Boston with Kids: A Perfect Family Day
Boston is a city rich with our nation's history and a great place for families with young children to vacation. There are a number of child-oriented things to do; but parents won't have to ignore the city's historical and cultural opportunities if they plan to visit sites that provide something for everyone -- and do it via a convenient and well-planned trolley tour service.
Plan your visit to Boston with kids for spring or fall to get the best weather, but watch for events that bring big crowds (such as fall-foliage season). We went in April just before the Boston Marathon and had no trouble with crowds or getting around.
I would recommend buying tickets for the Old Town Trolley Tour online to save a few dollars. It is also fun to purchase the book 'Make Way For Ducklings,' by Robert McCloskey, to share with your children before your trip to get them excited about Boston. Finally, check out the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors' Bureau for hotels, events calendar and discount passes to area sites.
A perfect family vacation day in Boston with kids would go something like this:
For a classic breakfast, always appreciated by the younger set, start your day at The Paramount on Beacon Hill (44 Charles Street; 617-720-1152 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 617-720-1152end_of_the_skype_highlighting) With young children it is best to go on weekdays when the wait isn't as bad as it can get on weekends. I am an omelet person -- so the spinach, tomato and feta is my order; while my husband, 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter chow down on the pancakes.
Old State House (206 Washington St.; 617-720 1713) for a chance to stand where the Boston Massacre happened (look for the cobblestone ring on the traffic island at the intersection of Devonshire and State streets). Let your children experience the "Hands-on History" of the Old State House, which allows them to see behind the facade, play with foam bricks to re-create the walls of the building and meet the Statehouse Mouse. Museum admission is free with Old Town Trolley tickets.
Outside the State House, hop on the Old Town Trolley Tour (it's stop No. 5 for the green and orange trolleys) and ride to stop No. 6 for a fun time in the Public Garden. When you get to the Public Garden, head straight for the Make Way For Ducklings statues and the Swan Boats (617-522-1966). Let your children feed the ducks, chase the squirrels, sit on the statues and watch the boats go by. The Swan Boats are a fun part of the park -- but be aware that they are closed during the colder months, so check the schedule before promising your children a ride. Tickets are $2.75 for adults and $1.50 for children.
At tour stop No. 7 is the Cheers bar and restaurant (84 Beacon St.; 617-227-9605), which was made famous by the long-running 1980s TV sitcom. The familiar brick-facade building is tourist trap, for sure; but it's also a child-friendly, conveniently located spot for lunch that serves typical pub grub, burgers, sandwiches, salads and fun desserts.
If your kids need a rest, jump back on the next trolley and just relax while your children fall asleep to the commentary and hum of the trolley. The guide will provide entertaining insight for each of the sites on the tour and you can do the entire tour without disembarking, allowing you to plan which stops you will take once the kids wake up.
After your family is sufficiently rested, plan to visit some additional sites in Boston. There are a number of kid-friendly historical sites on the trolley route. Paul Revere's House (19 North Square; stop No. 2) is a great place to visit with children since it won't take long to wander through the four rooms in this oldest home in Boston (adults $3.50, children 5 to 17 $1).
Insider tip: No strollers are allowed in the house, so be prepared to carry babies or have adults tag-team with one remaining outside in the garden area.
When you have toured Paul Revere's House, transfer at stop No. 1 to the optional Seaport Tour loop at Long Wharf and head to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum (stop No. 16) to complete your tour (Note: it's under renovation until summer 2011).
Upon your return to the Long Wharf, make the short walk to Ristorante Seraceno in Boston's historic North End (286 Hanover St.; 617-227-5888). Request a family table, which may end up being in its own room with an aquarium TV in this multi-level restaurant. Even though there isn't a child's menu, the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese is a hit with kids (and adults), and the staff is willing to work with families to ensure everyone has a meal to their liking.
Save room for Gianduia Torino flavored gelato at the Gigi Gelateria (272 Hanover St.; 617-720-4243) to continue the Italian mood of the evening and to provide a sweet end to your perfect family vacation day in Boston with kids.
Can't Get Enough? Discover More of Boston
- Overview:Boston Travel Guide