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Guest Post: Off the Beaten Trail in Boston

I’m pleased to introduce Wandering Off’s very first guest post! Sara Keagle writes an outstanding blog called The Flying Pinto, which focuses on her adventures as a flight attendant. Today, she’s sharing her tips on visitng Boston with kids, and she definitely knows her stuff. In fact, she used to serve as a Boston tour guide! Be sure to check out her blog and follow her on Twitter (@theflyingpinto).

When planning a trip to Boston, Massachusetts with kids, there are of course the obvious activities–the Tea Party Ship, the Children’s Museum, and Boston’s fabulous New England Aquarium–but what I would like to offer are some choices slightly off the beaten trail.

Boston is a great walking city, but, with kids in tow, I recommend jumping on a sightseeing trolley. As a former Tour Guide, I can tell you the trolleys offer an overview of the city, a rich history lesson and the opportunity to jump on and off at all the major attractions. The “T” is a terrific and affordable way to get around for the remainder of your trip. I do not recommend renting a car as the parking is expensive (the hotels do not own any of the parking lots) and Boston is an extremely stressful city to drive around. Here are some hidden treasures off my must-see list:

Mapparium “This world-famous, three-story, painted glass globe is one of the key attractions at the Library. The Mapparium’s three-dimensional perspective of the world of 1935 is enhanced by A World of Ideas, an original presentation that features a rich orchestration of words, music, and LED lights to illustrate how ideas have traversed time and geography and changed the world,” says the Mary Baker Eddy Library website. It is literally a stained glass globe you walk through! Your children will delight in the fact that if you stand on one end of the bridge and your child stands on the other you can whisper and still be heard because the globe is a perfect sphere.

The Old North Church “The enduring fame of the Old North began on the evening of April 18, 1775, when the church sexton, Robert Newman, climbed the steeple and held high two lanterns as a signal from Paul Revere that the British were marching to Lexington and Concord by sea and not by land. This fateful event ignited the American Revolution.” This quaint church is right in the heart of Boston’s North End or “Little Italy.” The pews are called “box pews” and are like little rooms, the walls being about chest height. Families used to pay rent on them! Why not snuggle into a pew and read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem about that famous ride by Paul Revere, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere?” I know experiencing history always made me appreciate and remember it better!

The U.S.S. Constitution or “Old Iron Sides,” is the oldest commissioned warship in the U.S. Navy. In order to stay commissioned it must set sail at least once a year and that it does. Every fourth of July it heads out into the Boston Harbor for the celebration, and when it returns they dock it in the opposite way it set sail, allowing the ship to weather evenly. Learn more about this famous ship on board. The tour is fabulous and it is free! You probably already had The Constitution on your itinerary, but the hidden treasure is how to get there–an inexpensive harbor ferry. The MBTA, Boston’s subway system, offers a ferry from Boston’s Long Wharf (right next to the New England Aquarium) to Charlestown where the ship is docked for only $1.70. What kid doesn’t like a boat ride?

Granary Burial Ground Call me crazy but I love old cemeteries and Boston has some of the greatest. The Old Granary Burial Ground is on The Freedom Trail, so you probably wouldn’t miss it and its famous residents, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, Peter Faneuil, and more. However, older kids might find it interesting that Mother Goose, whose real name was Elizabeth Vergoose, resides here as well.

No Name This restaurant without a name was finally given one by the locals–No Name! Located out on Fish Pier, there are no bells and whistles, just extremely fresh seafood. In 1917, the restaurant opened as a diner for local fisherman returning from sea. In my opinion, it is the best quality seafood for the price, and it has a family-friendly atmosphere.

The Boston Public Garden Of course you probably wouldn’t miss this, it’s where the famous Swan Boat Rides are located. But, what you might miss is that this park is a beautiful arboretum. There are over 100 types of trees, and they are all labeled. The other hidden treasure in this park is the row of duck statues from the famous children’s book, “Make Way for Ducklings.” You can find Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack. At there are some super ideas for incorporating the story into your visit.

Fenway Park Everyone thinks about going to a game, and it’s a real treat inside the “green monster.” But, have you ever thought about taking a tour of Fenway Park? The fifty-minute walking tour is offered throughout the year. Check out their web site for more details: Boston Red Socks

Ok, seriously, I could go on! As you can probably tell, Boston is a city I am passionate about. I always recommend learning about your destination beforehand with your kids to get them excited. The ideas are endless with Boston, and your kids may actually…gasp…learn something!

2 responses »

  1. Another great way to get into Boston is the water ferry. My girls loved it (we were on the South Shore for 3 months) and still play "taking the water ferry to Boston". While the USS Constitution is very cool the guided tour was over crowded and we couldn't hear the guide. Directly across from the Constitution is the USS Cassin Young, a Navy Destroyer that can be explored on your own. If you don't do a trolley tour to get there another ferry runs from from the Harbor to Navy Pier.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Jody! Is the ferry you mentioned the same as the MBTA ferry? We've been to Boston before, but it was pre-kid, so we didn't take the ferry the last time. It's something our daughter would definitely love though!The USS Cassin Young sounds like a great idea.


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