By Gretta Monahan
It’s coming. [Insert jaws theme song here.] All those spring (and summer) vacation are coming for us, and those of us moms and dads who aren’t lucky enough to be jetting off with our tykes to a chic resort somewhere are suddenly starting to look around for things to do with the kids close to home instead.
But do we really need to give up doing something amazing and chic just because we’re staying put? I don’t think so. (There are only so many really bad puppet shows we can all sit through at the neighborhood community center, much as we love them….)
So where I live in Boston, I went and asked a handful of my most in-the-know friends, and they shared a few pretty brilliant ideas. Et, voila:
Take the tykes for some four-star, indoor glamping. When you’re not up for sleeping outdoors, instead grab the family and jump on the epic and over-the-top kids’ program at The Four Seasons Boston (www.fourseasons.com/boston). Anyone booking a room there can request the ‘Kid’s Adventure Package,’ which means walking into the room with the wee ones to discover a tent set up just for them (along with plenty of kids’ amenities and surprises for them—like their names written in special soap on the tub for bathtime). Best of all, during school vacations they open up their glorious indoor pool for a ‘Safari Swim” for kids, with huge floats and music, so it basically turns into a fantastic indoor party.
Fine art? Yes, please. Here’s where culture meets adventure. At the Museum of Fine Arts (mfa.org), kids seven to 17 are free during nonschool hours (kids younger than that are always free) for the Boston Public School System—including during the entire vacation week…. How cool is that? But the way fun thing is to bring yourself here with the kids and dive into art scavenger hunts that they plan, complete with check-off lists that bring in objects and images—from knights to mythical creatures—to learn some pretty amazing stuff. Meanwhile, you get to kick back and look at some incredible masterpieces.
Turn your kid (and maybe yourself, too) into a pro chef for a day. Imagine your little progeny, rolling out to-die-for flatbread pizzas and baking them in an open restaurant kitchen, while a slew of diners look on in the gorgeous dining room around them. That’s exactly what happens at the OAK Long Bar + Kitchen’s kids’ pizza making class (www.fairmont.com/copley-plaza-boston), on Saturdays and Sundays from 1p.m. to 3p.m. Guests of the hotel can have their kiddos work with several executive chefs’ hands-on, expert instructions to guide them, the little guys learn to roll and toss dough, mastermind their own fixings, sauce, and cheese, and ultimately create a pie to swoon for. The best part? You and they get to eat it afterward for lunch, when they serve it to all at your table.
Do some natural science in style. One of my friends let me in on a little secret: If you book a suite at Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge (hotelmarlowe.com), you and the kids can not only take out their bikes for free—a perfectly beautiful ride along the Charles River—but also have access to their incredible concierge, who can get you tickets to The Museum of Science (mos.org) in a jiffy.
And if it miraculously is a really nice spring day out? Then you can borrow any of the hotel’s kayaks or L.L. Bean paddle boards, complimentary; they even bring them right down to the river for you and the kids. Bingo.