New England’s Top Sights and Attractions for Kids

Multiple passenger, swan-shaped paddle boats lined up in a row at a dock.
The famous Swan Boats in Boston Public Garden. Photo © David Paul Ohmer, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Traveling with kids isn’t always as easy as the guidebooks make it sound, but New England is, in fact, as ideal a place to do it as any, thanks to its balance of education and fun. For every historical town, there is a wax museum full of witches; for every Concord Bridge, a Basketball Hall of Fame.

There is no bad time to pack up the minivan, either: Spring is wonderful for outside strolls in the parks; summer begs for cooling dips at the beach; fall is foliage and festival time; and winter is when to head for the indoor museums — or hit the ski trails. Following are the top sights and activities for kids, by state.

Family Travel in Massachusetts

  • Boston Children’s Museum puts the “act” in interactive.
  • Boston Fire Museum teaches wee ones about the history of firefighting.
  • Museum of Science (Boston) is an enormous building spotlighting everything from live lightning shows and an Omni theatre to fossil exhibits.
  • Public Garden (Boston) is where tykes love to ride on the famous swan boats and pay homage to the Make Way for Ducklings statue.
  • Salem Maritime Historic Site (Salem) is the place to pace the decks of the tall ships.
  • Wolf Hollow (Ipswich) is a howl — quite literally; a quasi-natural setting in which to visit and learn about wolves.
  • Minuteman National Historic Park (Concord) captures the opening battles of the Revolutionary War. Later, take a swim (and visit Thoreau’s cabin) at Walden Pond.

Family Travel in Vermont

  • ECHO Lake Aquarium (Burlington) guarantees that kids will get wet as they learn about frogs, snakes, and the resident sea monster, Champ.
  • Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium (Fairmont) is a treasure trove of mummies, dinosaur fossils, stuffed animals, and Civil War memorabilia, along with an interactive weather center for budding meteorologists.
  • Vermont Toy and Train Museum (Quechee) has case after case of toys from yesteryear to bring back memories, and some from today for kids to play with.
  • The Retreat Farm (Brattleboro) is a working farm with a petting barn that encourages tykes to feed and groom the animals.

Family Travel in New Hampshire

  • Hampton Beach (Hampton) is a veritable kid magnet; parents can relax on the sand while they play arcade games and eat cotton candy to their hearts’ content.

Family Travel in Rhode Island

  • Watch Hill (Watch Hill) is a family-friendly throwback to the Victorian era, with a beautiful beach, a carousel for the kids, and plenty of upscale shops for parents to explore.

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