Family Vacations to Boston - Family Traveller (USA)

Boston – Family Vacation Guide

If you’re interested in a vacation that combines bringing the past to life, culture, education, fun and food, then Boston is the place for you.

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Where to Go

Believe it or not, there are about 23 neighborhoods in Boston. They all have their own unique qualities and draw.

Back Bay with its gorgeous victorian houses, high-end shopping and exquisite restaurants is home to the celebrities and the elite of Boston and will be perfect if you’re looking for a posh location. However, it’s less than perfect if you’re looking for a place to park.

Beacon Hill, a little neighborhood with a big history, overlooking the nation’s first public park is where you may just bump into a congressman at your local grocer. Beautiful brownstones line these narrow streets.

Downtown is where you’ll do the majority of your sightseeing and everything is walkable.



Where to Stay

Four Seasons Boston: Overlooking Public Garden in downtown, you will be spared no luxury here and the kids may never want to come home after receiving their own baby robes, toys and participating in a cookie making class.

Boston Marriott Long Wharf: This waterfront location, with easy access to Quincy Market and the Freedom trail, offers more than just convenience. You’ll find incredible views of the bay and a heated indoor pool.


What to Do

A clean and safe city, it is easy to get around with kids, with plenty of green spaces to escape to.

Walk the Freedom Trail

This two-and-a-half mile red brick trail that runs through the heart of the old city is a historical highlight of visiting Boston. You can easily walk this with a stroller and little ones in tow, but it may be best to break it up into two days. The trail is free to walk on your own, or you can take a guided tour with costumed historians who know their stuff and keep it fun for the kids.

Water Activities

  • Boston is home to the New England Aquarium, famous for its penguins and the 80-year-old sea turtle named Myrtle who weighs over 500 pounds. Kids, parents and even teens will love learning about hundreds of varieties of sea creatures, holding sea stars and hermit crabs in the touch tank and the live animal presentations. 
  • Take a Lobster Tour through Boston Harbor and Harbor islands and learn all about the snapping creatures. Kids will love seeing what the lobster pots bring up to explore.
  • From March to October you can catch a whale watching tour from Central Wharf and watch humpbacks, pilot, minke and finback whales, dolphins and seabirds at the Stellwagon Bank Marine Sanctuary.

Museums

  • The Boston Children’s Museum is one of the oldest children’s museum in the world, founded 1913. The three story New Balance climbing structure, entire Japanese house, and a full program of daily activities will keep the family busy for an entire day. This is a great activity to have up your sleeve in case of rain or snow and if you go on Friday from 5pm-9pm entrance is only $1, a great deal if you can brave the crowds.
  • For older kids, the Museum of Science will provide hours of entertainment with their Investigation Station, where kids can play scientist, or watch the lightning bolts made by the world’s largest air-insulated Van de Graaff generator. With live animal exhibits, IMAX theater,  butterfly garden and planetarium, plan on spending most of the day here! Another great poor weather option.

Parks

  • Boston Commons dates back to 1634 and is America’s oldest public park. It began as a community cow pasture that lasted for nearly 200 years. Since then the park has had a long history and hosted the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. and anti-war demonstrations. The 50 acre park offers children a place to run and parents a place to relax right in the city center. You can find a carousel, playground and Frog Pond, which transforms into a skating rink in the winter months.
  • A large park adjacent to Boston Common, Public Garden was the first public botanical garden in America. Built on what were once mudflats, this beautiful garden offers swan boat rides on the lagoon, and hundreds of exquisite plant species that will provide an opportunity for that much needed nature break when visiting a city.

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museums

Dedicate several hours this unique immersive experience where you and your family members will become rebel colonists and find out if you lived or died during the revolution. Throw tea off the boat and be dazzled by amazing period actors that will transport you back in time.

USS Constitution and Bunker Hill

Known as “Old Ironsides,” the USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. Built in 1797, she fought bravely in the war of 1812 where she earned her nickname because she seemed to have iron sides that cannonballs couldn’t penetrate. Kids will have a blast immersing themselves into 19th century naval warfare and learning to live a sailor’s life aboard a military ship. Nearby Bunker Hill Monument marks the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution.

Harvard University

This ivy league university is not only full of unbelievably smart people, but also rich with history. Wander the beautiful campus on your own or take a tour. After, explore the many restaurants, historic sites and activities Cambridge, where the university is located, has to offer. 

Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall

This historic market along the freedom trail was Boston’s first market and is a great spot to stop and grab a bite. With 36 international food vendors, from lobster rolls to mac & cheese, there is sure to be something to please everyone’s palate.


Where to Eat

  • Al’s: Don’t leave town without stopping at this sandwich joint. The fresh, yet crunchy bread, the delicious meats and cheeses and the cantankerous employees who expect you to have your order ready once you get to the counter make this a fun stop that’s sure to leave a good taste in your mouth in the end.
  • Mr. Bartley’s Gourmet Burgers: Mr. Bartley knows his celebrities. Try out these big, tasty burgers with funky names like Kim Kardashian and Barack Obama. Pick your favorite burger and see which celeb is your burger soulmate. Be prepared to wait in a lengthy line. This joint is just a stone’s throw from the gates of Harvard University, in Cambridge.
  • Union Square Doughnuts: They’re doughnuts, they’re fresh, they’re full of sugar…what more could you ask for? Kids are sure to jump for joy (even before their sugar rush) at the flavors offered, like Peanut Butter & Jelly and Maple Bacon, and  parents are sure to blow that future tuition money on flavors like Belgian Dark Chocolate and Sea Salted Bourbon Carmel. 
  • Mike’s Pastry: You might not think standing in line for an hour for cannoli is worth it, but you’ll understand why once you put this sweet morsel in your mouth. And you’ll probably be back the next day for more. That long line? Fah-getta-bout-it!
  • Neptune Oyster: THIS is where you’ll go for your Boston Lobster Roll. Don’t miss it, it’s a classic. Tender pieces of warm, juicy lobster, drenched in butter and stuffed in a delicious fresh roll. Neptune’s does it best. Don’t leave town without one!




Getting Around

Boston is a fairly compact city, which makes walking easy. Driving can be problematic due to Boston’s narrow old streets and outdated planning. Add expensive and limited parking to the mix and you’ve got a recipe for “let’s walk or take the subway!” The subway, known to locals as the “T” is simple to use. Grab a subway map and a “Charlie Card” and you’re all set!

Vanessa Hunt is a full-time traveling mama who is passionate about world-schooling and food. You can find her sharing all about her travels with her family of six (her four children are 4, 7, 9 and 11), as well as her favorite recipes at WanderlustCrew.