9 Boston by Foot Tours for Families

July 26th, 2015 by Hilarey Wojtowicz No comments »

Of all the cities we’ve been to, we have to admit that we love Boston because it is truly walkable. It’s smaller then New York City and kid-friendly attractions are all over the map, within walking distance of one another. Rather than navigate the streets yourself on your next family vacation to Beantown, sign up for a tour with Boston by Foot. Here are nine of the regularly offered tours.

The Old State House in Boston

Back Bay
The Back Bay neighborhood of Boston is easy to navigate and is filled with elegant homes and historic architecture. On this tour, families will see Trinity Church, Boston Public Library, Old South Church and the Back Bay townhouses. Additionally, tour guides will tell the history of the area, and how it was once a body of water before becoming a neighborhood in the mid 1800’s. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for kids ages 6 to 12. It is free for children ages 5 and under. The tour lasts about 90 minutes.

Beacon Hill
On a tour of Beacon Hill, families will see the State House, the Federal and Greek Revival row houses and the homes of Louisburg Square. Plus, afterward, families can enjoy lunch and dinner at one of the many restaurants and cafes on Charles Street. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for kids ages 6 to 12. It is free for children ages 5 and under. The tour lasts about 90 minutes.

Boston by Little Feet
This tour was made for children. Throughout the tour, families will see the sights along the famed Freedom Trail, as well as the first public school in America and the oldest burying ground in Boston. Tickets are $12 per person and free for children ages 5 and under. The tour lasts about 60 minutes. It is only offered on Friday and Saturday.

Heart of the Freedom Trail
Families will see all of the same sights as those offered on the Boston by Little Feet tour, but with more time to explore them all. Enjoy learning about the Faneuil Hall, the Old State House and more. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for kids ages 6 to 12. It is free for children ages 5 and under. The tour lasts about 90 minutes.

Literary Landmarks
Families on the Literary Landmarks tour will see the homes and meeting places of famous authors, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Henry James, Charles Dickens and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for kids ages 6 to 12. It is free for children ages 5 and under. The tour lasts about 90 minutes. It is only offered on Saturday.

Reinventing Boston: A City Engineered
Families interested in Boston’s history and its growth overtime will enjoy this tour. Stops include the place where the first American subway stood, the harbor, Ben Franklin’s favorite swimming hole and more. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for kids ages 6 to 12. It is free for children ages 5 and under. The tour lasts about 90 minutes. It is only offered on Sunday.

Road to Revolution
Stand where the Boston Massacre occurred and where the Boston Tea Party took place on this tour, which explores the many historic sites that play host to events that led to the American Revolution. Tickets are $17 for adults and $10 for kids ages 6 to 12. It is free for children ages 5 and under. The tour lasts about 120 minutes.

The Dark Side of Boston
If you dare, explore the dark side of Boston on this tour. Guides will take families along the small streets that played parts in vandalism, robbery, danger and more, while telling the stories along the way. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for kids ages 6 to 12. It is free for children ages 5 and under. The tour lasts about 90 minutes.

The North End: Gateway to Boston
The North End of Boston played a large role in bringing culture to life. It is known as the gateway to Boston and families on this tour will learn about the immigrants who made their way here long ago. Sites include the Old North Church, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground and the Paul Revere House. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for kids ages 6 to 12. It is free for children ages 5 and under. The tour lasts about 90 minutes. It is only offered on Friday and Saturday.

For more information and to book a tour, visit the Boston by Foot website.

— Hilarey Wojtowicz

What Your Family Needs to Know About Global Entry

July 25th, 2015 by Hilarey Wojtowicz No comments »

An international family vacation is very exciting. Between packing for a new country, taking a long flight and getting passports stamped, kids will be anxious to dive into the new culture.

The only thing that can dampen the trip is a long wait in customs – even when it’s on the way home. One way to make the process smooth and fast, and to prevent children from getting antsy, is to sign up for Global Entry. But what is it exactly? And what does your family need to know?

Father and son at kiosk in airport

The Basics
Global Entry is a program that allows traveler to get pre-approved for entry into specific countries. The program is open to U.S. citizens and residents of Germany, the Netherlands, Panama and South Korea, plus Mexican nationals. Canadian citizens and residents are eligible for Global Entry through the NEXUS program. Teens and children under the age of 18 must have parent or legal guardian consent. All participants must have a machine-readable passport or a U.S. permanent resident card.

The Perks
When re-entering the U.S. at an airport with Global Entry kiosks, families and travelers receive head-of-the-line privileges, helping them move through customs and security faster. Plus, with the electronic kiosks, there is no paperwork and wait times are reduced at all airports where Global Entry is available.

The Process
To apply for Global Entry, simply visit the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) website and fill out the application. There is a $100 non-refundable fee. Once the application is reviewed and approved, you will need to schedule an interview at one of the Global Entry Enrollment Centers, which are located throughout the U.S. ans the international countries where Global Entry is valid.

At the interview, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer will ask questions, take your photo and will scan your fingerprints, among other things, to determine if you are eligible for the program or not. Be sure to bring your passport, driver’s license, ID card and permanent resident card (if applicable) to the interview.

The Locations
Global Entry kiosks are available at more than 50 airports around the U.S. and the world. International locations include San Juan-Luis Munoz International Airport (SJU), Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), Vancouver International Airport (YVR), Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW), Nassau – Sir Lynden Pindling International Airport, Bahamas (NAS), Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL), Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ), Guam International Airport (GUM), Edmonton International Airport (YEG), Dublin Airport (DUB), Shannon Airport (SNN), Calgary International Airport (YYC), Aruba – Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA), Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (YWG) and Aby Dhabi International Airport (AUH).

For a full list of airports that participate in the Global Entry program, visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. And for more information on flying with kids, see our Air Travel section.

— Hilarey Wojtowicz

Book a Family Reunion in the Rockies and Win $1,000

July 24th, 2015 by Hilarey Wojtowicz No comments »

Family reunions are a great way to spend time with extended family members. These multigenerational vacations allow kids to see grandparents and for mom and dad to catch up with cousins. If you haven’t yet planned your family’s next reunion, then listen up: you can win $1,000 in vacation credit just by booking a 2016 family reunion at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado.

Whitewater rafting at the YMCA of the Rockies

The YMCA of the Rockies is located near Rocky Mountain National Park, which is an ideal setting with outdoor fun for families. The 860-acre property offers both Family Cabins (with room for up to 15) and even Group Retreat Cabins for even larger parties.

Onsite activities start with hours in the pool, on the ziplines and at the mini-golf course, and continue with arts and crafts, archery, horseback riding, ice-skating, hiking, snowshoeing and more. Plus, with teen nights, a summer concert series and nightly campfires, there’s really something to keep the entire family busy at all hours of the day.

And after all the fun, families can enjoy meals together in the Aspen Dining Room, the Rustic Café and the Pine Room Restaurant. Families who book reunions receive their meals included with rates, too, which help save everyone even more money.

To qualify for the $1,000 prize, families must book a reunion of at least 20 people for the summer of 2016 (between Memorial Day and Labor Day) no later than Sept. 7, 2015. One family will win the $1,000 vacation credit to use during their stay, while five more families will receive the second prize of $450 towards activities during their stay. Family reunions must be booked in lodge rooms with a meal plan for stays of at least two nights.

For more information on family reunions, check out our Large and Multigenerational Travel section!

— Hilarey Wojtowicz

4 Boston Events for Families

July 23rd, 2015 by Hilarey Wojtowicz No comments »

Spend time together as a family in Boston before the kids go back to school. This August, the New England city is hosting family-friendly events for all ages.

Boston skyline

Family Film Festival
Aug. 1-29, 2015
Throughout the month of August, Boston radio station Magic 106.7 will host a Family Film Festival at the Shops at Prudential Center. Movies include “UP” on Aug. 1, “Paddington” on Aug. 8, “Ratatouille” on Aug. 15, “Toy Story” on Aug. 22, and “Despicable Me” on Aug. 29. Admission is free.

Boston Seafood Festival
Aug. 2, 2015
Boston is known for its seafood, so what better way to enjoy it than at a festival that celebrates it? Families will enjoy food, contests, arts and crafts vendors, a kids’ activities area and a lobster bake. To enjoy all the fun, just head to the Boston Fish Pier on Saturday, Aug. 2, between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults and teens ages 13 and older, $5 for kids ages 6 to 12, and free for children ages 5 and under.

Boston GreenFest
Aug. 21-23, 2015
Learn about the environment and how to be healthier at the eighth annual Boston GreenFest. The free event offers families music, food, interactive exhibits, movies, a kids’ activities area and more. All events and activities will be held at the Boston City Hall Plaza.

Kiddies Carnival
Aug. 23, 2015
The Boston Carnival Village promotes island culture throughout Boston year-round. On Sunday, Aug. 23, the Kiddies Carnival offers children a chance to learn about and enjoy it, too. Families can head to White Stadium in Franklin Park for musical performances, dancing, face painting, Caribbean food and more. Kids ages 12 and under receive free admission with a paying adult. Admission is $10 for adults and teens ages 13 and older.

Planning on attending one of these great events? Book a night at a family-friendly Boston hotel for your trip!

— Hilarey Wojtowicz