Hello fellow travelers!
Planning a trip to Boston?
It's Jason with Carltonaut's Travel Tips. During the past year, I've been to Boston four times. First, was a family vacation. The other three were for work conferences. Each visit gave me another opportunity to explore what the city had to offer. From historic trails stretching across Boston to museums that play with lightning. The city has something for everyone.
I've put together a list of 5 family-friendly activities your family can enjoy the next time you take an adventure to Boston.
Museum of Science
The Museum of Science has numerous hands-on exhibits that are sure to wow kids of all ages – which means adults, too. In fact, there are so many shows to watch and things to explore, you could dedicate an entire day to your visit.
My favorite exhibit was the Lighting show. It features the original Van de Graff generator, which produces bolts of lightning. Add in a few Tesla coils programmed just right, and you've got music! Don't believe me? Watch the part of the show where Tesla coils produce the theme song to the movie Jurassic Park. The Lightning show is one of the many shows offered in the Museum.
Wonder throughout the three floors, packed full with dinosaurs, innovations, historical displays, modern science in the home, and one of my other favorites: Outer space and rockets! In the Hall of Human Life, I was able to see a real heart and pair of lungs. The scientist was showing how the lungs inflate and the arteries that carry blood between the heart and the lungs.
- ADDRESS: 1 Science Park, Boston, MA
- COST: Ticket prices range from $20-$25 for the main exhibit hall. Tickets may also be purchased for the Planetarium or Omni Theater. Occasionally, special exhibits will be featured at the Museum of Science for an additional cost.
- ACCESS: Parking is available in a nearby parking garage. The T (or metro) stops right in front of the museum, and is a great way to navigate Boston.
- HOURS: Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. On Friday, it's open until 9 p.m.
- WEBSITE: https://www.mos.org/
Boston's Freedom Trail
Boston is also known as the “Cradle of Liberty.” It's where the Revolutionary War began. You may remember the famous ride of Paul Revere, the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Boston Tea Party. A walk down the Freedom Trail will help you appreciate the brave colonists who decided America should be it's own country.
The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile journey through Boston, starting at the Boston Common and ends with a visit to the U.S.S. Constitution. The path is clearly marked with two parallel rows of red bricks built into the side walk, making it easy to follow.
The 17 sites to visit along the trail include:
- Boston Common
- Massachusetts State House
- Park Street Church
- Granary Burying Ground (This is where Paul Revere and other notables are buried)
- King's Chapel & King's Chapel Burial Ground
- Benjamin Franklin Statue & Boston Latin School
- Old Corner Book Store
- The Old South Meeting House
- Old State House
- Site of the Boston Massacre
- Faneuil Hall
- Paul Revere's House
- Old North Church (One if by land; Two if by sea)
- Copp's Hill Burying Ground
- Bunker Hill Monument
- U.S.S. Constitution
The Freedom Trail is a National Park and has a Junior Ranger Program. You can pick up the booklet at Faneuil Hall or the U.S.S. Constitution. Those are the only two sites where you can be sworn in as a Junior Ranger as well.
- COST: There is no cost to walk the trail. Some of the buildings do have an admission fee. But you can enjoy the majority of the sites without paying admissions.
- ACCESS: Boston Common has a large underground parking garage. If you're staying in Boston, use a taxi, Uber, Lyft or the T (or Metro) to travel from your hotel to a starting point on the trail. It'll save you parking fees.
- HOURS: You can walk the trail at any time, but some of the historic sites are only open during the day.
- WEBSITE: https://www.thefreedomtrail.org/index.html
Boston Fire Museum
The good thing about the Boston Fire Museum is free admission. However, the museum is only open on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. So if you're in Boston on a Saturday, I recommend exploring the history of the Boston Fire Department.
The museum has firefighting artifacts from Boston's early years – including pump carts, hose nozzles and fire fighter helmets. One display shows off helmets from other departments around the world. If you're timing is right, you can say hello to Sparky, the Dalmatian who's been greeting visitors at the museum for years.
Visitors can sit in Engine 38 (pictured above) for a photo op. The volunteers that run the museum love to help out and share information about items in the museum. They also have a small gift shop where you can purchase patches, models, challenge coins, t-shirts and more.
If you're celebrating a birthday while in Boston, schedule a party at the museum. The second floor of the museum can be reserved for kids birthday parties.
- ADDRESS: 344 Congress Street, Boston, MA
- COST: Admission is free. Donations are accepted.
- ACCESS: There is some street parking in the area. Public transit is encouraged.
- HOURS: Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- WEBSITE: http://www.bostonfiremuseum.com/index.html
Boston Commons and Botanical Gardens
My mom grew up in New England. She spent many summer afternoons riding the swan boats in Boston Common. During our family vacation stop in Boston, she made sure we were able to experience the swan boats, too.
The swan boats are only part of the Boston Commons and Botanical Gardens. There are statues honoring historic figures. Flowers and foliage galore. One end of the park has a playground and small splash pad. There is a small stage in the park for summer concerts as well.
Boston Commons and Botanical Gardens are the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic lunch – but watch out for the squirrels. If you're feeling nostalgic, the bar from the TV show Cheers is across the street from the Botanical Gardens, which makes for a perfect photo op.
- COST: Admission is free. A ride on the swan boats are $4 for adults, $2.50 for kids (ages 2-15), and $3.50 for seniors. Kids under the age of 2 are free.
- ACCESS: There is underground parking at Boston Common, but if you want to save the cost of parking, you can take the T or another mode of public transportation.
- HOURS: The swam boats are open between mid-April and Labor Day and run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Boston Commons and Botanical Gardens are open 24 hours a day.
- WEBSITE: https://swanboats.com/take-a-ride/ (Swan Boats)
Boston Tea Party Museum
The Boston Tea Party Museum gives you the chance to relive some of the key moments in history leading up to the Boston Tea Party. The crew at the museum are all dressed up in historic attire.
During the tour, you'll be able to get riled up by Nathaniel Adams as he motivates everyone to participate in a simple act of resistance to the pressures of England. After touring the ships, stand on the deck and become a true colonist – throw some crates of tea into the Boston Harbor.
The tour includes a holographic and live-action presentation about the early events of the American Revolution. It's a pretty neat show and one that will leave you talking about the history that shaped America.
If you're interested in enjoying a light snack, you're able to purchase some in Abigail's Tea Room. And no tour is complete – at least not for my kids – until you visit the gift shop.
- ADDRESS: 306 Congress Street, Boston, MA
- COST: Admission is $29.95 for adults, $18 for children (ages 5-12) and $26.95 for seniors. You can save a little money by purchasing your tickets online.
- ACCESS: There are a few parking garages nearby (Farnsworth Street Garage and Stillings Street Garage) that offer discounted prices to those visiting the museum.
- HOURS: Tours begin every 30 minutes between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. (4 p.m. during the off season). The gift shop and Abigail's Tea House are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (5 p.m. during the off season).
- WEBSITE: https://www.bostonteapartyship.com/
Go City and CityPASS are two good bundle-and-save passes that can save you money on the Harbor Cruise, New England Aquarium, Duck Tour, Swan Boats and more in Boston. We didn't use them on this trip, but if you are planning to visit Boston's popular attractions, you should at least consider one of these options because they can save you up to 65%.
Boston Go City lets you choose a number of days or number of attractions for a set price. It includes 40+ attractions, tours and experiences. It's the most flexible of the two passes. Learn more at https://gocity.com/boston.
Boston CityPASS saves you 45% on admission to New England Aquarium, Museum of Science, Skywalk Observatory and your choice of a Harbor Cruise or Harvard Museum of Natural History. This pass is the least expensive option. Learn more at https://www.citypass.com/boston.
I loved visiting Boston with my family and hope you will too. Happy travels!