rock climbers or just follow the normal hiking trail. Grills, picnic tables, restrooms and a playground are also available.Parking: $5 MA vehicle/$10 non-MA vehicle
Tracy Snyder Molina: This privately maintained zoo houses the largest collection of endangered animal species in the region. Highlights include: endangered animal shows, giraffe and rhino encounters, a petting zoo, deer forest, zipline, adventure maze and mechanical rides including kiddie rides, SkyFari Sky Ride and Woodland Express train ride. Concessions and a gift shop are available.
Admission: $20-$25, for combo package pricing click here.
Great Wolf Lodge New England
Tracy Snyder Molina: If you want the experience of staying at a resort without the long travel, plan a visit to Great Wolf Lodge! The whole family will enjoy a stay at this resort with indoor water park, optional cabin-themed bunk bed rooms, arcade, MagiQuest interactive adventure, ropes course, 4-D theater, themed restaurants and more! What really makes this a family friendly destination is that you get two days of admission to the water park with your room rate and you are free to bring your own food and drinks to your room and the water park.Start planning your trip to Great Wolf Lodge here.
Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House
Amanda Banta: Fans of Little Women can tour Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House and explore the rooms and property that sparked the classic tale of Jo March and her sisters. In addition to being the inspiration for the fictional March home, Orchard House is also where Alcott wrote the novel, published in 1869. Most of the house's furnishings today belonged to the Alcott family, making a visit to the house truly like stepping back in time.
Cost: $10/adult, $8/seniors & students, $5/youth (age 6-17), Free/member & ages 6 & under; Additional pricing and hours can be found here.
Tracy Snyder Molina: While a game at Fenway Park is a treasured experience, consider a much more budget-friendly option by taking in a Lowell Spinners game. The Spinners are a Class A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox and you just might be watching a future member of the Red Sox play! The team has lots of fun promotional events for the family and very affordable parking.To purchase tickets and check out the promotional schedule click here.
Tracy Snyder Molina: If you're looking to get in touch with nature, skip the crowds at the Public Garden and head to the Arnold Arboretum - an oasis of trees, shrubs, vines and flowers all maintained by Harvard University. Stop at the visitor center for activities to introduce kids to horticulture and borrow a backpack filled with educational activities to keep the family entertained. The Arboretum has a variety of events planned year round, but the biggest is definitely Lilac Sunday, held annually on Mother’s Day.Admission: Free, donations appreciated.
To plan your visit, check here.
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.
Fenway Park Tour
Tracy Snyder Molina: A guided tour of Fenway provides fans with a behind-the-scenes look at the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball.
Emerald Necklace Conservancy
Amanda Banta: Spanning 1,100 acres, the historic Emerald Necklace is a true jewel of Boston. Six individual parks from the Back Bay to Dorchester combine to form the Necklace, which was given its name by the way it seems to hang from the city, and hosts tons of family friendly activities throughout the year. You can enjoy a picnic in a quiet grassy spot, attend an outdoor movie in the summer, participate in the Lantern Festival at Jamaica Pond in October, or cross country ski in the Riverway after a fresh snowfall. See here for upcoming special events.
Boston Duck Tours
Tracy Snyder Molina: Ride a WWII style amphibious landing vehicle on a tour through historic spots in Boston while your guide shares lots of little-known facts and interesting insights. Next, splashdown right into the Charles River for a breathtaking view of the Boston and Cambridge skylines!
Blue Man Group Boston
Tracy Snyder Molina: This engaging live-theater performance show defies explanation but entertains all. Featuring three bald, blue characters, it's a combination of percussion, visual art, theater, comedy and more that will excite your senses and makes for a truly unique date night or family outing.
Tracy Snyder Molina: Located inside Boston's Public Garden, a ride on the Swan Boats is one of the most iconic things to do in Boston with kids. Propelled by old-fashioned pedal power, take a seat and enjoy a peaceful 15-minute cruise around the lagoon. Families familiar with the book "Make Way for Ducklings" will recognize the boats from the book and you can even visit the duck family immortalized in bronze inside the Public Garden!
Charles River Esplanade
Tracy Snyder Molina: One the most peaceful areas in the city, the Charles River Esplanade is a 3 mile stretch along the banks of the Charles River. There are walking & biking paths, a couple of fun playgrounds, open space for play and picnics, and events and concerts at the Hatch Shell Oval.
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 Freedom Trail
Amanda Banta: The red line of the Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile path that connects historical sites critical to Boston's role in the American Revolution. Spots on the trail include Paul Revere's house, the Massachusetts State House and Boston Common. Take a paid guided tour or walk the trail at your own pace.
Tracy Snyder Molina: Somerville is undergoing a huge revitalization and at the center of it is Assembly Row. This complex of restaurants, shops, entertainment and residences is always bustling with activity. The kids will love a day trip to Legoland Discovery Center (be sure to check out the amazing display of iconic Boston attractions all built out of LEGO bricks), but there are also lots of free activities offered including live music, outdoor movies, toddler activities and the annual Riverfest. Check here for a calendar of upcoming activities. Accessible by public transportation.
Ferry rates range from $12.95-$19.95/person (3+), admission on the island is free
Tracy Snyder Molina: Just 20 minutes (via ferry) from downtown Boston, Spectacle Island has a sandy beach (one of the few on the islands) supervised by trained lifeguards in the summer. You can take in panoramic views of the harbor and city from the tallest hill on the Boston Harbor Islands. On the island, you'll find a visitor center, restrooms, rinse station, cafe, gift shop and picnic area. This 114-acre island is the perfect local getaway for hiking, swimming, boating, and learning about nature. Supervised swimming offered late June-Labor Day.
Inner Harbor Ferry
Tracy Snyder Molina: Escape the waterfront crowds and hop aboard a ferry from Long Wharf and enjoy a scenic ride over to the Charlestown Navy Yard. From here you can explore the USS Constitution Museum or check out the fantastic new Thomas M. Menino Park. The playground sits right on the waterfront by Spaulding Rehab Hospital and features over 60 play structures that are accessible for both disabled and non-disabled youth.Fare: $3.50/ride
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.
Amanda Banta: Families can explore the historical warship affectionately known at Old Ironsides in the Charlestown Navy Yard. Crew members of the USS Constitution will be on hand to present the ship's history. While at the Navy Yard, families also can check out the USS Constitution Museum, which operates separately from the ship.
Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway
Erynn: The Greenway is the ultimate outdoor Boston family attraction, with nature experiences, art installations, horticulture, and carousel rides! Take a meandering walk through the greenery, visit a splash pad or natural canal installation, or take the kids for a carousel ride (year round!).
Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park
May-Oct Ferry Service
Tracy Snyder Molina: 34 islands and peninsulas (some accessible by ferry) where families can explore tide pools, walk through a Civil War fort, climb a lighthouse, hike lush trails, camp, fish, picnic or swim - all a short distance from downtown Boston.
Old Town Trolley Tours
Amanda Banta: The Old Town Trolley Tour takes sightseers to more than 100 destinations in Boston. Passengers can hop on and off the trolley all day to explore historical highlights like the North End, Fanueil Hall, Fenway Park, Harvard Square, to name just a few. Passengers will enjoy elevated seating in the enclosed trolleys, making the tour an option for sightseeing year-round. Old Town also operates the Ghosts & Gravestones tour as well as the Boston Tea Party Ship & Museum. Tickets can be purchased online for a discount compared to the retail price.
Cost: $19.90-$51.95/person, Free for children under 4
New England Aquarium
Carly Follett: Animal exhibits at Boston's New England Aquarium feature thousands of aquatic creatures, including the kid-favorite penguin colony and a shark & ray touch tank. You can't miss the four-story Giant Ocean Tank, home to Caribbean coral reef creatures like sea turtles, eels and colorful fish.
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.
John Carver Inn
Amanda Banta: The indoor Pilgrim Cove pool at the John Carver Inn is a popular destination for staycationing Boston families. Kids can swim and splash while the thrillseekers can zoom down a water slide built into a replica of the Mayflower ship. Hotel guests receive complimentary admission to the pool while daily passes are available for those just visiting for the day. After swimming the day away, families will be able to walk to restaurants, shops and the waterfront, all within just a few blocks of the hotel.
Check out our recommendations for other favorite Plymouth spots.
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.
Tracy Snyder Molina: With 4 miles of white sand, gentle waves and picturesque vistas it's no wonder that Crane Beach has been voted "Best Beach of Boston" for multiple years. Seasonal amenities include bathhouses, lifeguards and rangers, picnic tables and concession stand. Besides the beautiful beach, you can also explore more than 5 miles of trails through the protected dunes on elevated boardwalks.
Primary photo: Upparent
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