Winter in Boston with Kids
We are lucky to call Boston home. It has been really fun to explore our hometown as mothers, now that we have little ones in tow. The winter can be long in New England, and it’s important to have indoor venues to run around on the really cold days. There are also many great playgrounds and outdoor activities to enjoy on the “warmer” winter days.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to enjoy Boston with kids in the winter by neighborhood…
Boston Public Library – The library is one of the city’s most photographed spots, and we totally understand why. There’s so much to love, from the outdoor courtyard to the old library with old fashioned lamps and marble statues. For kids, the recently renovated Children’s Library is a great place to spend a morning or afternoon. In addition to lots and lots of books, there is an area devoted to younger kids with sensory toys, and another area with costumes, and wall to ceiling windows. The library also offers special programming including music, art, and story time. These events can get super crowded and many are ticketed, so be sure to show up early. Plus, if you are a member, you can get discounted passes to many of the city’s museums!
The Esplanade – Take a leisurely walk on a warmer day, and let the kids run around at one of the three playgrounds. We love the views from The Esplanade; you can see Cambridge, downtown Boston, the Prudential Tower, and of course the scenic Charles River.
Eataly – If you have a picky eater, it can be nice to let them choose what to eat. We love visiting Eataly and letting the kids choose from the many food vendors (my favorite is the pizza). Plus, they have delicious gelato for a post-meal treat.
Boston Public Garden – Famous for the Swan Boats (which you can ride in the spring and summer for $3.50 and under), the Boston Public Garden is a beautiful park to visit during the winter months, too. Enjoy a nice stroll across the bridge, and be sure to say hello to the ducklings.
Magic Beans – A favorite local toy store with the best staff! The flagship location is in Coolidge Corner, but we love the small shop in the Pru. If you stop in, they also have a clean bathroom where you can change the baby — always nice to know where in the city you can do that! We love picking up a few toys for our kids including a sweet animal friend from Jellycat, musical instruments, and blocks. The staff is super knowledgeable and Laura and I both purchased our strollers (at Drool Baby Expo, where they usually offer some sort of promotion) and our high chairs. And yes, we have many of the same things (if you live in the city, you may want to take a look at our baby registry for city must-haves). :)
Pizza at Picco – This is one of our favorite restaurants for pizza and ice cream (they also have a great beer list). It’s a great place to bring along the kids (just note that there isn’t a ton of space to store strollers), and the staff is always very friendly. Plus, who doesn’t love homemade ice cream?
Flour Bakery & Cafe – There are several Flour locations across the city, but the Washington Street cafe is one of our favorites. It is so cozy! We love to visit Flour for breakfast, lunch, or an anytime snack. The pastries are some of the best (and sandwiches, too), and here are a few kid-approved options: chia pudding, brioche, french toast (which comes by the slice), cottage cheese with pistachios, and any other sweet treat that looks good that day (it’s impossible to order just one). For adults, we love the homemade raspberry seltzer.
Little Lovage Club – If you live in the area, we’d recommend visiting the Little Lovage Club for one of their programs. It’s a great place to meet other kids and moms, while participating in age appropriate activities. We especially love the Messy Munchkins class for toddlers.
Little Groove – Another favorite activity of our is you are local is music at Little Groove. Milo started going to these weekly music classes when he was three months old, and we couldn’t love the teachers or songs anymore than we do!
Myrtle Street Playground – Even on a cold day, our kids love playing at the playground. Myrtle Street Playground is one of the city’s best and we love it for so many reasons. There are plenty of toys in addition to slides, swings, and more for older kids.
J.P. Licks – You know you are from New England if you eat ice cream when there is snow on the ground. With several locations across the city, J.P. Licks is one of our favorites for a sweet treat. There are so many good flavors but our favorites are mint chip, oatmeal cookie frozen yogurt, and they always have a really innovative seasonal menu.
If you are local, we love programming at Hill House, housed in an old fire station. Kids can stretch their legs and enjoy music, open play, and other programs. For older kids, there are athletic programs including ice skating and basketball.
Modern Pastry – Italian pastries like cannolis are a treat for the whole family. We grew up going to Modern Pastry, so that’s our pick if you’re in the neighborhood.
Christopher Columbus Park – Enjoy this beautiful waterfront park at the edge of the North End. There is a great playground for kids, and it’s the perfect spot to watch boats in the harbor.
Regina Pizzeria – Grab a slice of pizza at the North End’s Regina Pizzeria. It’s a spot we love for its laid-back vibe.
Boston Children’s Museum – One of our favorite spots in the city for an afternoon with kids. There is something for every age, but for toddlers we love the 0-3 playspace which has a train table, water play, and a play structure to climb. After our trip to Japan last winter, I am even more fascinated by the Japanese House, which is really incredible to tour for kids and adults alike. The museum offers programs throughout the week including music, art, and performing arts (schedule here).
Boston Fire Museum – If you are in town on a Saturday, we recommend visiting the free (although donations are encouraged) Fire Museum. Kids learn about fire safety and can see a fire engine up close. It’s a popular venue for birthday parties.
Pizza at Pastoral – This is one of the most kid-friendly restaurants and the waitstaff is always eager to accommodate our rowdy group. They have plenty of space for strollers, and who doesn’t love pizza?
Ice Skating on the Frog Pond – As kids, ice skating was one of our most favorite winter activities. Back then, you could actually skate in the Public Garden, which they don’t offer any longer… but you can walk across the street and take the kids to the Frog Pond. Admission is based on skater’s height (free to $6) — how cute is that? Warm up with a hot cocoa afterwards at The Thinking Cup.
The Nutcracker – If your kids are old enough (we suggest age 4 and up), a matinee at the Boston Opera House sounds fabulous. Laura and I (along with our husbands) love going to Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker, and we can’t wait until our kids are a little bit older to join us. It is so sweet to see kids all dressed up and excited to see the ballet. The costumes, sets, and music are really spectacular – for every age.
New England Aquarium – Our kids love visiting the aquarium, and it is the perfect size for an afternoon tour. You can see penguins up close, walk around the four-story ocean tank and stop by the touch tank to hold hermit crabs and other little creatures. If your kids are older, there are always great films playing at the IMAX theater (schedule here).
Rose Kennedy Greenway Carousel – We love exploring the Greenway during every season. The carousel is so beautiful with different kinds of animals (think lobsters, rabbits, and butterflies!). We always pop by for a ride if we are in the area. The carousel is right by the Christopher Columbus Park. During the month of December, there are also light shows in the evening. Details here.
Museum of Science – There are so many great museums in Boston, and the Museum of Science is a favorite place to visit. The Discovery Center is a great place to start if you’re with little ones. It is an area designed for ages 0-8. There are only a small number of kids allowed in at a time, which cuts down on the chaos. Strollers can be left just outside the zone, which contains a small area for crawlers, a larger area with a ramp, activity table, costumes, and lots of fun little fort-like cubbies for the under-5 set, and then the larger play space for everyone up to age 8. If you have older kids, we always enjoy visiting the Planetarium and Mugar Omni Theater.
Muckykids Art Studio – It’s nice to have a place to let kids get messy that’s outside your home! If you are local or just visiting the area, we recommend doing a drop-in class at Muckykids Art Studio where kids can express themselves through art. At $15 an hour (free for adults), you can choose from a range of crafts including card-making, garlands, and creating something with recycled materials. You can see their weekly schedule here.
Christmas Revels – Another musical tradition that we love, and can’t wait until our kids are a little bit older to join us (we recommend age 4 and up). The Revels is an incredibly talented group of kids and adults, and we love the participatory show where the audience is encouraged to sing and dance.
Outside the City
ZooLights – Adults and kids alike will love visiting Stone Zoo during the holiday season. The zoo is lit by twinkling and colorful lights that will mesmerize kids. You can meet one of the zoo’s reindeers up close, have your photo taken with Santa, and take a moonlit ride on the carousel.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center – We haven’t visited LEGOLAND yet, but have heard great things. If your kids love legos and need to stretch their legs, this is a great place to check out.
Boston is such a great city to explore with kids. What are your favorite kid-friendly places to explore?