Boston is a wonderfully walkable and green city, steeped in history and rich in culture. In a single day you can experience moments of the American Revolution along the Freedom Trail, Chinese-American culture in Chinatown, and a taste of Italy in the North End. Boston is home to world-class museums and universities that offer a variety of unique and educational experiences to families.
There are so many neighborhoods inside the city and towns around the city to explore, each with their own distinctive personalities. You’ll find hidden gems like the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain, a top-notch puppet theatre in Brookline, and the World’s Only Curious George Store in Cambridge. But to see highlights of what makes Boston so uniquely Boston in a single day, I recommend visiting attractions in the heart of the city, within an area that is easily accessible via public transportation (called the “T”). Here’s what my family’s perfect day in Boston looks like:
My kids voted for the Boston Children’s Museum, so that’s where we begin our day. From South Station, we cross the bridge over Fort Point Channel on Congress Street, passing the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum (we’ll go here when the kids are too old for the children’s museum). Once at the museum, we start with the giant climbing structure in the middle. We learn and play our way through three floors of interactive exhibits and a live show. Before we leave, we grab a bite to eat at Au Bon Pain and have a sweet ending to our meal: an ice cream treat from the giant Hood milk bottle just outside the museum.
For a perfect day in the city, spending time on Boston Common is a must. (It’s also the starting point of the Freedom Trail.) From the Park Street Station T stop, my kids make a beeline for the Frog Pond and TADpole Playground. When they have their fill of monkeying around, we cross Charles Street to enter the Public Garden, the first public botanical garden in America. We visit the statues of Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings from the classic story Make Way for Ducklings, play under the cover of the willow trees, watch the swan boats glide by, and stroll through the gardens – all with the music of modern-day troubadours and lone jazz artists floating through the air.
For quiet time, we visit Boston Public Library in Copley Square, where we pick up a snack in the Map Room café and take it to a table facing the fountain in the courtyard. Then we wander through the library, enjoying art, architecture and book browsing. As we exit the serenity of the library, we’re greeted by a riot of sound, colors and motion in bustling Copley Square. There’s a candy shop across the street, and a stop to pick up some Necco wafers is absolutely necessary, of course. I gaze at Old South Church, Trinity Church, and the John Hancock Tower while the kids debate the superiority of their favorite wafer flavors.
Our next stop is the Skywalk Observatory at the Prudential Center, where we take an audio tour (ones created especially for kids are available) and explore the Dreams of Freedom Museum, learning about the important role immigration has played in shaping Boston as we know it. We marvel at the magnificent panoramic views of the city. We can see the glittering Charles River, with the iconic MIT dome and Harvard Yard across the water. As we scan the city, we make plans for places to visit on our next Boston adventure; like the Esplanade, the Museum of Fine Arts, and Faneuil Hall. But for now, we find Fenway Park and visually map our path, because that’s where we’re headed next, to watch the Red Sox play. It’s the perfect end to a perfect day.