Out of all the many celebrations I invite you to follow me on, my kids’ birthdays are my favorite occasions to CELEBRATE. The most important aspect of our celebrations is spending time with a birthday kid on their day, while enjoying a special activity (or two, or three!) as a family. (I am not talking about a party for 30 or so of your child’s friends – this would be a subject for another post some day).
Living in the Boston area, with its own ocean harbor, national historical sights, world class art and science museums – there is simply no limit to special places you can take your kids to on their birthday, even if you only have a couple of hours in the afternoon that are free from work and/or school.
So here are some ideas for what to do and where to take your kids in BOSTON on their BIRTHDAYS.
1. Make a Hair Appointment (for her doll)
This year, for the first time ever, I was not able to take a day off for my daughter’s birthday (besides, she LOVES her Kindergarten too much to miss even a day!). Still- we had a very special afternoon celebration at an American Girl store in Natick.
First, the birthday family (grandparents included) had a celebratory dinner (surprisingly delicious!) at the in-store bistro followed by the doll hair salon experience, where Vi’s American Doll Rebecca (a birthday present from a couple of years back) got a new hairdo – and her ears pierced (still talking about the doll!).
While you don’t have to bring an American Girl doll to enjoy your celebration at the bistro, the little details (a doll chair and a doll sized tea cup with a saucer) add to the experience- and so do all the other “pink” elements of the décor . My mom confessed that her “inner child” rejoiced. Birthday meals ($20 per adult, $30 for a birthday girl, you may reserve online) include an appetizer and main course, and a signature cake; regular dinners are $16.50 and weekday tea and crafts are $13.50. Doll hair and “spa” treatments are $5-25.
2. Pick Some Fresh Strawberries at your local Farm:
If you have a summer birthday, (like we do), there is usually something ripe to pick at your local farm (check your farm’s website for a day’s picking update), in addition to petting zoos, hay rides, and apple donuts (exact choices depend on your farm, of course).
It’s a strawberry picking season at Ward Berry Farm in Sharon; Tougas Family Farm in Northborough offers plenty of pick your own options throughout the summer and fall (strawberries and cherries time now!); and for the Metro West residents there is a Lookout Farm in Natick.
3. Take a Swan Boat Ride in the Boston’s Public Garden
Swan Boats in the Boston’s Public Garden have been freshly repainted for the season (10am to 4pm through the end of June and until 5pm in July and August; Adults $3, Children $1.50). Don’t forget to pet the famous ducklings of the “Make Way for Ducklings” statutes when you are in Park.
4. Go Camping
This involves spending the night, but we have had some great family memories on a family only birthday camping trips in honor of the birthday child.
5. Cross the bridge to Cape Cod
If you go mid-week, you can avoid the bridge traffic even in the summer. There are beaches, theme mini-golf courses, ocean side biking and a general sense of an escape you sometimes need from the city.
Here is Den mini-golfing somewhere in Yarmouth on rt. 28 on his 6th birthday:
6. Take a Ride on Greenway Carousel
Vi enjoyed her recent ride on a Greenway Carousel (part of the 1.5-mile contemporary public park in the middle of Boston) as much as she did on her first birthday:
On a Greenway walk, Vi also loved playing the water “games” with the water fountain and a “steam” sculpture (there are a total of 7 water features in Greenway Park):
7. Visit a Zoo
8. Meet Thomas the Train at Edaville USA and Thomas Land (open until 8pm in August; check their website for daily summer schedule )
THERE IS PLENTY OF INDOOR FUN AROUND BOSTON TOO:
9. Slide down the water slides in CoCo Key indoor water playground.
CoCo Key Boston in Danvers, MA (inside the DoubleTree Hotel Boston North Shore) is one of the largest indoor water parks around Boston. Beware: advance online registration is required for day passes. (open late some days, check the schedule ahead of time)
10. Play at the Boston’s Children’s Museum
We took Vi to celebrate her first birthday: there is a lot of hands-on exploration for little kids and even their older siblings:
Children’s Museum is open until 9pm on Fridays (10-5 daily)
11. Go Bowling.
This picture was taken at the Ryan Bowling in Yarmouth, on the Cape. A little family competition never hurts the birthday fun. Here, Den and his grandma are getting into a serious “competitive” spirit during Den’s 12th birthday celebration:
For a “fancier” bowling experience with on-site restaurant, check out King’s Bowling in Dedham’s Legacy Place.
12. Build some Legos at the Lego Playground
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston (in Somerville); is open until 9pm on Fri and Sat and until 7 pm other days; you need 2-3 hours to enjoy this Lego play space. Advance tickets are suggested to guarantee admission and can be purchased online (there is also a reduced ticket offer of $15-$18.50 per person for tickets bought online).
IF YOU WANT A MORE EDUCATIONAL FUN:
13. Explore Dinosaur Collection at Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge (daily 9-5)
Den and his cousin visited to celebrate Den’s 10th birthday and thoroughly enjoyed the fun and learning experience:
THE ART LOVING Birthday Kids, will love to
14. Admire the collections of Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) Boston (Wedn-Friday until 9:45pm; closes at 4:45 on other days), Museum of Contemporary Art (until 9pm Thursday and Friday) and Harvard Art Museums.
For a more hands-on painting experience, your kid may want to
15. Paint some Pottery
Vi requested a visit to the Make a Meaning as one of her 5th birthday celebration activities:
This Make a Meaning store (in Dedham) has since closed but there are other paint your pottery style shops, including “Plaster Fun Times” (several locations throughout the state) – they always leave space for walk-in painters; open until 6pm most days).
LITTLE HISTORIANS will love to
16. Explore Boston’s National Historical Park in Charleston, with its US Constitution Museum and USS Constitution Ship (check the website for the Free Tours times of this world’s oldest commissioned war ship) OR
AND YOUR KITCHEN HELPERS could improve their skills by
18. Taking a Cooking Class
There are a couple of local kids cooking classes options, including the cooking centers at Whole Foods in Dedham and Sur La Table in Braintree. Check their websites for monthly schedule of classes for young kids and up to teens.
MONEY SAVING TIPS:
Check Museums’ websites: most offer free or reduced admission days
Check with your local library for free tickets (subject to availability)
If you are interested in more child birthday tips – read this post.
PIN THIS FOR LATER
We thank “American Girl” for providing us media passes for our birthday meal at their bistro. I received no compensation for recommending any of the museums or businesses included in this article and I am doing so because I believe that they are wonderful choices for spending time with your child – on their birthday.