Just when it feels like you’re getting into a groove, February’s school vacation break pops up and all of a sudden, you’re scrambling to make last-minute plans. Just me? My informal polling says I’m not alone. The good news is, New England is peppered with easy-to-drive-to destinations full of fun things to do, cool places to explore and educational attractions that pique the curious interest of young minds.
Here’s a trio of destination ideas less than a tank of gas away:
Obvious. right? But where to start? Accommodations first.
Live large at the Boston Harbor Hotel, which is offering family friendly packages including the Family Vacation Getaway, Kidventure, and Make a Winter Memory. This Forbes Five Star Hotel on the Boston Harbor is splurge but you’ll enjoy a 60-foot indoor pool, a DIY cupcake kit for children delivered to the room, and free tickets to the New England Aquarium and the Greenway Carousel. Also, it’s cheaper than Disney.
Another option is The Revere Hotel, located steps from Boston’s Theater District, Newbury Street and Copley Square. Discover the city’s kid-friendly museums, dining, theaters, sporting events, outdoor spaces, and more with Revere’s Family Explorer Package, available now through February vacation. Guests who purchase the package will enjoy 50% off of a second room reservation for the kids (connecting or adjoining rooms are available upon request), cookies and milk upon check-in, a stuffed animal amenity, plus free breakfast for kids 12 and under. For complete details or to make a reservation, click HERE.
Over at the Seaport, the Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport is offering a ‘Picture Perfect Memories’ Package for families with vintage vibes. This package is a fun way to have children and families explore the Seaport in a way they will never forget by offering an instant Kodak camera to take home, a curated photographic scavenger hunt list, and a custom photo book they can fill with photos of their winter break. The package also includes a $50 per stay dining credit to Kestra, Lifted Restobar, or The Sporting Club.
Earlier this winter, I took my daughter ice skating at the iconic Frog Pond at Boston Common. I’m 100% a carpetbagger but I felt like a Bostonian through and through gliding around this beautiful city rink. If you can, go late in the afternoon, when it’s pure magic to see the sunlight exhale for the day and the skyscrapers glow in the twilight. While there, check out the newly unveiled sculpture memorial, The Embrace, honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King while there.
If I had to choose between the Boston Children’s Museum and The Museum of Science, I’d go with the latter as the Museum of Science has shows, exhibits, IMAX films, presentations, the super cool planetarium and so much more. Insider’s tip: while I’m usually not quick on the draw when it
comes to memberships of most things, the Museum of Science membership is worth it if you, A. plan to go more than once in a year, or (and in my opinion, more importantly), B. if you frequent other museums, aquariums or zoos. Here’s why: the Museum of Science has reciprocal admission to nearly 500 participating science centers and zoos worldwide (including half off admission to Rhode Island own’s Roger Williams Park Zoo and free admission to the Providence Children’s Museum).
Also (drumroll please), the Disney Animation: Immersive Experience comes to Boston at the end of next week (starting Feb. 23). Explore the New England Aquarium. Grab some cheap tri-corner hats and walk the Freedom Trail. Get your daytime game on at King’s. Get your revolt on at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Peruse everything happening at the exquisite Boston Museum of Fine Arts with their School Vacation Week programming (insider’s tip: grab lunch at the Garden Cafeteria where kids can enjoy un-stuffy favorites including pizza hot dog, grilled cheese, hamburgers, fries, etc.). Take a food tour of the North End. Or a Fenway tour. See Hamilton.
The dining scene in Boston always brings something new on my must try list. The perfect spot to eat with kids during school vacation week, however, is one of the city’s awesome food halls, and here’s why: they’re fun, they’re casual, and they have something for just about everyone.
Time Out Market offers 15 unique food concepts in a cool art-deco-meets-industrial 250 sq. ft. space that was formerly a Sears, Roebuck and Company warehouse. Last time I was there I chose dish from Taqueria El Barrio upon the recommendation of a friend and fan of Chef Alex Sáenz, and it didn’t disappoint, but I want to return to go to Anoush’ella because I haven’t had Lebanese food in forever and oh my m’anoush did it smell divine!
If you’re closer to the Garden, Hub Hall Boston similarly offers a ton of food and drink options under one roof. For a more traditional full service option, I love the lively vibe and coastal Mexican dishes at Citrus + Salt in Back Bay because you can share plates – which is one way I can tempt my child try something new. If your brood are pizza enthusiasts and you’re near Tremont Street, Picco (full name: Picco Pizza & Ice Cream Co.,) makes a solid pie (gluten-free available) as well as from-scratch ice cream and sorbet.
And get the chocolate chip cookie at Levain on Newbury. Trust me.
Breath-taking view? Check. Full line up of family friendly activities? Axe throwing just because? Check. Pool for kids and spa for mom? Check and check. We don’t have to leave the property? Even better. There’s a reason why generations of families make a stay at the Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa an annual tradition.
Nestled in the heart of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the resort offers plenty of family-friendly activities and special packages like the White Mountains Winter Promotion, which runs through February offering select accommodations at 30% off with a daily breakfast credit. There’s also plenty of winter activities (yes, there is snow) including sleigh rides, snowtubing, snowshoeing and what became my favorite solo excursion last month at the property — cross country skiing. For families who want to escape from the cold, the resort has a movie theater, an indoor pool, a spa, and planned activities like scavenger hunts, movie nights, and arts and crafts nights.
Venture to nearby Littleton where you can traipse the 300-foot long covered wooden bridge over the Ammonoosuc River. Stop by White Mountains Canning Co. to get some local jams, coffee, seasonings and my go-to gift for friends back home, infused olive oil. For a casual meal, we loved the Littleton Freehouse Taproom and Brewery, where kids are welcome and the playlist was right up the alley of anyone who graduated college before 2000 (ahem, me). But if you have kids in tow, you’ll likely not be able to escape Littleton without visiting the best known business on Main Street –Chutters, home to the “longest candy counter in the world.” Rows of glass jars filled with every flavor jelly bean, hard and soft candy, caramels, chews, and nostalgic sweet treats you can think of, comprising 112-feet of this shop, where most of the goods are purchased by the pound (at least you’ll get the credit card points) .
Off-season escape? Yes, please. What makes the Pelham House Resort kid-friendly? Well first, the staff there makes you feel welcome from the moment you arrive. Second, the renovated rooms and suites are spacious and all overlooking Nantucket Sound. Third? Curling. You didn’t see that coming, did you? The Pelham is home to an oceanfront, indoor curling experience Fridays through Sundays in its ski lodge-inspired Après Sea Lodge for its second winter season. I tried this favorite Canadian sport and turns out, you need zero experience to be awesome at it! The cozy Apres Sea Lodge offers two curling lanes and wintry ski lodge furnishings along with a game-ready menu for, you know, carb-loading. I’m training over here, okay?
A little more than 10 minutes away is the Whydah Pirate Museum in West Yarmouth. At this interactive science museum, kids can climb aboard a pirate ship replica, and touch 300-year-old silver and gold pirate coins, pirate pistols and sword hilts. Also nearby is Ryan’s Ten Pin Eatery in Hyannis where there’s an arcade, laser tag, bowling, and a golf simulator.
Here’s hoping you’ll have an outstanding school vacation week whether exploring near or far.