We all love those family vacation memories. Whether you’re spending endless days on the beach or cramming in as much sightseeing as humanly possible, those times spent with family in the summer are some of the best we’ll ever have.
If you’re planning a family vacation to Boston and are in search of those perfect family-friendly ideas, check out this post for inspiration. We’ll direct you to our favorite things to do with our families, from whale watching tours to art museums and more.
Our top Boston summer family vacation ideas include:
- New England Aquarium
- Whale Watch Cruise
- Fenway Park Tour
- Freedom Trail Walking Tour
- Museum of Fine Arts
- Boston Public Garden & Swan Boats
- Boston Children’s Museum
- MIT Museum
- Plimoth Plantation
- Franklin Park Zoo
Save on Family Vacation Attraction Ideas
Regular admission to a number of these family-friendly attractions is available on the Go Boston Card.
Choose as you go from top visited attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
New England Aquarium
One of our top family-friendly attractions is the New England Aquarium. It’s educational yet entertaining, with multiple exhibit spaces mimicking natural environments for their many marine inhabitants.
They’ve got a massive coral reef with brightly colored fish and plants, a colony of playful penguins, and even a touch tank with rays, sharks, and more.
This attraction is also conveniently located for your further explorations. It’s right on the waterfront near Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall, which is a great place for families to explore for shopping, dining, and people watching.
Getting In: New England Aquarium tickets are included with the Go Boston Card.
Whale Watch Cruise
If you’re looking for a special experience your kids will never forget, then a whale watch cruise is a smart choice.
This option departs from and is run by the New England Aquarium, so it’s ethically run and really informative — a great way to keep the kids engaged during the summer months.
Sail out to the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, a rich feeding ground for all kinds of sea critters, from dolphins to seabirds to the iconic whales.
It’s a nice way to spend an afternoon out on the cool water, too, to escape from the heat of Boston’s summer.
Getting In: New England Aquarium Whale Watch tickets are available as a premium attraction option with the 3-, 5-, and 7-Day Go Boston Cards.
Red Sox Game & Fenway Park Tour
Families that love sports should make sure to explore some aspect of Boston’s storied sports scene.
While most of their most popular sports teams are on hiatus over the summer, you’ve still got the famed Boston Red Sox going strong.
Snag a few tickets to a game and be sure to try a famous Fenway Frank.
If you want to complement your ball game with a tour of Fenway itself, we offer a great option. This comprehensive, behind-the-scenes tour is the perfect way for sports fans to learn all about their legendary history.
Freedom Trail Walking Tour
One of the primary appeals of Boston as a family vacation destination is its history. The significance of Boston in the development of our young nation cannot be underestimated, and the Freedom Trail is the best way to explore that important heritage.
Take a guided tour of the Freedom Trail for insider information about all the sites and landmarks you pass along the way.
Or, you can choose to walk the red line yourself, with more flexibility to decide how far you want to walk and where you want to stop.
Getting In: Freedom Trail Walking Tour tickets are included with the Go Boston Card.
Museum of Fine Arts
This is one for the art-loving families out there. The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) is a prestigious art museum featuring exciting special exhibits, inspiring permanent collections, and fun programming for families year round.
They have particular strengths in Art of the Americas, which includes everything from early colonial furniture and portraiture to indigenous art and artifacts.
Be sure to check their website before you visit to see what kind of event programming they have going on – there is often kid-specific stuff.
Getting In: Museum of Fine Arts tickets are included with the Go Boston Card.
Boston Public Garden & Swan Boats
While there are many fine parks and gardens scattered throughout Boston and Cambridge, there is nothing as lovely as the Boston Public Garden.
This beautifully landscaped expanse is the perfect place for a stroll, a picnic, Frisbee throwing, and floral Instagramming.
Take the whole family to enjoy this beautiful greenspace. And while you’re there, hop aboard one of the historic Swan Boats and relax for a ride around the picturesque lagoon–a quintessential Boston experience with a lot of history.
Fun fact: Boston Public Garden was the first public botanical garden in the US.
Getting In: Swan Boat tickets are included with the Go Boston Card. The Boston Public Garden is free.
Boston Children’s Museum
For families traveling with younger children, the Boston Children’s Museum is a delightful destination.
A truly interactive museum, they offer opportunities for climbing, playing, creating, gaming, and much more.
There’s also an accurate replica of a 100-year-old Japanese house to explore, which is a fun detail for those interested in history and culture.
Getting In: Boston Children’s Museum tickets are included with the Go Boston Card.
Another great museum for families, the MIT Museum has a more specific focus on science and scientific developments.
Organized and run by one of the best scientific institutions in the entire country, this museum features documents and artifacts from MIT’s own collections.
Exhibits are eclectic, featuring everything from the history of ship-building to how holograms work to architectural design.
It’s also located in a fun area of Cambridge with loads of shops and restaurants to explore. If you have older kids, too, take the opportunity to visit the campuses of Harvard and MIT!
Getting In: MIT Museum tickets are included with the Go Boston Card.
Harvard Museum of Natural History
Just one T stop over from MIT is Harvard University. You could spend a whole day exploring Harvard Square, Harvard University Campus, and the Harvard Museum of Natural History.
One of the cool things about the Harvard Museum of Natural History, is that it’s three museums in one: Comparative Zoology, an Herbaria, and the Mineralogical and Geological Museum.
You’ll get to see everything from exotic animals and fossils to rare geodes and gems.
If you’re willing to take a bit of a field trip outside of Boston, Plimoth Plantation is a top family destination in the area.
This recreated village is designed to resemble the seventeenth-century Plymouth Colony, including the English village, the indigenous Wampanoag settlement, the Plimoth Grist Mill, and a craft center.
It’s a great educational place where visitors can truly immerse themselves in early American history – and it’s a fun place to find souvenirs!
Getting In: Plimoth Plantation tickets are included with the Go Boston Card.
Franklin Park Zoo
Last but not least, you can’t go wrong with a visit to our favorite local zoo! The Franklin Park Zoo is home to many amazing creatures, from gorillas and giraffes to tigers and more.
They have a number of different habitats, including the innovative Tiger Tales exhibit and the Giraffe Savannah, and an expansive footprint because of its location in the massive Franklin Park.
As a bonus, Franklin Park is also fun to explore! It’s a great place for kids to roam and play, and pets, too, if you’re traveling with any.
Getting In: Franklin Park Zoo tickets are included with the Go Boston Card.
Remember to Save on Family Friendly Admission
There you go. A few suggestions for attractions and activities for your upcoming Boston family vacation.
There are lots of Boston family attractions to see and your family will probably have a wicked good time at all of them.
Regular admission to a number of these family friendly attractions are available on the Go Boston Card.
We hope you consider adding some of these fun ideas to your family vacation itinerary.