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Boston’s Best Cheap Activities To Do With Kids

May 23, 2014 6:00 AM

Boston Harbor Islands (Photo by

Boston Harbor Islands (Photo by

With all of the amazing restaurants, nightlife and music venues in and around Boston, it can be easy to forget that Boston isn’t just for adults. If you’re looking for something fun for kids, or families, Boston has everything you could want. And even better, you can usually enjoy these activities on the cheap. So before you break out your wallet, check out our guide to the best things to do with kids on the cheap in Boston.


Franklin Park Zoo
1 Franklin Park Road
Boston, MA 02121
(617) 541-5466

Like most zoos, Franklin Park Zoo is as kid and family friendly as they come. You’ll find a full assortment of animals that kids love. Kids can visit with giraffes, lions, zebras and a petting zoo full of farm animals. While kids will fall in love with the animals and the playground area, adults will love the price. While there may be other larger zoos out there, Franklin Park Zoo comes with an admission price that can’t be beat. It costs only $11.95 for children ages two to 12. It’s even cheaper if you grab passes from your local library.

(Photo Credit: Kim Tunnicliffe)

(Photo Credit: Kim Tunnicliffe)

Swan Boats
Boston Public Garden
4 Charles St.
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 522-1966

What could be more iconic than a swan boat ride through the Boston Public Garden? Adults and children alike have been delighted by Boston’s famous swan boats for more than 130 years. The boats are open and running seven days a week, depending on weather, from mid-April through October. And despite their fame, appearing in such children’s classics as “Make Way For Ducklings,” they come at an astoundingly affordable price. A 15-minute cruise around Boston Public Garden, the first botanical garden in the United States, will set you back just a few dollars per ticket.

Photo Credit: bostonfrogpond/facebook

Photo Credit: bostonfrogpond/facebook

The Frog Pond
Boston Common
131 Tremont St.
Boston, MA 02111
(888) 733-2678

The Frog Pond at Boston Common is another great way to spend the day or afternoon with the kids. Best yet, the Frog Pond is free in the summer, when it’s turned into a great little wading pool that features a fountain in the center and about a foot of water around it so even the littlest kids will feel brave enough to get their feet wet. In the winter, it is turned into a small but respectable ice skating rink that’s free for kids under 13 and cheap for adults. And if you come between seasons or on cool summer mornings, your kids might get a good look at some visiting ducks.

Related: Boston’s Best Places For Last Minute Gifts

(photo credit:

(photo credit:

Boston Children’s Museum
308 Congress St.
Boston, MA 02210
(617) 426-6500

Interactive doesn’t even begin to describe the Boston Children’s Museum. Exhibits at the museum include an entire room set aside for bubble play, an art studio and a construction zone that will have kids of all ages getting into the fun. If you have a family or group that spans several age groups, you’ll be amazed at the children’s museum. It is truly one place that will keep everyone happy and engaged regardless of age. These hands-on exhibits are so fun that your kids won’t even notice how educational they are. Admission is $14 for kids and adults. But you can pick up discount passes at your local library.

Related: Boston’s Best Stores With A Cause

Boston Harbor Islands (Photo by

Boston Harbor Islands (Photo by

Boston Harbor Islands Ferry
190 Atlantic Ave
Boston, MA 02110
(617) 227-4321

If your kids need to work off some energy, it’s time to head for the islands. Get the kids out of the urban jungle and into the great outdoors. A short ferry ride is all that’s keeping you from the many little islands that dot Boston’s Harbor. Go for a hike, spend the day at the beach and enjoy the great outdoors all in Boston’s Harbor. In the summer, the ferries run throughout the day. Some, like Grape Island, are great for viewing wildlife. Others, like Georges Island, feature Civil War Era forts and are a great look at Boston’s history. And if you want to make this an incredible affordable outing, just bring the kids to watch the big ships sail in and out of the Harbor.

Renee Mallett is the author of several books about art, culture, and New England. She was the owner and director of an art gallery and has written about arts and entertainment on a national level for several print and online journals. Her work can be found at


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