Boston Children’s Museum – The Best Friday Nights Since You Were 21

Friday night before kids: Excited about $1 drinks at bars

Friday night after kids: Excited about $1 admission fee at children’s museum

If you’re looking for some educational fun for your kiddo and don’t mind a crowd, then the Boston Children’s Museum is a good option for you any day of the year. But if large gaggles of people bother either you or your kiddo in the slightest, then you’ll want to stay far away from the museum on rainy or snowy weekends.

Before we get started, you should know that this is my unsolicited opinion and I was in no way compensated for writing this review.

Ranking for Boston Children’s Museum, Boston, MA

Fun for All Ages 4
Cleanliness 10
Bathrooms 8
Easy access to food, drink, and sunscreen 8
Worth every penny? 7
Would we go again? 8
Total score 50 out of 60

UPDATE 09/09/2017: The photos in this review were taken on a rainy Labor Day weekend and neither my son or I love crowds. After that visit, the initial scores for the worth every penny and the would we go again? columns below were both 5. And then something amazing happened. We learned about $1 Friday Nights sponsored by Target. The museum is less than a 10-minute walk from my work and I figured we had a 50/50 shot of it being packed or empty. I am happy to report that it was pretty empty. There was no line to get in, no line to get food, and hardly any line to play. And we got admission, food, and an Uber home for about the same as the regular admission price for the 2 of us together.

Our experience at Boston Children’s Museum, Boston, MA

We arrived at Boston Children’s Museum at 10:30 on a rainy Saturday during Labor Day weekend (just writing that sentence makes me realize I was setting us up for failure). The museum opens to the public at 10:00, but opens an hour early to members. The line was already incredibly long and we waited 50 minutes just to buy our tickets. Bring provisions – snacks, drinks, toys, music. And bring another adult. It was just my son and I and we kept watching enviously as other families with 2 parents kept taking bathroom breaks or left and came back with coffee and apple juice.

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“Was it busy?”

New Balance Foundation Climb at Boston Children’s Museum

The first thing you see once inside is the 3 story tall New Balance climbing structure, which is quite impressive. My kiddo doesn’t love heights, so we didn’t test it out, but it looks amazing so long as you have an obedient child – this is a no-parents-allowed exhibit so you’ll have to trust that your little one will stop playing and exit the structure when you ask them to.

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New Balance Foundation Climb exhibit

Kid Power at Boston Children’s Museum

The other obvious section to visit downstairs is the Kid power section. We didn’t hang out here very long because toddlers are impatient and all of the objects were in use. There are bikes that you pedal with your arms, levers and pulleys that move balls around, and more.

Peep’s World at Boston Children’s Museum

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Since it was so busy downstairs we headed up to the 2nd floor pretty quickly and stumbled upon Peep’s world, which is designed for kiddos ages 3 to 5. There are a few areas of Peep’s world to explore, but the 2 main areas are the water play area and the shadow creation area. My son had a blast in the water play area and spend nearly 30 minutes there, but the museum didn’t have enough aprons for all of the kids so he was soaking wet by the time we decided to go check out other exhibits. Also, there were a few moments that were distinctly Lord-of-the-Flies-ish with kids trying to hunt each other down due to the limited supply of water toys.

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Water play in Peep’s World

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Arthur® and Friends at Boston Children’s Museum

The Arthur® and Friends area has an airplane the kids can go inside of, a mini-camping area where they can practice shadow puppets (but none of them do), and a magnetic chalk board with letters on it.

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Camping out in the Arthur® and Friends exhibit
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Waiting for take-off in the Arthur® and Friends exhibit

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Johnny’s Workbench at Boston Children’s Museum

The Johnny’s Workbench exhibit wasn’t very crowded so we decided to check that out. You really need to supervise your kids here because there are real saws (dulled down, but still) and other tools that they probably haven’t been exposed to before. We really enjoyed this exhibit. If you rent, there aren’t very many places that your little one can get exposure to using all of these tools, so my son had a lot of fun exploring and figuring out how to use the different tools. The plumbing section was his favorite.

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I don’t think he missed his calling as a plumber!

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The Common at Boston Children’s Museum

The Common is a large area with pianos, giant checkers, and a few other interactive pieces. It is also where the 2nd-floor bathrooms are located and would probably be a good place to nurse if you need to.

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Giant checkers in The Common exhibit

Construction Zone at Boston Children’s Museum

The 2nd floor started to get pretty packed, so we went up to the 3rd floor and found the Construction Zone. This is basically an entire room filled with interconnected ramps and stocked with toy trucks. It was also the least crowded place in the whole museum. We stayed here for about 45 minutes before I realized it was 1:00 and we needed to eat lunch.

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Construction Zone at Boston Children’s Museum

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Kids can climb through the bridges that string across the ceiling
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Or crawl through the tunnels on the ground of the Construction Zone

What’s to eat at the Boston Children’s Museum?

There is an Au Bon Pain attached to the museum. We waited in line for 25 minutes to get our food. For gluten free, you are limited to their pre-packaged salads and snack containers filled with fruit, nuts, and cheese. They also have gluten free pre-packaged brownies and chips. This is another area where it is helpful to have 2 parents. There were no tables available for us to sit at in the Au Bon Pain or in the adjacent lunch room (where you can eat food that you brought yourself) because other families had sent one adult to save a table for them. My son and I ended up having a “picnic” on the floor in the hallway as a result. In retrospect, we would have been much better off leaving and going to a restaurant or café to eat and coming back.

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Having a “picnic” in the hallway at Boston Children’s Museum

Location and parking for Boston Children’s Museum, Boston, MA

The Boston Children’s Museum is located at 308 Congress Street, Boston, MA. You can take the MBTA to South Station and walk for 7 minutes to get there. If you prefer to drive, the cheapest weekend parking available within a reasonable walking distance is $14 at Stillings Street Garage, which is a 5-minute walk from the museum.

Why such a low ranking for fun for all ages, worth every penny and would we go back?

There is a dedicated play space for ages 3 and under, but it was at capacity when we were there. Many of the exhibits are best suited for ages 5+. I’m pretty sure the ranking for worth every penny and would we go back will be higher once my kiddo is a little older, but I did not think it was worth $34 total for myself and a 3.5-year-old ($17 each).

Pro Tips for Boston Children’s Museum, Boston, MA

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Pro tip 1: Sullivan’s Hot Dogs, Ice Cream, and more is located in the Hood Milk bottle next to the museum. They sell coffee here and grown-up after grown-up kept getting out of line to buy coffee only to find out that they had to throw it away before entering the museum. They don’t search bags, so if you want to bring coffee in then you’ll need to make it at home, put it in a travel coffee mug, and stash it in your diaper bag or purse.

Pro tip 2: You can leave and come back (without waiting in line) as many times as you like on the same day so long as you still have the stamp on your hand. Be sure to keep your receipt in case the stamp washes off.

Pro tip 3: Bring your own food and drinks and eat them in the lunch room. 2 snack containers, 2 brownies, an orange juice, and a soda cost a whopping $27 at the Au Bon Pain. Lesson learned.

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This post was inspired by today’s daily prompt: Educate

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