Summer Travel

Off-the-Beaten-Path Activities in Boston

Nancy enjoying a Boston pedicab with her 4 kids. Photo Source Nancy Solomon

If your kids have already marched the Freedom Trail or you are simply looking for something a little different than the typical “Top 5 Family Activities in Boston,” this list was created for you. Don’t get me wrong, Boston’s popular sights are excellent, but between school trips and family visits, we’re always looking for something fresh to draw us into town.

A list of our favorite off-the-beaten path things to do in Boston with kids of all ages

Boston Marine Life:

Explore the Harbor IslandsTake a short ferry ride over and explore the various islands just off Boston’s coast. On Spectacle Island, there is a small snack stand, The Summer Shack, by famous chef Jasper White, but from what I’ve heard, George’s island is better for kids. There’s and old fort to explore and more open space. Bring a picnic lunch and a kite; the island breeze makes it a perfect for kite flying.

Board CodzillaThe name says it all. The brochure for Codzilla takes a bravado tone informing you that whimps need not board, so bring you sense of adventure and a change of clothes, as you’re “guaranteed” to get soaked.

Enjoy Whale WatchingLet the experts from the New England Aquarium take you to the whale feeding grounds 30 minutes out to sea. It’s a beautiful ride and you will see plenty of whales. This is a big hit with my kids. It boards right next to the aquarium and is very convenient to the other harbor area activities.

Pop-up fountains on Boston Harbor walk

Boston Harbor Area Activities:

Newly redeveloped, the Harbor Walk and the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway connect the Institute of Modern Art to the North End. This is my favorite area to walk around with kids. There is plenty of space to run and pop-up water fountain that get everyone pleasantly soaked on hot days (bring a change of clothes!).

This walk also links to Faneuil Hall, a historic market place with fun little shops, outdoor entertainers, it’s Boston’s version of Convent Garden. Faneuil Hall’s food court offers a little of everything, even Wagamama, our favorite family noodle house from London recently opened here.

The Croc store is fun and looks more like a candy shop becuae they have crocs in every color. Our favorite loop includes a stop at the aquarium to see the seals out front, then Faneuil Hall via Pedicab (a bike pedaled cab), and finally a trip into an Italian grocery shop like, Depasquale’s, to buy picnic supplies or dinner to take home. For evening entertainment, Boston Harbor Hotel has the Summer Series where they play live music and show movies outside — a real summer treat!

Land Adventures:

Full of Hot Air – Glass blowing will take care of that. Check the calendar for the family demonstrations and hands on fusing. Diablo Glass also offers longer programs through The Museum of Fine Art.

Snack on a Food Tour -This is always hit with my kids. When traveling with mini-foodies, a little learning, a little eating keeps everyone is happy. Although these tours are not specifically designed for kids, if yours have a culinary flair, they will be warmly welcomed. There are a few options in the Boston area, but these are the ones that we’ll be going on: North End Tour and Brookline Jewish Food Tour.

Stir it up – While we are in the culinary venue, if you are looking to get some hands on experience, try playing cook for the day at Create-a-cook, located 15 minutes outside of Boston in Newton. They offer great workshops ranging from sushi making to knife skills.

Tour Along– Of course there is the Little Feet Freedom Trail tour, but if you want something a little different, add wheels! Urban Adventures offers a wide selection of bike tours to accommodate any family. Options include a ride to Fenway or Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride. Get more adventurous if your kids are over 100 lbs and tour Boston on Segways.

Canobie Lake amusement park

Be Amused:

Kids in our area flock to two amusement parks, Canobie Lake and Six Flags New England. Canobie had become a quick favorite of mine because it’s close (45 minutes), clean, and smaller. The manageable size makes it very easy to keep an eye on my kids if I don’t ride with them.

Also, at each “big kid” ride, there is a a “little kid” option. So, while my 11, 10 and 7 year old ride the over 48”/52” rides, my 2-year-old is has something to do.

Six Flags is the real deal — huge rides, a huge water park and huge lines. This park is located in Springfield, MA along with the Basketball Hall of Fame. It’s about a two-hour drive from Boston.The height requirements range per ride, so be sure to check the website.

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