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A day in BOS with a 4-year-old

A day in BOS with a 4-year-old

Old Nov 2, 16, 2:36 pm
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A day in BOS with a 4-year-old

Hello! My nephew is turning 4 later this month, so I (his world-traveling bachelor uncle whose last plane trip was an accidental RTW) am planning to take him on a day trip to Boston. We'll arrive at Logan around 11 a.m. and fly out again that evening at 8. I've done a few brief visits to Boston before, but I don't know the city particularly well.

Part of the reason I chose Boston for this sort of adventure is that there seems to be so much to do in a compact area, and it's easily accessible by public transport (his parents are sending us with a stroller so that my nephew doesn't completely exhaust himself by early afternoon with all the walking). This child loves planes, trains, and automobiles... and buses, boats, and anything else that moves with him on it or watching from nearby... so I know the very act of getting from place to place by these various means will be an attraction in itself.

In that light, I want to make sure the places we visit are worthwhile and age-appropriate, without too much concern for penny-pinching (it's only one day, after all!). I had in mind the New England Aquarium, Tea Party Ships, Boston Children's Museum, and Skywalk Observatory. Is there anything else in Boston a preschooler would love, and that's accessible by public transport? Is anything on this list not worth the trouble?

Also, we'll need a couple decent places to eat near some of these attractions. I'm not a seafood fan, and my nephew is happy enough to eat chicken, pizza, macaroni and cheese, and the like. Does anybody have kid-friendly recommendations, especially if they have memorable themes/local color, etc.? "Touristy" would probably be okay in this case.

Thanks, in advance, for any insights you're able to provide.
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Old Nov 2, 16, 2:49 pm
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What time of year are you visiting? Boston in the gorgeous spring or summer is very different from Boston in the rainy-or-freezing winter. (Edit: OK, based on READING I assume this is mid-November.)

For someone who likes boats:
I'm a big fan of the commuter ferry from Long Wharf to the Charlestown Navy Yard. (It's just a fun boat experience, not an especially useful commute — you can go 'back' downtown with a $10 Uber ride, like 10-15 minutes, but if you need a car seat, this may not be an option.) Up there, the USS Constitution museum is fun for up to an hour or so, a bunch of hands-on stuff and very eager docents who are happy to tell you all about old timey sailor stuff. Also at the same site is an actual boat (the USS Constitution itself) which you can walk around on; it's pretty fun! This can almost all be indoors depending on the rain and it's probably one of the shortest ferry trips you can take (longer trips might go out to the Harbor Islands but eat up more of your day.)

Last edited by mherdeg; Nov 2, 16 at 2:58 pm
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Old Nov 2, 16, 3:41 pm
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Codzilla
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Old Nov 2, 16, 4:55 pm
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I'd do the children's museum definitely. Take the water ferry from the airport and walk over. Get pizza in the North End and a Cookie Monster cookie at mikes pastry. Take the train back to the airport. He will probably be asleep by then 😀
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Old Nov 2, 16, 5:10 pm
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On arrival at BOS, take the free Silver Line bus to South Station. If it's nice enough walk, otherwise take a cab, to Boston Public Market for lunch. Fanueil Hall is an alternative; the options there are lower quality and more touristy, but they might make a 4-year-old happier. After lunch, walk over and take in the Aquarium. If the kid is ready for a treat after that, head over to the North End for pastry from Mike's. (Modern is better, but Mike's will be more impressive to a 4-year-old.) Then, if the kid still has some stamina, head over to the Children's Museum, then back to South Station for the Silver Line bus ride back to the airport.

All of this is within walking distance from South Station, though if the weather doesn't cooperate you can take taxis, and you also can ride the subway if you think the kid'll be into that.

Not sure how much experience you have with a 4-year-old, but if you can get the plane ride, lunch, the aquarium and the Children's Museum done all in one day, you'll be doing well! I wouldn't be at all surprised if the kid is ready to quit after the aquarium!

By the way, although the water ferry to and/or from the airport may be a fun option, I'm not sure it operates on the weekends.
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Old Nov 2, 16, 8:40 pm
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Hi, all, and thanks for the helpful responses!

Yes, we'll be going later this month, mid-week. I'm hoping for passable weather for walking.

I hadn't heard of Codzilla... and after checking out the website, I'm especially disappointed it doesn't operate the day we'll be there.

The Aquarium is a special point of interest because my nephew has never visited one before. So we might take a water taxi (to Rowes Wharf?) straight from the airport, find a quick bite, and tour the Aquarium.

From there, we could walk to the Children's Museum/Tea Party Ships area. That might just occupy us until an early dinnertime and return to the airport via Silver Line from South Station. But if I sense he's not up for another museum-type experience just then, is there a good place to let a kid run around, like a park?

I'm still figuring all this out, and yes, hours-long one-on-one care and feeding of a four-year-old is going to be a relatively new challenge for this uncle. The suggestions here are much appreciated, and I'll check back here for more ideas as the big day approaches. Thank you!
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Old Nov 3, 16, 7:55 am
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In November, the water ideas might be a bit chilly.

Your original plan is great. If weather is really good, he might enjoy Castle Island. Many MBTA buses can get you there. It's a causeway into Boston Harbor and a Civil War fort (I don't think you can go inside the fort on a weekday, but you can see it nicely from outside including cannons on top), and from there you have a great view of Harbor boat traffic and an amazing view of Logan Airport. Most of the time the prevailing winds will result in the planes either landing right over your heads or taking off almost right towards you.

There's a shack there (Sullivan's) with hot dogs and hamburgers ridiculously cheap (also ice cream and fried seafood options).
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Old Nov 3, 16, 1:11 pm
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Originally Posted by Out of my Element View Post
In November, the water ideas might be a bit chilly.

Your original plan is great. If weather is really good, he might enjoy Castle Island. Many MBTA buses can get you there. It's a causeway into Boston Harbor and a Civil War fort (I don't think you can go inside the fort on a weekday, but you can see it nicely from outside including cannons on top), and from there you have a great view of Harbor boat traffic and an amazing view of Logan Airport. Most of the time the prevailing winds will result in the planes either landing right over your heads or taking off almost right towards you.

There's a shack there (Sullivan's) with hot dogs and hamburgers ridiculously cheap (also ice cream and fried seafood options).
I do think one needs to be careful before planning too much with a 4-year-old. But if you do head out to Castle Island in the hopes of eating at Sullivan's, be sure to call them before you go:

"We will close if there are more seagulls than cars in the parking lot. Call ahead before heading out if the weather is bad: 617.268.5685."
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Old Nov 3, 16, 2:14 pm
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Definitely worth calling, but like I said, "if the weather is good" it's worth a trip. And when the weather is good there in November, they are open
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Old Nov 3, 16, 2:25 pm
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Thanks for the suggestion about Castle Island/Sullivan's.

It sounds like a great novelty destination... except that my nephew lives ten minutes from Gravelly Point, and regularly sees DCA arrivals fly a hundred feet over his head while playing there. We'll probably stick to the downtown attractions, but I appreciate the outside-the-box suggestion (which might be great for other preschoolers who aren't already experienced plane spotters!).
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Old Nov 20, 16, 4:34 pm
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Looking for a report. Did this trip happen, and how did it go?!?!
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Old Nov 21, 16, 9:05 pm
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Originally Posted by Blumie View Post
"We will close if there are more seagulls than cars in the parking lot. Call ahead before heading out if the weather is bad: 617.268.5685."
Sullivan's is open until Nov 27th for the season, and they will not close any earlier than 2PM, and only if inclement weather is expected.
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