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Boston Summer: Toddler Bucket LIst

Are you wondering what to do with your toddler in Boston this summer? Or maybe you’re visiting and trying to add in a few toddler-friendly activities to your itinerary? Today I’m sharing our Boston Toddler Summer Bucket List, packed with some of our favorite and most recommended things to do in Boston with kids.




Boston With Kids

Usually when you think of Boston it’s the rich history around the freedom trail and the birthplace of America (either that or our sports teams). And while the museums might not all be super toddler friendly, there is still tons to do here in the summer without walking the freedom trail for hours or dragging your two year old to a Red Sox game.

Whether it’s taking advantage of the wonderful museums, sampling delicious ice cream, or just playing in many of the city’s excellent park, there are so many ways for kids to have a lot of fun.

We have two toddlers (ages 1 and 3) and these are things we’re super excited to take them to do this summer!

Getting Around the City with Kids in Boston

Boston has great public transit with their bus system and the T (train system) but not all stations are stroller friendly. Check the T map for accessibility options to figure out if your route will have elevator access if you’re traveling with a stroller.

Parking is not always guaranteed in Boston and is usually at a premium. For adults, I recommend ubering places (especially downtown) if you aren’t taking public transit so you don’t have to find somewhere to park. With kids, though, if you don’t want to haul a carseat, taking a car is manageable to all of these destinations. I’ll include a few notes about parking along with each activity just so you can know how to plan ahead.

Things to do in Boston with Kids this summer:

All of these things to do in Boston with kids would be great activities for a morning and some of them would be perfect day trips. You can combine some of the shorter activities for full days of fun, or use them to wear your kids out and book a solid afternoon nap.

1. Make way for ducklings and ride the Swan Boats in Boston Public Garden

Make way for ducklings and toddlers alike and take a ride on the iconic swan boats in Boston Public Garden. Prepare by reading “Make Way for Ducklings” by Robert McCloskey and then you can visit Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings for pictures at the famous statue inspired by the book.

Parking: there is limited metered and unmetered street parking, plenty of underground parking for a fee, and the area is easily accessible by train

2. Play Zookeeper at Franklin Park Zoo

Get up close and personal with exotic animals at the Franklin Park Zoo. Are the toddlers over the zebras after an hour? The zoo also boasts an epic playground that is sure to keep their attention as long as the indoor gorilla exhibit.

Lincoln LOVED this first zoo experience two years ago and while the animal selection isn’t quite as good as other zoos we’ve been to, the playground is awesome.

Parking: for details check out the zoo’s website

3. Let imaginations run wild at Boston Children’s Museum

Take the play indoors at the Boston Children’s Museum. You can escape the heat on the worst days by checking out all the indoor play options at the Boston Children’s Museum. With different area appropriate for a variety of ages, there is something for everyone. Afterwards take a walk on the wharf walk and enjoy the views of the Charles.

Parking: There is limited street parking and you can find a whole list of available garages on their website here. 

4. Unwind outside at Arnold Arboretum

Find some green on the windy paths of the Arnold Arboretum. In a city of concrete just having open space to run around in nature is a great outlet for toddlers and the Arnold Arboretum is the perfect place to run, explore, and hunt for nature’s treasures.

Parking: there are available spots outside the main entrance, along the Arborway, and around the Arboretum’s perimeter. There are no cars allowed in the park. More parking details here. 

5. Turn on the curiosity at the Boston Museum of Science

While definitely geared toward a little bit older kids, there is LOTS for toddlers to do and explore that the Museum of Science. Don’t miss the Dora and Diego Explorers exhibit and be sure to check out the Discovery Center. The great thing about this space is they limit the number of children and caregivers in the Discovery Center so, even at full capacity, it doesn’t feel crowded.

Adelaide and Lincoln loved playing with the air tubes on the second level and I think on days it’s too hot for the playground we might be coming just for the Discovery Center. The musuem fills up with field trips and summer camps at around 10 and they usually bus out at 2. Getting there right at opening time is ideal to have more space to explore the Science in the Park exhibit, among other favorites, before the older kids arrive.

Parking: there is a lot with parking rates ranging from $10 for the first hour to $22 for the whole day. members park free for the first two hours. more details on parking here

6. Water fun at a splash pad

When it’s too hot to just play at the park but you aren’t up for a full fledged beach trip, find your closest splash pad and pack the swim suits. Don’t forget sunscreen and consider waterproof shoes so your toddler can wander off to the regular playground equipment, too.

We love Artesani park right along the Charles river which also has a fun wading pool open for kids in the summer!

Parking: Artesani has lots of public parking available in a lot adjacent to the park

7. Dip your toes into summer at Nahant Beach 

Walden pond is wonderful but sometimes you just need a good old day at the beach. Pack all the snacks and sunscreen and enjoy a couple hours building sand castles and jumping waves at one of Massachusetts many beaches.

Our favorite (and only visited) Massachusetts beach is Nahant, a half hour drive from Cambridge. The beach is open from sunrise to sunset. 

Parking: There is parking along the beach front monitored by the state. Parking access is free with a state park’s pass, $10 for residents, and $20 for non residents. There is also free parking along Long Beach from 8am- 6pm (more parking details here).

9. Cool down indoors at Imagine Playspace 

Put the little imaginations to work indoors at Imagine Playspace in Cambridge. This two story facility features an upstairs imaginative play space with a mock dance studio, apartment, and village (complete with grocery store, barber, doctors office, and more). Downstairs there is more climbing equipment, and bounce house, and indoor swings.

I seem to care way more about the heat than my children but I’m excited for this option when it gets so hot out. We went here with a group during the winter and both kids loved it. They have other similar things around they city so check out to see if there is a closer option to you. 

Parking: there is limited parking available at the facility. check here for a list of parking options (and lots to avoid) 


10. Skip the waves at Walden Pond

You don’t have to bring Thoreau with you on this outing but the inspiration for his work “Walden” is also a great summer destination for the whole family. Pack your beach towels, sand toys, and swimsuits for a day in the sun at this Massachusetts State Park. You don’t have to worry about big waves or rising tides at this beach and as the season wares on, it should warm up to a water temperature of 75 degrees. 

We’ve already been a handful this summer but it’s on the bucket list because I’m determined to take both kids by myself with friends (so far we’ve only braved it with both kids swimming when Ben’s been able to come). It’s worth noting they don’t allow flotation devices but puddle jumpers for toddlers are just fine. You can also visit the replica of Thoreau’s single-room cabin on the site. 

Parking: There is lots of parking in the park (but they do close the park once the parking fills up and might not open again for a few hours). Parking is $8 for Massachusetts residents and $15 for non-residents.

11. Kimball farm for Boston’s best ice cream 

Established in 1939, Kimball’s is a Massachusetts tradition. It earned it’s reputation for amazing ice cream by using local ingredients and milk from it’s very own cows. It boasts over 50 flavors of ice cream to choose from and if you visit the flagship farm in Westford, you can join in the fun at pitch & putt, the driving range, mini golf, bumper boats, an arcade, and batting cages.

12. Indulge in a doughnut hunt 

Does anything quite make a toddler’s day like getting treats? While they may not be able to tell the difference between Dunkin Donuts and anything else, that doesn’t mean you can help refine their palettes (or at least indulge yours). Kane Doughnuts, Blackbird Doughnuts, and Union Square Doughnuts boast the best doughnuts in Boston and you can’t go wrong with any of them.

I’m determined to try at least two of them with the kids this summer while Ben is working and find our favorite doughnuts in Boston. Lincoln STILL talks about the time we took the T to Boston common and got Dunkin Donuts munchkins (doughnut holes) so I’m hoping this outing is just as fun.

13. Take a ride on the t.

Public transit can be an efficient way to get places in Boston, especially when parking is scarce or traffic is crazy, but it is also a great outing for toddlers.

Lincoln and Adelaide are mystified and delighted by riding the T so I’m figuring out the best/safest way, in lieue of getting leashes, to take them for a ride. Kids ride free when they’re traveling with an adult. 

14. Ride the carousel at Boston common

Just across from the Boston Public Garden and the swan rides is Boston Common. In addition to lots of green space for toddlers to run around, the park boats a fun playground and a carousel. Pack snacks or bring a few dollars for the vendors and enjoy an afternoon outside in the heart of Boston.

We’ve been to Boston common a couple of times and the kids love the playground but we’ve never stopped to ride the carousel before!

Parking: there is limited metered and unmetered street parking, plenty of underground parking for a fee, and the area is easily accessible by train

Happy adventuring! I’d love to hear what you’d add to this list! Any favorite things to do in Boston with kids that I missed?

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looking for fun things to do in boston with kids? check out this kids boston summer bucket list looking for fun things to do in boston with kids? check out this toddler boston summer bucket list

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