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People joining hands and ice-skating on an outside rink. Christian Science Monitor via Ge

The 23 best things to do in Boston with kids, mapped

A seasonally definitive guide to family-friendly fun in the Boston area

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Because of its compact, historic neighborhoods and bucolic New England waterfront, Boston is probably America’s greatest walking city. Similarly pedestrian-friendly cities such as Cambridge surround it, too.

This makes the Boston region especially easy to visit and to navigate with kids, including around the holidays.

Other great metropolitan areas boast world-renowned museums, gorgeous green spaces, and zoos that keep kids coming back again and again. But in Boston and its surrounding region, everything is a bit more doable for families: The top sites are often clustered together or just a short ride away on the city’s subway, buses, and commuter rail.

We’ve mapped 23 of the best kid-friendly activities in the Boston region during wintertime that will please locals and visitors alike. See something we missed? Leave a comment below. And be sure to check the websites and call the phone numbers for any special hours or offers.

Traveling to other cities with your kiddos? Don’t miss Curbed’s maps of the best family activities in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, New Orleans, Austin, and New York City.

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Sky Zone Trampoline Park

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There’s plenty of padded, bouncy fun to be found in this indoor trampoline park. The prices are pretty reasonable, and walk-ins are welcome. There is also a Sky Zone location in Everett, which is just north of Boston. 

Jump On In

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The oldest indoor inflatable and jumping facility in New England is full of just that: inflatable structures that can endure the frantic bouncing of several kids at once. Pro tip: Bring or wear socks. No shoes or sneakers allowed. 

A row of kids making funny faces against an inflatable backdrop. Jump On In

Harvard Museum of Natural History

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If your future archaeologist loves dinosaurs, rocks, and taxidermied animals, this is the spot.

Pick the galleries that interest your kiddos the most (the Great Mammal Hall and the Vertebrate Paleontology exhibits are always a good place to start), and be on the lookout for storytimes and family-oriented classes.

Cambridge Public Library

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The main branch of the Cambridge Public Library has an entire third floor just for kids and adolescents. 

The state-of-the-art building also has a playground and an expansive green space just outside, and it’s down the street from Harvard’s main campus. 

A long rectangular glass building in the middle of a wide field. Wikipedia

Museum of Fine Arts

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Parents will love the Museum of Fine Art’s extensive 500,000-piece collection, including an impressive Egyptian exhibit and a stunning number of Impressionist works. But kids can also have a blast here. Grab the MFA Guide: Kids’ Tour, sign your kiddo up for a weekend art class, and be on the lookout for self-guided activities for everyone from toddlers to teens.

Franklin Park Zoo

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We like the Franklin Park Zoo at any time of year, thanks to an interactive children’s zoo, well-maintained grounds, and exhibits that cover all the major animals. Still need to run out some energy? Hit the 10,000-square-foot playground.

A girl looking through glass at a gorilla at a zoo. Boston Globe via Getty Images

Franklin Park

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Come for the natural beauty of this 485-acre Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park, stay for a plethora of playground options sure to please any crowd, even during the colder months. Older kids should head to El Parquecito de Hermandad for rock climbing and a zip line, while younger kids will like the Tiffany Moore playground area. Also: Sledding.

Young people traipsing up a snow-covered hill with sleds and toboggans in hand. Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library

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Set inside the Mary Baker Eddy Library, the Mapparium is a three-story, stained-glass globe that offers a three-dimensional perspective of the world. Designed by architect Chester Lindsay Churchill and opened in 1935, the map’s historic nature is supplemented by a modern music and light show. Not as interesting for young kids, but a good choice for young teenagers or budding map lovers.

A large colorful glass globe. There are people standing at a desk area within the globe. Photo by John Nordell/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston

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Budding builders shouldn’t miss a stop at Legoland Discovery Center, set in Somerville’s Assembly Row complex. It’s a good choice whenever the weather is too hot or too cold, and kids can marvel at a miniature Lego Boston or play in the climbing-wall area.

A group of people reaching out and up in the stands of a show at Legoland Discovery Center in Boston. Boston Globe via Getty Images

Boston Public Library

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Both the Boston Public Library system and the surrounding Minuteman library system for Cambridge, Somerville, et al, offer a ton of storytimes and activities for families. But, if you have to pick just one, head to the Children’s Library at the central library in Boston’s Copley Square. Whimsical decor and brightly colored walls—including a very cool sensory wall—complement an extensive collection of books for grades 8 and under.

A colorful children’s library entrance with people coming in and out. Boston Globe via Getty Images

Boston Duck Tours

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Don’t be deterred by the touristy nature of the duck boats or the colder weather; they are still a great way to see the city. Guests board the World War II-era amphibious landing vehicles and head out on a 90-minute tour that’s part terrestrial and part aquatic via the Charles River. Bonus: Many captains will even let kids take a turn in the cockpit.

A large blue combination boat and truck rides along a street in Boston.
 A ‘Duck Tour’ amphibian boat/truck lumbers up Boylston Street.
Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

Museum of Science

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Parents and children alike will marvel at the exhibits at the Museum of Science, although it’s nearly impossible to see all 130,000 square feet in the same visit. Preschoolers should head to the hands-on Discovery Center, while older children can challenge their parents at Math Moves or learn about human health in the Hall of Human Life. Don’t miss the musical staircase called Soundstair.

Boston Children’s Theatre

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One of the oldest children’s theatrical organizations in the country, Boston Children’s Theatre presents classic and contemporary productions through classes, workshops, and live performances.

You can check out the shows here, and note that venue locations may differ (although many performances are at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA).

Boston Public Garden

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Got a budding arborist? Right next to Boston Common is the lusher 24 acres of the Public Garden, America’s oldest public botanical garden. It, too, is full of attractions, including statuary—the Make Way for Ducklings and the George Washington statues are probably the most famous—as well as (of course) plenty of foliage that looks particularly quaint in the wintertime. 

Several small bronze statues depicting a mother mallard and her chicks. Shutterstock

Boston Common

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The oldest public park in the United States offers something for everyone, no matter the season.

In the winter, the Common’s famous Frog Pond becomes one giant ice-skating rink, complete with skate rentals. There is also a large year-round playground right next to it.

A kid ice-skating on an open-air rink with more people in the background. Shutterstock

Bunker Hill Monument

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The 221-foot obelisk was dedicated and opened in 1843 to commemorate the June 1775 battle of the same name, the first major fight of the Revolutionary War. Visitors can climb all the way to the tip-top for some nice Charlestown views and then recover on the sloping law afterward—perfect for wearing the little ones out. There is also a museum about the battle and the surrounding area across the street.

Freedom Trail

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Start the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail at the Visitor Information Center on Boston Common and then follow the red line on the sidewalk past many of the region’s most popular Revolutionary-era historical sites.

Bundle up, though! Adolescents will probably make it through the complete trail just fine in the winter, but the wee-er ones might wilt.

A wide park with a red-brick line running through a white concrete path. Shutterstock

U.S.S. Constitution Museum

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Hop aboard “Old Ironsides” and you’ll be walking on the oldest commissioned warship still afloat in the world. Kids can tour the warship as well as interactive museum exhibits that examine life at sea and maritime history.

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

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Created as an immersive experience to help kids and adults understand the beginnings of the American Revolution, this hands-on museum brings history to life. Interact with costumed live actors before boarding a historically accurate replica of the Tea Party ships and tossing “tea crates” into the water.

The visit ends with a museum tour and snacks in a period-appropriate tea room.

Boston Children's Museum

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Look for the giant milk bottle statue in front and you’re guaranteed to find the hands-on Boston Children’s Museum, one of the oldest children’s museums in the U.S. From exhibits that let little kids build a construction site to a three-story climbing structure made of flowing curved platforms, this is a must-visit for the younger crowd.

The interior of the Boston Children’s Museum. Shutterstock

New England Aquarium

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Watching sea turtles, fish, and sharks swim in the 200,000-gallon Caribbean coral reef tank is impressive enough, but there’s plenty more to be seen at the region’s preeminent aquarium. Children will get a kick out of touching a sea urchin in the tide-pool exhibit, watching penguins swim, or catching the latest IMAX movie. Pro tip: The aquarium can be especially cozy and warm during the wintertime, so check your coats and hats at the door.

Boston Fire Museum

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This museum is open every Saturday, and includes pieces, touchable and otherwise, from the long history of Boston’s bravest. Donations are welcome, and the museum is amid one of the region’s more pedestrian-friendly areas. 

Devine Rink

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There are seven ice-skating rinks in the City of Boston the the state Department of Conservation and Recreation maintain. This is the schedule for them this winter. We’re highlighting the one in Dorchester that opens on November 29. All locations have skate rentals available.

Sky Zone Trampoline Park

There’s plenty of padded, bouncy fun to be found in this indoor trampoline park. The prices are pretty reasonable, and walk-ins are welcome. There is also a Sky Zone location in Everett, which is just north of Boston. 

Jump On In

A row of kids making funny faces against an inflatable backdrop. Jump On In

The oldest indoor inflatable and jumping facility in New England is full of just that: inflatable structures that can endure the frantic bouncing of several kids at once. Pro tip: Bring or wear socks. No shoes or sneakers allowed. 

A row of kids making funny faces against an inflatable backdrop. Jump On In

Harvard Museum of Natural History

If your future archaeologist loves dinosaurs, rocks, and taxidermied animals, this is the spot.

Pick the galleries that interest your kiddos the most (the Great Mammal Hall and the Vertebrate Paleontology exhibits are always a good place to start), and be on the lookout for storytimes and family-oriented classes.

Cambridge Public Library

A long rectangular glass building in the middle of a wide field. Wikipedia

The main branch of the Cambridge Public Library has an entire third floor just for kids and adolescents. 

The state-of-the-art building also has a playground and an expansive green space just outside, and it’s down the street from Harvard’s main campus. 

A long rectangular glass building in the middle of a wide field. Wikipedia

Museum of Fine Arts

Parents will love the Museum of Fine Art’s extensive 500,000-piece collection, including an impressive Egyptian exhibit and a stunning number of Impressionist works. But kids can also have a blast here. Grab the MFA Guide: Kids’ Tour, sign your kiddo up for a weekend art class, and be on the lookout for self-guided activities for everyone from toddlers to teens.

Franklin Park Zoo

A girl looking through glass at a gorilla at a zoo. Boston Globe via Getty Images

We like the Franklin Park Zoo at any time of year, thanks to an interactive children’s zoo, well-maintained grounds, and exhibits that cover all the major animals. Still need to run out some energy? Hit the 10,000-square-foot playground.

A girl looking through glass at a gorilla at a zoo. Boston Globe via Getty Images

Franklin Park

Young people traipsing up a snow-covered hill with sleds and toboggans in hand. Boston Globe via Getty Images

Come for the natural beauty of this 485-acre Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park, stay for a plethora of playground options sure to please any crowd, even during the colder months. Older kids should head to El Parquecito de Hermandad for rock climbing and a zip line, while younger kids will like the Tiffany Moore playground area. Also: Sledding.

Young people traipsing up a snow-covered hill with sleds and toboggans in hand. Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library

A large colorful glass globe. There are people standing at a desk area within the globe. Photo by John Nordell/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

Set inside the Mary Baker Eddy Library, the Mapparium is a three-story, stained-glass globe that offers a three-dimensional perspective of the world. Designed by architect Chester Lindsay Churchill and opened in 1935, the map’s historic nature is supplemented by a modern music and light show. Not as interesting for young kids, but a good choice for young teenagers or budding map lovers.

A large colorful glass globe. There are people standing at a desk area within the globe. Photo by John Nordell/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston

A group of people reaching out and up in the stands of a show at Legoland Discovery Center in Boston. Boston Globe via Getty Images

Budding builders shouldn’t miss a stop at Legoland Discovery Center, set in Somerville’s Assembly Row complex. It’s a good choice whenever the weather is too hot or too cold, and kids can marvel at a miniature Lego Boston or play in the climbing-wall area.

A group of people reaching out and up in the stands of a show at Legoland Discovery Center in Boston. Boston Globe via Getty Images

Boston Public Library

A colorful children’s library entrance with people coming in and out. Boston Globe via Getty Images

Both the Boston Public Library system and the surrounding Minuteman library system for Cambridge, Somerville, et al, offer a ton of storytimes and activities for families. But, if you have to pick just one, head to the Children’s Library at the central library in Boston’s Copley Square. Whimsical decor and brightly colored walls—including a very cool sensory wall—complement an extensive collection of books for grades 8 and under.

A colorful children’s library entrance with people coming in and out. Boston Globe via Getty Images

Boston Duck Tours

A large blue combination boat and truck rides along a street in Boston.
 A ‘Duck Tour’ amphibian boat/truck lumbers up Boylston Street.
Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

Don’t be deterred by the touristy nature of the duck boats or the colder weather; they are still a great way to see the city. Guests board the World War II-era amphibious landing vehicles and head out on a 90-minute tour that’s part terrestrial and part aquatic via the Charles River. Bonus: Many captains will even let kids take a turn in the cockpit.

A large blue combination boat and truck rides along a street in Boston.
 A ‘Duck Tour’ amphibian boat/truck lumbers up Boylston Street.
Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

Museum of Science

Parents and children alike will marvel at the exhibits at the Museum of Science, although it’s nearly impossible to see all 130,000 square feet in the same visit. Preschoolers should head to the hands-on Discovery Center, while older children can challenge their parents at Math Moves or learn about human health in the Hall of Human Life. Don’t miss the musical staircase called Soundstair.

Boston Children’s Theatre

One of the oldest children’s theatrical organizations in the country, Boston Children’s Theatre presents classic and contemporary productions through classes, workshops, and live performances.

You can check out the shows here, and note that venue locations may differ (although many performances are at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA).

Boston Public Garden

Several small bronze statues depicting a mother mallard and her chicks. Shutterstock

Got a budding arborist? Right next to Boston Common is the lusher 24 acres of the Public Garden, America’s oldest public botanical garden. It, too, is full of attractions, including statuary—the Make Way for Ducklings and the George Washington statues are probably the most famous—as well as (of course) plenty of foliage that looks particularly quaint in the wintertime. 

Several small bronze statues depicting a mother mallard and her chicks. Shutterstock

Boston Common

A kid ice-skating on an open-air rink with more people in the background. Shutterstock

The oldest public park in the United States offers something for everyone, no matter the season.

In the winter, the Common’s famous Frog Pond becomes one giant ice-skating rink, complete with skate rentals. There is also a large year-round playground right next to it.

A kid ice-skating on an open-air rink with more people in the background. Shutterstock

Bunker Hill Monument

The 221-foot obelisk was dedicated and opened in 1843 to commemorate the June 1775 battle of the same name, the first major fight of the Revolutionary War. Visitors can climb all the way to the tip-top for some nice Charlestown views and then recover on the sloping law afterward—perfect for wearing the little ones out. There is also a museum about the battle and the surrounding area across the street.

Freedom Trail

A wide park with a red-brick line running through a white concrete path. Shutterstock

Start the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail at the Visitor Information Center on Boston Common and then follow the red line on the sidewalk past many of the region’s most popular Revolutionary-era historical sites.

Bundle up, though! Adolescents will probably make it through the complete trail just fine in the winter, but the wee-er ones might wilt.