Sometimes you just have one day and that’s it. It’s OK. That destination will always be there for another visit. There’s only so much time to travel with kids and sometimes seeing it in one day is better than skipping it. Some cities are easier to see in one day and Boston is one of those. With a little planning and an early start you can walk the entire Freedom Trail, earn a Junior Ranger badge, tour Old Ironsides and even walked through Harvard University. Here’s how to see Boston in One Day with kids.
See Boston in One Day with Kids
A few tips to get you started. Stay in Boston and get an early start. I recommend grabbing donuts (and some coffee) at Dunkin Donuts since it’s a Boston favorite. Grab a backpack and pop in some snacks and have a water bottle for each person. Finally good walking shoes are a must. Parking in Boston is nearly impossible so use ride share and the subway (the T) to get around.
First stop, walk by the Trinity Church, a National Historic Landmark to get your Boston in One Day with kids. Designed by Henry Richardson and finished in 1877. It’s one of the ten most significant buildings in the U.S. by the American Institute of Architects.
Located at 206 Clarendon St. and it is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m
A popular area in Back Bay with hotels, restaurants and shopping along with the Prudential Building and the John Hancock building. Also find a MBTA green line station (the T) at Copley Square.
Bound by Bolyston Street, Clarendon Street, St. James Avenue and Dartmouth Street.
Located next to the Boston Common, the Public Garden is the oldest botanical garden in the U.S. Established in 1837, it offers a peaceful escape with winding paths and lots of landscaping, more decorative than the Boston Common.
For most first-time visitors, the Swan Boats are a Boston tradition. The first swan boat was launched in 1877 by Robert Paget.
Located at 4 Charles St. Open from mid April until Labor Day. Spring hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and summer hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission $4.50 adults and $2.50 kids for kids 2-15 with babies 2 and under riding for free.
The Freedom Trail with Kids
The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile long paved trail along the streets of Boston. By walking along its route visitors see the top 16 sites from the American Revolution against England.
The National Park Service arranges guided tours along with other companies. On my trip I used the official NPS Boston App that includes the Freedom Trail (free). Along the route, most visitors will cross groups tours, many led by costumed guides.
Since it’s a National Park Service site, kids earn a Junior Ranger Badge. The booklets are available at the visitors center on the first floor of Faneuil Hall (open year round from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Operated by National Park Service, it is free and open year-round. Though several buildings along the route charge admission.
Dating back to 1634, the Boston Common is the oldest park in the U.S. and was as a cow pasture until 1830. Then the British Army camped in the area during the Revolutionary War. Now it’s the official start of the Boston Freedom Trail and how to see Boston in One Day with kids.
Located at 115 Bolyston St.
Boston Common Visitor Center
The Boston Common Visitor Center offer brochures about Boston and the start of the Freedom Trail is outside of its building. Outlined with red brick (or sometimes red paint) it will guide visitors along its route.
Located at 139 Tremont St. Open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Massachusetts State House
With its distinctive gold dome, the Massachusetts State House is home to the Massachusetts Commonwealth government, Completed in 1798, it was designed by Charles Bulfinch though the gold dome arrived later.
Located at 24 Beacon St.
Park Street Church
Founded in 1809, the Park Street Church was designed by Peter Banner. Its 217-foot tower was one of the first things people saw when entering Boston in the 1800s.
Located at One Park St.
Granary Burying Ground
Find Paul Revere and John Hancock’s gravestones in the burying ground (cementry). Established in 1660, it was named after the granary (a building that stored grain) that was located next door. With 2,300 gravestones, find some with soul effigies, a creepy little skull with wings. Sounds creepy though it’s an official stop and my school-age kids loved it–who knew. Some of the gravestones are so old, they are slowly falling down. This is one of the top places to see Boston in One Day with kids.
Located on 95 Tremont St.
The King’s Chapel and the King’s Chapel Burying Ground
Founded in 1696, the King’s Chapel was the first Angelican church. The current building was erected in 1754 and made of granite. The King’s Chapel Burying Gound is the oldest English cemetery in Boston.
Located at 58 Tremont St.
Boston Latin School Site and the Benjamin Franklin Statue
Founded in 1635, it’s the oldest public school in the U.S. and boys (both rich and poor) attended school there. Benjamin Franklin (its most notable dropout) marks the spot of the original schoolhouse.
Located at 45 School St.
Old Corner Bookstore
Built in 1718 it’s the oldest commercial building in Boston. In the 18th-century it was the home to the publisher, Ticknor and Fields, whose titles included Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Longfellow’s Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.
Located at 283 Washington St.
Old South Meeting House
Built in 1729, it was the largest building in Colonial Boston and where the talks of revoltion started. A public museum since 1877, it offers an in-depth history lesson about the Boston Tea Party.
Located at 310 Washington St. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. during the summer (5 p.m. during the fall and spring, 4 p.m. in the winter). Admission is required and covers the Old South Meeting House and Old State House. Adults cost $15, students are $14, kids 12 and younger are $8.
Old State House and the Boston Massacure Site
Built in 1713, it housed the Colonial government and is the oldest surving public building in Boston. On March 5, 1770, five colonists were killed by British soldiers in an confrontation that became known as the Boston Massacre outside of the Old State House. The Declaration of Independence was read from its balcony in 1776.
Loacted at 206 Washington St. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. during the summer (5 p.m. during the fall and spring, 4 p.m. in the winter). Admission is required and covers the Old South Meeting House and Old State House. Adults cost $15, students are $14, kids 12 and younger are $8.
A busy marketplace since 1742, it’s been named the cradle of liberty. Colonists protested against the Sugar and the Stamp Acts at Faneuil Hall. It was the place of the first town meeting in Boston.
Inside, find out more information about tours. Kids can earn their NPS Junior Ranger badge at Faneuil Hall too. This is one of the top places to see Boston in One Day with kids.
Located at 1 Faneuil Hall Square. Free to enter. Open from Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the Visitor Center and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the Great Hall. Operated by the National Park Service.
Paul Revere House
Built in 1680, Paul Revere bought the house in 1770 for his family. He shared the house with his mother, his wife and nine of his 16 children. It is the oldest structure in downtown Boston. The Paul Revere House looks into the domestic life of Colonial Boston. It is a must visit for your Boston in One Day with kids.
Located at 19 North Square. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. (4:15 p.m. in winter). Admission $6 for adults and $1 for kids 5 to 17.
Old North Church
Built in 1723 it is the oldest church in Boston. Though two Sons of Liberty put a couple of lanterns in its steeple on April 18, 1775, signaling the advancement of the British Redcoats to the patriots.
Located at 193 Salem St. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $5 per person.
Note: If your kids are tired, then you can grab a taxi or ride share to U.S.S. Constitution and skip Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. From Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, it’s a .9-mile walk to the U.S.S. Constitution.
Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
Named after the cobbler, William Copp, it is another cemetery with merchants and artisans from the North End.
Located at 45 Hull St.
The USS Constitution with Kids
Commissioned in 1797 the USS Constitution, or Old Ironsides, earned its nickname during the War of 1812. It’s still an active warship with the US Navy and the tours are lead by sailors.
The USS Constitution features a museum with interpretive dsiplays along with activities for kids. Find displays on the sailor’s life from 1812, information on the USS Constitution today along with a LEGO shipyard.
The carful of kids turn in their booklets at the USS Constitution for our Boston National Historical Park Junior Ranger Badges. It’s has been a full day of history for the carful of kids and a great refresher for me.
Located at the Charlestown Navy Yard. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The ship is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Suggested admission is $10 to $15 for adults and $5 to $10 for kids. To visit the USS Constitution, adults will have to show a government-issued ID (like state drivers license or passport) and everyone will have to pass through airport-type security.
Cambridge with Kids
After a day of exploring, if you have older kids, you might want to explore Cambridge. Home to some of the Ivy Leage universities. Grab a cab to get to Cambridge.
We walked through Harvard Square then stopped by the bookstore for a Harvard t-shirt. Located at Brattle St.
The Boston T
After a day of exploring the Freedom Trail, it’s time to leave. After a good look at the T map, I find the station closest to our car. Grab a CharlieCard for each one of us at the self-serve kiosk and swipe all the cards to get the kids through the turnstile. Since it’s after hours the T, Boston’s subway, isn’t crowded.
Sweet sound to my ears, the roar of the train pulling into the station. Once inside, I remind the boys to hold on. I hide my smile when the boys trip over each other looking for something to grab when the train lurches forward.
Where to Eat with Kids in Boston
For breakfast I grabbed some donuts and coffee at Dunkin Donuts. It’s a New England tradition and find Dunkin across Boston.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
For lunch, I suggest the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, locatedbehind Faneuil Hall. It’s packed with tourists, street performers and food carts on the outside. In the inside find lots of quick service options, perfect for families. I grabbed a bowl of Boston Clam Chowder at Boston Chowda Co. inside.
Located at 1 S. Market St. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (7 p.m. on Sunday).
Boston Public Market
Another solid option is the Boston Public Market. Open year round and indoors, it features some quick service options for families.
Located at 100 Hanover St. Open Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Pinocchio’s Pizza & Subs
Made famous by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg from his college days. It serves square pizza in your usual varieties. Since the seating is limited, head to nearby Winthrop Square.
Located at 74 Winthrop St. in Cambridge. Open from Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m to 1 a.m. and Sunday from noon to midnight.
Know Before You Go
- Be in line for the Swam Boat early to make it to the USS Constitution before it closes.
- Give yourself a couple of hours to clear security and tour the boat on a busy day.
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