Boston’s 5 Best Things To Do Before School Starts

August 17, 2012 5:14 AM


By now, you’ve been to every beach, seen every summer movie and enjoyed more than your share of ice cream cones on sweltering summer nights. You’re out of ideas, but your kids won’t be heading back to school for another few weeks, and they’re clamoring for something to do before they swap their bathing suits for notebooks. Fortunately for those in the Boston area, there are still lots of warm-weather activities on tap that won’t bleed your budget or tax your patience.
dl Bostons 5 Best Things To Do Before School Starts

(Photo Credit: Kim Tunnicliffe)

Swanboats of Boston
Boston Public Garden
Arlington and Boylston Streets
Boston, MA 02116
www.swanboats.comPrice: $2.75 adults/$1.50 kids 2 to 15/$2 seniors

A Boston tradition since the 1870s, the pedal-powered swan boats offer 15-minute tours of the peaceful lagoon that graces the 24-acre Boston Public Garden. Each of the instantly recognizable boats can accommodate about 18 adults with comfortable bench seating. The elegantly distinctive swan boats of Boston are the only ones of their kind in the world.



Franklin Park Zoo
1 Franklin Park Road
Boston, MA 02121
(617) 541-5466
www.zoonewengland.orgPrice: $17 adults/$11 kids and for all on first Saturdays of the month from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Visiting the zoo isn’t about watching animals pace in cages anymore. It’s a much more interactive, and even hands-on experience, with ever-changing exhibits such as Butterfly Landing, where you’ll walk through hundreds of butterflies in an outdoor tent with gardens and a pond, and the Aussie Aviary, in which colorful birds will perch on your hand to take bites of a seed stick. The zoo’s Tropical Forest features its famous indoor gorilla exhibit, in which visitors may safely be face-to-face with eight lowland gorillas at five glass viewing stations, as well as the other animals who co-exist in the same habitat, including ocelots, ring-tailed lemurs, a pygmy hippopotamus and flocks of free-flying birds. The Serengeti Crossing, a four-acre expanse designed to simulate open grasslands and rolling wooded hills, is home to a variety of species, including Grant’s zebras, ostriches and white-bearded wildebeests.

museum Bostons 5 Best Things To Do Before School Starts

(Photo Credit: Harvard Museum of Natural History/Facebook)

Harvard Museum of Natural History
26 Oxford St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 495-3045 $9 adults/$6 kids 3 to 18/$7 seniors

Through Labor Day, the museum presents the Spider-Sense! Scavenger Hunt, in which hunters learn about how spiders have adapted to survive for tens of millions of years. Armed with a guide and map, participants search forest, field and ocean for hidden spiders and spider impostors. They’ll even see a live tarantula. Permanent exhibits include the Great Mammal Hall, the museum’s oldest gallery, with 19th-century specimens of a full-sized giraffe, and three whale skeletons hanging from the rafters. The Africa gallery features a hippo, an elephant, a zebra, a collection of apes and the largest antelope on earth, the eland.

Related: Boston’s Best Mini Golf Courses

drawbridge Bostons 5 Best Things To Do Before School Starts

(Photo Credit: Drawbridge Puppet Theater/YouTube)

Drawbridge Puppet Theater
1335 Mass. Ave.
Lunenburg, MA 01462
(978) 582-6565
www.drawbridgepuppets.comPrice:  $5 per person/reservations strongly recommended

This summer, the Drawbridge Puppet Theater presents a marionette show entitled, “The Adventures of Perseus,” based on the Greek myth. It’s appropriate for children ages 5 and older. The 45-minute shows incorporate humor and music to tell classic stories and conclude with a backstage tour or a demonstration of puppetry arts. Bring a picnic lunch to eat in the gardens, or visit Ye Olde Snack Bar and the gift shop.

museumscience Bostons 5 Best Things To Do Before School Starts

(credit: Museum of Science)

Museum of Science
1 Science Park
Boston, MA 02114
(617) 723-2500
www.mos.orgPrice:  $22 adults/$19 kids/$20 seniors

Among the current exhibits through the summer are a glassed-in beehive, enabling visitors to observe thousands of bees in their natural setting as they go about their daily tasks of collecting pollen and making wax and honey. The Discovery Center, for kids ages 8 and older, offers an assortment of hands-on activities, such as assembling animal skeletons and observing live animals up close. In addition to the exhibit halls, visitors may purchase tickets for admission to special presentations in the Charles Hayden Planetarium, the 3-D Digital Theater and the Mugar Omni Theater.

Related: Boston’s Best Waterparks and Pools

Maureen Harmonay wears many hats. She is a real estate agent who specializes in country estates, antique homes, and horse properties in the metrowest suburbs of Boston. With certifications in Feng Shui and as an Eco-Broker, she is keenly attuned to how energy affects the health of a home and its occupants, both humans and pets. Her work can be found at