Massachusetts: Six Kid-Friendly Day Trips

Boston Swan Boats | I-95 Exit Guide

BOSTON – Taking a family day trip that accommodates the toddler, teen and parents is no easy task. There is only so much time to grant the requests of the toddler who wants to marvel at the tigers at the zoo, the teen who craves a thrill at an amusement park, Mom who wants to mosey through the art museum and Dad who wants to cheer on his favorite team at a sports event. Finding a middle ground is the key to a successful excursion and fortunately, Massachusetts is always up for the challenge. Each region of the state offers a day trip that is actually fun for the whole family. From an indoor trampoline park to the basketball of fame to walking through the treetops at the EcoTarium, Massachusetts promises a memorable trip for all.

Greater Boston

The morning is when we have the most energy of the day from all of the excitement of a new adventure. Jump your way into an endless sea of trampolines at Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park. All trampolines are enclosed with additional angled trampolines that allow you to literally bounce off the walls. These trampoline playcourts opened in 2004 and families have been bouncing ever since.

After jumping around, you have earned your lunch. Nothing is a greater crowd pleaser than pizza and Boston has more than a few varieties to sample around town. Boston Pizza Tours offers unique walking tours exploring Boston’s most historic neighborhoods. Enjoy slices from three different pizzerias including Boston’s oldest shop with a brick oven from 1883 and learn the history of this beloved food in a city where it thrives.

After all of the pizza, the rule is that we must wait an hour to swim after eating, so we can go ahead and let the swans do all the work. Hop aboard one of the famous Swan Boats on the water of the Boston Public Garden. These boats date back to the 1870s when rowing a small boat in the Public Garden lagoon was a favorite summer pastime for city residents. Enjoy the picturesque 24 acres of the Public Garden on this 15-minute ride on the water.

Adults find their inner child and children celebrate the child they are now at the new Legoland Discovery Center. Explore this wonderland of everyone’s favorite building blocks. The center offers 2 Lego rides, a 4d cinema, a play area, a model builder academy and even a mini-land to see Somerville and Boston’s iconic buildings and attractions made from Lego bricks.

Almost every city has a children’s museum, but Boston’s was one of the first and one of the most influential children’s museums in the world. The Boston Children’s Museum is also one of the largest of its kind in the world. It emphasizes hands-on engagement and learning through experience with a three-story, jaw-dropping maze and a Japanese House gifted from Boston’s Japanese sister city, Kyoto.

North of Boston

Head out to sea early for a quintessential Massachusetts adventure on Captain Bill and Sons Whale Watch. Sail the popular three-hour tour to view the world’s largest mammal surfacing, feeding and breaching in the feeding areas of Stellwagen Bank and Jeffreys Ledge. In season, these waters, a National marine Sanctuary, provide some of the best whaling watching opportunities in the world.

Discover all of the nooks and crannies of an American medieval-style castle at the Hammond Castle Museum. John Hays Hammond Jr. built this castle in 1926 to serve as his home and backdrop for his collection of ancient medieval artifacts. Hammond produced over 400 patents and ideas for over 800 inventions like the remote control. Inside the house is an invention exhibits room to pay homage to his large body of work.

For the true thrill-seeking family, Amesbury Sports Park offers the longest zorbing/sphering lane in North America. Think hopping inside a giant hamster ball for humans and rolling down a steep hill. The first zorbing site was established in New Zealand and quickly became a worldwide sensation. This outdoor gravity park also offers the steepest, fastest summer and snow tubing hill in New England.

When the sun starts to set, explore the lower depths deep in the tunnels of witch city, Salem. The Salem Tunnel Tour is an hour walking tour through the historic streets of Salem and through the ancient smuggling tunnels built by our founding fathers. Visit the wharfs, homes, businesses and banks connected by these tunnels. These were also used as part of the Underground Railroad and a pathway to speakeasies during prohibition.

South of Boston

Trail through meadows, forests and streams and see sheep in their natural habitat on the Natural Resources Trust of Easton. The beautiful 154-acre land trust is home to many farm animals including horses, chickens, geese, goats, cows and of course, sheep. The mission of the trust is to educate visitors on natural and cultural resources and to preserve the land’s rural character and heritage.

Wade in the Massachusetts state fruit at Mayflower Cranberries, a family cranberry farm with 3.5 acres of active cranberry bogs. The cranberry is one of only three fruits native to American soil, alongside the Concord grape and the blueberry. The fruit helped sustain Americans for hundreds of years as food, medicine and dye for rugs and blankets. May through October, visitors may act as the grower by stepping into a pair of waders and trudging through the bog to help with the harvest.

Scale the 65-foot indoor rock wall and climb to the top at Carabiner’s Climbing. As a beginner, start with a 10-foot climb or bouldering until you are ready for belaying or climbing greater heights with a harness. Carabiner’s New Bedford features some of the tallest indoor climbing in the Northeast. At one time, it was largest indoor climbing facility in the country.

One of the oldest zoos in the country, also known as “one of the finest small zoos in the United States,” is the Buttonwood Park Zoo. The exhibits reflect the wildlife along a 200-mile journey of Massachusetts. The Berkshires to the Sea exhibit displays black bears, mountain lions, river otters, bald eagles and seals. Across the covered bridge stands Buttonwood Farm, where you will meet rare breeds of farm animals.

Cape Cod and the Islands

Rise and shine and out to sea to catch scup, bass, blackfish, squid, tuna and shark on a Magellan Deep Sea Fishing Charter. Captain Greiner and Pillsbury have been running charters for over 20 years are bring their experience and sense of humor for an entertaining, safe and successful fishing trip. They provide the gear and you catch the fish deep in the sea.

Once you have worked up an appetite, it is snack time at the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory. From the farmers’ potato fields to the table, see how the legendary, crispy chips are made. Watch “The Spudnick,” an integral part of the chip process that gently loads the potatoes onto a conveyer belt to be separated into small batches for quality tasting and through the factory they go. The quality control team samples the potatoes and chips every step of the way. At the end of the tour, do not forget to hit the gift shop and load up on snacks for the car.

Take the kid son a swashbuckling adventure to hunt for treasure in the Hyannis Harbor. Pirate Adventures Cape Cod invites your little pirates aboard the Sea Gypsy for face painting, tattoos and pirate sashes to dress the part. The captains will sing sea chanteys, tell stories and fend off other pirates to bring the Sea Gypsy home to harbor.

For dinner, all aboard a moveable feast on the Cape Cod Central Railroad Dinner Train. This culinary journey travels through quaint, seaside villages and cranberry bogs to see the New England landscape. Train travel was once the most sophisticated and civilized way to get from here to there and on Cape Cod, it still is.

Central Massachusetts

Hold a snake in your own two hands at the Family Zoo & Science Center at Animal Adventures. A husband and wife team takes in exotic animals no longer able to be kept by their current owners and houses them to provide them with proper care. Take a guided adventure tour, watch a live animal presentation or participate in a hands-on exhibit.

Channel your inner canoe with a canoe class by Still River Outfitters. Their signature QuickStart class is a brief, three-hour introduction to paddling. Students will learn about boat control, hazards and rescues. Paddle down the beautiful rivers of Massachusetts including Sudbury and Assabet River during your course. Still River Outfitters also offers white water or coastal kayaking trips, stand up paddle-boarding and snowshoeing.

For the science lovers in the family, the EcoTarium is a unique indoor-outdoor museum in Worcester set in an urban oasis. The EcoTarium offers a chance to walk through the treetops, take a thrilling multimedia journey through the galaxy at a digital planetarium, meet wildlife, stroll nature trails and ride a narrow gauge railroad.

Time travel to the 1830s to Old Sturbridge Village, a living, breathing, vibrant village depicting life in New England. Meet historians in costume and tour 40 antique buildings including a country store, a school and water-powered mills. Learn to plow, make crafts, dip candles and help the printer, potter and blacksmith at work.

Western Massachusetts and the Berkshires

Learn to make your own animated film in just two hours at Animagic, the museum of animation, special effects and art. Berkshire Talent created visual effects for “The Matrix,” “Chicken Run,” “Wallace and Gromit,” and “Lord of the Rings,” so what better place to try your hand at special effects than in The Berkshires. In the time spent at the museum, you will create a model, make an animation movie, record your movie, add sound, music, a title and upload to YouTube.

More than 300 inductees and 40,000 square feet of basketball history are housed in The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. For the fledgling or lifelong fan, the Hall of Fame is an impressive shrine to the worldwide sport in the Birthplace of Basketball.

Walk where the dinosaurs walked. The Connecticut River Valley is where the first dinosaur tracks in North America were found. The Nash Dinosaur Tracks has produced more dinosaur tracks than any other location in history. The site is also home to a museum that displays various dinosaurs tracks and fossils, as well as a rock shop to purchase these materials.

Weave in and out of a 2.66 mile corn maze at Rolling Acres. Once you make your way out of the labyrinth, play a round of mini-golf or launch skyward on the giant jumping pillow, which is essentially a giant trampoline. Rolling Acres offers one of the greatest mazes in all of New England.

About MOTT:

The Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT) is the state agency dedicated to promoting Massachusetts as a leisure-travel destination. An integral part of the state’s economy, tourism generates close to $1.2 billion in state and local taxes and $18.5 billion in travel related expenditures, supporting 129,400 in-state jobs.