Time Travel in Boston: Historic Hotspot for Family Trips

ghogan August 11, 2010 1 Comment


Travelling together is a great way to spend quality time with my wife and kids.  Time is a limited luxury that we often take for granted due to work, bills, television, and other distractions of everyday living. In my experience “family quality time” requires a relaxed atmosphere which helps to shift everyone’s focus on the family unit. In honor of family time (and of course travel), this post takes you to an ideal historic hot-spot that we can visit where time is frozen. It also includes the Hogan family’s top tips on how family time management during trips can leave everyone with a feeling of accomplishment after seeing a “new old” destination.  This is how our four year old Holly refers to historic places we haven’t yet seen.

Set Family Goals

We had a family “pow wow” a couple of months before our scheduled vacation, already toying with the idea of a historical travel destination. I printed out a few choices to review with everyone. Setting family goals through a family meeting (we like to call it “pow wow”) is a great way to get everyone’s opinion about the next family vacation as well as get us excited to the idea.  In our case, we discussed visiting Boston as a strong possibility.  At first, we expected Holly to roll her eyes as when we switch from Cartoon Network to the History Channel.  However, tales about the Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride had the opposite reaction. Holly was insisting we depart the next day!

Make Adjustments on the Go

You can’t be everywhere.  From towering skyscrapers to narrow historic streets, every nook and cranny of the city of Boston seems to hold something special and significant. While we realized we could not see everything in the one week we would be staying there, planning out each step lacked the thrill of discovery our kids seemed to live for away from home.  To compromise between being practical and being spontaneous, we decided to mark a map with the basic route we wanted to cover—an area near our hotel since we had the kids, including a seven month old.  We would stick to the area but follow other points of interest we chanced upon as long as it did not steer us too far from our home away from home. Travelling locally gave us more time in the afternoon and evening to spend quality time just hanging out.

It was not hard to find points of interest in Boston.  History is literally everywhere, not just in the dreaded confines of museums which would have driven the kids crazy not to be outdoors all day.

Boston Harbor Massachusetts

Boston Harbor

On the actual trip, we found a kid-focused tour called “Boston By Little Feet” (held summers).  This child-level stroll through Boston includes a souvenir Explorer’s Map (now hung up proudly on Holly’s bedroom wall).  It gives a taste of Boston’s importance in the American Revolution and even how the city was built.

Historical sites we passed included Faneuil Hall, the Old State House, and the Old South Meeting House.  Yes, it covered the Boston Massacre but from a kid-friendly perspective which won’t leave them with nightmares.

Our ever precocious Holly found her favourites to be the first public school in the United States and the oldest cemetery.  My favourite was the spot where our founding father Benjamin Franklin supposedly flew the famous kite during his lightning storm experiment.  The “Boston By Little Feet” tour takes 1 hour (perfect for our family of four) and costs $8 per person.

Follow a routine and schedule even on the road.

During our Boston adventure, we stayed at the Boston Harbor Hotel in historic Rowes Wharf. History again, was right outside our room since Boston Harbor is, of course, the location of the Boston Tea Party, a story which Holly wanted to hear Dora her mom, repeat over and over again during our stay.

Make no mistake about it—the Boston Harbor Hotel is a luxury hotel (5 star in fact) but it is 100% kid friendly!  Our plane ride was exhausting, and we were tired by the time we arrived at the lobby front desk to check in, but the kids were re-energized by the milk and cookies and complementary stuffed animals waiting for us in the room.  We applaud the hotel for their efforts to make us all feel at home.  Other convenient amenities included a roll-away bed for Holly, a crib for Lenore (with a diaper kit, powder, and her own infant-sized toiletries), kid’s robes, and games, puzzles, and activity books for family fun time in the room.

Such wonderful attention to detail really made us all feel welcome.  While on our trip we followed a routine of waking up and getting ready for the day at 7am, breakfast at 8am, lunch outside at 12:30pm, afternoon snack at 3pm (the girls enjoyed a tea party at the hotel before we left), and dinner at 7pm. The structured day made everyone feel a little more at home and gave us “breaks” during the day to catch our breath and catch up with each other during meals.

Have a family “pow wow” before your day begins and at the end of the day.

During breakfast, the topic of conversation was the day’s agenda.  For instance, when we were planning the trip, it allowed the excitement and anticipation of being in Boston build-up.  Holly seemed like a  “mini” reporter interviewing us about each spot we planned to visit.  Meanwhile, a “pow wow” at the close of the day during dinner not only allowed her to ask more questions about what she saw and experience that day, but it reinforced the family quality time and togetherness we wanted by recalling our special memories like riding World War II era amphibious jeeps on the Boston Ducks Tour that took us to Bunker Hill, site of the famous battle in 1775, and Boston Common, the oldest park in the United States.

Focus Your Time on Priorities

Keep choices simple.  To maximize our time in Boston, we made life easier by choosing to eat breakfast and dinner at the hotel, in our room (Boston Harbor Hotel has 24-hour In-Room Service), or near the hotel.  Lunch was the only meal we spent outside our hotel’s local radius since we usually went sight-seeing from the mid-morning to late-afternoon.  With two kids, one little girl whose legs easily got tired and an infant who seemed to need changing at the most inopportune moments, we kept our choices simple without feeling left out of the exciting things the city offered.  We were very content ordering room service most evenings.  Dining together and assembling puzzles of the Boston Tea Party while overlooking the Boston Harbor defined contentment.

Little to No TV Time

Set limits on television watching, video games, and phone calls.  This is one rule we always enforce during our family vacations.  After all, we spend enough time being distracted back home.  We are determined  not to let our vacation suffer from the same bad habits.  As tempting as it was to turn on the TV while we got ready in the morning, our day just ran smoother without it. In the evenings, we had plenty to talk about before bed time just reflecting on the day’s events.

Boston Massachusetts Public Garden Swan Boat

Boston Public Garden Swan Boat

Plan mini-activities during free time to replace watching television and playing video games.

As I mentioned before, the temptation to switch on the TV is great.  Therefore, we filled in the blanks (actual spare time on our trip if you can believe that) by playing board games in the room, talking some more, or taking a brisk walk at the Boston Public Garden where our efforts to spend quality time together minus electricity (sorry, Benjamin Franklin) were rewarded by a ride on graceful swan boats that looked like they came from our favourite fairy tales.

Set a bedtime for the kids and yourself during your trip.  Having a regular bed time during vacation also ensured we were well-rested for the next day’s adventures.  This was, of course, much needed considering all the walking we did in Boston.  Speaking of walking, the famous Freedom Trail is something we plan to do down the road when Lenore is older.

There you have it—how to manage your family’s time even in a place like historic Boston where there doesn’t seem to be enough time to enjoy everything, especially with history in every corner!

avatarAbout the Author:

Garrett Hogan lives in Burbank California and is a proud husband and father of two young daughters. He and his family love to travel and explore new places.

Tags: Reviews, Travel Excursions
One Comments to “Time Travel in Boston: Historic Hotspot for Family Trips”
  1. avatar Grandfather Mountain North Carolina - Appalachian Mountain Sights says:

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