A Family Trip to Boston

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A Family Trip to Boston
Overflowing with historic sites and hands-on museums, Boston is a dream destination for families. During tours, walks, exhibits, and parks, kids and parents will learn as they play.
By Alison Abbott, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Alison Abbott
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    Family-Friendly History
    Picking the right venues is the way to ensure that your kids learn as much as you do about Boston—and U.S.—history. Download a guide to the Freedom Trail, and choose a section to explore like a treasure hunt. The North End has numerous sites and plenty of good pizza joints such as Regina Pizzeria where families can refuel. Then walk to the USS Constitution, and let costumed guides explain the country's seafaring history. Energetic feet should climb up the Bunker Hill Monument. You can rest on the water shuttle across the harbor, which offers a different vantage point and a nice change of pace.
    Photo by Alison Abbott
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    Boston's Top Photo Ops
    Little ones will recognize the characters from Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings in the Public Garden, and they'll be thrilled to climb on their favorite duck in person. Sports fans will want to head to Fenway Park and get their photo seated atop the "Green Monster"—the notorious 37-foot-high wall in left field—or outside with Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski. A statue of Boston Bruin player Bobby Orr marks the entrance to the TD Garden arena along with Celtic Larry Bird. The giant Hood milk bottle is a favorite pilgrimage site in front of the Boston Children’s Museum, and a sculpture installation fondly known as "Boston’s Baby Heads" excites kids outside the Museum of Fine Arts.
    Photo by Alison Abbott
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    Interactive Learning
    Boston's museums are some of the best in the country for families. The Boston Children’s Museum and the Museum of Science both take a fun, hands-on approach and feature interactive experiments that engage kids of many different academic levels. The Harvard Museum of Natural History sparks visitors' curiosity—the gem and rock room alone makes a worthwhile stop—and the deCordova sculpture park is incredibly kid friendly and offers a chance to enjoy art outdoors. The Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum will bring the kids' history classes to life when they see where the Sons of Liberty tossed crates of tea into the harbor more than 240 years ago.
    Photo by Alison Abbott
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    Discover the Beauty of Cape Ann
    Head about an hour north of Boston to explore the old seafaring towns of Cape Ann. Immortalized by The Perfect Storm, the area is now known for fresh seafood and a vibrant arts community, all doused in New England charm. Singing and Wingaersheek beaches are some of the prettiest in New England. Waterfront restaurants serve lobster rolls and fried clams three times a day, and the views are fantastic. Discover America’s oldest artist colony as you stroll the streets of Rocky Neck. Or opt for hiking and tide pooling at Halibut Point State Park.
    Photo by Steve Dunwell/age fotostock
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    Meet the Animals
    Animal lovers have many options to explore their passion in Boston. The Franklin Park Zoo is well known for its gorilla exhibit in which kids can meet Kiki, Kira, and the rest of the clan through the glass. The giant fish tank is the main draw at the New England Aquarium, but the jellyfish, penguin, and seal areas, as well as the Imax theater, make worthy sideshows. At the carousel on the Greenway, kids can choose from a whimsical assortment of characters to ride. But if it’s farm animals the family is seeking, Drumlin Farm just a short drive from the city is a unique wildlife sanctuary where you can see sheep, pigs, goats, and horses.
    Photo by Brianna Bascherini
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    Day Trip: Concord
    A half-hour drive west from Boston, the Concord area is steeped in American history and literary traditions. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau found inspiration in a cabin near Walden Pond, and Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, is buried in Concord’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Historic reenactments, tours, and special events at Minute Man National Historic Park bring the battles of the American Revolutionary War to life. A focus on preservation, local agriculture, and the arts makes Concord a great family day trip from Boston.
    Photo by Erin Paul Donovan/age fotostock
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    Kid-Friendly Dining in Boston
    Family-friendly dining doesn’t have to mean plain hamburgers and French fries. Picco in the South End will excite picky eaters with black-and-white milkshakes, pepperoni pizzas, and mac and cheese. Flatbread Company’s wood-fired pizzas cater to everyone—as do the bowling lanes that diners can play after (or during) the meal. Dim sum lets kids eat with their hands, and China Pearl Restaurant is one of the best spots to do so. Summer Shack is loud, and the lobster tank keeps kids occupied while parents down oysters. Full Moon in Cambridge is an award-winning bistro that offers a kids' menu to accompany its sophisticated adult version.
    Photo by Alison Abbott
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    Tried and True Tours
    For a great introduction to the city, book a Boston Duck Tour. You'll board an amphibious, World War II–style landing vehicle, and Colonel Duck Tape will lead you through all of Boston's major sights. It's a great way to get a unique perspective of the city, from both land and sea. Characters in period costumes leave regularly from Boston Common to take visitors on tours of the historic area. Boston By Foot guides guests around the Freedom Trail, and Old Town Trolley Tours lets you sit back and take in the views. Themes like ghosts and gravestones, baseball, and chocolate were built for specific tastes.
    Photo by Alison Abbott
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    Extraordinary Ice Cream
    Boston is home to many artisan ice cream makers as well as big-name favorites. Standby flavors are easy to find, but so are quirky new combinations. J.P. Licks and Emack and Bolio have several locations throughout the city, and be sure to try the dark chocolate at Picco. In Cambridge, order such seasonal creations as pumpkin at Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream, or Mexican chocolate, peppermint stick, or another creative flavor at Toscanini. FoMu, in Allston and Jamaica Plain, features vegan and dairy-free options. Take one bite of the cardamom pistachio and you’ll swear you never need cream again.
    Photo by Riley Wilson
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    Get Wet in Boston
    The Rings Fountain is a favorite summer spot for kids of all ages. Sixty-four jets spray to heights of up to 30 feet on this section of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. The unpredictable surges of water shoot like geysers into the sky and cool down visitors who dare to get close enough. The Frog Pond spray pool in the Public Garden features puppet shows and movie nights. At the bottom of the North End, you can swim in the Mirabella Pool, which offers standout views of the harbor. In East Boston, Constitution Beach is a fun place to wave at airplanes while you enjoy a refreshing dip. The Norman B. Leventhal Park, in the Financial District, is home to two fountains designed by sculptor Howard BenTré.
    Photo by Frank Binder/age fotostock
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