Boston Winter Activities: Fun Things To Do in Boston With Kids

Boston Winter Activities - Fun Things to do in Boston with Kids

Boston is a great city for kids with lots of really cool things to do. It’s a great pass-through destination if you’re traveling up the east coast toward Maine or Vermont any of the other great places to visit in New England.

sailboats in Boston Harbor
View of the Harbor, outside the New England Aquarium
mural art in Downtown Boston
We spotted this on the streets of Boston.

My son and I have done a couple of trips together to explore Boston. Here are some of our favorite spots to explore.

Things to do in Boston with Kids: Boston Children’s Museum

This is hands-down my son’s favorite. He STILL talks about it! If your kids are PBS fans, they have an extensive Arthur and an interactive Peep and the Big Wide World play area.

They also have a great science exhibit where kids can play with bubbles. (add more about our experience)

Another cool thing to check out when you’re there is the interactive theater. They put on various shows and actually bring kids from the audience up on stage to participate. We did it both times – and my son was called up front! – and he loved it.

The Boston Children’s Museum is located near the Boston Tea Party Museum, if you’re looking to see two museums in one day. It’s also got a great view of the harbor.

For more on the Boston Children’s Museum, visit their website.

skyscrapers overlooking Boston harbor

Indoor Activities in Boston: Museum of Science

This Museum was HUGE and very crowded. But it has some amazing exhibits. One of the most memorable was the dinosaur exhibit (because what kid doesn’t love giant dinosaur bones?!).

Our other FAVORITE, that we ended up spending the majority of our time at, was an exhibit on Boston’s Charles River and how it’s affected by the city. They had some sewer tunnels to crawl through (which my son loved because it’s just like the ninja turtles!) and an interactive water play exhibit where he could build a bridge and see how the structure affected the current.

For more on the Museum of Science in Boston, visit their website.

giant dinosaur outside Boston Museum of Science

Boston Winter Activities with Kids: New England Aquarium

This aquarium reminded me of the Baltimore Aquarium in its size. They had some great exhibits, including seals in a tank outside that you could see before going into the aquarium. They also had a cool touch tank – we were luck enough to see a giant manta ray swim through while we were there.

My son LOVES aquariums, so this was definitely a must-see for us.

For more on the New England Aquarium, visit their website.

Seal in the tank outside the New England aquarium
Octopus at the New England Aquarium
Jelly fish at the New England Aquarium
giant manta ray in touch tank at the New England Aquarium
sailboats in Boston harbor

Fun Things to do in Boston with Kids: Arnold Arboretum (or any of Boston’s parks)

This is Harvard’s Arboretum and it’s free to the public. There’s a visitor center with bathrooms and a water fountain to refill your water bottle as well as some exhibits that kids (and adults!) can check out.

There are numerous trails and different areas to walk through. Because it’s an arboretum, some of the plants are labeled, so you if you’re interested you can learn about what you’re looking at.

This is a great way to get out in nature, even during the colder months!

For more details on events and trails, see the Arnold Arboretum website.

landscape at Arnold arboretum
Arnold arboretum lanscape
witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Arnold Arboretum trail

Want to learn more things to do in the winter in the Northeast?

Check out my posts on:

sunset in Jamaica Plain
Sunset in Jamaica Plain, on the southern end of Boston.

Philadelphia with Kids in the Winter: 7 Fun Things to Do

philadelphia with kids winter things to do

I’ve lived in and around Philly for the last 15 years, so I’ve had many opportunities to explore the city over the years, with and without kids! There’s a lot to do in Philadelphia for kids in the winter, both indoors and outdoors. Here are my favorites:

Fun Things to do in Philadelphia: Go Hiking in Wissahickon Valley Park

Philadelphia actually has a ton of trails, and they’re great to explore on a winter day (bundled up, of course). You can escape to the woods at the Wissahickon Valley Park, visit the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge or climb like a squirrel at Morris Arboretum. I wrote up a full post on my favorite places to hike in the winter in Philly – you can see it here.

red covered bridge in wissahickon valley park
trail in wissahickon valley park
stone bridge in wissahickon valley park

Fun Things to do in Philadelphia with Kids: Visit the Philadelphia Zoo

Honestly, I love the zoo in the winter. It’s practically empty. And even if it’s cold, there are enough indoor exhibits to warm up before you get some fresh air on your walk to the next exhibit.

The only downside is that you won’t get to see some animals, like the giraffes, who are usually inside during the colder months. But there are plenty of other things to see, such as the Aviary House (birds), the Reptile house, the Small Mammal House, the penguin exhibit, the monkeys and more.

For more on the Philadelphia Zoo, visit their website.

jungle gym at Philadelphia zoo
penguins at the philadelphia zoo
flamingos at the philadelphia zoo
giant ant at kid zoo u at the Philly zoo
petting goats at philadelphia zoo

Philadelphia with Kids in the Winter: Go Ice Skating

We did our first open skate this year and it was a lot of fun. We actually went to a local skating club, but there are a couple of places downtown that have more flexible hours.

Dilworth Park, which is located next to City Hall smack dab in the middle of Center City Philadelphia, has an ice skating rink that’s open from November to February. You have a beautiful view of City Hall while you skate and you’re close to a lot of the great restaurants in Center City. You can learn more about rates and hours here.

You can also ice skate down at Penns Landing at the ice skating rink at the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. You can attend Winterfest for free (which includes vendors and more), but there’s a cost to skate. You can learn more about ice skating at Winterfest here.

Fun Things to do in Philly: The Franklin Institute

The Franklin Institute is a really cool museum for kids (and adults). Highlights for us include the:

  • Brain Exhibit, which has some really interesting displays that demonstrates how your brain works and processes information, and the
  • the Giant Heart, which is literally a giant heart that you can walk through.

For more, visit the Franklin Institute’s website.

Note: I’d recommend this for older kids, say 5 and up. My son didn’t start enjoying it really until he was five. But every kid is different!

Franklin Institute Philly
giant heart in the Franklin institute

Philadelphia with Kids: Visit Philly’s Dinosaur Museum AKA The Academy of Natural Sciences

The Academy of Natural Sciences is really close to the Franklin Institute. One of the things I like about this museum over the Franklin Institute is that it gets much less crowded, so you can take more time to look at the various displays without feeling overwhelmed (disclosure: I don’t like crowds).

This is also a great museum for kids who are interested in dinosaurs. There are model dinosaur bones on display and a mock dig site, where kids can dig for dinosaur bones. There are lots of other really cool exhibits, that you can learn about here.

We first tried this museum when my son was four, and it was a huge hit, just from seeing the dinosaur bones alone.

dinosaur bones at the academy of natural sciences
dinosaur bones at the academy of natural sciences

As a bonus, this is SUPER close to the beautiful Logan Square and its iconic fountain. It’s a nice place to stop before you leave and snap a picture!

Logan square fountain in the winter

Visit Philadelphia’s Children’s Museum: The Please Touch Museum

I’d recommend this for younger kids. We went to the Please Touch Museum at least once a month (sometimes more!) when my son was ages one to four. If you can arrange your visit during the week, I’d recommend that because weekends get crazy. However, it’s still worth braving the crowds!

Some of our favorite exhibits include:

  • a life-size SEPTA bus (SEPTA is Philly’s public transit)
  • giant blue building blocks
  • an Alice in Wonderland section with the option to paint the roses
  • a grocery store, complete with carts and check out lines
  • a gigantic water play area, with plenty of boats and rubber ducks

There are a few designated areas for younger kids up to age three.

For more, see the Please Touch Museum’s website.

magnetic wall at the please touch museum

Philly with Kids: Smith Memorial Playhouse and Playground

Smith Playground is a HUGE playground and playhouse that is in an old mansion. Right now, the play house is closed for renovations (through August 2020 according to the website at this writing), but the playground is open all winter, weather permitting.

There’s a giant wooden slide that kids (and their parents) can slide down on burlap sacks, which is crazy fun.

The park is closed on Mondays and has limited hours in the winter. There’s a small donation for entrance, which supports the park. Check the website for more information.

smith playhouse and playground in Philly

Want more winter travel ideas?

See my posts on:

Best Winter Views in Vermont: Green Mountain National Forest

winter vermont - green mountain national forest winter hiking trails

Winter hiking is one of those things that I WANT to do more of, but I feel a little intimidated by. I’m determined though to step out of my comfort zone and do more of it.

One of the things I’ve learned – as someone who is ALWAYS cold – is that I need to be wearing appropriate gear. This means, if I’m doing a hike in the winter, I’m likely wearing snow pants, layers, warm socks, gloves and a warm hat. Before I made the trip to Vermont, I invested in a pair of warm, water resisstant hiking boots that proven itself to be a worthwhile investment!

Connecticut river in Vermont

Green Mountain National Forest: Where to Stay

We stayed in Wallingford, which is really close to the White Rocks National Recreation Area, which is where we hiked. There’s not a lot to do in Wallingford in terms of supermarkets or restaurants, which led us to drive to Rutland to visit the Rutland Area Food Co-op for groceries.

Rutland is super cute – there’s shops and restaurants and an awesome food co-op. We took a walk around and saw all kinds of murals throughout the city. If I came back to Vermont, I would definitely opt to stay in Rutland over Wallingford.

Rutland Vermont street and shops
elephant mural in rutland Vermont

Green Mountain National Forest Hiking: White Rocks National Recreation Area

We opted to try out one of the trails in the White Rocks National Recreation Area, which located in the Green Mountain National Forest. There are two trails in White Rocks, the White Rocks Ice Beds Trail and the White Rocks Cliffs Trail. We opted to try the White Rocks Ice Beds Trail.

You could probably do both trails in one day, but we took our time on the Ice Beds Trail and hung out at some of the vistas, so we opted to do only one.

forest at white rocks national recreation area

Best Views in Vermont in the Winter: Hiking the Green Mountains

The Ice Beds Trail was really great. We walked about .2 miles and were able to get some great views of the Green Mountain National Forest.

green mountain national forest
brown pine cone-type plant
moss and snow
white rocks national recreation area
green mountain national forest
green mountain national forest

We continued along the trail to the ice beds. It was a beautiful walk. We saw the ice beds, but since it was snow covered, we couldn’t really see much. The full trip is 1.8 miles if you go all the way to the ice beds.

ice beds at white rocks national recreation area
wood pecker holes in the trees
tree bark
trees and sky at green mountain national forest
tree bark in the green mountains

Green Mountain National Forest: Hikes for Kids

All in all, this is a great hike for kids. The vistas were close enough that small kids could walk to it, but there were also longer trail options for older kids.

I’ve never tried this trail in the summer, but it was pretty empty in the winter, which was awesome. You could really enjoy the silence of the mountains!

Want more trip ideas for New England and the Northeast with Kids?

Check out my post on our day trip to Block Island, Rhode Island with kids!

For more winter hikes, see my post on my four favorite winter hikes in Philadelphia.

4 Best Winter Hikes in Philadelphia

hiking trails in philadelphia wissahickon valley park

I love hiking in the winter. First of all, it’s usually not crowded (unless it’s an unseasonably warm winter day). Second, there are no mosquitos. And third, it always feels so good to breathe some fresh air after spending so much more time indoors during the colder months of the year.

Philadelphia has pretty accessibly hiking trails, depending on where you are located in the city. Here are some of my favorites, that I’ve visited time and time again. They make for great winter hikes!

Hiking in Philadelphia: Walk the Wissahickon

Wissahickon Valley Park is by far my favorite section of trails in the city. The main trail is forbidden drive, which runs along Wissahickon Creek. There are many different trails with many different entrances that run through the surrounding forest and feed into Forbidden Drive.

Our favorite entrances are at Ten Box (quick access to forbidden drive), Bells Mills Road, Valley Green Inn (you can feed the geese and eat at the nearby restaurant) and the Mount Airy Trail entrance.

You can see a map of the park and the various entrances at the Friends of the Wissahickon website.

stone bridge over the wissahickon creek
mushrooms growing on a tree in wissahickon valley park
wissahickon creek in winter
pond frozen in the winter
dried flowers in the winter at wissahickon valley park
wissahickon creek
stones on the shore of the creek and a piece of broken pottery
graffiti under a bridge in the wissahickon
tree with snow around the roots in front of a creek
reflection of trees in a puddle
red covered bridge in wissahickon valley park

Nature Near Philadelphia: John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

This wildlife refuge is on the south side of the city, very close to the airport. It’s considered America’s first urban wildlife refuge.

There’s a visitor center with some great exhibits for kids. We usually spend a little bit of time in there before heading out to the trail. Bonus: there are also bathrooms here.

Our favorite trail at the refuge is the boardwalk trail. A pretty short walk will lead you to a boardwalk that stretches across a freshwater tidal marsh. It’s beautiful during all seasons – and depending on when you’re there, you’ll see various birds and mammals.

For more on the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, click here.

Hiking in Philadelphia: Carpenter’s Woods

Carpenter’s Woods is like a little oasis of forest in the midst of the Mount Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia. It’s considered America’s first bird sanctuary and is part of the old growth forest network.

There’s ample street parking and plenty of entrances to the park. It’s a great place to take younger kids who might not have the stamina to walk long distances. You feel like you’re deep in the forest after a few minutes of walking.

Click here for maps and more information on Carpenter’s Woods.

trees along a hiking trail
snow drop flowers (Galanthus nivalis)
winter forest landscape

Nature Near Philadelphia: Morris Arboretum

Morris Arboretum is in northwest Philadelphia. Morris is an arboretum (which is a collection of trees) and a public garden, so you can expect to see some really interested and well-maintained plant life on your walk. There’s a paved loop that goes through the arboretum. There’s admission to get in, but there are also gardens to enjoy and an indoor fernery – which is a super warm building filled with all kinds of ferns.

For kids, there’s a really cool tree top area with a life-size nest complete with giant robin’s eggs and an area where they can climb like squirrels.

For admission and hours, you can visit the Morris Arboretum website.

winter sedums
winter sedums
yellow witch hazel ( Hamamelis mollis)
witch hazel variety ( Hamamelis vernalis 'Quasimodo')
red flower bud winter bloom
red berries and leaves

What are your favorite hiking trails in and around Philadelphia? Comment below 🙂