Top Things to Do with Kids in New England

Fall Foliage
Taking the kids on a fall-foliage road-trip through New England this year? We’ve rounded up nine family-friendly attractions that are worth a detour along the way. You can visit New England’s only beluga whale, drop by a working farm to see how cheese is made, learn about astronomy at a university planetarium, set foot on the historic landing spot of American pilgrims, and a lot more. Better yet, most of these memorable family experiences will cost less than a tank of gas.

Children’s Museum, Boston
Make bubbles, climb through a maze, and while away some hours in “Adventure Zone” at this fun museum just for tykes in downtown Boston. A special play area for those under three lets them run around in a safe environment. Festivals happen throughout the year. Learn more

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
This seaside diversion draws families to its almost Coney Island—like fun. Along the boardwalk, kids enjoy arcade games, parasailing, live music, and an annual children’s festival. They can even learn how saltwater taffy is made. Learn more

Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens, Massachusetts
Almost 4,000 free-flying native and tropical butterflies are the star attraction here, contained within an 8,000-square-foot glassed enclosure that keeps the temperature upward of 80 degrees year-round. Relax around the Japanese koi pond on one of numerous benches and watch the kids chase the colorful creatures as they flit about. Or walk outside to the Iron Butterfly Outdoor Gardens, where flowers attract even more butterflies. Learn more

Mystic Aquarium, Connecticut
This aquarium and research institute is one of only four North American facilities to feature stellar sea lions, and New England’s only beluga whale calls the aquarium home. Kids can touch a cownose ray, and you’ll also see African penguins, harbor seals, graceful sea horses, Pacific octopuses, and sand tiger sharks. Nearby Mystic Seaport is another great attraction for kids and families. Learn more

Montshire Museum of Science, Vermont
This interactive museum uses more than 60 hands-on exhibits to explore nature and technology. The building sits amid 110 acres of woodlands and nature trails. Live animals are on-site as well. Learn more

Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Massachusetts
With its numerous programs and its beautiful salt-marsh surroundings, this is a favorite migration stop for Cape Cod vacationers year-round. Five miles of nature trails weave throughout the sanctuary’s 1,100 acres of marsh, beach, and woods. If you’re careful and quiet, you might be able to get close to seals basking in the sun or birds such as the great blue heron. Naturalists are on hand for guided walks and lectures. Learn more

Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts
Want to know what life was like in Colonial America? A visit to this living-history museum is like stepping into a time machine and zooming back to the year 1627. Curators are dressed in period costume and act like early-17th-century Pilgrims. Learn more

Shelburne Farms, Vermont
This working dairy farm is also an educational and cultural resource center. Visitors can watch artisans make the farm’s famous cheddar cheese from the milk of more than 100 purebred and registered Brown Swiss cows, and a children’s farmyard and walking trails round out the experience. Learn more

Southworth Planetarium, Maine
This University of Southern Maine facility in Portland offers classes such as night sky mythology and introductory astronomy. The 30-foot dome houses a star theater complete with lasers, digital sounds, and a star projector that displays more than 5,000 heavenly bodies. Learn more

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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