Best Boston Kids Activities

Family-friendly attractions for kids in Boston

Carousel on Rose Kennedy Greenway across from Faneuil Marketplace in Boston, MA
Carousel on Rose Kennedy Greenway near Faneuil Market in Boston

Looking for some fun Boston kids activities? 

If you're like my family when we travel, you may be hoping to find interesting things to do with your children that you'll also enjoy. 

Fortunately, Boston offers lots of activities for both kids and parents.

If you're here for a Boston vacation with your family, you'll quickly appreciate the city's wide range of activities and attractions for kids and for all-round family fun. 

Best of all, many of them are affordable and even free.

This article lists a wide range of options: 

  • Fun outdoor kids activities, with suggestions for every season
  • Indoor destinations for rainy, snowy, and steamy days
  • Seasonal events that kids will enjoy

Your whole family will gain a great perspective of the city while enjoying these favorite Boston kids activities.   Best of all, you'll experience some of the city's best attractions.

 

Best outdoor activities for kids in Boston

Everyone, young and old, will enjoy these family-friendly Boston outdoor activities.

See the city on wheels 

Boston Bike Tour on Boston CommonGo on a guided Bike tour of Boston, or create your own by renting bikes for as little as 2 hours. 

The guide-led bike tours offer options that are great Boston kids activities - and fun for parents, too.  If you're considering the DIY route, the Boston Esplanade is a safe, easy place for kids to ride.

More about bike tours in Boston

 

Watch a game 

Cheer for the Red Sox at Fenway Park, or for the Boston Celtics or Bruins at TD Garden.  You'll usually find tickets for lesser known Boston sports teams easier to get, less expensive - and sometimes the players will even autograph balls for kids.  Tips about where to get tickets

 

Tour Fenway Park 

A Fenway Park tour is one of the top Boston kids activities plus a fabulous way to see the ball park close up and explore areas that you can't access during games - plus the tours are a lot more affordable than Red Sox tickets!  This is your chance to walk across the playing field, go inside the Green Monster, and visit the dugout.  Kids love this experience, and for a lot of Boston visitors, it's the highpoint of their trip.  Check out details for using a Boston discount card for this tour.

 

Tour the city on land & water 

Codzilla - favorite Boston Harbor cruise for teensStart off your visit to Boston by going on a guided tour of the city in one of our famous Duck Boats. 

The huge World-War II-style amphibious vehicles offer lots of family fun as you roll past many historic sites. 

But the fun really begins when you "splash down" in the Charles River!

More about Boston Duck Tours

 

Take the Trolley

Boston trolley toursAnother fun way for kids to tour Boston is on one of the colorful sightseeing tour trolleys. 

The trolleys' routes take you through some of the most interesting historic and contemporary parts of Boston.  Younger kids simply enjoy getting on and off, while older kids and teens will be entertained by the driver's commentary.  They may even learn something!

Find out more about Boston's Sightseeing Trolley Tours

 

Cruise the Harbor . . . on Codzilla

Codzilla - favorite Boston Harbor cruise for teensAsk any teen about which Boston Harbor cruise is the most fun, and you'll probably hear, "Codzilla"! 

You'll enjoy it too...if you love loud rock music, fast turns, and a certain amount of wetness from flying water - or even if you just enjoy seeing your teenager have a thrilling ride.  

Find out more about Codzilla, terror of Boston Harbor

 

Sightsee on a Segway

Segway riders on Arlington Street near Boston's Taj HotelTeens may moan and groan about having to sightsee with the family - until you mention you'll be doing it on a Segway. 

Definitely one of the coolest ways to get around Boston, but also one of the priciest - unless you use the GoBoston card, which offers a 1-hour Segway Adventure as one of the free bonus option choices.


 

Boston discount cards for kids

GoBoston Card
51 ways to save up to 55%
On attractions, tours, cruises
CityPASS
5 top attractions in 9 days
47% savings
GoBoston discount card at www.boston-discovery-guide.com CityPASS Boston discount card at www.boston-discovery-guide.com

Compare Boston discount passes for savings on kids and adults admission to Fenway Park Tours, Duck Boat tours, Boston Harbor cruises, Museum of Science, and other top attractions, museums, tours, and cruises.

 

Ride on a carousel

Boston Common carouselPick your pony and go for a ride on one of Boston's colorful carousels.  You'll find a unique Boston-themed beauty (photo at the top of this page) on the Rose Kennedy Greenway near Faneuil Marketplace, and another carousel on Boston Common.  Both carousels are seasonal - so check out opening dates for both: 

Boston Common Carousel  |  Greenway Carousel

 

Go on a picnic  

Stop by one of Boston's specialty food markets (DeLuca's on Newbury Street in Back Bay and Charles Street in Beacon Hill, Foodie's Urban Market or other gourmet markets in the South End, any small grocery or bakery in the North End, the Food Hall in Quincy Market) and scoop up some goodies.  Head to one of Boston's many parks and green spaces - Boston Common, the Boston Esplanade, the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Christopher Columbus Park - and enjoy an impromptu picnic for one of the best Boston kids activities - and fun for the whole family.

 

 

Gaze at the stars 

On Friday nights between 8:30pm and 10pm, head up to the roof of the parking garage at Boston's Museum of Science, where you'll find the Gilliland Observatory and other star-struck gazers.  Knowledgeable museum personnel will help you use the computer-controlled, Celestron CGE 1100 Schmidt Cassegrain telescope during this free event.  Nearest T station: Green Line/Lechmere.  Free entrance to museum with Boston discount passes.

Take a walk through history 

Teens may enjoy exploring the entire length of Boston's 2.5 mile historic Freedom Trail.  If your children are younger, everyone may be happier if you pick a short section.  An approach that works well for me is to pick a site that you think your kids will like, such as the USS Constitution, add a nearby site that you want to visit, and plan to get everyone a treat at Quincy Market or in a North End bakery.

Visit Faneuil Hall  

Blend together history and shopping by visiting popular Faneuil Hall Marketplace on Boston's historic Freedom Trail.  Young kids love climbing around the base of the statue of Revolutionary War Patriot Samuel Adams, parents may long for a nice cold Sam Adams - and everyone loves exploring the shops.  Don't forget to stop by the Food Hall in Quincy Market for lunch - or try one of the many other excellent restaurants in the area.

Reflect on freedom and loss  

The 6 glass towers of the Boston Holocaust Memorial, very close to Faneuil Hall, are dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives in the Nazi concentration camps.  Kids about 10 years old and up will find walking along the black granite path connecting the towers and reading the memorial plaques to be a moving and educational experience.

Reenact the Boston Tea Party  

Liberty Clipper, a splendid reproduction of a classic 19th century Tall Ship, and a troupe of local actors offer kids the chance to reenact the Boston Tea Party as they sail around Boston Harbor.   By the end of this special tall ship cruise, they'll be tossing chests of tea into the water . . . so be sure to have your camera handy!   Available with the GoBoston discount pass

See the whole city at once  

Enjoy panoramic views of Boston and beyond from the Prudential Skywalk Observatory on the 50th floor of Prudential Center or from the free observation deck at Independence Wharf.  More about the Prudential Skywalk and Independence Wharf Observation Deck

Enjoy a free outdoor concert  

During summer months, you'll find free outdoor concerts popping up all over the city.  From late June through early August, Boston Harbor Hotel on Rowes Wharf features musical performances on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings. 

The Institute of Contemporary Art hosts weekly evening concerts from late June through early September.  Weekday concerts starting around noon can be found on many days in the Prudential Center, Copley Square, and Post Office Square.  And then there are the biggest concerts of all, the annual Boston Pops Concerts and fireworks on the Esplanade.

Find more free Hatch Shell concerts & festivals

Boston Hatch ShellYou can find free concerts, festivals, and movies throughout the summer at the Hatch Shell, Boston's biggest outdoor stage located on the Boston Esplanade, just a short walk from downtown. 

Best of all, all events are family-friendly...and did I mention free?

Go to our complete guide to Hatch Shell events

Enjoy free theater 

For a couple of weeks each summer, the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company delights delights audiences with its free Shakespeare on the Common productions.  Bring a blanket and a picnic, and enjoy these family-friendly productions under the stars on Boston Common.  This is one of the top Boston kids activities - and fun for everyone.

Visit Boston during Winter Break - Top activities for teens

Visiting Boston during Winter Vacation Week with your teenagers, and want to ensure a fun trip?  These top 10 things to do with teens in Boston during the winter will please your offspring - and be fun for you!

Climb a tree

Kids activities on Boston EsplanadeWithout a doubt, you'll find the best climbing tree in Boston on the Esplanade - and its mostly horizontal branches reduce your chance of ending up in the emergency room. 

You'll also find several excellent playgrounds on the Esplanade.

More about Boston's Esplanade



 

Go on a campus tour 

If you have children who will be filling out college applications some day, it's never too soon to start touring prospective campuses.  With 60+ universities and colleges in Boston, Cambridge, and other nearby communities, you'll find plenty of interesting choices.

Hang out in Harvard Square 

Just a short ride on the Red Line from Boston, Harvard Square is another world.  Laid-back but bustling, filled with bookstores and interesting shops, Harvard Square is the perfect place to spend a few hours exploring with your kids.  Walk around Harvard Yard, visit the Old Burying Ground (Mass Ave - Garden Street intersection) where Cato Stedman and Neptune Frost, African-American veterans of the Revolutionary War are buried, and stop by Burdick's (52 Brattle Street) for fabulous hot chocolate.

 

Hit the slopes near Boston

During winter months, several Massachusetts ski areas within an hour's drive of Boston (plus other slightly farther away) offer downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, ski lessons, snowboarding, and more.   For even more suggestions, check our complete New England Ski Areas Guide.

Visit the Boston Harbor Islands 

During summer months, ferries leave several times a day from Long Wharf for the Boston Harbor Islands.  Exploring historic Fort Warren, swimming on the beach at Spectacle Island, and examining life in tidal pools makes this one of everyone's favorite Boston kids activities. 

Play on the beach

Head to the beach at Castle Island and go for a treat at Sully's.   Or visit some of the other Boston beaches accessible by public transportation.

Watch free movies at the Hatch Shell in July and August 

Head down to the Boston Esplanade by the Charles River for free Friday flicks at 8pm on Friday nights.  Kid-pleasing selections such as Kung Fu Panda and Star Wars make these family-friendly movies rank as a top Boston kids activity.  Don't forget your blanket and bug spray. 

 

Visit the ducklings in the Public Garden  

Boston Kids Activities include visiting Make Way for Ducklings statues in Public GardenEvery visit to Boston with kids should include the Make Way for Ducklings statues inspired by Robert McCloskey's classic book, Make Way for Ducklings.

Child-scale bronze statues by sculptor Nancy Schön feature Mrs. Mallard and her 8 offspring: Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack.  Visit for free, and take lots of photos - priceless!

 

Ride on Boston's Swan Boats 

Swan Boats in BostonBoth children and adults love the famed pedal-powered Swan Boats in the Lagoon in Boston's Public Garden. 

You'll even ride past the island where Mrs. Mallard brought her ducklings. 

Tickets are so inexpensive that you can go for more than one ride.

More about Swan Boat rides

 

Talk to the animals 

Boston's Franklin Park Zoo is one of the favorite Boston kids activities, especially with the younger set.  You can explore tropical rainforests, the Australian outback, and the African savannah and see tigers, giraffes, lions, kangaroos, and many other animals, birds, and insects in recreations of their natural habitats. Check Zoo NewEngland for details.

 

Exhibit at New England Aquarium in BostonWatch seals frolic 

Stop by the outdoor habitat where seals live at the waterfront New England Aquarium.  The habitat is really a large, deep tank with rocky outcroppings that mimic the seals native New England coastal home.  You can watch the seals play all year round.  Best of all, watching the seals play is free.

Aquarium tickets are pricey, especially since kids who are 12 and older pay the adult rate.  Fortunately, all of the Boston discount cards offer big savings - compare them to see which is the best value for your visit.  Savings with the cards typically range from 15% - 55%. 

Watch whales eat 

Learn about whales and other marine mammals from the naturalists on board Boston's popular whale watching cruises.  You'll also enjoy the scenery as your boat takes you to Stellwagen Bank marine sanctuary. 

Twirl around the ice  

Do your kids enjoy ice skating?  Boston and nearby Cambridge have several great rinks where you can rent skates and take a spin on the ice for a nominal fee.  One of the most convenient is on Boston Common's Frog Pond.  Some of the rinks also offer lessons.  This is definitely a top Boston kids activity during the winter months.

Play frisbee on the Common 

Frisbees are small and light to pack . . . so slip one into your suitcase.  Tossing a frisbee on Boston Common is one of the best Boston kids activities - and adults can have fun and get some exercise too.  The Rose Kennedy Greenway also offers lots of wide open areas perfect for frisbees, especially in the stretch near the North End.

Romp in Christopher Columbus Park 

Located just north of the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel, the jewel-like Christopher Columbus Park in the North End is a favorite with families.  Children love the playground area, and the open green spaces provide still another super frisbee location.  More about Christopher Columbus Park

 

Top Indoor Boston Kids Activities

Don't let cold or rainy weather, summer heat and humidity, or even snow put a damper on your plans for family fun.  Check out these fun inside Boston kids activities, including some of the city's top museums.  You'll find a lot to do that's fun, even when the Boston weather is good.

Share a few laughs 

Several Boston comedy clubs offer family-friendly shows.  Improv Boston (actually located near Central Square in Cambridge) features many shows for all ages.  During the weeks leading up to Halloween, attending their Gorefest: A Boatload of Gore show is one of the favorite Boston kids activities, although it is not recommended for the squeamish or the very young.  Improv Asylum in Boston's North End offers some shows for ages 17 and up.  Look for half-price comedy show tickets at Goldstar.

Interact with art  

ICA Boston usually offers at least a couple of family-oriented events each month.  Although they vary quite a bit, they usually involve interaction with contemporary artists, the chance to make some art, and perhaps dance performances, films, or hands-on graphic design.  Some are free for up to 2 adults per family with children 12 and under, while others require a fee or paid museum admission.  Use the GoBoston discount card for free admission.

Enjoy an evening at the theater 

For Boston theater family fun, check out Blue Man Group, 3 bald blue-painted performers who perform a series of skits and funny pieces enjoyed by all ages.  Teens and adults love Shear Magic, where the audience gets to help solve a pun-filled mystery set in a hair salon.  Both shows are long-running favorites for Boston kids activities at the Charles Playhouse in the Theatre District.   Check Goldstar for half-price theater tickets - they're usually available.

Go to the movies  

Boston movie theaters are alive and well, and you'll find a wide range of choices - everything from first-run commercial movies to foreign, classic, and indie films.  Not all, of course, will be suitable for children, but you'll find many that are.

Explore and learn 

The Boston Children's Museum provides lots of different spaces and activities where children from about 3 - 10 can explore the world around them - and learn things while they're at it. The spectacular South Boston waterfront location is just a short walk from South station.  Check out $1 Fridays.  If you have the GoBoston discount card, you'll get free admission.

Immerse yourself in books 

The two best children's bookstores in Boston, in my opinion as a mom, are not in Boston at all, but instead can be found across the river in Cambridge: the Curious George Bookstore, and the children's section (actually, the entire bottom floor) of the Harvard Coop.  They are both right in the middle of Harvard Square.  Take the T's Red Line to Harvard Square station, go out the main exit, and the Coop will be practically in front of you.  Curious George is across the street to the left.

Bowl 

Kings, located in Back Bay near the Hynes Center (50 Dalton Street) has a terrific bowling alley as well as lots of big screens with sports and a billiards room (pool tables).  After 6pm, this popular Boston sports bar is strictly 21+.  But before then, you and your age 6 and older kids can enjoy lunch and a fun afternoon knocking down the pins. 

Pay tribute to your favorite athletes 

The New England Sports Museum, located on 2 floors in TD Garden, features knockout exhibits dedicated to the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, Revolution, and Celtics. 

Check out the dinosaur bones 

Harvard's Natural History Museum, located in Cambridge, will thrill your budding scientists as they explore the exhibits on animals, plants, and minerals.  A few hours in this popular museum tops many favorite Boston kids activities lists.  Everyone marvels at the famed glass flowers made by the father and son team of Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka.  Free admission with most Boston discount cards.

Examine some mummies  

One of the most popular Boston kids activities is visiting the Egyptian rooms in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts on Huntington Ave where their world-class collection of mummies is on display.  You'll also see lots of other terrific exhibits - but what kids always remember are the mummies.  Free with most Boston discount cards.

Seasonal events for family fun

Patriot's Day in BostonSee history come alive

Watch Paul Revere and William Dawes race by on horseback during their famous midnight ride to warn Colonists that the British are coming, see local Minutemen and Militias gather on town greens, and smell the gunpowder from muskets as the first shots of the American Revolution are fired. 

Every April in Boston, Lexington, and Concord, reenactments of these key events in American history take place as part of our local tradition of remembering the heroic people and events that shaped our country's history.  Check the Patriot's Day schedule for more details.

Indulge yourselves at Scooper Bowl 

Kids and grown-ups alike love Scooper Bowl, a 3-day all-you-can-eat ice cream and cancer fundraising event in June.  Proceeds are donated to Boston's Jimmy Fund to support cancer research and treatments at world-renowned Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 

 

More suggestions for things to do with kids in Boston  

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