This sprawling three-level temple of fun and learning has always been a place where tiny humans can go to play, touch, build, measure, and create. It’s also a place that’s constantly growing and evolving itself: After shutting down the beloved “Boston Black” exhibit this spring, it’s preparing to launch “You, Me, We”later this summer, exploring the concepts of bias, race, and belonging through a kid-friendly lens. Always kid-friendly, of course, is the gigantic climbing tower in the lobby for your budding Spider-Man (or Woman). 308 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210, bostonchildrensmuseum.org/.
Slightly challenging — yet mercifully short — bursts of uphill that give kids a sense of accomplishment. A tower to climb at the top. And, most notably, absolutely killer views of the Boston skyline. This roughly 1.5-mile-long round-trip trail has it all for a family outing — especially when you consider that native wildlife such as river otters and red foxes are just a few steps away from the parking lot at the Blue Hills Trailside Museum. 1904 Canton Ave, Milton, MA 02186, mass.gov/locations/blue-hills-reservation.
When the blacktop is steaming hot, they’re bored, and a trip to the beach just isn’t in the cards, throw on the bathing suits and head to this urban oasis thoughtfully designed with the littlest kids in mind. Nervous swimmers love the expansive shallow wading area; daring tots revel in the buckets that dump water from overhead as well as the spraying turtles and gators; and parents (especially those with babies in tow) appreciate the shade. Pro tip: Let them dry out at the adjacent playground. 307 River St, Mattapan, MA 02126, mass.gov/locations/ryan-wading-pool.
There are plenty of petting zoos around where you can go to toss a few pellets to the farm animals — but here, it’s more about learning how to care for and coexist with our four-legged friends. Wannabe farmers can wave hello to sheep, goats, pigs, cows — and sometimes their babies — in their pastures, and see how food is sustainably raised at the farm’s Learning Garden. And if your junior farmer is itching for more, go birding on the nature trails and play a game of seasonal wildlife-themed bingo while you’re at it. 208 S Great Rd, Lincoln, MA 1773, massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/drumlin-farm.
Have a birthday party in 30 minutes and need a present, stat? We’ve been there — and so have the folks behind this expertly curated toy shop, which stocks something for every child: DIY jewelry kits for the crafty types, Magna-Tiles for the future architects, and costumes for the performers. The only challenge will be getting your own kiddo to leave. 17 White Street, Cambridge, MA 02140, henrybear.com/.
Classes offer kids the opportunity to jump, dance, play music, sing, do yoga, and so much more, all soundtracked to instruments ranging from guitar to sax to Omnichord. Best of all, sessions are al fresco (ideal for COVID safety), and they’re held at convenient locations in almost every corner of Boston and beyond. 1313 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118, babywiggle.com/.
No thinking inside the box here — offbeat class offerings like jewelrymaking, fiber arts, and even miniature-world creation (doesn’t that sound nice right about now?) are guaranteed to get the creative juices flowing. 2404 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02410, muckykids.com/.
The private, STEM-based school offers an after-school enrichment catalog that would put many colleges to shame — and it’s open to the public. Students can enroll in Model UN, debate, and architecture classes and camps, or try carnival design, wilderness survival, and hydrology. 5 Lowell Ave., Winchester, MA 01890, aceraschool.org/.