Dear Boston Mamas: Visiting Boston with Toddlers

Today’s Dear Boston Mamas query comes from Kristen: 

Hi Christine, I'm hoping you can help me. Our family will be visiting Boston this July (from Canada) with our 19 month old daughter. We are staying near the Boston Common and are looking for some things to do with her. From my research the aquarium looks great, but the Children's museum seems to be for older kids. Can you suggest some things we should check out with her? I'm looking for attractions (outside/inside, paid/free) and any good restaurants to check out with her.


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Hi Kristen, I’m so excited for you to visit Boston -- you and your family will love it here! If you want to peruse further, I’ve written here, here, here, and here about visiting Boston with kids, but for ease of browsing, and given that you are staying directly in the city with a toddler, I have 8 specific recommendations:

1. Boston Common + the Public Garden. It’s great that you’re staying near the Common because you’ll have lots to do right there, what with the playground, spray pond, carousel, and Swan Boats. Be sure to snap a photo at the Make Way For Duckling statues, which are near the corner park entrance close to Charles Street. Speaking of which, if you have time to meander down Charles Street, be sure to hit these Beacon Hill gems, which include some kid-friendly food recommendations.

2. The Waterfront. The Aquarium is always a hit, and the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway offers wonderful space to run around, there's a carousel, and nearby Christopher Columbus Park offers access to a playground and water play. I recently ate at City Landing, right along the Greenway and it was super yummy (I highly recommend the yellow tomato bisque + avocado and crab salad); they also offer a kid's menu.

3. The North End. Not far from the waterfront is the North End, where you can grab pizza cafeteria-style, delicious gelato, and more. If spectacle is your thing, your travel timing accommodates, and your toddler doesn’t mind crowds, you might also have the opportunity to view a North End feast.

4. Cruise the Harbor. I’m actually thinking about going on a whale watch soon with my girls (ages 3 and 9), but if you want something a little less spendy you can cruise 20+ waterfront stops via water taxi for only $10 (kids under 12 ride free).

5. Play in the Back Bay. You’ll be very close to the Back Bay area (famous for Newbury Street shopping). Be sure to check out these Back Bay gems (which include kid-friendly dining recommendations), including the Esplanade Play Space and Clarendon Street Playground, which your toddler will enjoy.

6. Cultured craft time. If you’d like to merge culture (for you), crafts (for your toddler), and air conditioning (for everyone), family programming is regularly offered at the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Fine Arts.

7. Feast at Flour. I really love Flour Bakery for a quick bite to eat that doesn’t break the bank but still feels special. There are three Boston locations: Fort Point, South End, Back Bay.

8. The Weekly Blueprint + Weekend Roundup. Finally, just before your trip, I recommend checking out the latest Weekly Blueprint (published every Monday; see example here) and Weekend Roundup (published every Friday; see example here). These weekly posts include a curated collection of special events for the upcoming week and weekend, making planning easy!

I hope this is helpful and that you have a wonderful time in Boston!

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Have a question for Christine? Drop her a line! And of course feel free to comment in if you have recommendations beyond those made above.

Image credit: 1); 2) Christine Koh