9 Fun Places to Take Kids (Within an Hour of Boston)

There’s really no argument about it: Boston is a fun city for all ages.  But if you live around here you know that busy tourist seasons can mean that the usual institutions for family outings can get very crowded.  If you’re looking for somewhere fun to take the kids but don’t want to face the agony of trying to find a parking space near the aquarium (without paying a thousand bucks for a garage spot), look a little bit outside the city!  Here are nine of our favorite places for kids that are all less than an hour from Boston (even less if you already live in one of the surrounding suburbs!).

1. Discovery Museum in Acton (25-30 minute drive)

This is probably our most favorite place to go to ever since our kid was 3! It’s not a very far drive away, they have free parking, and we could spend hours there.  They just recently renovated and opened a new building about a month ago and it is so cool!  A membership is totally worth it and you also get 50% off tickets at the Boston Children’s Museum with it.  We usually get lunch at Not Your Average Joe’s which is just down the street from the museum and make a day of it, but you can also bring your lunch and there are picnic tables outside. It’s a great alternative to the Boston Children’s Museum because of the free parking, not as crowded, and there’s a great outdoor treehouse area to play in as well.  www.discoveryacton.org

2. Drumlin Farm in Lincoln (20-25 minute drive)

Another one of our favorites!  We’ve taken a few classes there too.  I highly recommend one that’s called “Polliwogs and Frogs” which happens an 8-week period.  We learned about a different animal each session and had so much fun (we took the class twice!). They also offer single session classes – we loved the “Bread and Butter” one where we baked bread rolls and made butter.  And the “Princess and the Pea” one was great too.  It is also worth getting a membership there as it allows you to visit all of the Mass Audubon parks, including a hidden gem: Habitat in Belmont.

3. VinKari Safari in Woburn (20-25 minute drive)

This is our absolute favorite indoor play space!  It’s run by a really nice family (husband, wife, and both sets of their parents) and they built it when their children were younger when they felt like they needed a “safer” place for them to run around in.  It’s designed for kids up to the age of 7 so I never really worried about bigger kids running into her when she was a baby.  It’s huge and most importantly, it’s CLEAN!  Doug and the parents walk around all day and clean everything.  There is a lunch room there so you can bring your own food (including a microwave, high chairs) and they sell small drinks and snacks too.  There’s free parking and the only thing that sucks is that they are closed on Mondays. It’s an awesome place to hold birthday parties too.  http://www.vinkarisafari.com

4. Davis Farmland in Sterling (50-60 minute drive depending on morning traffic)

This is a great place to take the kids if they love baby farm animals!  There is a fenced in area where they let baby goats and sheep run around, along with chickens and an old tortoise too.  There are lots of play areas including a little town with small buildings that have themes (like a diner, vet’s office, etc), a bouncy house, a stream where you can “fish” with magnets on poles, a hay ride, and you can feed animals.   There is a pen where you can sit in a chair and hold a baby goat in your lap (one fell asleep in her lap the last time we were there!). Then there is an entire separate water park area, along with another play area that has a large corn sack slide.  In the fall they also offer apple picking and a very large corn maze.  The admission price seems steep but you can easily spend 6 hours there.  They sell food and drinks (including ice cream) but you can also bring in your own food (lots of picnic tables outside, plus air conditioned indoor seating – and USB plugs to charge your phones!).  It’s worth the drive and a full day of fun. https://davisfarmland.com/

5. Butterfly Place in Westford (40-45 minute drive)

If you love butterflies then you’ll enjoy this place!  It is a large domed garden full of beautiful butterflies, plus there are separate displays where you can see different kinds of caterpillars.  It is kept pretty warm inside (between 80-85 degrees) so dress in layers in case you need to strip down to a short sleeved shirt.  We generally spend a couple of hours there, and your ticket is good all day so you can come and go.  They have picnic tables under a tent outside to eat lunch so we usually go in for about an hour, take a lunch break, and then go back in for another half hour.  They have a gift shop where they sell hatch kits to take home too.  https://butterflyplace-ma.com/

6. Kimball Farm in Westford (40-45 minute drive)

There are four different locations but this is the one that has more than just ice cream.  There is a mini golf course (really nice one with water), bumper boats, pony rides ($5), a soaring eagle zip line, batting cages, driving range, and arcade.  You can pay for each thing separately or buy a pass to do a few together.  The ice cream is delicious but even a size small is gigantic!  It gets packed on the weekends and overflow parking is across the street.  They have a grill and seafood shack set up outside during the summer and early fall months, but that line gets super long too.  They sell sandwiches and baked goods inside the country store where the line is much shorter, plus there is indoor seating if you want to escape from the heat.  There are huge tents with picnic tables outside to eat at too, and you can bring your own food.  www.kimballfarm.com/westford

7. Verrill Farm in Concord (20-25 minute drive)

This place is more like a produce farm and not like an animal farm.  They have a couple of fun festivals that we enjoy each year.  The first one is the strawberry festival in June where you can pick your own. They usually have other things set up outside that day too.  And the other one is the fall festival in October.  This is a bigger event where you can buy tickets to play games to earn coins that can be redeemed for prizes later (and they’re good prizes too!), face painting, pony rides, a cake walk contest, hayrides, cookie decorating, pumpkin picking, and more.  http://www.verrillfarm.com/events.html

8. Parlee Farms in Tyngsboro (30-40 minute drive depending on traffic)

This is our favorite place for blueberry picking in the summertime (they offer other fruit like cherries, peaches, and apples too).  They have a limited window where the picking is available in the morning but their blueberries are very good and they do a good job of controlling picked areas.  They post their picking times each morning on their website and on Facebook as well. There are animals to see and feed on the farm, and they offer a flower picking area.  They sell apples, cider, and other produce in the store, as well as delicious things like apple crisps, cider doughnuts, and blueberry crumbles.  It’s a long boring drive but worth it!  http://parleefarms.com/

9. Connors Farm in Danvers (35-40 minute drive)

This place has a special area specifically for the fall season and it is only open during September and October.  It’s a fun place for the kids to run around outside.  There is a gigantic bouncing pad area, zip lines, a tree house area, tree swings, a corn “beach”, a large corn maze, and a few animals you can feed.  They sell produce, ice cream, and baked goods in the store (apple cider doughnuts!) and they have a very large pumpkin patch area. https://www.connorsfarm.com/funfallactivities

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