If you are planning a Boston vacation with your young children, a visit to the Boston Children's Museum should be near the top of your "must-see" list for Boston kids activities.
For the two-to-ten year old crowd, the Boston Children's Museum is the top favorite among all Boston museums.
Children love the hands-on interactive exhibits because they seem like a playground. Exhibits are designed to encourage children to explore and learn about the world around them.
The museum store is also terrific, especially if you're looking for reasonably priced games and crafts.
If you have a GoBoston discount card, you'll get free admission anytime.
With 20+ permanent exhibits, there's a lot to love in this museum. Although it's probably not fair to single out just a few, these 6 consistently attract enthusiastic crowds of active participants:
Lots more exhibits and activities throughout the Boston Children's Museum, including special temporary exhibits, will keep you entertained.
In addition, "KidStage," a performance area, features professional actors and museum staff performing short plays that they invite the audience to participate in. Kids love the mixture of singing, dancing, comedy, and music. Special performances are also held here.
As an adult, you'll also enjoy the spectacular views of the Downtown Boston skyline and surrounding waterfront area from many spots in the museum. But the best sight will be of your children, playing happily and learning through play.
Everyone wonders about the giant Hood milk bottle near the front of the museum on the Fort Point Channel.
Is it a piece of modern sculpture, making an ironic statement of some sort?
No . . . it's actually a snack bar. An ice cream maker built it from wood next to his store in Taunton, Massachusetts in 1933, where it became one of the first fast-food drive-in restaurants in the United States.
In 1977, local dairy products company H.P. Hood and Sons bought the 40 foot structure and donated it to the Museum. Tradition continues, as ice cream and snacks are still sold there during the summer. Definitely worth a stop - great ice cream.
In case you're an architecture buff, the iconic bottle is an example of what's officially called (this is not a joke) "Coney Island style."
Best ages - Children between about 3 and 9 will get the most out of this Boston museum. A 10 or even 11 year old can also have fun, especially if a younger sibling is along. Without a younger companion, most kids 10 and up will prefer the New England Aquarium, Harvard's Natural History Museum and MIT Museum in Cambridge, and Boston's Museum of Science. Kids of all ages will like the nearby Boston Fire Museum.
Food - No food is allowed in the exhibit areas, but you will find a small lunchroom on the first floor where you can eat if you bring your own food.
Near the museum you'll find Flour Bakery and Cafe, one of the city's best bakeries/sandwich shops, at 12 Farnsworth Street, right behind the museum. (Boston Insider Tip - skip the healthy salads and wraps, and go straight for the pecan-studded sticky rolls, the best you'll ever eat anywhere. For maximum enjoyment, ignore the calories.)
Two other favorites are Barking Crab (although if it looks crowded and your children are already cranky from hunger, go somewhere else with faster service) and James Hook, where you can get carryout lobster rolls and clam chowder and head to their picnic tables.
Check out other nearby South Boston Waterfront Restaurants
Address: 300 Congress Street, South Boston Waterfront (a 5-minute walk from the Boston Waterfront / South Station area)
Closest T station: Red Line/South Station; short walk (5-8 minutes, depending on how fast your children will walk) to the museum
Admission (includes entrance, all activities, all performances): $16 for adults,kids 1-15, and seniors 65+; free for infants under 12 months
Museum admission discounts: Get free admission when you have a GoBoston card
Special rates: $1 admission on Friday nights from 5pm -9pm
Parking at Boston Children's Museum: Farnsworth Street Garage and Stillings Street Garage; discounts may be available if you get your parking stub validated at the Children's Museum Information Desk
For more information: 617-426-6500; website
Boston Discovery Guide> Boston Museums
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