When my husband had the chance to go on a business trip to Boston, it was the perfect opportunity to visit for the first time. We expected an impersonal urban city, but instead we found a friendly town our whole family enjoyed. We had no idea there were so many things to do in Boston with kids. If you visit Boston, take notes. It is a place you will want to visit again.
A few tips before you go. Boston is a walking town, and some of the historical parts have uneven cobbled sidewalks that are rough on strollers. Children old enough to handle the walk and appreciate the history will enjoy Boston best.
Boston Common is a family paradise. During our Sunday visit, kids were running through the open green spaces, families were having picnics under the huge trees, and children packed the playscape. Everyone from toddlers to teenagers was lining up to take a ride on the carousel. The Frog Pond (it doesn’t actually have frogs) was being filled to become a summer splash pool with a 70-ft spray fountain. We were pleased to find vendors scattered throughout the park selling inexpensive lemonade and bottled water to quench our thirst.The Visitor Center was a handy place to take a restroom break.
Located across Charles Street from Boston Common is Boston Public Garden. Beautiful flower beds fill the park and street performers provided kids’ entertainment. We even saw a group of people dressed in Victorian clothing having a picnic next to the pond. They looked like they were straight out of a picture.
We had fun feeding the ducks while we watched people ride around the lagoon in the Swan Boats. The boats are a Boston landmark and have operated since 1877. It looked like there was a long line to ride, but the wait time was short. If the description of Boston Public Garden sounds familiar, you may be a fan of the children’s book, Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey. The Public Garden serves as the backdrop for the story. Immortalized near the corner of Beacon Street and Charles Street are Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack.
When our kids were little, we rocked them to sleep each night while watching reruns of the television show “Cheers.” So a stop at the real bar was a must-do for everyone in our family. Located across from the Public Garden on Beacon Street, the outside of the former Bull and Finch Pub served as the exterior shot for the TV show. It is now a restaurant named Cheers and was the perfect place to take a break and have a cold drink. And of course, it was a great place to grab souvenir t-shirts for the teens.
We spent a morning following The Freedom Trail on a tour through American revolutionary history. A red stripe on the walkway made the trail easy to follow from Boston Common (where we picked up a trail guide at the Visitor Center) to the USS Constitution.
There are 16 spots to visit on the trail including Paul Revere’s house, and the Old North Church where the famous lanterns were hung to signal that the British were coming. About midway through the walk is Faneuil Hall. That’s where the Sons of Liberty declared their dissent against the British Royals and set off to the harbor for what is now called The Boston Tea Party. It was also a good place to stop, take a short rest, and take a bathroom break.
I am so glad we decided to take the short ride on “The T” (the subway) across the Charles River to Cambridge – home of Harvard University. Harvard Square is the retail & restaurant district located along the edge of Harvard Yard, and it is home to the World’s Only Curious George Store. Kids filled the store looking through the Curious George products, climbing through the tunnels built into the displays, and reading the many award-winning children’s book for sale. Copies of Make Way for Ducklings are available, and this mom even bought herself a small stuffed duck to commemorate our trip. Parents, make sure to buy your kids a “Future Harvard Grad” t-shirt featuring Curious George.
A short walk down Massachusetts Avenue from The Curious George Store is Mr. Bartley’s Gourmet Burgers, a local favorite since 1960. The burgers have funny names that change to reflect current events. On the menu during our visit was the Beyonce, the Snoop Dogg, and the Hashtag. The burgers were the most delicious we have ever eaten, and the posters and funny sayings plastered on the wall made it a fun place to eat. Bartley’s closes on Sunday, only accepts cash, and has no public restrooms. So plan accordingly.
You can’t get this close without actually visiting Harvard University. Across Massachusetts Avenue from Bartley’s is Harvard Yard— the oldest part of campus with buildings dating back to 1720. Despite being a college campus, many children ran around the green lawn while their parents sat under the large shade trees to talk. The Houghton Library is located in Harvard Yard and is the best place for a restroom break before heading back across the river to Boston.
As a first-time visitor, Fenway Stadium was quite a surprise. Instead of a large stadium surrounded by a huge parking lot, the stadium is in the middle of a neighborhood with no parking in sight. We were able to catch a Red Sox game during our visit and enjoyed the enthusiastic crowd. Loyal fans of all ages filled the stadium, and the kids loved Wally the Green Monster, the Red Sox’s Muppet-like mascot. To everyone’s delight, dinner was a famous Fenway Frank hot dog.
If you aren’t able to catch a game, consider taking the official stadium tour. Fenway was built in 1911 and is the only home stadium the Red Sox team has ever had. The tour includes the history of the stadium and famous Red Sox players like Babe Ruth. Sometimes it even includes the opportunity to walk on the field and touch the infamous Green Monster wall in left field. These are just a few of the Boston activities kids will love. Vegetarian Traveling Mom Judy Antell knows 16 Incredibly Fun Free Things to do in Boston and Melodious Traveling Mom Sherry Boswell tells you why she is Shipping Up to Boston and you should too.