Better late than never! I intended to write/publish this weeks ago...and life happened. But I also know it's probably not too late! This post is especially for those lucky runners who are hauling their kids to Boston for Marathon Monday. It's a big, fun city, but it's nice to have a "short list" of kid-friendly activities, too.
I want to thank Carolyn (@irunfortheglory) for her input! She gave me a great list of activities for school-aged children.
One of the best sources for FREE activities in the Boston area are local library programs! All the libraries in the Brookline, Boston, and Cambridge public library system have great children's areas with books, games, puzzles, and other toys. We routinely go and "check out" a puzzle or set of blocks just to play. They have programs for ages 0 to high school, so there's a good chance there will be an event that works for you.
Unfortunately, all the libraries are closed on Patriot's Day, and the Boston Public Library system is also closed on Sunday, April 14th. But the libraries are a great drop-in option on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (in Brookline and Cambridge). I'm linking the events pages for each library so you can check it out and see if these events would be fun for your kids.
Boston Public Libraries
Brookline Public Libraries
Cambridge Public Libraries
Boston Public Garden & Boston Common
The Public Garden and Common are right next to each other, smack dab in the middle of Boston. These large gardens are close to the Green Line, stroller & slow-moving toddler friendly, and a great place to wander with your kids for an hour or two. The Public Garden features the famous "Make Way For Ducks" statue, as well as Swan Boat Rides (costs $$).
Just across the street, Boston Common is another great place to wander through. It's slightly bigger than the Public Garden, and features a big playground in the center. If it's a nice day, you can't go wrong stopping here!
Call me biased, but I spend a lot of time here. Harvard Square is full of shops, restaurants, and, of course, Harvard. Kids will love the Curious George store, then you can grab everyone a slice of pizza at Otto's on your way to Alexander Kemp Playground, which is enclose and has tons of structures and sand!
Toy Stores with Play Areas
I love the local toys stores here in Boston. Magic Beans and Henry Bear's Park have multiple locations, and each includes a nice indoor play area. These are our go-to on cold, rainy, and snowy days when we need to get out of the house. They are probably best for kids under 5-6 years old.
Parks & Playgrounds
It took me a while realize how many playgrounds there were in the Boston area. From our home in Brookline, we have AT LEAST 6 playground within a 10-minute walk. This has been amazing, because it's so easy to walk down the street and let the kids play and explore for an hour or two. We've found them to be generally clean and well-maintained. In addition to structures, you'll find sand toys, ride-on cars, etc that other families have "donated" and your kids will love.
If the weather stays decent on Saturday and Sunday, I highly recommend checking out the Boston's Parks and Playgrounds guide and finding one close to you. Throw the kids in the stroller, grab a coffee on the way over, and let them play! It's also a great consideration on Monday (assuming the weather holds out). Have you spouse or family member (or whoever has the lucky job of child-wrangling while you run) pick a viewing location close to a playground! It's a win-win -- they get to see you, but the kids get to play, too.