A few weeks ago, our beautiful twin babies turned 1, and so we decided to take them on a weekend trip to Boston to celebrate. We live about 4 hours away from Boston in New Jersey, so with much trepidation and a little bit of excitement, we decided to do a whirlwind weekend trip.
We are a bit different than the average family because we didn't throw our twins a birthday party or buy them presents for their birthday. Instead, this trip and actually making the effort to plan a trip to Boston was their present, and it's something we planned well in advance. We spent less than $100 for a weekend there, and it's all part of our parenting goal to promote a curiosity of different cultures, places, people, and things.
In fact, we decorated their entire nursery in a travel theme because we believe in it so much!
It so hard to travel with kids, though. Y'all know that. The last time we really took them somewhere was when they were 6 weeks old and we drove for 3 days during our move from Louisiana to New Jersey. So, although that move was harrowing for us, they pretty much slept the whole time because they were so tiny.
During this trip, however, we had wiggly 1-year-olds on our hands. Kids who scream - loudly. Kids who don't want to be in their carseats for 4 hours, so we weren't sure how they would do at all but we learned a few things along the way.
So before I get to all the fun things to do in Boston, first let me share some...
Tips for a Road Trip With Babies
1. Leave at nap time. We actually had our neighbor come over and help us the morning we left. She watched the babies while we packed the car, and it worked out well. We rolled out of there like the cool kids that we are at 10AM with our car completely packed to the brim with bottles, formula, snacks, puffs, diapers, wipes, you name it. For a two day trip, we had 5 pieces of luggage. It was madness.
2. Find a mall. When the kids woke up two hours later, they were - how shall we say it - really, really ready to not be in the car anymore. And they politely let us know it of course. ;) So, we lucked out and I found a mall that had a children's play area. We took them in there, and they crawled around, through the little tunnels, and played a bit to get their energy out. We also fed them, changed them, and fed ourselves during this stop. From now on we're always going to plan our road trip route where we can find a mall strategically along the way, because after they played they were ready to get right back in the car.
3. Have someone sit in the back seat. There came a point where the kids just were bored. No amount of yellow giraffe or bug toys or anything would keep them interested. I mean, they are 1. They already napped, and they couldn't really move and they didn't like it. So, I got in the back seat with them for a time, sang them songs, made them laugh, held their hands etc. and that really helped get them over the boredom hump so we could finish out the rest of our 4 hour trip without stopping again.
Affordable Activities in Boston
So, once we actually got to Boston, we really wanted to make the trip about the kids. There are some amazing restaurants and sights to see there, but this was more of a family trip. So, the first place we hit up was children's museum, and it's definitely among the top fun things to do in Boston when you have little ones.
1. The Boston Children's Museum
Admission to the museum is free for kids under 1, so naturally I strategically planned to visit there two days before my twins turned 1 so I wouldn't have to pay for them.
It's typically $15 for each child and each adult, but you can go to the public library and get a half-off date specific coupon. We stayed with our wonderful frugal blogger friends, the Frugalwoods, and they were kind enough to give us a half price coupon from their library.
So, all in all, our family of 4 got to enjoy the museum for $15 total. Without the coupon and had we gone a few days later when the kids were 1, it would have been $60 for our family. So, definitely plan because you can save a buck!
Although most of the museum was geared towards older kids, they had a whole section for kids 0-3 and an area just for crawlers so the beans were able to play together and try some new things. It feels so good to put so much effort into something (i.e. actually bringing the beans out of the house and to another location) and to see their little brains work as they play and learn something new. We just loved it.
2. The Boston Fire Museum
This is a nice, small museum that I think is perfect for kids. It has several fire trucks in it for kids to look at and best of all, it's free, although donations are appreciated. It was a bit tough to push the stroller in there because the corridors in between the fire trucks were a bit tight, but they have a lot of things to look at. We just took a quick stroll through, but our little beans by that point were sound asleep.
I love history and it was fun for me to see some of the memorabilia. It was within walking distance to the Children's Museum mentioned earlier so it's easy to hit both in one day. They are open mostly on Saturdays with some hours smattered throughout the week, so if you're looking for fun things to do in Boston with your little ones, definitely give it a try.
3. Walk/Drive the Freedom Trail
I should mention that it's actually hard to find things to do when it's snowing out, and it totally was while we were there. When I planned the trip for late March, I hoped we could take a little walk with the stroller through the Freedom Trail, but because of the snow, that was not really an option with the little ones.
So, instead I downloaded a free Freedom Trail app on my phone that talked about all the various historic markers as we drove past them. Fair warning, there are a lot of one way streets in Boston so it might take you a few tries to see it all, but there is some amazing history to soak up and enjoy. I was texting my best friend and fellow history nerd photos the whole time, and I can't wait to go back with her someday!
There are, of course, many more museums and fun things to do in Boston but that is what we chose to do on our very quick weekend trip. As I said, we stayed with our blog friends but right before we were about to leave we saw many last minute hotel deals that were amazing. All in all, we only spent about $100 on this trip total since we stayed with friends, packed snacks, and got coupons to the museum. Our biggest expense was gas and tolls on the drives there and back!
So, just because Boston is an expensive city, don't be deterred. All you need is a little bit of time, some planning, and a few ideas of what you want to see to make your trip a success.
Do you know of any other fun things to do in Boston either by yourself or with family?
This post was adapted from the original at Budget Blonde.