New England - What attractions to visit and things to do in Boston?
Jun 24, 10, 2:08 pm
It looks like my wife and 4-YO son will be accompanying me to a trade show (six days) in Boston this summer. I will be working the trade shows during the day until 4:00 PM; therefore, my wife and son will be on their own during day. I have never been to Boston or MA before so I am looking for recommendations. What are your recommendations for attractions to visit and things to do during the day? What are your recommendations for attractions to visit and things to do during the night?
Is the 80-minute tour of Boston in a W.W.II style amphibious landing craft by Boston Duck Tours worth it?
Are there any half-day or day tours operated by tour operators that you will recommend? Since NH, ME, RI and VT are so “close” to Boston, are there tours and/or buses, trains, boats, etc. that goes into these states from Boston?
Any recommendations will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Jun 25, 10, 7:16 am
I'd say there is enough to do in and around Boston for 4 days without going further afield.
I have heard good things about the Duck Tour, but I heartily disrecommend the Superducks (which are a more modern style vehicle) unless one is really deeply excited by what celebrity's yacht was docked where in Boston Harbor.
I think the best sightseeing approach for a first time visit to Boston is to walk the Freedom Trail. One can pick up a brochure with notes at the visitor center next to the Old State House, but there are guided sightseeing walks as well.
The aquarium is an excellent one. If one likes museums, the MFA is nice and the Isabella Steward Gardner museum is a real gem.
During appropriate times of year, there is no place on the planet that is better to be than Fenway Park.
Cambridge is worth visiting. The gem there is seeing the glass flowers, but most people would enjoy a walk around Harvard, too. I find the Mount Auburn Cemetery interesting.
Other options that are a bit less central but still easy to get to by public transit (train or bus) are Quincy (lots of Adams-related sites), Salem (the Peabody Essex Museum is wonderful, though more people go for the witch stuff or the House of the Seven Gables), or Concord.
Just off the top of my head that a 4YO would find interesting:
Boston Museum of Science
Boston Children's Museum
Aquarium (already mentioned by mhnadel)
Skywalk at Prudential Center
Swanboats at Boston Common
Curious George Store at Harvard Square Cambridge
I've also heard about a Puppet Theater in Boston, but haven't been there myself, so I can't vouch for whether it's any good or not.
What sort of night activities are you interested in, and would they be whole family or adult only? For whole family, there's seeing a Broadway show or a movie (http://www.boston-theater.com/ has a good calendar of Broadway shows that are going on). Also make sure to get a meal (and dessert) from Italian eateries in the North End.
The Amtrak Downeaster goes from Boston's North Station to New Hampshire and Maine, and if they are looking for something to do on a hot day, they can take it to Old Orchard Beach, Maine (the train station is literally steps from the beach). There's also an arcade, rides, and all kinds of shops and food right there also.
I assume you're from Arizona by the looks of your handle, but keep in mind that Boston in July can get VERY warm and HUMID, so I don't recommend outdoor activities unless it's a less humid day (unless it's doing a Duckboat tour, for example). Some of the subway stations (known as 'the T' to locals) are also poorly ventilated, so be prepared with bottled water or the like on muggy days!
Jun 25, 10, 2:04 pm
I'd take your son on the Duck Boat tour. It's a very fun and unique experience and you can board either at the Museum of Science, Aquarium or at Copley Place (outside Shaw's supermarket across from Marriott hotel) on Huntington Ave.
He may also enjoy visiting the Public Garden and riding the swan boats in the lagoon (not to be confused with the Duck Boat land/water tour of the city and Boston harbor)
-Museum of Science
-Children's Museum in Seaport district
-Aquarium is a must see
The freedom trail maybe a bit much for a 4 year old but its a nice walk and a good way to learn about the history of the city.
As for things to do at night are you interested in family oriented dining/activities? If so, Faneuil Hall has a good aray of inexpensive, casual dining options like Regina Pizzeria, Indian, Asian, etc. Depending on when you are visting, there may be a show you'd like to see in the theather district.
Jun 25, 10, 2:57 pm
For a free activity, take Red Line to Charles St, take the walkway across Storrow Dr and there is a big playground right there by the community boating center. Then can just walk around the boats and down the river. Should be good for a couple hours of playtime. There are plenty of ball fields around there where you can just hang out and let the kid run around. Get a cheap kite or something like that.
Make sure to get a weekly T pass for everyone. Main mode of transportation in city.
Also the childrens museum is very good. I am not as high on aquarium as every one else. Our 3 and 5 year old boys liked the museum better. Tons of interactive things to do.
Jun 25, 10, 8:15 pm
+1 for many things that the previous posters have mentioned:
- Duck Tours: Yes, it's touristy. But it's a lot of fun. :) I've lived in Boston for 10 years and have been on the ducks about half a dozen times.
- Museums: Children's Museum, Museum of Science, and Aquarium are great for young minds (and those young-at-heart) to learn and explore!
Even just sitting out on the waterfront near the Boston Harbor Hotel or Chart House can be fun. If the little one likes boats or planes, there is plenty of boat-watching and plane-watching to be had.
Jun 25, 10, 8:19 pm
The others have suggested great things thus far.
In addition, letting your son splash in the Frog Pond at Boston Common and/or the fountain at the Christian Science church makes for some fun in the sun.
Great suggestions so far, but I would add a whale watching tour to the list of recommendations. They leave from the dock by the aquarium and are a great way to spend an afternoon, your wife and son will see a surprisingly large number of whales in the short tour.
Just walking through the Common and Public Gardens is another fun (and cheap!) way to spend an afternoon, especially with the 18th century cemetery in the Common.
Jul 6, 10, 6:48 pm
There is a Boston-based audio tour company (IWalked Audio Tours) that provides free travel advice on the city via Facebook. Looking through their lists is a great list of top things to do with kids along with about a dozen links to other site's top to-do with children. Hope it helps! http://www.facebook.com/#!/topic.php?uid=121393507892275&topic=126
Faneuil Hall has street performers every day and it is easy to feed a four year old since they have every kind of food. It is a bit of a tourist trap, but kids love it. Across the street is the Aquarium. I used to take my kids to visit the seals because it was free. The Rose Kennedy Greenway, on the way over to the Aquarium has those fountains that shoot out of the sidewalk unexpectedly, which is a big hit with the kids.
If you are conventioning near the Waterfront, you can walk or taxi (5 mins) to Castle Island. It is a fort on the water with a beach, playground and ice cream/hot dog stand. The planes fly right over on their way to landing at Logan and kids get a big kick out of it. You can also walk along the water. Yankee Lobster has great, casual seafood and you can visit the store next door to see the lobsters.
Other free ideas: Frog Pond and playground on Common, squirrel chasing Common or Public Garden, playground in the Back Bay on Commonwealth Avenue. Swan Boats aren't too expensive and located at the Public Garden. Boston.com always has links to daily events for kids and outlines which ones are free.