I Spy With My Little Eye, Something Beginning With “B”

Genie Davis October 1, 2010 2 Comments

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That would be Boston Massachusetts and a variety of its camera ready, stroller accessible, easy walking neighborhoods like Beacon Hill, the Back Bay, and Bunker Hill.  Boston is  a perfect city to take your kids on an urban adventure.

The Charles River Boston Massachusetts

A beautiful day looking at Boston from Cambridge across the Charles River

The Back Bay is the area of Boston that parallels the Charles River, always pleasantly busy with pleasure craft, rowers and joggers along its banks. The Back Bay area offers open air, free concerts at The Hatch Shell where The Boston Pops Orchestra performs or outdoor films are shown on a large screen in the summer and early fall. The friendly crowds bring chairs, blankets and picnics, and you’ll find this area a great part of the city. Your kids will not be the only ones dancing and enjoying street vendors snacks set up for the concerts or films. Directly adjoining this area as you head toward the compact and picturesque downtown is Beacon Hill, another “B” – here you’ll find cobblestone streets, historic houses, the gold domed court house, eye candy history, and sidewalks to skip down.

B is also for “bargain.” We found hotels often offer substantial bargain rates on weekends; corporate chains mainly cater to week day business travelers and are willing to try harder to fill weekend rooms. Some venues,  like the Sheraton at Copley Plaza, offer special packages for families. Another family favorite is downtown’s Parker House, the oldest American hotel, elegant, with yellow roses on the table in the restaurants and gloved door staff. But not stuffy – small children are more than welcome, and when ours were tiny the restaurant maitre d’ related the very Boston children’s story “Make Way for Ducklings.” More on this childhood classic coming.

No matter where you stay, Boston is an easy city to get around, very walkable, with easy to manage public transportation in the form of the T, Boston’s trolley and subway system.

The only problem you’ll have negotiating this city is what to do first – you have a great many options to chose from. Down by the waterfront, you’ll find harbor cruises and the New England Aquarium.

Your kids will find hours of fascinating exhibits in this gently circular building. You can examine colorful coral reefs, learn all about penguins, whales, sharks and rays, experience touch tanks and tactile, interactive exhibits with state of the art design. Lion fish, stone fish, clown fish, harbor seals and the beloved Myrtle, the green sea turtle.

Nearby when you’re ready for lunch, you can stroll over to The North End, one of Boston’s oldest colonial neighborhoods, and one of the most compact and delightful Little Italy’s in the US. Narrow streets lead you past gelato, pizza, pasta, bakeries, and delis. Just about every restaurant is kid friendly and many are inexpensive, too. The pasta is perfect at Florence’s, and for pizza it’s hard to beat  Francesca’s. Mama Maria’s has excellent fish and lasagna. Cafe Europe is a long time family favorite for desert, and you can sing along with Frank Sinatra on the juke box.

Another dining option is Fanueil Hall Marketplace, just across the street from the harbor. The market is made up of three beautifully restored 19th century buildings. There are seafood, desert and ethnic food, plenty of unique gift shops and literally dozens of street performers. This  historic, enclosed series of buildings contains a wide range of fascinating shops, restaurants and food stands. In business for over 250 years, the marketplace has entertained and purveyed goods and wares for generations – like so much of Boston, you get history and a good time rolled into one experience. There are a number of stores with children’s toys and plenty of vendors with kid- friendly items. The scene is busy but not intimidating. You’ll often find the free entertainment ranges from clowns to musicians; and a bread bowl of clam chowder is an easy on-the-go food to munch while you watch the performances.

In the mood for history? Also near the Aquarium is Union Oyster House, the oldest continuously open restaurant in America, founded in 1826. That’s a lot of oysters! Since then, the restaurant has hosted presidents and princes; a table plaque notes where John F. Kennedy enjoyed a meal; Prince Charles dined here, too. There’s a kid’s menu with a decidedly seafood bent, and old fashioned, gruff but friendly wait staff. An interesting fact: this was the first restaurant to offer toothpicks.

Keeping with the historical theme, walk off your lunch by heading to the pleasantly spooky King’s Chapel Burying Ground. The departed date back to the Mayflower and the headstones are intricate and interesting. Adjoining is Kings Chapel, a granite church featuring the largest bell made by Paul Revere. The Old North Church, built it 1723 is nearby.

The Public Garden, opened in 1837 is a beautiful showcase for flowers and trees. Every spring new floral gardens are planted. And its time for another “B” word – boats. Since 1877, the Swan Boats have been floating in a picturesque lagoon in these gardens. These beautifully constructed swan shaped boats are a classic Boston past time and your kids will delight in the ride, which once cost a nickle, but even now is reasonable at $1 per child.

Public Gardens Boston Massachusetts

Duckling statue in the Boston Public Garden

From boats to birds – well, all right, ducklings – a walk up pleasant, gallery lined Newbury Street will take you to Copley Square and my favorite public library, the gorgeous gothic structure opened in 1895 and contains over one hundred and fifty copies of the children’s classic, Make Way for Ducklings set right there in Boston. If you don’t know the story, your children should – the book relates a tale  of two mallard ducks who decide to raise their family in the Swan Boat lagoon in Boston Public Garden.

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

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2 Comments to “I Spy With My Little Eye, Something Beginning With “B””
  1. avatar Time Travel in Boston: Historic Hotspot for Family Trips says:

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  2. avatar Family Activities in Boston Massachusetts, Parks, Museums, Restaurants says:

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