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Family Fun Guide To The Boston Waterfront

If you are looking for something cool to do with the family, then we have the place for you. Perhaps one of the best places to take children in Boston is to the
Waterfront. With multiple well-known attractions, and a number of lesser-known surprises, you can
easily fill a multi-day vacation in this part of the city alone. - By Christy Matte
New England Aquarium
(Photo: New England Aquarium) credit: The Trust Family Foundation Shark and Ray Touch Tank/ S. Cheng


1 Central Wharf, Boston, Mass.
Hours: Sun. – Thurs. 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Fri. & Sat. 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Adults: $22.95
Ages 3-11: $15.95
Ages 60+: $20.95
website and reviews

The New England Aquarium site is a hub for learning about oceans and the creatures that live there. The Aquarium site houses the New England Aquarium building, the Simons IMAX, and a whale watch excursion.


Highlights from the aquarium include a four-story ocean tank, penguin habitat, and some playful antics
from the Northern fur seals. For visitors who like a hands-on experience, there is a small touch tank
with creatures like sea urchins, star fish, and hermit crabs, as well as a larger shark and ray touch tank
with cownose rays, bonnethead sharks, Atlantic rays and epaulette sharks. Be forewarned: the rays feel

Simons IMAX

Explore the oceans and other natural locales in this massive IMAX theatre that is more than six stories
tall. Most of the films are in 3D, making this a highly realistic experience. In fact, it may be too realistic for younger kids so save the films for heartier family members.

Whale Watch

This three-to-four-hour journey takes you out to Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, where you may see
any combination of humpback whales, pilot whales, finback whales, minke whales, and right whales.
Dolphins are also known to swim along in the wake of the ship. Whale watches are amazing experiences,
but be prepared for chilly winds, long travel time (an hour or so each way), and seasickness. They
guarantee that you'll see a whale, or they'll give you a free ticket for a future trip, but there's no refund if you spend your afternoon hanging over the ship railing.

(Photo: Carousel) credit: Christy Matte


Between Atlantic Avenue and High Street, Boston, Mass.

Despite ridicule for the Big Dig project, it did accomplish one of its major goals: the creation of
additional green space in Boston. Wharf District Parks is the largest area created on top of the I-93
tunnels. With 4-acres of land, this piece of the Rose Kennedy Greenway has some fun activities for the family. Some exciting activities for children and families include:

Greenway Carousel

The Greenway Carousel is a somewhat surprising treat on the waterfront. It's bound to delight children
who happen to pass by. Open from May through October, the Carousel offers rides for $3 each. The
carousel is open every day from May-October from 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Sun.-Thurs. and Fri. & Sat. from 11
a.m. to close.

Ring Fountain

Hot summer day? There isn't much better than a splash fountain to cool kids off. This fountain is not
only fun; it's beautiful as well. The fountains also run May through October from 9 a.m.–11 p.m.

Activity Carts

If you find yourself in Wharf District Park mid-day in July & August, you might just stumble upon one of the activity carts. Encouraging kids to play and be creative, the carts will be open Wednesday through
Sunday in the summer from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

(Photo: Children's Museum) credit: Christy Matte


308 Congress Street, Boston, Mass.
Hours: Sat. – Thurs.: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Fri.: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
All ages one & up: $12
website and reviews

The Boston Children's Museum is an amazing place. With three large floors of interactive exhibits, you could spend days here and not see it all. Favorite spots include a ball room with all kinds of "Raceways," Peep's World with plenty of water exploration, and the New Balance Climb 3-story climbing structure. Everything here is kid-friendly, including the addition of small toilets in the bathrooms. Food is available, but you can also bring your lunch and enjoy it outside on the water. Watch out for greedy seagulls!

Faneuil Hall
Faneuil Hall and the surrounding marketplace (credit: Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau)


1 Faneuil Hall, Boston, Mass.
Hours: Mon. – Sat.: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sun.: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
website and reviews

While technically not a Waterfront venue, Faneuil Hall is just across the street from the Aquarium and Wharf District Park. Granted, it's a big street, but it's worth the walk for the variety of lunch options. You'll enjoy street performers, shopping at well-known shops and pushcart vendors, plus plenty of other seasonal activities. But with picky family members, the best part may be the 36 food options in the Quincy Market Colonnade. Name your preference: Indian, Mexican, seafood, Asian, mac & cheese, Italian, deli? Or maybe you just want to relax with coffee and a pastry, or perhaps some ice cream. It will probably be crowded, but at least you know your family will eat something.

Christy Matte is a local freelance writer and blogger, as well as co-founder of Boston Parent Bloggers.
She blogs about parenting, travel, tech, and philanthropy at

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