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|Massachusetts: Boston, Family Vacation Ideas – Living History, Penguins, and Swans. Beantown is a trip at any age. Walk the historic North End “Freedom Trail” or ride with and on the swans in the park; gaze at the stars or climb a rock wall; talk with a Pilgrim or touch a sea star - a family vacation in Boston is like taking a premium family field trip. Take a Duck Tour or ride the Beantown Trolley; see the USS Constitution; find the grasshopper at Faneuil Hall and sip slushies. Our favorite vacation stops may help in planning your own perfect vacation.
Walk like this. Beantown is definitely a city for walking – discoveries lurk around almost every corner. Naturally given the amount of history lining the pavement the are plenty of routes and themes to follow. One company offers walking tours geared to families with children six to 12 years of age. They offer a child's-eye view of the Freedom Trail with tidbits that matter to elementary/primary school bodies. The route follows the Boston's original coastline, and focuses on the theme of American independence. See Faneuil Hall and Shem's grasshopper, the Old State House, and Old South Meeting House as well as site of the first public school in America; hear tales of Benjamin Franklin and talk about what really happened at the Boston Tea Party. Bonus points: Participants receive an explorer's map of Boston so connecting the history spots is easy. (Boston By Foot 77 North Washington Street, 02114. (617) 367-3766 or www.bostonbyfoot.org)
Be a kid again. At the Children's Museum of Boston, they never say, “Do not touch!” The museum makes fun just happen by providing plenty of ways for adults to enjoy discovering with young companions. Try rock climbing, visit a theatre or just run the circuit of interactive and tactile the exhibits designed to encourage questions and discoveries. This place is a “Wow!” for young kids and quite enjoyable for adults companions. This is the home of Arthur’s World based on the characters and settings seen in the ARTHUR PBS series and books. Arthur may be discovered throughout the museum including in the participatory theater where kids can role play in their favorite Arthur settings. Bonus points: At the Kidstage guests of all ages may enjoy 25-minute live shows featuring music, singing, dance and comedy. (Children's Museum of Boston Museum Wharf, 300 Congress St., 02210. 1 (617) 426-6500 or www.Bostonkids.org)
Boost brain power. The Museum of Science in Boston is a buffet for the mind. More than 600 hands-on exhibits tempt all ages. The ever-changing roster of traveling exhibits and a friendly crew of science interpreters guarantee a different experience with every visit. The museum atmosphere encourages visitors to think like scientists by encouraging looking, listening, and touching. The facility has the Thomson Theater of Electricity, home of the world's largest Van de Graaff generator complete with indoor lightning demonstrations. Also onsite one of the nation's largest free computer centers and a scale model solar system extending into the Greater Boston area. For mega entertainment try the five-story domed screen Mugar Omni Theater. Bonus points: It is a thrill to watch thousands of bees at work at the glassed-in beehive or watch activities through the Bee cam. During the warmest a beekeeper tends to and additional beehive located on the library's roof deck. (Museum of Science & Charles Hayden Planetarium Science Park, 02114. 1(617) 723-2500 or www.mos.org)
Follow the red freedom line. If you want to do your own thing with the kids it is easy to craft a route just follow the red line on the pavement. History is imbedded in every block of the city and residents have plenty of off-the-guidebook interpretations to share. A popular walk is the Freedom Trail that identifies 16 locations where meaningful events occurred during the Colonial Revolutionary era. The 3-mile (4.82 kms) red line route starts at Boston Common in the heart of Boston, and ends at the USS Constitution in the Charleston Navy Yard. Bonus points: National Park Service Rangers also provide guided tours. Either way it is worth the walk. (Freedom Trail 99 Chauncy Street, 02111. 1(617) 357-8300 or www.thefreedomtrail.org)
Reach for the stars. Within the Museum of Science complex, the Charles Hayden Planetarium and the rooftop Gilliland Observatory provide an observation window to the universe. Sit under a star-field at The Hayden Planetarium and become immersed in the visual power and mystery of the galaxies. The planetarium also features laser shows set to the music of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Metallica and Nirvana. Bonus points: Avid sky watchers may take advantage of the Museum's rooftop Gilliland Observatory, open for Friday night stargazing and safe solar viewing on Saturdays, weather permitting. (Museum of Science & Charles Hayden Planetarium Science Park, 02114. 1(617) 723-2500 or www.mos.org)
Tea party anyone? The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum are temporarily closed, undergoing a full renovation. The Ships and Museum plan to reopen in the summer of 2009. Every 10-year-old associates Boston with “The Tea Party” so it is not surprising that there is a replica of the Boston Tea Party Ship available for boarding. Learn about life and strife in pre-revolutionary America through displays, films and demonstrations. Walk the decks and pretend it is 1773 and the colonists are angry, or throw a bale of tea overboard. This is living history with passion. Children truly enjoy the action in this living history adventure. Bonus points: The result will be a new appreciation for America that cannot be gleaned from textbooks. It really is all about being there. Information and updates about the renovations can be found at the website. (Boston Tea Party Ship Congress Street Bridge, 02210. 1(617) 338-1773 or www.bostonteapartyship.com)
Name that penguin! All penguins are not the same. That is a simple fact kids will conclude after observing the playful antics of the penguin colony at The New England Aquarium. The world-class facility showcases all aspects of the world of water. From starfish and jellyfish to sharks and sea mammals, the displays are lively and enchanting. The aquarium succeeds in providing dry land sea immersion and educational entertainment for all visitors. Bonus points: Weekend programs are available for those that wish to spend a few hours exploring habitats and learning about environmental issues with aquarium educators. Field trips take place at aquatic locations such as Walden Pond or Lily Pond in Cohasset, with activities based on age and interest. (The New England Aquarium Central Wharf Boston, 02110. 1(617) 973-5200 or www.neaq.org)
Glide with the swans. The picture perfect Swan Boats that cruise with the ducks in the 24-acre Public Garden lagoon make visiting downtown Boston a delight. Ideal for all ages, the excursions are often vacation signature moments. Although the rides are short ride, they are a bargain. (The Swan Boats of Boston. 1(617) 522-1966 or www.swanboats.com)
Head south of the city. For families with school age children seacoast the town of Plymouth is not-to-be-missed. Reading about Pilgrims is one thing but talking with one cannot be beat. Add to that seeing the rock and the next school year will be more fun and rewarding for your young ones.
Remember the rock? Everyone knows the story about the Pilgrims landing on a rock. But which rock? The boulder that became famous in 1620 may still be seen today on the waterfront in Plymouth. A landscaped waterfront park is the resting place for the Pilgrim’s rock, the tangible relic that has become a symbolic stepping-stone from the Old Country to the New Country. (Plymouth Rock. Water St., Plymouth 1-800-USA-1620 or www.visit-plymouth.com/plymouthrock.htm)
Talk to a pilgrim. Spend a time in the 17th Century at Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum where visitors are encouraged to converse with the Pilgrims as they meander through a 1627 Pilgrim Village and a re-created Wampanoag Indian home site. Also onsite The Nye Barn is the location of the Plantation's Rare-breed Animal Program. This is living history at its best and the ideal way share America's heritage with kids. Get the real story about Thanksgiving. It was not all about turkey. This is the place to pretend to be a Pilgrim. Also part of 17th Century Plimoth Plantation living history museum experience is the Mayflower II. The ship deck provides the ideal stage for interpreters portraying actual passengers and crew. The ship is a reproduction of the 17th-century merchant ship Mayflower, the one that brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth in 1620. Bonus points: In addition to the 17th-century re enactors, there are exhibits relating to journey. (Plimoth Plantation 137 Warren Avenue, Plymouth, Mayflower II State Pier, 02360. 1(508) 746-1622 or www.plimoth.org)
© May 2008 Content Researched and created by FamilyTarvelFiles.com staff. Images provided by Museum of Science.