Those of us living in New England are so lucky to have many vacation destinations just a short road trip away. Whether you are looking to take a day trip, or want to stay overnight, there are lots of different New England attractions that you’ll want to visit with your kids. These attractions include theme parks, national parks, historical destinations, and much more.
Visiting New England, or live in the area? Here are some New England attractions for kids that you’ll want to add to your vacation plans.
Disclosure: We received complimentary admission to some of these attractions for purposes of review. This post contains affiliate links. A purchase/click through through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us.
New England Attractions For Kids
Boston Harbor Islands
The Boston Harbor Islands collectively are a state and national park. This collection of 34 islands and peninsulas include seven islands that you can visit by ferry. In season, you’ll want to book a ferry reservation and head to the islands, which are an oasis within the city of Boston.
Depending on the island you choose, you can visit a fort, go swimming, check out tidepools, and so much more. Do research in advance to make sure you visit the island with the most activities that you’ll enjoy.
The most convenient hotel in the area is the Marriott Long Wharf, which is near the ferry terminal. See reviews here.
Edaville Family Theme Park
Little kids especially will love a visit to the Edaville Family Theme Park, located in Carver, MA. This park features several areas, including Thomas Land (home of Thomas the Tank Engine), Cran Central, and Dino Land. The rides at Edaville are perfect for smaller kids.
It’s open seasonally, although there are also special events for the holidays when they are open. Tickets can be purchased online and you’ll want to arrive early to avoid the longest lines for the rides.
The John Carver Inn, located in Plymouth, is a good place to stay. See reviews here.
If you want to incorporate some history into your family vacation, you’ll definitely want to visit Boston. The Freedom Trail is one of the most popular historical attractions, and can be done at your own pace.
In Boston, the Freedom Trail is a collection of historical sites over a 2.5 mile trail. It’s marked as a red trail through the streets of Boston, although you can definitely visit the sites in any order based on your plans and preferences. You can choose to do a self-guided tour, or there are lots of different guided tours that you can purchase tickets for.
Learn more about the Freedom Trail on their website.
Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Boston is the Quincy Market / Faneuil Hall Marketplace buildings. This historical marketplace was founded in 1742 and was initially used as a marketplace for crops and livestock (according to their website). It’s now home to a large food court, retail push carts, and standard retail stores (similar to what you’d find in a mall).
In the summer, the Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall area comes alive with street performers. It’s a fun place to walk around and grab a snack or lunch. It’s also close to the waterfront, as well as the famous Boston North End.
If Quincy Market is in your plans, we recommend staying at the Bostonian Hotel which is adjacent to the marketplace and very convenient for a Boston vacation.
Located South of Boston in Plymouth, MA, Plimoth Plantation is definitely a must-visit for any history lover. This living history museum features a Wampanoag home site, a traditional 1627 English Village, and a craft center.
If you are visiting Cape Cod from Boston, Plimoth Plantation is a good stop on the way. There are several different ticket options. Standard tickets include only Plimoth Plantation, or you can choose to include the Plimoth Grist Mill and/or the Mayflower II replica (note, however, that the Mayflower II is currently being restored in Mystic CT, so it’s not available for touring right now).
You could easily spend most of the day at Plimoth Plantation, so plan accordingly. Consider staying at the John Carver Inn, located in Plymouth. See reviews here.
Basketball Hall of Fame
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA is a great attraction for any sports fan. It includes interactive basketball exhibits that kids will enjoy, as well as the standard Hall of Fame plaques and memorabilia. There’s also a large basketball court which hosts different activities.
At the Hall, you’ll also find a gift shop as well as various basketball programming. There isn’t a restaurant right in the Hall of Fame, but there are some nearby restaurants.
Boston Museum of Science
Even as a kid, I loved visiting the Boston Museum of Science. It’s my favorite museum, and is great for kids of all ages. Located between Cambridge and Boston, it includes several exhibit halls, an IMAX theater, a 4D theater, and a planetarium. There’s also a cafe with lots of food options as well as a large gift shop.
When you arrive at the museum, you’ll want to pick up a schedule with the various events and programs happening. There are several different ticket options, including a regular ticket for just the exhibit halls as well as tickets for the planetarium shows and movies.
Arrive early for the lowest crowds and the greatest availability for the shows. You can definitely spend most of the day there, especially if you plan to see a show or two.
Acadia National Park
Maine is absolutely beautiful, and Acadia National Park is one of the most popular parks in the area. This 47,000-acre park, located near Bar Harbor Maine, includes several visitor center, Cadillac Mountain, beaches, and more.
Guests to the park can hike, camp, canoe, kayak, snowshoe, cross-country ski, and more. Learn more about the park here.
New Hampshire Attractions
It’s Christmas all summer long at Santa’s Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire. This family theme park offers lots of fun attractions for little ones, including small coasters, a log flume ride, bumper cars, and a train ride.
Of course, you’ll also get to see Santa as well as his reindeers during your visit. Santa’s Village offers several restaurants/dining venues and shops as well as a small water park.
It’s a little tucked away from some of the other New Hampshire attractions, but definitely worth a visit. The Mountain View Grand is a good hotel option.
I always loved visiting Story Land as a kid, so I was very eager to take my kids there when they were younger. Story Land is a theme park/amusement park, located in Glen New Hampshire, right near North Conway in the heart of the White Mountains.
Story Land’s theme is fairy tales, and you’ll see some of your favorite fairy tale characters, like the Old Woman in the Shoe and Heidi’s Grandfather. There are also lots of fun rides for kids, including coasters, water rides, and other family-friendly rides.
For a trip to Story Land, I’d recommend staying at the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort (which offers an indoor water park) and the Residence Inn North Conway.
Rhode Island Attractions
While the Newport Mansions may not immediately seem like a kid-friendly attraction, my kids loved our visit to the Breakers and Marble House. These waterfront mansions, once the summer homes of the wealthy during the gilded age, are now open to guests.
For a family vacation, I’d recommend visiting the Breakers – the largest and most popular of the Newport Mansion. This house, once owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt, offers a kid-friendly audio tour in addition to the standard adult tour. My kids loved it – it’s very engaging.
The Mystic Aquarium is sometimes overshadowed by the New England Aquarium in Boston, but it’s actually my favorite aquarium in New England. It features indoor and outdoor areas, and is so fun to visit. You’ll especially love the Beluga Whale exhibit – they are so engaging and fun.
It’s located adjacent to the Olde Mistick Village, so you can definitely combine a visit to both destinations during your trip. During our vacation, we enjoyed our stay at the Hilton Mystic located across the street from the aquarium.
During our family vacation to Mystic, we also enjoyed our day at Mystic Seaport. This museum focuses on the history of America’s relationship to the sea. We especially enjoyed touring the authentic sea village to learn about life during the 19th century.
In the sea village, you’ll find a variety of different buildings, including a pub, an apothecary, a cooper, and an authentic print shop. Within many of these buildings, you’ll find costumed employees who explain what life was like back in the old sea village.