The Kids' Guide to Boston

PHOTO: First Night activities take place throughout the city of Boston, Dec. 31, 2013. Jessica Rinaldi/Boston Globe/Getty Images
First Night activities take place throughout the city of Boston, Dec. 31, 2013.

Ready to party?

Grab the kids and head to Boston for New Year’s Eve. Boston has the oldest and biggest family First Night kid-free celebration in the country, lasting 11 hours and complete with fireworks, parade, music, huge ice sculptures and even an all-day Puppet Festival. Let’s not forget, it’s alcohol-free!

Boston, of course, is a great city for families any time of year. Great sports teams… great museums… great food and that one place where learning American history might even be fun—at least that’s what kids I spoke to for my Kid’s Guide to Boston say.

“History isn’t boring just because people are dead,” said Ava, 11, who was visiting from Rochester, N.Y. “It’s about people’s lives.”

Savvy traveling parents know the more input kids have in vacation planning, the more fun everyone will have. Here’s the Kids’ Take on Boston:

MUST SEE:

The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum: "They have pictures that talk and it’s cool that all the people are dressed up in costumes. It isn’t like a regular museum.” -- Caitlyn, 11, Braintree, MA.

The New England Aquarium: “The shape of the tank in the aquarium makes it different. You can see the fish from different angles!” Chiara, 12, Cambridge, England.

The century-old Boston Children’s Museum, where James Moses, 10, from Little Rock, AR said kids shouldn’t miss the three-story climbing structure. “That was my favorite!”

The Museum of Fine Arts: “I liked seeing the mummies,” said Mary,11, from East Bridgewater, MA

A Boston Sports Team: “They are lots of fun and there are tons of people cheering on their favorite pro players,” Sami, 13, Walpole, MA

MUST EXPLORE:

The Freedom Trail: “The Freedom Trail is long. Just do part of it…I liked Paul Revere’s House because he really lived there,” Hannah, 11, Natick, MA.

Cambridge and Harvard Square: "The campuses are beautiful …the whole town is exciting. There is always something to do! Dana, 14, Holmdel, NJ.

Newbury Street: "It’s fun to walk around and look at all the shops,” Louise,13, Milton, MA

Faneuil Hall Marketplace: "The street performers were amazing at Faneuil Hall. I love it—the history, the atmosphere and the shopping.” -- Kathryn, 14, Hooksett, NH.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION:

“Riding the T was better than driving. It was fast!” -- Erica, 13, New Foundland, Canada.

MUST EAT:

“Clam chowder in a bread bowl…it was really good,” Laci 14, Lexington, NC.

“All of the samples of food at Faneuil Hall,” Noah, 14, Princeton, NJ.

“Regina’s pizza is famous in Boston and it is really, really, good.” Maeve, 13, Hingham, MA.

“Seafood, considering we’re right by the ocean.” Nicole,14, Waltham, MA.

“Kids should not leave Boston without trying Italian food from the North End.” -- Oona Mackinnon-Hoban, 14, Portland, ME.

“Maine is where lobsters come from but Massachusetts is the place where they eat them!” -- Gabe, 11, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

MUST BUY:

A stuffed penguin or seal from the New England Aquarium. “They are soo cute!” Emma, 10, Newton, MA.

“A Harvard sweatshirt,” Rebecca, 10, Lockport, IL.

A shirt that says Boston “because it starts the conversation about where you’ve been.” Ava, 11, Rochester, NY.

Anything from a Boston sports team. "People in Boston really love their teams!” Caroline, 9, Boston.

Just make sure "to wear comfortable shoes,” said Laci, 14, from Lexington, NC “You’re going to do a lot of walking in Boston!”

Eileen Ogintz writes the syndicated column and website Taking the Kids and is the author of the nine Kids Guide books. This is the second in a series looking at major American cities from kids’ perspectives.

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