Winter Play Spaces around Boston

Here is Angelika’s first installment of her list of 1001 things to do around Boston in the Fall and Winter of 2013. This is my list of places to go: museums, public places, commercial indoor playgrounds, and some great organizations that lead events for kids outside in winter. This is along the lines of “They can’t bounce off the walls if you take the walls away”.

Actually, this installment is about Inside Educational Play, so there will be a couple of walls…

A lot of the museums offer activities for children and separate areas for even the youngest. It is possible to get heavily discounted tickets to lot of the museums from local libraries, so check there.

Inside Educational Play

Museum of Science

Huge space with something to discover for everyone. For kids under 5, head to the Discovery Center, all the way past the cafeteria and shop. And try to go before 10am, so there’s room in the attached, covered garage (hint for bad weather). I’ve written about it before here: LINK. For frequent visitors I recommend the premium membership – you get two hours free parking each time and lots of tickets to see the MoS shows.

Boston Children’s Museum

Jen and Alex at the train table in PlayspaceAnother huge space with lots of activities and rooms to get absorbed in. My recommendation is to let the kids lead the way. They’ll stay in the rooms they find fun. There is a room dedicated for the 3 and under set, with what we think is the world’s best train table.  Everything is interactive, and can get messy and wet. I recommend brining at least one complete change of clothing per child.  Parking is a bit farther away in a public garage. I’ve written about it before here: LINK

Wenham Museum

"Look Mama - trains!"Not sure if this is still a “hidden” gem, but this small museum is superb for the under 5 year old set (and anyone into trains and dolls). About half the museum is devoted to a range of model trains with lots of buttons to push for the younger set. Parking is easy, but be warned that they have an excellent gift/toy store attached ;-). I’ve written about it before here: LINK and LINK

Discovery Museums

We haven’t made it here yet, but everyone says these museums are super good. Someone send me a message before you go and maybe if we meet some people there I’ll be motivated enough to drive the half hour from Stoneham.

Einstein’s Workshop

I heard about this place in summer, when the Stoneham library announced they have passes. I (I mean my children) would love to play with lots of Lego, robots, 3D printer,…

Imagine an enormous room filled with toys: LEGOs, K’nex, Zome, magnetic blocks, wooden, stone, and cardboard blocks, electronics kits, puzzles, board games, and computer games. That’s our indoor playspace – an indoor playground where kids and adults come to build and create together.

I’ll report back when we’ve been, but it does seem like it’s aimed at kids over 5 years old. Again, leave a message here or on Facebook ( to arrange to meet us there 😉

New England Aquarium

Alex really getting into the touch tankThe New England Aquarium is really quite spectacular (and spectacularly expensive). Get a library pass to make the entrance fee less painful.  The displays are stunning, and the last time we went, we really enjoyed the new touch tank with all the sting(less)rays. The giant tank in the center is open again, too and we got to see the sea lion training. I’ve written about it before here: LINK

Harvard Museum of Natural History

I think the Harvard Museum of Natural History is amazing. Alex got freaked out by the large number of stuffed animals on display last time we went. So instead we spent a lot of time looking at the large rock collection and the fossils and arthropods. Free to Massachusetts residents every Sunday morning (year-round) from 9:00 am to noon and on Wednesdays from 3:00 to 5:00 pm (September through May), and library passes can be found. This museum is beautiful, but not tremendously hands on, so might be better for kids over 5.

MIT Museum

I have no idea why we haven’t been to this museum that is all about robots, machines, robots, kinetic sculptures, robots, machines, and all things engineering. Is my inner nerd showing?

Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts is gigantic. The only time I’ve been with my children was when we went to one of the homeschool classes they put on. We got a great, but quick, tour through some of the space, and got to do craft. I can’t talk about art endlessly, especially with children, so I’m inclined to go back as part of another class, so that they will get more out of it than what I feel I can offer. I have written about our last trip at this LINK, where we learned about textile arts.

Institute of Contemporary Art

never been!

Peabody Essex Museum

also never been!!!

American Textile Museum

Ha! We went here 😀 This is superb museum, and surprisingly large. It covers all things textile from waaaaay back in history to space (really). Very educational, very hands on. And they have lots of super helpful staff on hand, who were willing to help us sort out various weaving looms.  This museum also and an exceptional “Textile Learning Center”, a very well stocked and staffed play room, where people of all ages can touch, weave, and otherwise play with textile related toys.

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