BOSTON -- Any child who has read Robert McCloskey's children's
classic "Make Way for Ducklings" knows that Boston caters to
families -- human and otherwise.
During a recent four-day visit to Beantown, we discovered a city
teeming with family programs, hotel packages and kid-friendly
events, all vying with one another for the attention of small fries
and their parents.
For our visit, we sampled family packages at two properties,
located on two different waterfronts: the Seaport Hotel, situated
on Boston Harbor, and the Royal Sonesta on the Charles River in
The year-old Seaport offers good-size connecting rooms and
proximity to a number of museums and restaurants, and kids receive
cookies and milk upon arrival and free admission to the Children's
The family package, available from $159 per room plus tax and
service, also includes a welcome goody bag for children; children's
movies and Nintendo are available for an extra charge.
In summer, guests receive a one-hour cruise on Sunday mornings
at 10 a.m. on the Integrity or the Lady Christing from the World
The property features an indoor lap pool, fitness center with
complimentary juice bar and free shuttle service to a number of
Boston locations, including South Station and Quincy Market.
Rooms offer harbor and city views.
Prospective guests should be aware that portions of the Big Dig,
an ambitious, multiphase highway construction project, are going on
adjacent to the property and elsewhere throughout the city.
When completed, the Seaport district, which also boasts the
World Trade Center Boston, will be a showpiece, but it is less than
picturesque at the moment.
During our one-night stay, we walked with our children, ages 6,
7 and 9, to the Children's Museum, located just 10 minutes
A word of advice: Don't try it unless you like walking along
highways and around construction. Spring for a $4 cab ride
A much more pleasant walk later in the day along the harbor took
us to Jimbo's Fish Shanty, the casual version of one of Boston's
best-known seafood eateries, Jimmy's Harborside, located across the
Typical fare includes lobster roll sandwiches, baked scrod and
the usual kid's menu items.
The next day, we took in the Boston Tea Party Ship & Museum
nearby, at which visitors participate in a pre-Revolutionary War
town meeting, disguise themselves as Native Americans and board a
re-created vessel to dump tea overboard amid cries of "No Taxation
Later that afternoon we moved to the Royal Sonesta where we
settled into two adjacent rooms -- the property does have connecting rooms, but none
were available -- overlooking the Charles River, Cambridge and the
The river entrance to the hotel leads to a peaceful esplanade
sprinkled with joggers, cyclists and children in strollers.
The front entrance is across the street from the Galleria, where
we weathered a brief downpour by eating lunch at the food court and
visiting the Disney store.
Guests at the property in the summer receive free boat rides
along the Charles River as well as free ice cream in the afternoons
from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and free use of bicycles and helmets.
The hotel features a spacious swimming pool in a retractable
glass atrium and a fitness center.
We opted for the 45-minute boat ride, which proved to be a hit
with our children.
The river offers views of Boston and Cambridge that visitors
can't get from any other vantage point, and the accompanying patter
on the part of the guide was low-key.
After a dip in the pool, ice cream and a bike ride along the
Esplanade, we headed to the `T,' Boston's public transportation
system located some 10 minutes of safe walking from the hotel, for
a ride into Quincy Market.
The bustling area comprises historic Faneuil Hall, shops,
restaurants and all manner of family-friendly performance art.
Afterwards, we walked another five minutes or so to dinner at
Cafe Fleuri in Boston's Meridien Hotel.
It may come as a surprise that the Meridien, with its tony
ambience and upscale Julien restaurant, welcomes families, but, in
fact, the management has made a conspicuous effort to do so.
The Cafe, the more casual version of the restaurant, is by no
means casual in the ordinary family sense: Ralph Lauren furnishings
and linens suggest that young diners should have some rudimentary
But the staff attitude is friendly and kid-savvy, and the
children's menu comfortingly familiar.
Our children also enjoyed watching the chef prepare the food in
an open kitchen area.
The next day we walked to the Boston Museum of Science, a
10-minute stroll from the hotel, and took in an eye-popping Mugar
Omni Theater presentation called "Alaska" and visited the
exhibition halls. "Sharks" and "Everest" also were playing at
The museum, which also houses the Hayden Planetarium, is
especially suitable for families because it offers hands-on
exhibits for kids of various ages and interests.
Had we had more time, we would have taken in a 90-minute Boston
Duck Tour in an amphibious vehicle or visited the new west wing at
Instead, we departed for lunch at Turner Fisheries at the Westin
Copley Hotel, which we reached easily by the "T."
This restaurant turned out to be another surprise, featuring an
array of fresh seafood dishes, including lobster, prawns and raw
oysters, and a straightforward kid's menu.
Children are received with a welcoming attitude, although we
didn't see very many in the restaurant, and the Westin hotel
adjacent offers a kid's club program.
We spent the afternoon touring Copley Square and environs,
including a stop at F.A.O. Schwarz, before heading to the Public
Garden, home of Boston's famous swan boats.
As we strolled by the pond, we passed nine bronze statues of
ducklings being climbed on by children and toddlers as parents
snapped their photos.
"Say," said our 6-year-old, throwing one leg over the largest
one, "are these the ducklings?"
Don't know beans about Boston?
BOSTON -- Following is a sampling of useful information for
families visiting the Hub.Want to save money on public transportation? The Boston
Passport offers one-, three- and seven-day passes good for
unlimited travel on all subway and local bus lines.How about discounted passes to city attractions?
A Boston CityPass, priced at $27.50 for adults, $14 for
children, offers free admission to six attractions.
They are the New England Aquarium, the John F. Kennedy Library
and Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the John Hancock Observatory,
the Museum of Science and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
The passes are on sale at any of these attractions.Hate the subway? Try the Airport Water Shuttle connection
between Rowes Wharf and Logan Airport.
There also is a water shuttle connecting the U.S.S.
Constitution, otherwise known as Old Ironsides, in the Charlestown
Navy Yard to the aquarium, which boasts a new west wing.Stuck in the airport? For hands-on fun, visit the KidPort at
Logan on the upper levels of Terminal A and C.Want to get out of the city? You can tour Boston Harbor and the
Harbor Islands on harbor cruises.Looking for events for the fall? Try the Cambridge River
Festival in September, the Columbus Day parade in Boston in
October, the Festival of Lights and the the Prudential Tree
Lighting in December and, of course, First Night on New Year's
The Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau
Phone: (888) SEE BOSTON