Boston Parents Paper 2012 Family Favorites: Attractions and Adventures

Favorite Museum


Museum of Science

Get close to dinosaurs, jam out to a rock ’n roll light show, and watch a shark feeding frenzy in 3-D. It’s just another day at the Museum of Science, one of our readers’ perennial favorite places to explore. This place is a perfect antidote for any kid who utters the words, “Science is boring.” 1 Science Park, Boston, 617-723-2500;



The Children’s Museum in Easton

Kid love the rocket ship, firemen’s pole, the stage and dress-up clothes, art studio and doctor’s clinic. The FETCH! Lab with Ruff Ruffman invites children to participate in science and math activities inspired by the popular PBS character. 9 Sullivan Ave., North Easton, 508-230-3789;



Peabody Essex Museum

This is a world-class museum where kids are welcomed with open arms – and at no charge if they’re ages 16 and under. The Art & Nature Center and adjoining Art Studios allow children to create art, play games and participate in a changing schedule of events and programs. Kids love exploring Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old Chinese house reassembled at the museum. 161 Essex St., Salem, 978-745-9500;



The Discovery Museums

This museum is made up of two: the Children’s Discovery Museum, located in an old Victorian house, and the Science Discovery Museum, geared toward older children. Younger kids can set a lobster trap, serve customers in the diner, engineer a train track and explore a ship wreck. Budding scientists can send Morse code, float ping-pong balls and bend light rays. 177 Main St., Acton, 978-264-4200;


Favorite Indoor Play Space


Boston Children’s Museum

A favorite for almost 100 years, the Boston Children’s Museum never disappoints. Older kids love to climb up the play structure in the lobby, and little ones spend hours tooling around the play space upstairs. After making bubbles in the Science Playground, checking out Arthur’s kitchen and exploring the authentic Japanese House, kids will leave tired but happy. 308 Congress St., Boston, 617-426-6500;



Imajine That

There’s something for everyone at this 12,000-square-foot playspace. Kids can play pretend in a child-sized grocery store, scale the dinosaur climbing structure, check out the books in the Between the Lions reading area and explore the Peep and the Big Wide World Science Station. 354 Merrimack St., Building 1, Entrance A, 2nd Floor, Lawrence, 978-682-5338;



Stardust Gym

Are the kids bouncing off the walls? Head to Stardust Gym where bouncing is not only tolerated but encouraged! During open gym hours, kids can jump into a foam pit, bounce on a tumble track, climb the rock wall and even swing on a trapeze. 612 Plymouth St., East Bridgewater, 508-378-2223;



PlayTown Express

Kids will love letting off some steam in PlayTown Express’s train-themed bouncy house and netted climbing structure. Babies can play too, in the separate matted area away from the big kids. And kids can test their mettle in the new obstacle course! 25 South St., Hopkinton, 508-497-0022;


Favorite Bowling Center



With 24,000 square feet of entertainment and 16 bowling lanes, Kings is a great spot for a rainy afternoon. Before 6 p.m., families enjoy discounted rates on bowling, billiards, shuffleboard and skee ball. After 6 p.m., it’s for ages 21 and up. 50 Dalton St., Boston, 617-266-2695; 600 Legacy Place, Dedham, 781-329-6000.



Brunswick Zone

Bowl your perfect game on one of 44 lanes, beat your high score in the arcade or grab some refreshments at the snack bar. There are leagues for all ages. Sign up for money-saving email coupons. This summer, students bowl free. 647 Pawtucket Blvd., Lowell, 978-454-0476;



Viking Recreation Center

Bowl a strike on one of the 16 candlepin lanes, then celebrate your victory in the large video-game and ticket-redemption room. Join a league and check out the frequent specials and discounts, like free daily games for students this summer. 607 Bedford St. (Route 18), East Bridgewater, 508-378-9830;




Plan for a solid afternoon of family fun with glow-in-the-dark bowling lanes, a huge arcade, laser tag and Balladium, a ball-blasting target-shooting game. Register your kids online and they’ll receive two free games of bowling every day all summer. 110 South Main St., Milford, 508-473-6611;


Favorite Movie Theater


Coolidge Corner Theatre

This is the place to catch the latest independent movies, documentaries and screenings of classics, like Jurassic Park. Box Office Babies allows mothers the chance to see movies without worrying that their wailing newborns will bother anyone. The Coolidge also hosts live kids’ entertainment, from singers to jugglers to puppet shows. 290 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-734-2501;



Chunky’s Cinema Pub

Where else can you eat pub-style fare like nachos, watch a first-run movie in comfy seats, and even order an adult beverage? Chunky’s Cinema is worth a trip for the novelty alone of catching a dinner and a movie all at the same place. 371 Lowell Ave., Haverhill, 978-374-2200;



Dedham Community Theatre

This independent cinema, founded in 1927 and located in the heart of Dedham Square, is open 365 days a year. It prides itself on offering up popcorn with real butter and old-fashioned candy. The theater can also be rented out for parties. 580 High St., Dedham, 781-326-0409;



Capitol Theatre Arlington

Renovated in 2010, this six-screen movie theater now offers more comfortable seats and Real-D 3-D movies. Check out the baby-friendly matinees or consider this spot for kids’ birthday parties, with a package that combines movies and the ice cream buffet at nearby Capitol Creamery. 204 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington, 781-648-4340;


Favorite Day Trip

Newport, R.I.

Just an hour and 20 minutes from Boston, Newport has a little something for everyone. Take a tour and gaze at the grandeur of the summer “cottages” along the Cliff Walk. Don’t miss The Breakers, a 70-room Italian Renaissance-style palazzo designed by the Vanderbilts in the late 19th century. Or head to one of Newport’s pristine beaches. Kids will love Easton’s Beach, with its carousel and snack bar (featuring a famous twin lobster sandwich on buttered rolls). The beach is also home to a summer family concert series on Tuesday nights. Once everyone has had their fill of sun and sand, make your way to Thames Street where there’s plenty of family-friendly restaurants, ice cream and souvenir shops and an arcade.


Favorite Animal Encounters


Franklin Park Zoo

For 100 years, the Franklin Park Zoo has been captivating Boston-area families with its live animal exhibits and displays. These days, children flock to the gorilla exhibit inside the Tropical Forest and the Aussie Aviary, a free-flight interactive exhibit that’s home to hundreds of brightly-colored budgies. One Franklin Park Road, Dorchester, 617-541-5466;



Stone Zoo

The small scale of this little zoo north of Boston makes it easy for families to get around with little ones, and kids love to visit the bears, Smoky and Bubba, the playground and interactive bird show. On the first Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to noon, everyone pays kids’ price for admission! 149 Pond St., Stoneham, 781-438-5100;



Roger Williams Park Zoo

Take a drive to Providence, R.I., to visit one of the oldest zoos in the country. Stroll through the 40-acre park and visit giraffes, kangaroos, bison and more. Kids will love Our Big Backyard, the zoo’s new play area with a treehouse! 1000 Elmwood Ave., Providence, R.I., 401-941-4998;



Southwick Zoo

Get a unique view of some amazing animals on the SkyFari Sky Ride at the Southwick Zoo. Families soar above deer, chimps, mandrills and an alligator on this 15-minute chair-lift ride. At Parakeet Landing, kids can feed birds as they walk through this interactive exhibit. 2 Southwick St., Mendon, 1-800-258-9182;


Favorite Live Theater


Wheelock Family Theatre

This theater on the campus of Wheelock College has a rich history of producing award-winning, affordable shows with family appeal. With only 21 rows, you’re guaranteed a great seat with full view of the wide, engaging stage. Upcoming shows include Anne of Green Gables, Oliver and Pippi Longstocking. 200 The Riverway, Boston, 617-879-2300;



North Shore Music


Kids and adults enjoy the theater-in-the-round experience and tendency for actors to use the aisles as another performance area. It’s live theater – up close and personal. See top-notch musicals year-round, celebrity performers such as Bill Cosby, and a great selection of children’s shows in the summer. 62 Dunham Road, Beverly, 978-232-7200;



Company Theatre

This community gem performs popular favorites such as The Wedding Singer and original works such as Paragon Park: The Musical (about the Hull landmark). Family-friendly events such as a Sound of Music sing-along and Irish musical tributes are crowd favorites. 30 Accord Park Drive, Norwell, 781-871-2787;



The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts

Rescued by a nonprofit a decade ago, Hanover Theatre has been lovingly restored and is “small enough to not be intimidating,” according to one fan. The theater hosts everything from Broadway shows such as Mary Poppins to Miss Massachusetts pageants and mega zumba classes for the community. 2 Southbridge St., Worcester, 877-571-SHOW;


Place to Swim


Wingaersheek Beach

White sands, clear waters and no big waves make this beach perfect for families with young kids. At low tide, the beach goes on forever, and there are plenty of tide pools for exploring with buckets and nets. Atlantic Street, Gloucester, 978-281-9785;



Houghton’s Pond

Twenty-four acres in size, Houghton’s Pond is a spring-fed kettle-hole pond formed by glaciers about 10,000 years ago. The swimming area is shallow, the water is warm and watched over by lifeguards. 840 Hillside St., Milton, 617-698-1802;



Spring Brook Park

Families flock to this manmade pond with a slide, a dock and spray area for kids, run by the Town of Bedford Recreation Department. There’s also an adjoining picnic area and playground to occupy kids during swimming breaks. One bonus over most beaches: Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the grounds. 181 Springs Road, Bedford, 781-275-1392;


Kids’ Classes


Music Schools International

Children channel their inner Beethoven with group lessons that teach music fundamentals in a structured but fun, pressure-free environment. Young musicians ages 2-18 learn to appreciate, read and make beautiful music in a variety of classes, from Music and Movement to piano instruction. Note: The business will soon change its name to Washtone Performing Arts. 1 Westinghouse Plaza, Building D, Unit 7, Boston, 617-364-5600;



Explore and grow at the YMCA, an affordable option for families and kids to get fit, have fun and make a difference. From tumble time, dance and music instruction to weight training and karate, there’s something to interest every kid, from toddlers to teens. Various locations throughout Boston;



Sprouting Melodies

Sing, move, play and socialize – all while making and listening to tunes for tots. With classes for newborns to preschoolers, Sprouting Melodies uses the power of music to help little ones explore and learn about the world around them. 423 Main St., Melrose, 781-420-4669;



Edify Fitness and Nutrition Center

Fortify your family’s fitness with the Family Fitness Class, which partners parents and children for an hour of activities to increase overall fitness, strength, flexibility and focus on family time. 612 Plymouth St., Unit 5, East Bridgewater, 508-456-4169;



Peter Pan Center

Using an “in-the-moment” coaching model, the staff here help children ages 4-15 overcome barriers – from behavioral issues to social anxiety – and give them the tools and skills needed to help build and sustain lasting friendships. 280 Ayer Road, Harvard, 978-772-1255;


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20 Jul 2012