• Experimenting in the Museum of Science (Boston, MA): Built around demonstrations and interactive displays that never feel like homework, this museum is wildly popular with kids—and adults. Explore the exhibits, then take in a planetarium show or an IMAX movie on a five-stories-tall screen. Before you know it, everyone will have learned something, painlessly. 
  • Grabbing the Brass Ring at the Flying Horses Carousel (Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, MA): Some say this is the oldest carousel in the country, but your kids might not notice the genuine horsehair, sculptural details, or glass eyes. They’ll be too busy trying to grab the brass ring to win a free ride. After dismounting, stroll around Oak Bluffs. Children will be enchanted with the “gingerbread” houses, a carryover from the 19th-century revivalist movement.
  • Ice skating on Outdoor Rinks: New Englanders don’t take to the outdoors in winter with quite the enthusiasm as, say, the Québéçois, but they give it a good shot with outdoor skating. Family-friendly rinks pop up on Boston Common and in downtown Providence and Newport, RI.
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  • Making Memories at Story Land (Glen, NH): More manageable and far more affordable than Disney World, but with the same wide-eyed appeal for the preschool set, this enduring White Mountains attraction has been many a kid’s first amusement park since it opened in 1954.
  • Riding the Mount Washington Cog Railway (Bretton Woods, NH): It’s exhilarating! It’s startling! It’s a glimpse of history. Kids love this ratchety climb to the top of New England’s highest peak aboard trains that were specially designed to scale the mountain in 1869. As a technological marvel, the railroad attracted tourists by the thousands 150 years ago. They still come to marvel at the sheer audacity of it all.
  • Setting Up along Providence’s Rivers for WaterFire (Providence, RI): On at least 10 nights from spring through fall, thousands of people descend on the riverfront to experience a free nighttime art and music installation featuring more than 80 bonfires right in the water.
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  • Taking in a Baseball Game (Pawtucket, RI): Until at least 2020, McCoy Stadium is home to the Pawtucket Red Sox, a minor league baseball team for the Boston Red Sox (the team will be moving to Worcester, MA, as soon as their new ballfield is built). Games here are not only affordable and fun, they’re rife with traditions like fishing for autographs.
  • Taste-testing at the Ben & Jerry Ice Cream Factory (Waterbury, VT): Kids and ice cream are a natural combination, and the half-hour tours won’t tax anybody’s patience. Explore the comical Flavor Graveyard, enjoy the playground and hands-on activities, and make sure to save room for a free sample.
  • Visiting Mystic Aquarium (Mystic, CT): Even tiny tots are mesmerized by Mystic Aquarium’s flitting fish, undulating jellies, touchable rays, and performing sea lions. For grown-ups, special encounter programs like Paint with a Whale are, in a word, unforgettable.
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  • Walking the Freedom Trail (Boston, MA): History class is never this much connect-the-dots fun. Just follow the red stripe in the pavement past 16 sights connected with Boston’s Revolutionary War history. (For another chapter of history that’s often not taught in school, walk the even-more-insightful the Black Heritage Trail.) Pick up a pamphlet for a self-guided adventure; stop for ice cream whenever their legs get tired.
  • Whale-Watching Cruises (Coastal MA): Boats cruises out to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, a rich feeding ground for several types of whales. Nothing can prepare you for the thrill of spotting these magnificent creatures feeding, breaching, and even flipper-slapping. Expeditions set sail from Boston, Gloucester on Cape Ann, and Provincetown and Barnstable on Cape Cod.

 

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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.