We just got back from a trip to visit family in Massachusetts and decided to book a couple nights in Boston on the front end of our trip to see some sights with our two boys. At 5.5 and 2.5 years old, they’ve got some experience with travel, but this was our first city sight seeing with them and it presented its own unique set of challenges and rewards.
Here are some tips to help you hit big city sights with little tourists:
- Forget about a “must see” list. You are traveling with littles and they have their own ideas of what must happen at any given time. Instead, make a list of things you’d like to see and edit it down to things you’d really like to see. Know and accept that you will only see some of them and that’s okay.
- Don’t shy away from historical points of interest and museums for fear of them being boring. Cities that rely on tourism dollars often design attractions with families in mind. In Boston, we went to the USS Constitution Museum and the Old State House, both of which had areas with hands-on exhibits that the kids could grab, touch, pull, etc. At The Boston Tea Party Museum, actors portraying revolutionaries guided us through the ship in character and even let the kids throw crates of tea overboard! (No worries…they were tied up and pulled back in.)
- Seek out the city’s green spaces and let the kids run and explore for a while between sit down meals and visits to indoor quiet spaces. Boston Common and the Public Garden were big hits even though it was raining and cold by Texas standards. They got to see two families with different aged ducklings and beautiful fountains and memorials, all while losing the wiggles from so much stroller and restaurant time.
- Plan for a couple of regroup sessions in the hotel throughout the day. We were unlucky in the weather department so these little down time sessions in our hotel room also allowed us to change the kids into dry clothes. We’d tuck them under the blanket and let them zone out to a cartoon while we refilled snacks and water bottles for our next excursion.
- Don’t leave the stroller at home, even if you only plan to use it for half your trip. Being an old city, we did find it hard at times getting in and out of skinny doors and up steep steps. We often had to park it outside or in a corner of whatever place we were visiting. We were still so glad to have it and a borrowed stand board for our eldest, even when bumping over the cobblestone streets in front of Paul Revere’s house.
- Be prepared to change diapers in some unexpected and not so easy places. We weren’t always near a clean restroom and didn’t always find a changing table when we were. If you have a toddler, learn to change him or her standing up, even dirties. It’s awkward at first but sure comes in handy when your only option is a stairwell. If your toddler is in pull ups, bring regular diapers for the trip so you can avoid fulling undressing for changes. I failed on that front and boy was it a pain.
Travel with kids is an adventure full of ups and downs but one we never regret taking. City tourism can be tricky even for adults but with some preparation, key supplies, and realistic expectations your little ones can enjoy big city tourism, too.