What to Do in Boston Presidents’ Day and February School Vacation Week 2014

As tempting as it is to let your kids watch TV all day, take this week as an opportunity to be a good parent and explore Boston with your family.

3rd Annual Boston Storytelling Festival

Fight dragons, save the kingdom, or discover you’re a wizard—throw your kids into the wonderful world of books this weekend. This event isn’t only for the kids; it’s also a great opportunity for parents to learn how to tell a five-minute kick-butt story in one of several workshops. The first half of the festival is dedicated to traditional storytellers while the second half is for less conventional storytellers (think: story slams and personal narratives). The event is sponsored with Massmouth, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to promoting storytelling in the 21st century.

Free, Saturday, February 15, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Boston Public Library, Rabb Hall, 700 Boylston St., Boston, 617-942-2553, massmouth.ning.com.

JFK Library & Museum

Let’s be honest, you probably don’t remember much from your high school U.S. history class. Take your kids to the JFK Library to learn more about our founding fathers and the presidential life. You can “meet” John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who will share stories about their lives, along with First Ladies Abigail Adams and  Dolley Madison. Want your child to be the next president? Here’s where to start their training. Check out the Library on Facebook and Twitter to find out their Presidents’ Day buzzword for a $2 discount.

Free admission for kids, February 17, 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m., JFK Presidential Library & Museum, Columbia Point, Boston, 617-514-1600, jfklibrary.org

Hotel Week Boston

Treat yourself and your families with a little city getaway this week with the inaugural Hotel Week Boston. Hotels participating include the Charles Hotel, XV Beacon, and more. If you take advantage of the discounts this week, you’ll also get the added bonus of discounts to family-friendly attractions like the zoo or Disney on Ice. For a more comprehensive list, check out our overview of Hotel Week Boston.

February 16-23, hotelweekboston.com.

Museum of Fine Arts

With free art-making activities, gallery talks, and children’s tours, your family will be bona fide artists by the end of School Vacation Week. This year’s theme at the MFA is Taking Shape, allowing visitors to discover and learn more about the ways artists use shapes in their work. One of the events for children includes a Chihuly sculpture-making activity that some of us adults would love to participate in too.

Free admission for kids, February 17-21, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (to 8 p.m. on Wednesday), Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston,  617-369-3160, mfa.org.

Zoo New England

Ditch the snow and escape to 72 degrees this week to hang out with some critters at the zoo. Chill (er, warm up) with western lowland gorillas, ring-tailed lemurs, ocelots, and a giant anteater, all in a lush green space with waterfalls and most importantly—warm weather. Little Joe, one of the western lowland gorillas, is having a killer birthday party you won’t want to miss. Perfect for dads who love to make bad jokes, try this classic kneeslapper: Happy Birthday to you, I went to the zoo, I saw a little monkey, and it looked just like you!

$12+, February 17-21, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Franklin Park Zoo, One Franklin Park Road, Dorchester, 617-541-5466, zoonewengland.com.

Museum of Science

For the nerdier parents, February School Vacation Week is also known as National Engineers Week. Bring out your kids’ inner scientists and help them build arcade claws to pick up toys from a tank. While this claw probably won’t convince your kids to clean their room, it might help spark an interest in engineering. Other awesome engineering-related activities include building earthquake-resistant structures, testing sailboats, and for preschoolers, creating spinning tops to send down the museums’ flight track.

$20+, February 16-22, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Museum of Science, 1 Science Park, Boston, 617-723-2500, mos.org.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace

From educational to artistic to just plain kooky, there’s an activity every day at Fan Hall to keep your kids from watching too much TV. The week kicks off with an education and interactive reading of Kadir Nelson’s book, I Have a Dream Speech. If you’re more interested in channeling your kids’ inner artist, the Yo-Yo Guy will be there to teach your kids how to paint with yo-yos as well as how to learn some cool tricks. For the kookiest event, your kids can learn to juggle with Paris, “The Hip-Hop Juggler.” Paris has juggled for the Big Apple Circus, The Today Show, Sesame Street, and the White House. Fun fact: Paris was given his nickname, “The Hip-Hop Juggler,” by Al Roker himself.

Free, February 15-22, various times, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, 4 South Market Building, Boston, 617-523-1300, faneuilhallmarketplace.com.

Boston Children’s Museum

Make friends with a robot, learn about cool equipment, design houses out of giant cards, build your own roller coaster, and more at the Boston Children’s Museum this week. Explore science and have fun learning alongside your children. The week ends with an Engineer-a-Thon with BU’s National Society for Black Engineers. For Dr. Seuss fans, the event promises experiments with oobleck, a non-toxic, non-Newtonian fluid derived from Bartholomew and the Oobleck.

 $14, February 17-22, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., (to 9 p.m. on Friday,) Boston Children’s Museum, 308 Congress St., Boston, 617-426-6500, bostonchildrensmuseum.org.

Journey to the South Pacific

Go on an adventure to the lush tropical islands of remote West Papua this week. The New England Aquarium IMAX will play Journey to the South Pacific 3D through March, in which Jawi, a young island boy, takes you on a journey throughout his home, which he shares with more than 2,000 species of sea life in one of the most diverse marine ecosystems on Earth. Encounter whale sharks, sea turtles, manta rays, and other iconic creatures without actually having to leave Massachusetts. The movie was directed by two-time Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Greg MacGillivray and Stephen Judson.

$8+, February-March, check website for movie times, New England Aquarium IMAX Theater, 1 Central Wharf, Boston, 617-973-5206, neaq.org.


With so much snow and so much time, it might be a good idea to bundle up the kids and take them sledding. There is no shortage of great places for sledding in Boston. Here are some of our favorite places to enjoy winter.

Free, anywhere to anytime.