History, culture and beauty. OH MY!
For years, Nashvillians have turned south for family-friendly vacations. Don’t be limited to the beach, however, when planning your family getaway. Dubbed “America’s Walking City,” Boston is a city rich in culture and diverse in appearance with something to offer everyone in your family.
A Little Bit of Culture
Traditionally, the word “museum” conjures up feelings of boredom and images of spending hours staring at glass-enclosed ancient relics. Cast that assumption aside when in Boston and get ready for some fun! Boston’s Children’s Museum is extremely popular and widely respected for its many rooms of hands-on exhibits. Take a visit to Arthur’s World, cruise the Hall of Toys or “Climb the Walls” on the indoor rock climbing exhibit. From the Recycle Shop to the Bric Block Room, the Children’s Museum is appealing to people of all ages and can easily eat up an afternoon of your itinerary.
Perhaps the Computer Museum is more to your family’s liking. Explore the Walk-Through computer, 50 times larger than an average computer, or climb the 25-foot keyboard – all while learning about the history of computers.
There are dozens more museums that merit attention and are all within Boston proper, including the Musuem of Fine Arts, the Sports Museum of New England, the Museum of Science and the Museum of Afro-American History – all well worth a visit!
Perhaps the strongest selling point for my family was Boston’s strong ties to America’s history. A visit to “Beantown” can bring textbook pages to life and excite any historically challenged student. A great place to begin is the popular Freedom Trail, a 3-mile walking tour denoted by a red line on the sidewalks winding throughout historic Boston. With 16 stops along the way, the tour can be taken with a guide (recommended for the inquisitive) or on your own for a more leisurely stroll. Stops to note include Paul Revere’s house (the origin of the fated “midnight ride”), the site of the American Revolution’s Boston Massacre, the monument marking the Battle of Bunker Hill and “Old Ironsides,” (a.k.a. the U.S.S. Constitution) the oldest warship still afloat in the United States.
If you’re looking to escape for a day, a visit to Plymouth is a must while in the area. Step back in time when you arrive at Plimoth Plantation and are greeted by Pilgrims going about their business as though it were 350 years ago. Life is perfectly replicated for visitors’ enjoyment, as is the village where the Pilgrims lived. Spend some time exploring the Mayflower II, a built-to-scale replica of the original that landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620.
Since the Boston Tea Party is a staple in every history class, why not toss a crate of tea over a replicated ship from the original “party”? The Beaver II is docked in Boston Harbor and welcomes visitors to explore its quarters and work its riggings. There’s also a museum and gift shop to pick up some souvenirs.
If you’re looking for an all-out getaway from learning, Boston is still a fantastic destination. Spend some time in Back Bay – a shopper’s delight with eateries galore! And while you’re there, stop by the John Hancock Observatory, New England’s tallest building. A trip to the 60th floor will get you a bird’s eye view of all of Boston, and to make it easy, the telescopes are already focused on some of the city’s finer attractions.
While in the Back Bay area, swing by the “Pru,” as locals call the Prudential Center, and climb aboard for a Duck Tour. You’re guaranteed an experience unlike any other. Your tour guide, called the conDUCKtor, will lead you throughout Boston’s noteworthy sites aboard an authentic World War II amphibious landing vehicle. To civilians, this means that the vehicle travels on both land and in water, and you’ll do both while on the tour. Don’t be surprised, though, if while traveling down Boylston Street you get some “quacks” from passersby – it’s a Boston tradition.
Whatever you do, don’t leave Boston without a visit to the New England Aquarium. It’s world-renowned not only for its structure’s centerpiece – an enormous tank filled to the rim with 187,000 gallons of saltwater – but also for its amazing exhibits and site-seeing opportunities. Get up close and personal with sharks, turtles, eels and fish while casually strolling the cylindrical ramp to the top of the tank. Other exhibits flank the walls and change regularly for constant appeal. After your indoor visit, take the family outside to embark on a harbor cruise. “Science at Sea” will allow your little fisherboys and girls to haul lobster traps or simply take in the sights. If you’re there between spring and fall, a whale watch is a must.
You’ll travel 24 miles from Boston, all the while keeping your eyes open for humpbacks, finbacks, dolphins and other marine animals. A word to the wise, though: be sure you and your kids aren’t prone to seasickness. It’s usually a five-hour tour.
Whatever your family’s interests, Boston can deliver. Though the travel is a little further than a trip to Florida, it’s a vacationer’s delight all year round!
For further information about Boston and the surrounding areas, contact the
Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau
Two Copley Place, Ste. 105
Boston, MA 02116-6501
Ashley Driggs is a freelance writer for this publication.