In the old days, bourgeois Bostonians traveled to Europe in search of broadening their children’s horizons. Thankfully, Boston parents can now introduce the concept of worldly sophistication without sacrificing college tuitions. Here’s a list of our favorite cultural hot-spots for kids in the Greater Boston Area—all of which are featured in our book, Boston Baby: A Field Guide for Urban Parents.

Institute of Contemporary Art
Most families shy away from bringing their kids to art museums—and we get it. Nothing would be worse than your child having a Guernica-sized tantrum in the galleries. But Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art—with its fun-filled Play Date Program—is actually one of the most entertaining (yet enriching) places in all of Boston for kids.  Free for families, the museum will amuse kids for hours on end with its interesting art-making activities, lively performances, and interactive films, all of which are tailored to an ongoing exhibit. But the fun doesn’t just lie within the museum itself; the museum’s stunning waterfront location will delight kids as they run up and down the stairs while watching the boats entering and leaving the harbor.

Boston Children’s Museum
Hands down, the Boston Children’s Museum is one of the best places in Boston for enriching your child’s appreciation for diversity. One of our favorite exhibits is the Japanese House, an authentic, 100-year-old Kyoto town house. Upon entering, children will be transported back in time to experience the life and customs of a nineteenth century Japanese silk merchant family. Native Voices: New England Tribal Families is another wonderful exhibit. On display until early September, the exhibit invites children to toboggan down a hill in Maine with young members of the Penobscot tribe, practice beading in an artist’s studio on Cape Cod, and explore an Aquinnah Tribal cranberry bog , all while learning about how modern Native American families balance contemporary life with preservation of important cultural identities.

African Meeting House/ Museum of African-American History
Part of the Museum of African-American History, the African Meeting House on Beacon Hill—which was built in 1806 and is the oldest African American Church that still stands today—is a great place to take children for cultural enrichment.  While younger children may not appreciate simply walking around the historical building—dubbed the “Black Faneuil Hall” in its day—the Museum of African-American History offers special programs that will make the rich history of the Meeting House come to life before your children’s eyes. Events include meeting children’s book authors and animated performances of actors portraying famous abolitionists. Check out their website for a full list of the exciting events that will be offered this summer.   

Looking for more kid-friendly, cultural hot-spots? Check out Boston Baby: A Field Guide for Urban Parents and North Shore Baby: A Field Guide for Parents North of Boston, the perfect diaper bag companion books for all your summer activities.

Photo Credits: ICA image courtesy of Berkshire Fine Arts. Boston Children’s Museum image courtesy of the Boston Children’s Museum.