Vacation Week Tips For Tots From J Squared

By Jared Bowen

School Vacation is upon us. And while five glorious days of freedom from bus rides, math problems, and homework is a welcome respite for kids, it can be a bit more taxing for parents. Our resident insiders Jan Saragoni and Jared Bowen join us for a special family-friendly, school vacation week edition of our regular things-to-do feature, J-squared. How to keep the kids occupied and stay sane in the process?
Jan SaragoniJan's List
Tropical Forest @ at the Franklin Park Zoo
It’s 72 degrees and offers lots of ape-themed activities. See the baby gorilla. Zookeepers on hand to answer questions, like what’s the difference between monkeys and apes. Week-long series of events including the naming of the female western lowland gorilla born Nov.3. You can submit names until Friday. After staff members pick three finalists, the gorillas will pick their favorite of the three this Saturday at 3:00. Huh?

Knight in Shining Armor
Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester. Local steel magnate John Woodman Higgins needed a place to store his collection of suits of armor and medieval weapons from the Renaissance and Middle Ages so in 1930 he built a steel and glass Art Deco structure to house his immense collection. This is the only museum of its kind in the western hemisphere. In the Great Hall there’s a suit of German field armor from 1510 not to mention a Bavarian Saber from 1620. Lots of stuff is much older; a Greek sword from 1200 back. and Corinthian helmets from 600 back.

Wings of Mass Instruction
Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory and Gardens in South Deerfield. It’s an 8,000-square-foot tropical conservatory with 4,000 butterflies. The temperature is always 80 degrees. 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 every day and parents (or babysitters) take note that strollers aren’t allowed in the conservatory or gift shop.

Get Blinded with Science
MIT Museum features an exhibit dedicated to robotics and artificial intelligence and you can even get to meet to meet Kismet, the world’s first “sociable” robot. The museum is recommended for visitors 12 and older.

Heading South?
The stop by the South Shore Natural Science Center’s Eco Zone in Norwell. Lizards, fish, frogs and a barred owl named Hedwig. Stuff to do includes helping the staff feed some of the creatures. Parents who might want a break can register kids age 3 and a half to 5 for morning classes. Cost is $35.

Disney’s/Pixar Toy Story 3 at the Garden
The summer's biggest hit movie, Toy Story 3, and memorable moments from Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are hitting the ice in this sensational live production at the TD Garden.

Ice Skating
There is always ice skating at the Public Garden/Faneuil Hall and MDC rinks through out the city.
Jared Bowen Jared's List
Mary Poppins
The iconic Disney film is now a musical playing at the Boston Opera House through March 20th. The show is based on both the film and the books by Australian writer P.L. Travers. Also, catch my interview with co-writer Richard Sherman on Greater Boston.

Museum of Science
Butterfly Garden overlooking the Charles River is a tropical wonderland allowing kids to get up close to butterflies from New England and all across the globe.

Museum of Science Charles Hayden Planetarium
New England’s first major planetarium has re-opened  after a $9 million transformation which has made it “the most technologically advanced digital theater in New England." It features “the latest in high definition, immersive video and digital acoustic technology” taking viewers to space or into the blood stream or ocean. The premiere film is Undiscovered Worlds: The Search Beyond Our Sun about exoplanets (planets outside our solar system).

New England Aquarium
Five Atlantic Harbor Seals on exhibit and can be seen for free from the Harborwalk. At 11:45 daily there’s a training session and visitors can catch the seals performing water aerobics.

Indoor Rock Climbing
Boston Rock Gym in Woburn. Several different rooms offer varied rock climbing experiences. Great from children to grown-ups in climbs that are challenging for adults and easy for kids. Instructors offer assistance. (Also MetroRock in Everett and Newburyport).

Discovery Museum, Acton
A science museum geared toward younger children where the exhibitions are very hands-on.  “Children discover open-ended, interactive exhibits that encourage exploration and imagination,”--all in a Victorian home where each room features different themes and activities.

When all else fails there are places like Boston Sports Club where parents can leave their children all day.

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