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Family-friendly Boston

One of the oldest cities in our country, Boston, has a rich history. Serving as a port and manufacturing hub, Boston was an integral part of the American Revolution. Many historic events, such as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and the Battle of Bunker Hill, took place in the city. Now the City on a Hill is a destination for arts, sports, and American culture, with attractions suited for all ages.

For the sports fan Boston has a number of professional teams. The city is home to hockey’s Boston Bruins, basketball’s Boston Celtics, and baseball’s Boston Red Sox and, of course, the most-recently crowned Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, have their home, Gillette Stadium, shortly outside the city.

During the warmer months, the Cradle of Liberty offers a range of outdoor recreation for the whole family. There are many opportunities for family fun, from fishing and kayaking to whale watching.

If visiting in March, you can take your family can participate in “Dine Out Boston,” and enjoy the many restaurants that the Hub has to offer. The two-week event, which provides an opportunity to experience area restaurants at special prices, happens twice a year and is sponsored by the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, in partnership with American Express. Participating restaurants offer prix-fixe menus for lunch and dinner, at one of three price options: lunch for $15, $20, or $25 and dinner for $28, $33, or $38 (please note that prices are per person and do not include beverages, tax or gratuity). Whether it is a trendy restaurant, a local spot, or a chain, your family can dine out on a variety of cuisine from Boston and Cambridge to the suburbs north, west, and south of the city.

Overall, you can easily fill your days visiting a number of attractions and sites in Boston. Here’s a list of my favorite things to do in the city. Kid friendly of course!

Boston Children’s Museum

[308 Congress St. at Sleeper Street, (617) 426–6500, www.bostonchildrensmuseum.org]

This museum is truly for the kids, boasting a multistory climbing structure, art studios, and a hands-on construction zone. Highlights include a full-size replica of “Arthur the Aardvark.”

The Boston Tea Party Ship Museum

[Congress Street Bridge between Dorchester Avenue and Harborwalk, (617) 531–6241, www.bostonteapartyship.com]

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum will transport you and your kids on an incredible journey back in time. You will feel a part of the famous event that changed the course of American History.

Boston Pops

[301 Massachusetts Ave. between Huntington Avenue and St. Stephen Street, (617) 266–1492, www.bso.org]

The Boston Symphony Orchestra was founded by Civil War veteran and musician Henry Lee Higginson. It’s hard to believe that the orchestra gave its first concert in 1881. The organization performs in both formal and informal setting and hosts a series of family concerts.

Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market

[4 S Market St. between Chatham Street and S. Market Street, (617) 523–1300, www.faneuilhallmarketplace.com]

More than 70 retailers occupy the 200,000 square feet of space at this mixed-use marketplace. Customers enjoy local shops, restaurants, and are entertained by street performers and musicians along the cobblestone promenades.

Freedom Trail Visitor Information Center

[139 Tremont St. between Cufflin Street and Ricker Road, (617) 357–8300, www.thefreedomtrail.org]

Download the app and take the kids to explore the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail, the brick-lined route that leads you to 16 historical sites. The trail starts at the front door of the Boston Common Visitors Center and ends at the USS Constitution in the Charlestown Navy Yard.

Your kids can further their experience by doing a little research first and downloading the “Junior Ranger” activities provided by the National Park Service. A great tip that I’ve received is to reverse the path and end at Boston Common.

Museum of Fine Arts

[465 Huntington Ave. between Museum Road and Forsyth Way, (617) 267–9300, www.mfa.org

This museum holds nearly 450,000 works of art and welcomes around a million visitors each year. Take your family to experience art from ancient Egyptian to contemporary, special exhibitions, and innovative educational programs.

Museum of Science

[1 Science Park at Monsignor O’Brien Highway, (617) 723–2500, www.mos.org

One of the world’s largest science centers, the Museum of Science is the most attended cultural institution in the Boston area. The museum offers programming for all ages as well as interactive exhibits.

New England Aquarium

[1 Central Wharf at Old Atlantic Avenue, (617) 973–5200, www.neaq.org

Give your children a real feel for marine life and visit this aquarium. There are engaging activities included in your admission to this space, like exhibits that include touch tanks. For a fee, you can schedule in-the-water animal encounters and behind-the-scene tours. For those interested, the aquarium also organizes whale-watching trips to Stellwagen Bank from April to October.

Public Art Walk at the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism & Special Events

[Boston City Hall Room 802, Congress Street at North Street, (617) 635–3245, www.publicartboston.com

Artworks, both permanent and temporary, from traditional to new media are on display throughout Boston. The public art pieces, paintings, murals, statues, bas-reliefs, sculptures, monuments, fountains, arches, and other permanent structures offer meaningful engagement with art throughout Boston’s neighborhoods.

Zoo New England, Franklin Park Zoo

[1 Franklin Park Rd. at Columbia Road, (617) 541–LION, www.zoonewengland.org

The Commonwealth Zoological Corporation is the non-profit that operates Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and Stone Zoo in Stoneham, MA. Franklin Park Zoo is the larger of the two, a 72-acre site. The zoo was founded in 1912 and with more than a century of service continues to be a destination for families.

Additional info:

Dine Out Boston, spring: March 1–6, 9–13

Greater Boston Bureau: www.bostonusa.com

American Express: www.americanexpress.com

NPS Junior Ranger program: www.nps.gov/bost/forkids/beajuniorranger.htm

Freedom Trail App: www.thefreedomtrail.org/book-tour/smart-phone.shtml

Shnieka Johnson is an education consultant and freelance writer. She is based in Manhattan where she resides with her husband and son. Contact her via her website: www.shniekajohnson.com.

Brian Skerry