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Family Vacations In Massachusetts: A Huffington Post Travel Guide

08/16/2011 01:48 pm ET | Updated Oct 16, 2011

Family vacations in Massachusetts can be rewarding experiences or absolute disasters — it all depends on pre-trip homework. To make planning easier, we've done all the preparation. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on traveling with children, here are recommended attractions for those planning Massachusetts family vacations.

Nantucket Children's Beach


Located on the beautiful and quaint island of Nantucket, the Nantucket Children's Beach offers not just sea and sand but also a playground, parks and picnic areas. The Nantucket Parks & Recreation Commission sponsors T-shirt tie-dyeing every Friday at noon from mid-July through August. There are also free concerts at 6 p.m. on Thursdays and Sundays. Lifeguards are on staff, and restrooms, showers and food service are available. The Children's Beach is an easy walk from the downtown area of Nantucket. Nantucket is a one-hour trip on the high-speed ferry from South Street Dock in Hyannis, Mass. — a city a little more than an hour from Boston.

Address: Harbor View Way, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: 508-228-7213
Hours: Open every day from dawn until dusk
Price: The Children's Beach is a public beach and there is no fee for access.

Whaling Museum


While on Nantucket Island, visit the Nantucket Historical Association's Whaling Museum. Originally a candle factory, this historic building houses a 46-foot skeleton of a sperm whale as well as other fascinating items. The museum also has a rooftop observation deck for spectacular views of the island.

Address: 13 Broad St., Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: 508-228-1894
Hours: Open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday from the end of April to May; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from May through mid-October; from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through the rest of October; from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday from November through mid-December
Price: $17 for adults, $15 for seniors 65 and older, $8 for youth ages 6 to 17

Boston Children's Museum


The Boston Children's Museum is the perfect place to mix education with fun. The museum offers art and science exhibitions as well as a Play Space, where kids are encouraged to get messy, and a KidStage, where kids can learn about topics like food and math in musical format.

Address: 308 Congress St., Boston, MA 02210
Phone: 617-426-6500
Hours: Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday through Thursday; open until 9 p.m. Friday
Price: Ticket prices for exhibit halls are $21 for ages 12 and older; $19 for seniors 60 and older; $18 for children ages 3 to 11. Additional charges for Omni, planetarium, Butterfly Garden and 3-D cinema

Faneuil Hall Marketplace


Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a shopping, dining and entertainment experience like no other. Within the indoor and outdoor areas of the marketplace, visitors will find familiar favorites as well as Boston specialties in the form of classic push carts. While enjoying a meal at one of the outdoor cafes, families might catch a juggler's performance or enjoy the songs of a traveling musician.

Address: State and Broad Streets, Boston, MA 02109
Phone: 617-523-1300
Hours: Open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday
Price: No admission fee

Museum of Science, Boston


The mission of the Museum of Science, Boston, is to encourage young people to explore and develop their interests in the natural and human-made world. In addition to exhibits such as Beyond the X-Ray and Catching the Wind, the museum houses an IMAX theatre with a five-story-tall screen, a planetarium with full-dome audio and video systems, and a 3-D digital cinema.

Address: 1 Science Park, Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 617-723-2500
Hours: Open regularly from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday through Thursday and until 9 p.m. Friday; open during the summer (July through August) from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday through Thursday and until 9 p.m. Friday
Price: $17 for adults, $15 for seniors 65 and older, $8 for youth ages 6 to 17

Franklin Park Zoo


At the New England Franklin Park Zoo, families get to see hundreds of exotic animal species. The zoo also includes a tropical forest and Franklin Farm, where children can interact with farm animals.

Address: 1 Franklin Park Road, Boston, MA 02121
Phone: 617-541-5466
Hours: Open during the summer from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and until 6 p.m. weekends and major holidays; open during the winter from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
Price: $16 for adults; $13 for seniors 62 and older; $10 for children ages 2 to 12; free for children under age 2. Additional charge for train, carousel and safari jeep.

Six Flags New England


Six Flags New England offers thrill as well as family rides, such as Adventure River and Swiss Family Toboggan. Families will also find great shows like Looney Tunes Dance Off and plenty of great dining and shopping options.

Address: Route 159, 1623 Main St., Agawam, MA 01001
Phone: 413-786-9300
Hours: Open during the summer from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekends; closed during the winter. Fall and spring hours vary.
Price: Kids price is available for all family members if purchased online for $34.99. Regular general admission, $44.99; children ages 2 and under, free. Season passes are also available.

Have you been to Massachusetts? What are your favorite attractions?

CHECK OUT MORE FAMILY TRAVEL GUIDES.

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