Known for the infamous Boston Tea Party that’s reenacted every December, the Green Monster at Fenway Park, art museums and epic St. Patrick’s Day fun, the New England city of Boston isn’t just for history buffs, baseball fans and green beer lovers. And there’s a lot more to family fun than the Museum of Science and the Museum of Fine Arts (both worthy institutions!). Here are some great things to do in Boston on a Sunday.
Things to Do in Boston on a Sunday
Originally settled in 1630, Boston is both historic and modern. As you plan your day trip, consider bridging both with these things to do in Boston on a Sunday centered around the Freedom Trail. It will mean big family fun for all.
Ready to get going? Hop in the car (It’s about two hours or less from many points in New England!) and head to Boston.
Ditch the Car
Wait a minute – let’s change that a bit. Driving into Boston seems like a good idea – until you realize that, in this walking city, the last thing you need is to deal with parking all day. Instead, drive to Boston Common and park in the Boston Common Garage, an underground parking structure beneath the historic park. Your car will be safely stowed away all day, and you’ll be able to get everywhere you want to go on foot.
TravelingMom Tip: This parking garage, located beneath Boston Common, is centrally located to so much Boston family fun.
Before you head off on your family fun day adventure, fuel up by grabbing breakfast or brunch. The Black Seed Cafe N’ Grill is located at 131 Tremont Street, just across from Boston Common. Serving up massive pancakes (seriously, they are the size of a plate!), waffles, omelets, egg sandwiches, smoothies and more, the cafe offers food both fresh and filling.
TravelingMom Tip: The Black Seed opens at 8 a.m. on Sundays. Seating is limited inside, but people usually do takeout so you should be able to get a table.
Stroll Along the Freedom Trail
Now that you’ve eaten, it’s time to get walking and discover the storied past of this amazing American city. The Freedom Trail begins at Boston Common and winds through the city and into Cambridge (home to Harvard University, the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, as well as Harvard Square and MIT) for a 2.5-mile walk through history from the 17th Century, through the Revolutionary War time and into modern day. But don’t feel like you need to do the full walking tour (or do it all at once). There are many stops – for instance, between Boston Common and Boston Harbor.
Follow the trail and pick a few places to pause along the way, such as Park Street Church, King’s Chapel and King’s Burying Ground and Old State House. Each one offers a unique look into historic Boston. A bit further on the Freedom Trail is the Bunker Hill Monument and the USS Constitution, also known as Old Ironsides, the oldest commissioned warship afloat. It was originally launched in 1797.
TravelingMom Tip: Look for the brick path that winds through the city, leading to the 16 historic sites along the trail. Some stops have free admission, while others are accessible for a modest fee.
New England Aquarium
With massive viewing tanks and penguins galore, the New England Aquarium is a great all-year-old spot for families. Step off the Freedom Trail for a bit and spend some time watching the Giant Ocean Tank that’s filled with all sorts of sea creatures. The new Indo-Pacific coral reef gives visitors a look inside the marine habitat in tropic and subtropic regions. And don’t forget to check out the Shark and Ray Touch Tanks, so kids can get up close and personal with sea life.
TravelingMom Tip: If your kids love sea life, and you plan to visit this one more than once in a 12-month period, consider becoming a member as two visits pay the cost of membership at the New England Aquarium. (1 Central Wharf)
Step Back onto the Freedom Trail at Faneuil Hall
Once you’ve thoroughly explored the aquarium, head back to the Freedom Trail. Historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace (which includes Quincy Market and other buildings) is a shopper’s dream. Browse the carts in Quincy Market for jewelry and Boston-themed goods and head outside to drop into Origins, Boston Pewter Company, Newbury Comics, Urban Outfitters and more. If you’re hungry, there are numerous food vendors in Quincy Market too, but we think you should probably hold off for dinnertime.
While you are there, be sure to pause and enjoy the street performances that happen each weekend. You never know what you and the kids might spy. The North Street Farmer’s Market is closed on Sundays, but if you happen to be in Boston on a Friday or Saturday, it’s worth checking out as well.
TravelingMom Tip: Take your time and explore all the buildings. There really is something for everyone. And, if you are so inclined, walk to the wharf at nearby Boston Harbor to watch airplanes take off from Logan International Airport. (1 Faneuil Hall Square)
An Early Dinner with History
Gather up your purchases and kids and head just up the street to Union Oyster House, a restaurant dating back to 1826 that resides in a building so old that there are no records to indicate when exactly it was built or by whom. What is known is that it’s both the oldest restaurant in Boston and the oldest continually operating restaurant in the United States. But don’t be put off by the age of this restaurant — it’s just given them plenty of time to cultivate the best recipes and techniques for New England-style seafood dishes. The kids can order off the well-appointed children’s menu that includes kid favorites as well as a few more interesting choices.
TravelingMom Tip: Union Oyster House is known for its seafood, so avoid the land-lubbers entrees and try something different. The Fried Select Oysters are worth every bite. If you happen to dine on the second floor, see if John F. Kennedy’s booth is available. (41 Union St.)
Not Feeling Seafood? Head to the North End
Boston’s North End is located a short walk from Faneuil Hall. Home to the city’s Little Italy, there are numerous restaurants, bakeries and more located here. You could even try one of the food tours that take you through popular spots in the North End. And consider dropping by Old North Church or Paul Revere’s house where you are in the area. You could even continue across the Charles River into Cambridge for the rest of the Freedom Trail if you were so inclined.
TravelingMom Tip: Hanover Street is a great place to stroll. If you are interested in food tours, begin your morning near here. Many step off in the late morning.
Retrace the Road to Freedom … and to Boston Common
Make your way back along the Freedom Trail to Boston Common. Chances are many of the stops will be closed for the evening, but peek through the gates at Granary Burying Ground on your way through. Once you get to Boston Common, take a few minutes to enjoy the historic city park, the oldest in America (it was established as a public park in 1634!). Let the kids play for a bit on the playground, and perhaps walk along the trails a bit. Then it’s back to the car, and time to head home … maybe.
TravelingMom Tip: Boston Common can be enjoyed year-round. There’s ice skating in winter, swan boats in the summer and plenty of room for exploring and discovery all year. But since it’s so late in the day, you won’t be able to stop into the information desk. Just enjoy the scenery.
Not Ready to Call it Quits Yet?
You’ve explored, enjoyed and ate well. But if you aren’t quite full of things to do in Boston on a Sunday yet, there’s still more to do. Drop by Boston Public Gardens and snap a picture of your kids with the famed Make Way for Ducklings sculpture, based on the classic children’s book by Robert McCloskey. Discover the architecture of the nearby and fabulous Beacon Hill neighborhood. If it’s still early, Boston Public Library (open until 5 p.m. on Sundays) is also a worthwhile stop. Or take a walk to the Prudential Center for the Skywalk Observatory, which is open until 10 p.m. on Sundays. From the observatory, you can see Boston in all directions. It’s particularly beautiful after nightfall. You could also head to Back Bay and drop by Fenway Park. If there’s a game happening, you can hear it from street level.
If You Go: It’s been a long day. No one will blame you if you drive instead of walking for your last stops.