Boston: Top Attractions
|Paul Revere statue, Boston (PhotoDisc)|
Boston's Freedom Trail gives one the sense of the revolutionary period where colonists dumped tea into the harbor. This town exudes American history, making it an excellent place for youngsters to learn about the country's origins. But stroll Boston Common and the downtown streets and you encounter a trendy urban enclave, home to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and other top-rated museums. Don't forget the opportunity for your high school-aged children to check out the town's many colleges and universities. Boston and its surrounding towns comprise a true Northeast metropolis complete with fantastic sports viewing.
The Freedom Trail
For three miles starting at Boston Common, the Freedom Trail winds through the city, directing followers to 16 historic sites and structures. With most kids, a little history goes a long way. For some of the most interesting stops, begin at Faneuil Hall Marketplace and follow the path to Paul Revere's house and the Old North Church. The park service offers 90-minute guided tours.
The Freedom Trail: 617.242.5642, www.nps.gov
New England Aquarium
Barracuda, eels, sharks, and hundreds of colored fish swim in the 200,000-gallon Caribbean coral reef tank, the aquarium's centerpiece in both fame and location. At the Aquarium Medical Center, an emergency room for aquatic creatures, watch veterinarians examine a turtle or feed a squid shake to an undernourished penguin. Sharks 3-D, the new IMAX movie, gets you safely close to great whites.
New England Aquarium: 617.973.5200, www.neaq.org
One of the nice touches at this wonderful children's museum is PlaySpace, a fun area for kids younger than three. Toddlers love the Messy Area because they are allowed to squirt shaving cream and splash water. Babies have fun crawling on a water-bed nest and pre-schoolers like climbing the maze of towers, tubes, and walkways of the New Balance Climb. Older kids learn about gravity and other laws of nature at Science Playground.
Children's Museum: 617.426.8855, www.bostonkids.org
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Grab some cheap eats from the more than 35 Colonnade eateries and find a bench outside to enjoy the jugglers, guitarists, and other street performers while snacking. It's also a great place for the kids to pick up Bostonian souvenirs, either from the pushcart vendors or from the stores. Nearby Faneuil Hall, the 1773 meeting site for young revolutionaries, has guided tours.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace: 617.523.1300, www.faneuilhallmarketplace.com
Museum of Science
Ignite fun at the outdoor Science in the Park where kids jump, swing, and spin around to learn Newton's laws of physics. Inside, don't miss the Theater of Electricity where a generator produces bolts of lightning to really fire up the brood. Preschoolers play with puppets, blocks, and mazes at the Discovery Center. "Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination" opens Fall 2005.
Museum of Science: 617.723.2500, www.mos.org
Blue Man Group
The Blue Man Group, a long-time city favorite, puts on a wacky mÃ©lange of visual stunts, satirical commentary, and performance art. Three bald men with blue painted heads never say a word but get their points across through gags, marquees, and video and audio tracks. Teens love it and so do grade-schoolers. Even if they miss the Â‘60s references, kids like the physical humor and the toilet paper pulls.
Blue Man Group: 617.426.6912, www.blueman.com
Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park
Try to catch tickets to a baseball game or, if the team's out of town, make up for it by going on a tour of Fenway Park, home of the World Champion Red Sox. Tours take you to the press box, the Red Sox Hall of Fame, the dugout seats, and sometimes onto the warning track surrounding the outfield.
Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park: 617.226.6666, boston.redsox.mlb.com
It's always 1627 at the Pilgrim Village at Plimoth Plantation. Costumed interpreters portray the early colonists and chat with visitors about life in the wilderness. A companion Native Indian site tells the story of life before and with the new neighbors. In the town of Plymouth, you can board a full-size replica of the Mayflower II and see the famed rock where the pilgrims touched shore.
Plimoth Plantation: 508.746.1622, www.plimoth.org
Cape Cod Beaches
Cape Cod National Seashore, a 44,000-acre preserve, is a landscape of breaking surf, rippling beach grass, dunes, and salt marshes. The park offers canoe trips, mountain biking, and night walks. Swimming is safest in the calm bayside beaches. Popular beaches with parking areas are Nauset Light Beach, Orleans, and Marconi Beach in South Wellington.
Additional Info: 508.349.3785, www.nps.gov
Cape Cod Bicycling, Nickerson State Park, and Cape Cod Rail Trail
Three bike trails wind through Cape Cod National Seashore, a great place to get some exercise on your family trip. The Head of the Meadow trail, one mile each way, takes you past freshwater marshes. Connecting Salt Pond with Coast Guard Beach, the one-and-a-half-mile Nauset Bike Trail leads you through pine and oak forests. In Brewster, Nickerson State Park's eight-mile bicycle trail connects to the Cape Cod Rail Trail, which winds for 22 miles through several Cape Cod towns.
Cape Cod Bicycling: 508.349.3785, www.nps.gov
Nickerson State Park & Cape Cod Rail Trail: 508.896.3491, www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication