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Ben & Jerry's, Vermont Old Orchard Beach, Maine Davis Farm, Massachusetts
Welcome to the Bigroads guide to the top attractions for kids in New England!

In this guide you will find more than 130 of the top things to do with kids in the New England states. While many of the family-friendly attractions described below are geared towards children under 12, many are likely to be enjoyed by those of any age. Take note that I have generally excluded arcades, bowling alleys, entertainment centers, go-kart centers, ice cream stands, indoor rock-climbing gyms, and mini-golfing from this list (unless they were of national significance).

Please let me know via email if you think I have missed anything big here.

Author/Contributor: Greg Parsons


Connecticut isn't often described as a travel destination, but there are many great family-friendly attractions in the state, including:

Adventure Park at Storrs, Storrs - one of the best aerial adventure parks in New England
Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo, Bridgeport - a small but enjoyable zoo with more than 500 animals and an indoor carousel
Connecticut Science Center, Hartford - the finest science museum in Connecticut
Essex Steam Train & Riverboat, Essex - take a historic train and boat ride
Lake Compounce & Crocodile Cove, Bristol - the oldest continuously operating theme park in North America and the largest water park in CT
Maritime Aquarium, Norwalk - one of two great aquariums in Connecticut
Mystic Aquarium, Mystic - one of two great aquariums in Connecticut; don't miss the beluga whales
Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic - one of the finest maritime museums in the country; there are various indoor and outdoor activities for kids
Nature's Art Village, Oakdale - the largest dinosaur park in New England (it has more than 50 dinosaur sculptures)
New England Air Museum, Windsor Locks - visit three hangers full of historic aircraft
New England Carousel Museum, Bristol - one of the finest carousel museums in the country
Quassy Amusement and Waterpark, Middlebury - an old-fashioned theme park with more than 20 rides and attractions
PEZ Visitor Center, Orange - a fun museum with lots of photo ops that celebrates the famous candy
Southington Drive-In, Southington - a classic drive-in movie theatre
Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds, Old Lyme - explore the grounds of one of the best outdoor sculpture parks in New England
Stepping Stones Museum for Children, Norwalk - a good interactive children's museum
Tree Trails Adventures Mystic, Mystic - an excellent aerial adventure park
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale - an excellent natural history museum; kids are likely to enjoy the fossils, animals, gems, etc.

PEZ Visitor Center in Orange, Connecticut
the sign outside of the PEZ Visitor Center in Orange, Connecticut


Most of Maine's best family-friendly attractions are found along the coastline. Some of the best things to do with kids in Maine include:

Southern Maine
Aquaboggan Water Park, Saco - a small theme park with waterslides, a wave pool, go-karts, mini-golf, and more
Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine, Portland - a large and impressive children's museum that also has a small live theater
Desert of Maine, Freeport - a tourist attraction featuring sand dunes and a variety of kid-friendly activities (e.g. mini-golf, gem mining, etc.)
Funtown Splashtown USA, Saco - the best theme park in Maine features more than 50 rides, slides, and games
Long Sands Beach, York - a long and great beach that practically disappears at high tide; an old-fashioned arcade is near its northern end
Maine Wildlife Park, Gray - an enjoyable medium-sized zoo featuring 30 species of Maine wildlife, including moose, black bears, and lynx
Old Orchard Beach - one of Maine's best beaches; includes an old-fashioned seaside amusement park with rides and arcades
Portland Sea Dogs, Portland - catch a minor league baseball game at their beloved stadium (Hadlock Field)
York's Wild Kingdom, York - an aging but fun small zoo and entertainment center not far from Long Sands Beach

Eastern Maine (including Downeast Maine)
Acadia National Park - there is something for everyone in this national park, including beaches, hikes, and 50-plus miles of bicycling paths
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay Harbor - the most impressive gardens in Maine; kids will likely love the wooden troll sculptures
Maine State Aquarium, Boothbay Harbor - a very small aquarium with various touch tanks and hands-on exhibits
Maine Discovery Museum, Bangor - explore three floors of interactive exhibits in the largest children's museum in Maine

If your family enjoys the great outdoors, Baxter State Park is also a wonderful family-friendly destination. There are hikes for all abilities within the park. Start with a hike to Big and Little Niagara Falls. The campgrounds, cabins, and lean-tos within the state park are excellent.

Old Orchard Beach, Maine
Old Orchard Beach, Maine


You can find family-fun all across Massachusetts. Here are some highly recommended family-friendly attractions in Massachusetts:

Western Massachusetts
Berkshire East Canopy Tours, Charlemont - an excellent aerial adventure park
Butternut Ski Area, Great Barrington - skiing and snow-tubing in winter
Dr. Seuss Museum, Springfield - a museum dedicated to the famous writer and illustrator; a sculpture garden provides fun photo ops
Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst - an art museum focusing on children's books
Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield - one of several excellent living history museum in the state
Jiminy Peak, Hancock - features skiing in winter and a year-round mountain coaster
Monument Mountain, Stockbridge - a nature preserve offering one of the best family-friendly mountain hikes in western Massachusetts
Ramblewild, Lanesborough - this is arguably the finest aerial adventure park / high-ropes course in New England
Six Flags New England, Agawam - a supersized theme park and waterpark; the biggest and best rollercoasters in New England are here

Central Massachusetts
Davis Farmland, Sterling - an agricultural theme park with live animals, a giant corn maze, and more
EcoTarium, Worcester - a good science and nature museum for kids
Great Wolf Lodge, Fitchburg - a family resort featuring a massive indoor water park and amusement center
Kimball Farm, Westford - arguably the best ice cream stand in New England; there is also mini-golf, bumper boats, batting cages, and more
Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge - one of several excellent living history museum in MA; features costumed interpreters
Polar Park, Worcester - catch a minor league baseball game at this excellent ballpark
Purgatory Chasm State Reservation, Sutton - kids love climbing all the rocks and exploring the boulder caves of this state park
Nashoba Valley Ski Area, Westford - skiing and snow-tubing in winter
Southwick's Zoo, Mendon - one of the finest zoos in New England; features more than 850 animals

Eastern Massachusetts (including the North Shore)
Babson Boulders, Gloucester - take a 2-3 mile round-trip hike in Dogtown park in Gloucester to treasure hunt a series of inscribed boulders
deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln - an outdoor sculpture park with nature trails and many photo ops
Discovery Museum, Acton - an excellent children's museum with both indoor and outdoor (e.g. treehouse) attractions and exhibits
Ipswich River, Ipswich - rent a canoe or kayak from Foote Brothers and float down the gentle Ipswich River
Immersive Gamebox, Natick - an interactive digital gaming experience featuring 'shared play'
Jordan's Furniture, Reading - a giant furniture store with a variety of attractions (IMAX theatre, ropes course, ice cream, light show, etc.)
LEGO Discovery Center Boston, Somerville - an indoor entertainment center featuring a few rides, activities, and LEGO models on display
Level99, Natick - an indoor 'social gaming playground' with many physical and mental challenges and games
Russell Farm, Ipswich - a large and excellent PYO farm with delicious cider donuts and apple cider in the fall
Stage Fort Park, Gloucester - an oceanside park with rock scrambling, ocean views, and a better-than-average children's playground
Stone Zoo, Stoneham - a fairly small zoo but the kids will probably still enjoy it; they also offer some fun special events (e.g. ZooLights)
Walden Pond State Reservation, Concord - a state park featuring a swimming pond, hiking trails, and Henry David Thoreau historic sites
Whale-watching tour from Gloucester - Gloucester is one of the top places on the East Coast to set out on a whale-watching boat tour

Boston Children's Museum - visit the finest children's museum in Massachusetts
Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area - take a scheduled boat ferry to explore historic Fort Warren on George's Island
Boston Museum of Science - explore the best science and technology museum in New England
Boston Public Garden - take a swan boat ride and see all the flowers and statues in Boston's most beautiful public park
Fenway Park - catch a daytime Boston Red Sox baseball game
Franklin Park Zoo - explore the Boston area's best zoo, which has roughly 1,000 animals
Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge - a great natural history museum; kids are likely to enjoy the fossils, rocks and minerals
New England Aquarium - the best Aquarium in Massachusetts that is best known for its giant ocean tank
Whale-watching tour - take a whale-watching tour out of Boston with Boston Harbor City Cruises

Southeastern Massachusetts (including Cape Cod)
Battleship Cove, Fall River - self-guided tours of several historic military ships at one of the best military ship museums in the U.S.
Cape Cod Inflatable Park, Yarmouth - one of the best outdoor inflatable jump parks in the country
Edaville Family Theme Park, Carver - the top theme park for young children in Massachusetts
Heritage Museum and Gardens, Sandwich - features walking trails, a carousel, a treehouse, a botanical garden, and an antique car museum
Mendon Drive-In, Mendon - one of few still-operating drive-in movie theaters in New England

Nickerson State Park, Brewster - a large park with fishing, hiking, bicycling, and camping; bike paths connect with the Cape Cod Rail Trail
Plimoth Patuxet Museums, Plymouth - one of several excellent living history museum in Massachusetts
Water Wizz of Cape Cod, East Wareham - the largest outdoor water park in southern New England
Wellfleet Drive-In Theater, Wellfleet - one of the last remaining drive-in movie theaters in New England
Whale-watching tours from Provincetown - one of the top places on the East Coast to go whale-watching

Older children may also enjoy the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, walking the Freedom Trail in Boston, the Boston Tea Party Museum, and seeing the various witch-themed attractions and museums of Salem.

Babson Boulders in Glouchester, Massachusetts
one of the 20-plus Babson Boulders within Dogtown in Gloucester, Massachusetts


New Hampshire has many popular family-friendly attractions. Some of the top places to take kids in New Hampshire include:

Northern New Hampshire
Chutters, Littleton - an above-average sized candy store featuring the world's longest candy counter
Santa's Village, Jefferson - one of the finest Christmas-themed amusement parks in the country; I personally prefer this park over Story Land

Western White Mountains

Alpine Adventures, Lincoln - offers zip-lining, an aerial adventure park, offroad driving tours, and ATV tours
Clark's Bears, Lincoln - features live black bear shows and various other fun (although often tacky) tourist attractions
Echo Lake Beach, Franconia - a swimmers beach with great mountain views of Franconia Notch; nearby hiking trails lead to Artists Bluff
Flume Gorge & Visitor Center, Franconia Notch State Park - take a 2-mile walk through an impressive gorge and see several waterfalls
Granite State Scenic Railway, Lincoln - a scenic train ride from Lincoln to Woodstock and back; there's also mini-golfing in front of the station
Ice Castles, Woodstock - a beloved winter attraction where a giant ice park is created and visitors can walk through it
Loon Mountain, Lincoln - skiing, snow tubing, and ice skating in winter; Gondola rides, zip-lining, and excellent mountain biking in summer
Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves, North Woodstock - a fun 0.75 mile trail passes through several boulder caves and past a waterfall
Whale's Tale Waterpark, Lincoln - a medium-sized outdoor water park with several rides you won't find in other water parks in New England

Eastern White Mountains
Attitash Mountain Resort, Bartlett - skiing in winter and an epic mountain coaster in summer
Conway Scenic Railroad, North Conway - take a scenic train ride through Mount Washington Valley or Crawford Notch State Park
Cranmore, North Conway - offers skiing and snow tubing in winter, and an adventure park in summer (e.g. zip-lining, mountain coaster)
Diana's Baths, North Conway - take a 1.2 mile round-trip easy hike to visit a series of waterfalls, slides, and potholes that kids will love
Jackson Falls, Jackson - a series of waterfalls and shallow pools; kids love playing in the upper section but take note it's VERY slippery
King Pine Ski Area, Madison - a family-friendly ski and snow tubing park; one of the best places in New England to learn how to ski
Lower Falls, Kancamagus Highway - a popular series of small waterfalls and swimming holes along NH-112 between Lincoln and Conway
Mount Washington Cog Railway, near Bretton Woods - ride up one of the steepest cog railways in the world to the highpoint of NH
Story Land, Jackson - an excellent family-friendly throwback amusement park; there is also NH's best aquarium located next door
Zeb's General Store, North Conway - an excellent general store in downtown North Conway that is full of New England crafted goods

Central New Hampshire
Canterbury Shaker Village, Canterbury - features historical exhibits and live demonstrations by costumed interpreters
Funspot, Laconia - an enormous arcade that is known for having one of the largest collections of antique arcade machines in the world
Polar Caves Park, Rumney - kids and adults will love walking the boardwalk trails and scrambling through boulder caves
Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, Holderness - part zoo, part playground, part hiking trail; this is the best zoo in NH
Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad, Meredith - a scenic train ride along the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee from Meredith to Laconia

Southern New Hampshire
Andres Institute of Art, Brookline - a network of hiking trails passes dozens of art sculptures with many fun photo ops
Canobie Lake Park, Salem - a large, old-fashioned theme park with more than 85 rides, games, and attractions
Children's Museum of NH, Dover - the best children's museum in New Hampshire
Hampton Beach - the liveliest beach in New Hampshire
Mount Monadnock, Jaffrey- hike and scramble up one of the most famous mountains in the world; advance paring reservations are required
Seacoast Science Center, Rye - a small children's nature and science museum in Odiorne Point State Park
Water Country, Portsmouth - this outdoor water playground features more than 15 rides and is the largest waterpark in New England

If you are looking for a great and fairly easy family-friendly hike in New Hampshire, try one of these: Artist Bluff, Diana's Baths, Mount Willard, Ripley Falls, Sabbaday Falls, The Basin, or West Rattlesnake. For a more challenging day hike, try Arethusa Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Kearsarge South, Mount Cardigan, Mount Major, Mount Monadnock, or the Welch and Dickey loop.

Older children that enjoy mountain biking will love the Highland Mountain Bike Park.

Mt. Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire
Mt. Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire


Rhode Island is fairly small, but there are a few highly recommended family-friendly attractions in the state:

Adventureland Family Fun Park, Narragansett - a family entertainment center with mini-golf, bumper boats, go-karts, a carousel, and more
Crescent Park Looff Carousel, East Providence - hop on one of the finest hand-carved historic carousels in the country
East Bay Bike Path - ride bicycles on the #1 paved rail trail in New England; stop for a treat at Del's Lemonade if you end up riding that far
Level99, Providence - an indoor 'social gaming playground' with many physical and mental challenges and games
McCoy Stadium, Pawtucket - catch a minor league baseball game
Providence Children’s Museum, Providence
Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence - with 800 animals, this is one of the finest zoos in New England
Waterfire (event), Providence - a free festival on select Saturdays from May-Nov that features entertainment, food, and river bonfires

Older children may also appreciate the Newport Car Museum and the Cliff Walk, both in Newport.

Del's Lemonade, Rhode Island
Del's Lemonade on the East Bay Bike Path


Here are some highly recommended family-friendly attractions in Vermont:

Northern Vermont
ArborTrek Canopy Adventures, Stowe - an awesome aerial adventure park
Ben & Jerry's Waterbury Factor Tour & Ice Cream Shop, Waterbury - home of the famous ice cream chain; don't miss the flavor graveyard
Cold Hollow Sculpture Park, Enosburg Falls - a growing but impressive outdoor sculpture park
ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, Burlington - a children's science and nature museum along the shores of Lake Champlain
Jay Peak Pump House, Jay - one of the best indoor water parks in New England; nearby Jay Peak offers great skiing in winter
Shelburne Farms, Shelburne - an excellent working farm and agricultural educational center
Smugglers Notch Resort - a top-rated family-friendly ski resort in the country; open year-round and operates a small waterpark in summer
Smugglers Notch State Park, Stowe - take a scenic drive on VT-108 and stop to explore some boulder caves and hike to Sterling Pond
Sunset Drive-In Theatre, Colchester - one of the last and best of the drive-in movie theaters in New England
Vermont Teddy Bear Company, Shelburne - take a factory tour of a teddy bear company with an option to create your own teddy bear

Central Vermont
Billings Farm & Museum, Woodstock - a working dairy farm with various animal and farming history exhibits
Montshire Museum of Science, Norwich - a great hands-on children's science museum
Sugarbush Farm, Woodstock - a working cheese factory and maple syrup sugar house
Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS), Quechee - a great nature center known for its excellent live bird programs

Southern Vermont
Bromley Mountain, Peru - offers family skiing in winter and an adventure park with a great alpine slide in summer
Santa's Land USA, Putney - a small Christmas-themed amusement park that is great for young children

While in Vermont, try to find yourself a maple creemee ice cream. They are absolutely delicious and are sold at various ice cream stands across the state. One of my favorite places is the Vermont Maple Market in Middlebury. Vermont also has many outstanding swimming holes. If you perform some online research, you can easily find some. Older children may also enjoy the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne or mountain biking on the Kingdom Trails in East Burke.

one of Vermont's delicious 'creemee' stands
one of Vermont's delicious 'creemee' stands

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