Both The New England Aquarium and the Boston Children’s Museum are perfect half-day activities, especially if the day in question is as cold and rainy as ours was! We decided to spend one afternoon at each, and could have easily spent more time!
My nephew and niece joined us for our time in Boston, so we had kids aged 8 months to 12 years touring both attractions. We loved the aquarium because it was comprehensive without being overwhelmingly large; only a few signature exhibits dominated, allowing plenty of time to explore the additional dozens of smaller tanks and displays. The aquarium is famous for their penguin habitat, but the highlight for our family was the hands-on sting ray and shark petting tank. This feature gets crowded, but the staff does a good job of monitoring the number of visitors at any one time; all our kids got plenty of chances to touch the marine animals.
At the Boston Children’s Museum, kids enter to see a three-story rope and plank climbing structure twisting its way toward the ceiling, and from there, they hit the ground running. In addition to the New Balance Climb, our older kids spent the most time at the Kid Power exhibits (aimed at kids age 8-12) where they played games of dodgeball on a computer-powered light-up floor, lifted themselves upward by their own power on pulleys and levers, played basketball on funky courts, and challenged themselves on climbing walls.
The younger members of our group (8 months old, two years old, and five years old respectively) loved the Construction Zone with working mechanisms, building toys, and structural bridges, the community area complete with corner market and barber shop, and the infant play space.
Tip: If you have fair weather, you may want to pair the aquarium with a whale watch (which departs right from the entrance)!
Hours: The aquarium is open 9 am to 5 pm, and the museum is open 10 am to 5 pm, weekdays. On Friday evenings, the museum offers extended hours and discounted prices, and is only $1 from 6 pm to 9 pm!
Admission: Admission to the aquarium is $22 for adults and $15 for kids. The children’s museum is $12 per person (adults and children). If you hold a children’s museum membership card to any museum, be sure to present it! We were given free admission for two adults and two children thanks to our ScienceWorks card from Oregon. Both attractions are also available for discount through Smart Destinations’ using their Go Card USA: Discount Attraction Passes, or with CityPASS (see below for a deal).
Websites: www.neaq.com and www.bostonchildrensmuseum.org
Directions: The aquarium and children’s museum are located within blocks of one another, on opposite sides of the bay. The aquarium is located at 1 Central Wharf (there’s an easy T stop directly to its door), and the children’s museum is located at 308 Congress Street (right over the Congress Street or Seaport Blvd. bridges).