BostonFilter: Where is the coolest place to take a 5-year-old in Boston, Massachusetts?
March 12, 2010 5:30 AM   Subscribe

BostonFilter: Where is the coolest place to take a 5-year-old in Boston, Massachusetts?

I'm taking my family to Boston in a couple of weeks primarily to attend PAX East. We'll have a bit of free time outside the show, and I would love to have a fun and enriching activity for my 5-year-old girl. I have considered both the Boston Childrens' Museum and The Discovery Museums. I would love some feedback from anyone who has tried both or even something entirely different.
posted by raddevon to Travel & Transportation around Boston, MA (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
USS Constitution is docked in Charlestown. It's really amazing. If you take the tour, you get to go onto the ship.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:34 AM on March 12, 2010

The Boston Museum of Science has been a big hit with me since I was about 5/6 years old. The lightning show may be a bit loud for her, but the kinetic sculpture, the physics playground and some of the other exhibits were big hits when I was younger (and still now!).
posted by chiefthe at 5:34 AM on March 12, 2010 [5 favorites]

Rats. Ignore that link. Use this one instead.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:35 AM on March 12, 2010

2nding the Museum of Science.
posted by XMLicious at 5:45 AM on March 12, 2010

The New England Aquarium still turns me into a 5-year-old - definitely don't miss feeding/Q&A time at the top of the Giant Ocean Tank.
posted by naoko at 5:50 AM on March 12, 2010 [5 favorites]

Can't go wrong with the Children's Museum. Heaven for a 5 year old... If she likes plants and flowers the Glass Flowers Collection at Harvard is very impressive
posted by bluefrog at 5:54 AM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

The permanent Arthur Ganson exhibit at the MIT Museum.
posted by thejoshu at 5:56 AM on March 12, 2010

Seconding the aquarium. Perfect size for a kid, with some great exhibits, plus some more pay as you go options (IMax theatre, etc...) Childrens museum is great, too. Also, there's a lot of ocean side walking paths around Boston which might be fun if the weather is accommodating.

The Museum of Science is fun and all, but man, is it dated. I went back there for the first time in about twenty two years not too long ago, and was astonished to find most of the exact same exhibits I'd seen when I was a kid in the early to mid-80's. You know, push-the-yellow-button-to-see-a-neat-animated-video-of-Saturn's-rings-on-a-very old-off-white-Compaq-CRT-monitor-encased-in-clear-but-scratched-up-plastic type of thing... Apparently they're in the process of updating all this, but they're nowhere near close to being finished. Critically, though, I imagine much of the science is still correct, and a five year old might well still be captivated. Adults might prefer the Discovery Channel, however. They did replace the huge T. Rex statue to a more modern version though. The old one sits outside on the wall now. :)
posted by Rewind at 6:21 AM on March 12, 2010

The Make Way for Ducklings statue?
posted by electroboy at 6:28 AM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

You definitely need to see the Mapparium. It's the most AWESOME structure ever. It's a HUGE glass globe that you can walk into, and the acoustics of the space are just so surreal. You HAVE to go. It's amazing, and all ages will enjoy.
posted by hellomina at 6:30 AM on March 12, 2010

For a 10 year old, probably the Science Museum. For a 5 year old, definitely the Aquarium.
posted by Jahaza at 6:47 AM on March 12, 2010

Fourthing the aquarium.
posted by shallowcenter at 6:54 AM on March 12, 2010

Having gone to all these places more times than I can count, I think the Discovery Museum is more fun than the Children's museum, but it's also at least a 30 minute drive from the city. I don't think you can go wrong with either.

The aquarium is neat but it's less interactive.

If you don't mind driving an hour, and your five year old is into Legos, go up to Manchester, NH and see the Lego Millyard, which is just about the coolest damn thing in New England.
posted by bondcliff at 6:59 AM on March 12, 2010

Fifthing the New England Aquarium, if for no other reason than to link to this old commercial. You can tell Bostonians of a certain age by seeing if they smile when you yell "I can walk like a penguin!" Also, 5 is the perfect age for it, but there's enough to keep adults from being bored.

The Swan Boats might also be cool, but I don't know if they'd be up and running yet.
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:04 AM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing both Museum of Science and aquarium. Though, if you have an aquarium where you are from, I can only imagine the Boston one will be disappointing. There are lots of penguins, which can probably entertain you for hours, but otherwise there is one large main tank and not too much else.

However, keeping in mind that PAX is in Back Bay and the Museum of Science and the aquarium are kind of far away from there, it might also be fun to consider just doing a duck tour. They leave from a few blocks away from Hynes Convention Center (where PAX is) and they do a on-land tour of the city, and then move into the water. I bet a five year old would find at least the "in the water" part lots of fun.
posted by CharlieSue at 7:04 AM on March 12, 2010

If you don't mind a slight trip away from downtown, Puppet Showplace Theatre in Brookline is right across the street from the Brookline Village t-stop on the D-line and is fabulous, fabulous, fabulous!
posted by zizzle at 7:27 AM on March 12, 2010

The Discovery Center in the Museum of Science is the way to go. It is a hands on place for the younger set. If you have any interest in seeing the rest of the museum do the Discovery Center last - you won't be able to pull him out!
posted by a22lamia at 8:36 AM on March 12, 2010

I have a 5 year old and a 9 year old, we recently moved to Boston, and my kids have both really enjoyed the Museum of Science and the Children's Museum. In fact I'd go so far as to say the Children's Museum in Boston is the best of its kind that we've seen of several we've visited across the nation--if I had to choose between the two for a day out with a 5YO, that'd be it. Lots of wonderful hands-on stuff, stuff to climb, just great.

Much as I love the glass flowers at the Harvard Natural History Museum, my plant-loving kids were totally unimpressed ("They look like plastic, mom"). There are a lot of things to see there, most of them taxidermied animals, but it's not nearly as exciting to the average little kid as the Museum of Science of the Children's Museum would be.

Likewise, I think the aquarium is OK, but not as attention-grabbing for as long for a 5YO.
posted by Sublimity at 10:19 AM on March 12, 2010

I was going to say "Observation deck in John Hancock Tower", but is apparently closed as a result of 9/11 (?!), so maybe the Prudential tower observation deck?
posted by misterbrandt at 10:20 AM on March 12, 2010

This fountain is a lot of fun- rings
posted by cynicalidealist at 10:48 AM on March 12, 2010

Wherever you go, take the T (subway), especially if you don't often travel by train or subway. This is my six year old son's favorite thing in Boston. And stay in a hotel with a pool.
posted by Sukey Says at 11:01 AM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

A little early in the year, so weather would need to be good, but if you can make it up to Newburyport on a decent day, take her fishing, and bring your camera.
posted by paulsc at 12:38 PM on March 12, 2010

The Brookline Puppet Showplace Theater is never not awesome. Not too far from it (by car) is the Chestnut Hill Mall, which has some 5-year-old-friendly options, especially for a rainy day: Cheesecake Factory, indoor playspace, and bookstore.
posted by troywestfield at 1:46 PM on March 12, 2010

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