The Best Things to Do in Boston with Kids
Boston is one of the most historic cities in the United States, and one of my favorite cities to explore. Visiting Boston with Kids is a fantastic way to spend your family vacation and family travel time. And if you Homeschool or Worldschool, this is the ultimate city to learn from. There is American history in Boston dating back hundreds of years, so read on for our ultimate guide to visiting Boston with Kids.
When is the Best Time to Visit Boston with Kids?
My favorite season to visit Boston is in the fall. Summer is beautiful, but the tourists and crowds can be overwhelming. If you enjoy cool, crisp weather and prefer not to end the day hot and sweaty, go in October or November. October is usually the perfect fall weather, while anytime after mid-November will require some basic winter clothing such as hats, gloves, and a jacket.
In general, however, anytime you can get to Boston between April and November will be a good time. The weather is mostly mild, except in winter, and you can enjoy the lively, bustling city. Since the city is not actually that big, we prefer to walk to most places or take the “T” (Boston’s subway system), so be sure to bring comfortable shoes!
Why Should You Visit Boston with Kids?
It’s simple to understand why visiting Boston with kids should be at the top of your list. Boston is beautiful, walkable, safe, and full of history. Be sure to read through my Worldschooling in Boston post so you can take advantage of every learning opportunity and experience while in Boston with kids. Whether your kids are in traditional school or you homeschool/Worldschool, you will find that learning opportunities abound in Boston!
Visiting Boston with kids is the perfect combination of relaxing, strolling the city, and admiring striking architecture, while you hit kid-friendly stops such as L.A. Burdick Chocolate, The Museum of Science, the Frog Pond & Tadpole Playground, Boston Common, and Boston Public Library.
Are Tours Worth Doing in Boston with Kids?
When we are in a new city, and especially a historic city like Boston, we like to choose one comprehensive tour that will take us to each area of the city. I recommend doing a city tour on your very first day, and then returning to the areas you are most interested in by foot. Some comprehensive tour options in Boston include the Boston Duck Tour and the Old Town Hop on-Hop off Trolley Tours.
While in Boston our family did the Boston Duck Tour, the nighttime Ghost & Gravestone Tour and the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum Tour. We chose to do more than our usual number of tours on our first visit to the city, since the nighttime tour focused on spooky history, which the kids seemed excited about, and to be sure we hit all the historical sites in this incredible city!
Each tour will last about 90 minutes, and will provide a variety of learning opportunities for your Worldschooling family.
Click here for our review of these tours, what other activities to plan around the tour areas, and what you need to know before you book them!
Everything you Need to Know about Walking the Freedom Trail in Boston with Kids
The Freedom Trail is one of the most coveted walks in all of New England. This famous 2.5 mile trail connects 16 different sites that are integral to the history of both Boston and the formation of United States. While walking this trail, you will see the burial place for Paul Revere, James Otis, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and the mythical (or was she real?) Mother Goose.
Other sites of interest include the Old Corner Bookstore, where classics such as Walden, The Scarlett Letter, and Paul Revere’s Ride were produced. As well as the Old South Meeting House, The Old State House, and the Site of the Boston Massacre. You’ll explore the “cradle of liberty,” Faneuil Hall (tip: in the basement is a fantastic explanation of Boston’s role in the Underground Railroad and the Civil Rights Movement, and you can get your Junior Ranger Booklet here). You will discover the Paul Revere House, the Old North Church where the famous saying “one if by land, two if by sea” was born, the Bunker Hill Monument and the USS Constitution.
More Information on the Freedom Trail
For detailed information visit the Freedom Trail website here.
If your family are history buffs, and your children are extremely interested in this trail, I would recommend booking one of their tours. For homeschoolers and Worldschoolers, the education section of their website is excellent and full of information, videos and learning material.
Our children are young tweens, and while they enjoy some history, their idea of fun doesn’t include an entire day of looking at old buildings. So, we walked the Freedom Trail on our own, stopped at the sites that were most interesting to us, and explored other parts of the city at the same time. To provide the kids with some context, it helped to read about the American Revolution, Paul Revere (and William Dawes), The Boston Massacre, and the Boston Tea Party before our trip to Boston.
A few tips on the Freedom Trail:
- The Paul Revere House is near Little Italy. Plan to hit this spot mid-day and enjoy a delicious pasta filled lunch at any nearby restaurant!
- Most of the stops on the Freedom Trail require paid entry, such as the Paul Revere House, Old State House, and more. Do some research on those you are most interested in exploring.
- The Corner Bookstore is no longer a bookstore. It is now a Chipotle. Bummer.
- You will see some of the sites during the Ghost & Gravestone tours as well (Copp’s Hill Graveyard & Granary Burial Grounds), but its fun to visit Granary Burial Grounds during the day and make a challenge out of finding the famous tombs.
Is Public Transportation safe in Boston with Kids?
Whenever we visit a new city, I always try to search posts of travel bloggers, and especially family travel bloggers. Reading first hand accounts of the public transportation in a city we will be visiting, helps me to plan our family’s trip and to put away my anxiety about how we will navigate an unfamiliar city.
Planning a trip to Boston with kids can feel stressful, especially if you aren’t familiar with the city or area. If you are planning to stay near the city center, meaning anywhere around Boston Common or Cambridge, you will NOT need to rent a car.
Here are my recommendations for navigating Boston with kids:
- If you are here to explore Boston for it’s history and beauty, stay within a half mile of Boston Common. We stayed at the Kimpton Nine Zero, but there are a variety of hotels in this area. We were able to walk to both the North End and the Southern part of Boston within 30 minutes max. I did search for other hotels, as well as apartment rentals and AirBnbs, but every type of accommodation was pretty expensive and all around the same cost.
- Boston is extremely walkable. Bring a stroller or ask your hotel if they allow guests to borrow scooters for the kids. Scooters SAVED us and allowed the kids to roam the city the entire week without complaints of being tired.
- The “T” is what Bostonians call their subway or metro system. It is clean, reliable, and easy to navigate. We felt completely safe using the “T.” There are a variety of options for passes, which you can purchase at each T stop using your credit card. You can choose from 1 ride, 2 ride, unlimited 1 and 7 day passes and monthly passes. Bear in mind: the unlimited daily passes will only work for 1 person per stop!
- If you need an Uber or Taxi, there are plenty to be had! Remember to use your travel credit card that gives you extra points for Uber.
Must Know Tips for Visiting Boston with Kids
-Children under 11 ride the “T” for free. Make sure they walk through the WIDE subway turnstiles for this free option.
-You will spend most of the day walking, so if your kids are not used to city life, be sure to bring a stroller for the little ones. We stayed at the Kimpton Nine-Zero Hotel, which gave us free scooters for the kids to use during our stay. This was a lifesaver for my 9 and 11 year olds! In a whole week, there was not one, single complaint about the amount of walking we did!
–Boston Public Library has MANY branches. Be sure you put the correct one in your GPS! We accidentally ended up at a small, closed branch when we just looked it up on our Iphones. The address you will want is in Copley Square at 700 Boylston Street.
-If your child gets a foot injury while in Boston (seriously, mine did. In a walking city. Ugh!) take an Uber over to Carbon Health’s Urgent Care in Dedham. Its a bit far, but it is clean, quick, has X-ray machines, sees kids, and has walking boots if your child needs one (mine did). The urgent care locations within Boston were booked out for days unfortunately!
Where to Eat Breakfast with Kids in Boston
Our kids love breakfast. They enjoy full, hot breakfasts with eggs, fruit, pancakes and the like. While we loved our hotel, the food was way too expensive to eat breakfast at daily. We recommend finding your closest Tatte Cafe & Bakery for gourmet delicious breakfasts (the adults in our family loved Tatte more than the kids), or for more kid-friendly options, try Paramount Breakfast and South Street Diner.
South Street Diner was fantastic, but be warned it is SMALL. A wheelchair, large stroller, or large human will have trouble fitting in this diner and the booths. There are only 5 booths, and a handful of bar stools. We went during the week, around 930am and sat down right away. The food was delicious and the servers were jolly!
More About Boston
Worldschooling in Boston: Everything You Need to Know Before you Go
The Boston Tours that are Worth Doing with Your Family