From the New England Aquarium to the Children’s Museum, Boston has a wonderful selection of museums designed for children. If you’re looking to expand their horizons a bit — and maybe you’re secretly getting a little tired of visiting the same spots — here are five unexpected museums you’re both guaranteed to enjoy.
Located in the heart of Harvard Square, this extensive museum carries everything from glass flowers to rare minerals. Your children are sure to have a blast checking out the bugs on display, wildlife from around the world, and the vast array of animals in the great mammal hall, where you can practically look the animals in the eye. The museum offers programs for families and is free Sundays from 9 a.m. to noon and Wednesdays from 3-5 p.m. (September through May) for Massachusetts residents.
With giant art sculptures dotting the property outside and hands-on exhibits inside, this art museum in Lincoln is a fantastic trip regardless of the weather or time of year. You can either explore on your own or join a group for one of their kid-friendly programs, including making outdoor sculptures and activities to experiment with different art materials. And be sure to ask about their portable art pack — it includes books and materials for little hands that relate to the rotating exhibit. If the weather is nice, pack a picnic to eat outside among the sculptures or on their rooftop terrace with beautiful views of the local scenery.
Even the tiniest of hands will have fun learning about life aboard a ship while you soak up some local history. Located in the Charlestown Navy Yard, you can create a whole-day adventure taking a ferry over from Boston Long Wharf and walking over to the Bunker Hill Monument. Check your local library to see about getting a pass to visit the museum for free.
I first visited the MFA when my daughter was a few months old, and I was very excited to learn that they have a room for nursing moms — and plenty of changing tables. With family-centered programs and activities, such as the family art cart, MFA playdates, and family activity totes, you will find something for everyone. Since the museum is so extensive, you could visit the MFA several times and see something new each time.
If you’re willing to travel further outside the city, a visit to the Peabody Essex Museum is worth the trip to Salem. It’s conveniently located a short walk from the commuter rail, and there are ample public lots and on-street parking available. This museum has an entire exhibit designed specifically for children — I’ve been taking my daughter here since she was less than two years old — plus interactive exhibits and a maker lounge. On the weekends they offer drop-in art making and an art cart, and on Wednesday mornings they have a program called PEM Pals designed for preschool-aged children. The museum is in the heart of downtown Salem, so afterward you can easily grab a bite at a local eatery and walk around.
What is your favorite museum to visit with your children?