Widely renowned as a kid-friendly city, Boston doesn't disappoint when you need plenty of options to entertain energetic children. Push the idea of leisurely shopping along pretty Newbury Street to the back of your mind and save those buzzing bars and restaurants for another visit - Boston is an a activity-stuffed destination to share as a family.
Boston's Children's Museum
Undoubtedly one of the best children's museums in the world, Boston Children's Museum is a place to set aside a whole day of your trip for. With three expansive floors of immersive, interactive and just plain fun "exhibits", hours will be spent getting hands-on with science completely through playing. Their idea of museums will never be the same again - here, everything can be touched and played with, and isn't there simply to look at.
The ground floor of this playtime paradise has a climbing structure that is bound to get kids enthused from the off. Crawling in and out and exploring higher and higher safely to the ceiling of the three-storey museum, there will come a point where parents are keen to get on and explore more but the kids are more than happy in this vertical maze. But once you manage to coax them out, they don't have to stumble far to find the ever-popular bubble exhibit, where vats of bubble mixture to create enormous bubbles will have them totally captivated (just try and prise them into a waterproof overall first). Everything is at kid height, cleverly thought-through with helpful guidance for parents too to make sure their children really get the most out of the play experiences.
Next to the bubbles is a discovery zone where the focus and topic changes throughout the day. Expect anything from a demo about wind, to the chance to handle a real snake. Kids love the turtles in this section, especially as they can lie on a mat beneath and look up into the glass bottom tank.
There's a whole section dedicated to under-4s, with a dedicated soft-play space within the zone that especially for crawlers - an often neglected age group at children's attractions. In this special pre-school area, little ones can enjoy their own water play, messy play section, a train track and toys without the risk of any bigger kids taking over. An extension of the under-4s section is the Countdown to Kindergarten room, a model classroom to introduce little ones to what life will be like at school.
Much of our time was spent in the Construction Zone, pushing diggers and rocks around tracks, building towers (and destroying them!) and climbing over bridges. All with obligatory hard hats and hi-vis vests to bring the whole thing to life for them.
Older children will enjoy the Kid Power exhibit, learning about how the power we put in affects the power we put out, with hands-on experiences to learn physics through having fun. Pedal power, dance mats and power pump seats bring the science to life for them.
Boston Children's Museum is open Monday to Saturday. Children under one are free, everyone else is $16 each.
Visiting Fenway Park With Little Ones
Getting in on the local sports action is a good way to absorb the atmosphere and excitement of a city whether you're travelling with children or not. A trip to Fenway Park, the charmingly painted wooden stadium that's home to the Boston Red Sox, is a family-friendly activity to join in the joviality of Bostonians as they proudly cheer on their famous baseball team. Tickets in the CVS Family Stand mean a no-alcohol policy and the assurance that you're surrounded by other families just wanting a fun evening out and to take it all in. Popcorn, candy floss and ice cream are sugary snacks available to keep little ones in their seats for as long as possible, and an obligatory foam finger could help too. But although the whole game might still be too big an ask depending on the age of your children, it's still a worthwhile adventure to experience the vintage charm of this historic Ballpark.
Legoland Discovery Center, Boston
In the Somerville area of the city, adjacent to the Assembly Row outlet shopping centre, is Boston's Legoland Discovery Center. Unlike our Legoland in the UK, this is an indoor play centre that's a good two or three hour activity, depending on the age of your children. It's most suitable for kids aged two to ten. There's a couple of indoor rides, a 4D cinema, opportunities to build lego structures throughout, and an impressive Lego Boston construction that's completely interactive. Especially for pre-schoolers, there's a small Duplo farm section with soft play and a slide. Certainly worth a visit if you're unlucky enough to get rain on your visit, or if you've got some time between other activities.
Legoland Discovery Center is open seven days a week and under twos are free. Older children are is $18.50 and adults are $23, although savings can be made by booking online in advance.
In the summertime, Boston enjoys warm and sunny days and locals and tourists gather in Boston's biggest open space to sunbathe and play, giving the park a lively and friendly atmosphere. The tadpole playground within Boston Common has a magnetic effect on children with its water jets and sprays to cool off in. Parents can enjoy the 360 degree Boston skyline from this spot. There are plenty of kiosks serving cold drinks and ice cream - much like New York's Central Park on a smaller scale. Boston Common is also the starting place of the city's famous Freedom Trail, a 2.5mile red line that you follow through the city with 16 major historic landmarks on the way.
Best Family Hotels in Boston
Choosing a city hotel that's suitable for a young family isn't always the easiest task. The room has to be spacious enough for the brood, suit mum and dad's personal taste and be welcoming to little ones. And crucially, the location has to be the perfect spot for exploring. Fortunately, Boston is a compact city that's easy to get around so choosing a neighbourhood to be the base isn't quite as important as in other cities. Staying around the Seaport area, close to the Boston's Children's Museum, is a sensible choice. There's the excellent InterContinental Boston and the luxuriously elegant Boston Harbour Hotel, that both welcome children and overlook the water and are conveniently opposite the museum. The Omni Parker House hotel has a children's Freedom Trail Suite that has bunk beds for kids, toys, and a separate sleeping area for mum and dad.
The Loews Hotel is Boston is housed in the old Police Headquarters. Kids are most welcome, despite the trendy Precinct Kitchen and Bar that attracts a big after-work crowd to its outdoor basement terrace. It still has a great menu for children and families are always accommodated and prioritised with a warm smile from staff, even during very busy times. Plus the food is fantastic. Although The Loews is decidedly business-like hotel, true of a lot of city hotels, the rooms are highly-appointed, spacious and relaxing with particularly luxurious bathrooms. Its location in the Back Bay area is lovely, as well as very handy. Although consider their Park and Stay package and let the valet take care of your hire car - you won't need it to explore this city. Most attractions are easily accessible by food, or by the simple metro system for tired little legs.
And if you've got more time....
If you've got more than two days to explore the city, there's plenty more to keep you all occupied. Duck Tours are a hugely popular attraction to explore the city by land and water - a great way to get your bearings around the city too. Then of course, the famous Boston Freedom Trail that starts in Boston Common - this self-guided tour is something many can't miss when they visit Boston. Of course, Boston has a richer history than a lot of US cities so time could spent around the Seaport area finding out more at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, although it may be better if your children are a little older. Faneuil Hall is an expansive, atmospheric market hall stuffed with shops and restaurants and worth a visit if you have the time.
Getting To Boston from the UK
Travelling to Boston from the UK is straightforwards, with a choice of flights from London Heathrow everyday with Virgin Atlantic and British Airways among other airlines. Norwegian has also started flying this route from London Gatwick with very competitive prices. On arrival at Boston Logan Airport, the heart of the city is only a ten minute drive away - Boston is a very compact city with its airport right on its doorstep. Generally, flights home are overnights, which are often the best option for pre-schoolers who can (usually...) sleep the whole six-hour flight home.