City guide: Boston

Your one-stop city guide, packed with information on family-friendly hotels, restaurants, and local and unique attractions.

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Perhaps no other city evokes the spirit of Colonial and Early America more than Boston. The hub of New England also happens to be one of the most “kid-centric” locales in the country. Trace our national heritage from Back Bay to Beacon Hill, from Cambridge to the South End and points beyond. Historic and modern, educational and fun, Boston offers something for everyone in the family.


Seaport Hotel
One Seaport Lane, Boston, MA
(800) 440-3318
Price: Room starting at $215/night

Here, you can have fun and give back. The Seaport regularly donates to Reach Out and Read, a local non-profit dedicated to literacy. On Fridays, kids pick from the hotel toy chest. Amenities include a Pillow Library — choose from 10 pillows to find the one that’s just right!

Hotel Marlowe
25 Edwin H. Land Boulevard, Cambridge, MA
(800) 825-7040
Price: Rooms starting at $250/night

Ready to splurge for a special occasion? Come to the Marlowe for something a little different. that’s sure to please the kid in everyone. With its boutique-like feel, the Marlowe is all about “discovery.” Guestrooms feature exploration and space travel motifs, and leopard print and compasses pop up everywhere.. There’s 24-hour room service, free cribs, and a lending library of children’s and young adult titles.

Wyndham Boston Chelsea Hotel
201 Everett Avenue, Chelsea, MA
(617) 884-2900
(877) 999-3223
Price: Rooms starting at $189/night

Just minutes from Back Bay and the Waterfront, the Wyndham offers reasonable rates in a comfortable setting. Take advantage of the free airport shuttle, and wind down in the heated indoor pool or hot tub.

Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel
425 Summer Street, Boston, MA
(617) 532-4600
(888) 627-7115
Price: Rates starting at $169/night

The location and amenities can’t be beat. The on-site Sauciety Restaurant offers a large and appealing kids’ menu, while also catering to the adult palate. The hotel is committed to encouraging fitness for all, and for a fee will provide a complete New Balance workout wardrobe.

Holiday Inn Beacon Hill
5 Blossom Street, Boston, MA
Price: Rates starting at $189/night

Just two blocks from the Museum of Science, you’ll love staying in the venerable neighborhood of Beacon Hill. Sample Foster’s Bar and Grill, conveniently open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Lobster Roll Boston

FlickrCC/joo0ey   –   Lobster Roll

Pizza Regina
111/2 Thacher Street, Boston, MA
(617) 227-0765
Monday-Thursday: 11am-11:30pm
Friday-Saturday: 11:30am-12:30am
Sunday: 11:30am-11:30pm
Price: $
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Regina’s basic pie of fresh basil, slightly tangy sauce and a yeasty-coal fired crust is a must-win combination. Regulars dip the crusts into the yummy infused oils at this North End perennial favorite. Don’t skimp on napkins!

Full Moon
344 Huron Avenue, Cambridge, MA
(617) 354-6699
Lunch: Monday-Friday: 11:30am-2:30pm
Dinner: 5-9pm (daily)
Brunch: Saturday-Sunday: 9am-2:30pm
Price: $$
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Stop into this family-friendly staple in the heart of Cambridge after a stroll through Harvard Square and the independent children’s bookstores and toy shops that line the neighborhood. Don’t forget to order the chocolate pudding cake for dessert. The New York Times loves it.

Prudential Center, 800 Boylston Street, Boston, MA
(617) 778-2344
Monday-Thursday: 11:30am-10pm
Friday-Saturday: 11:30am-11pm
Sunday: 11:30am-9pm
Price: $$
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Take a break from sightseeing for simple and nutritious grub at any of the three centrally-located outposts of this international noodle bar. Modeled on the ubiquitous noodle houses of Tokyo, Wagamama there is an extensive kids menu, and accommodations are happily made for a wide array of food allergies and diets.

Sel de la Terre
774 Boylston Street, Boston, MA
(617) 266-8800
Hours: 11am-10pm (daily)
Bar: Sunday-Wednesday: 5pm-12am, Thursday-Saturday: 5pm-2am
Price: $$$
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

This Provencal gem truly is the “salt of the earth.” Its soups, sandwiches and entrees feature seasonal, locally grown ingredients. Make sure to keep the bread basket full: according to Boston Magazine, it’s the best in the city. Winner of their “Kid-Friendly Upscale” award in 2005.

Summer Shack
149 Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge, MA
(617) 520-9500
Lunch: Monday-Friday: 11:30am-4pm
Monday-Thursday: 4pm-9:30pm
Friday: 4pm-10:30pm
Saturday: 12pm-10pm, Sunday: 12pm-9pm
Price: $$$
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

A stone’s throw from Fenway Park and Symphony Hall, the Summer Shack features the best and largest raw bar in Boston. The corn dog (really!) is a must.


The Freedom Trail
99 Chauncy Street, Suite 401, Boston, MA
(617) 357-8300
Hours: 9am-4:30pm (daily)
Price: Children (age 6 and under): Free, Children (ages 6-12) $7, Adults: $13, Student & Senior: $11
Age Range: Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

The best way to “do” Boston is by walking the Freedom Trail, a 2.5 -mile, 90-minute tour led by outstanding guides who don authentic Revolutionary garb. Hear the tales of the brave colonists who fought for our liberty as you explore 16 historic landmarks, including several featured below. Put on some comfortable shoes and follow the painted red line!
Reservations required.

Boston by Little Feet, Boston by Foot
Merchant’s Row, Boston, MA
(617) 367-2345
Hours: Call ahead for tour times
Price: $8 per person
Age Range: Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Get a child’s-eye view of the Freedom Trail on the Boston by Little Feet tour. The tour, specifically designed for 6 to 12-year-olds, is shorter and faster paced than standard tours of the Freedom Trail. Kids will learn about the city’s role in the American Revolution and go home with a free explorer’s map.

North End Old North Church
193 Salem Street, Boston, MA
(617) 523-6676
January-February: Tuesday-Sunday: 10am-4pm, Closed Monday
March-May: 9am-5pm (daily)
June-October: 9am-6pm (daily)
November-December: 10am-5pm (daily)
Price: Suggested donation of $1 per person
Age Range: Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

In 1775 sexton Robert Newman raised two lanterns atop the steeple, as a signal from Paul Revere that the British were nearing Lexington and Concord by sea, not land. And with that gesture, the American Revolution was born. Still a practicing Episcopal congregation, the church boasts the oldest bells in North America.

Boston Children’s Museum
308 Congress Street, Boston MA
(617) 426-6500
Hours: Saturday-Thursday: 10am-5pm, Friday: 10am-9pm
Price: Children (age 12 months & under) and Members: Free, Adults (ages 12+): $14
Age Range: Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

One of the top children’s museums in the country, BCM was a pioneer in interactive exhibitions and experiential learning. With hands-on exhibits on the environment, space exploration and art, kids won’t even realize they’re learning!

Faneuil Hall Marketplace
3 Faneuil Hall Market Place, Boston, MA
(617) 523-1300
Hours: 10am-9pm (daily)
Price: Free
Age Range: Toddler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Dating back over 250 years, this landmark is still a thriving meeting place. Faneuil Hall actually encompasses three additional emporia—Quincy Market, North Market and South Market. All four surround a quaint cobblestone plaza lined with jugglers, unicyclists and acrobats. Prepare to wander, eat and shop!

Fenway Park Tour
4 Yawkey Way, Boston, MA   
(617) 226-6666
Hours: 9am-5pm (daily)
Price: Children (ages 3-15): $12, Adult (ages 16-64): $16, Senior (ages 65+): $14
Age Range: Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Soak up the rich history of America’s pastime on the hallowed grounds of Yaz, Teddy Ballgame and Youk. Refurbished with modern amenities, Fenway still retains an authentic, low-tech feel. Touch the Green Monster. Sitting inside the scoreboard is a must!
Puppet Showplace Theatre
32 Station Street, Brookline, MA
(617) 731-6400
Hours: Monday: Closed, Tuesday-Sunday: 10am-4pm
Price: $10 per person
Age Range: Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Sponsored in part by the Jim Henson Foundation, the PST is the regional mecca for practitioners of this ancient art form. Who knew New England is the most fertile puppetry-producing region in the nation? With high production values and compelling storylines, these shows are not just for kids!

Swan Boat Rides
Boston Public Garden, Boston, MA
(617) 522-1966
Spring (April-June 20): 10am-4pm
Summer (June 21-Labor Day): 10am-5pm
Fall (after Labor Day): Monday-Friday: 12-4pm, Saturday & Sunday: 10am-4pm
Price: Children (ages 2-15): $1.50, Adults (ages 16-64): $2.75, Seniors (ages 65+): $2
Age Range: Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

The Swan Boats have been a Boston tradition for over 130 years. A sign of spring, the boats cruise the waters of the Boston Public Garden, the oldest botanical garden in the nation. A great way to unwind.

Carousel Ride at Boston Common
Frog Pond Spray Pool & Fountain, Tremont Street, Boston, MA
(617) 635-2121
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11am-6pm, Friday-Saturday: 11am-8pm.
Price: $3 per person
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Built in 1947 by the Allan Herschell Company of North Tonawanda, NY, one of the most notable carousel manufacturers in the nation. the carousel is located at the Frog Pond Spray Pool and Fountain, and continues to be popular with tourists and natives alike.  New characters are added all the time!

Boston Harbor Whale Watching Cruise
Long Wharf Ferry Terminal, Boston, MA
(617) 227-4321
Hours: Call ahead for tour times
Price: Children (ages 4-12): $35, Adults (ages 13-64): $45, Seniors (ages 65+): $40
Age Range: Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

See these awe-inspiring creatures up close on Boston’s only 3-hour catamaran cruise. 3 outdoor decks plus an inside climate-controlled cabin. Researchers at The Whale Center of New England provide the narration.

Local uniques:

Boston Chocolate Tours
(781) 784-7469
Hours: Call ahead for tour times
Price: $48 per person
Age Range: Elementary, Tween, Teen

Willy Wonka was only the beginning! Prepare to sample the region’s finest offerings, while learning how to make truffles from Boston’s premier chocolate mavens.

Bare Cove Fire Museum
45 Bare Cove Park Drive, Hingham, MA
(781) 749-0028
Hours: Wednesday: 7:30-10:30pm
Age Range: Babies, Toddlers, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

See a fantastic collection of classic and “tricked-out” fire engines located in the charming village of Hingham. Think you have a budding engineer or architect on your hands? Children can compete in the annual Firewood Derby.

222 Harrington Way, Worcester, MA
(508) 929-2700
Hours: Monday: Closed, Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday: 12-5pm
Price: Children (ages 2 & under) Free, Children (ages 2-18): $8, Adults (ages 19-64): $14, Seniors (age 65+): $10
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

The Ecotarium is much more than a science museum. It’s an indoor/outdoor urban oasis featuring interactive experiences on the earth, space, and animal life. A recent exhibit, “Grossology: The Impolite Science of the Human Body” is a family favorite. Well worth the half-hour to Worcester.

Drumlin Farm
208 South Great Road, Lincoln, MA
(781) 259-2200
March 1-October 31: Tuesday-Sunday: 9am-5pm
November 1-February 28: Tuesday-Sunday: 9am-4pm
Price: Children (ages 2-12), Adults (ages 13-64): $7, Seniors (ages 65+): $5
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

A project of the MassAudubon Society, Drumlin Farms is a working farm and wildlife sanctuary. There are activities for the family year-round, including nature hikes, hay rides, gardening and farm chores. This one is not to be missed!

Babson World Globe
Babson College, Coleman Map Building, Wellesley, MA
Hours: Open daily
Price: Free
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

One of the world’s largest free-standing globes. Worth a short drive to this college campus in leafy Wellesley to see this impressive 25-ton sphere. Grab a photo op!