Think outside the box -- or flower vase -- this Mother’s Day. What better way to celebrate than by making memories and having some family fun? Here are seven special events happening on May 12 that promise to be an amazing way to spend the day.
Boston Common Parkman Bandstand
10 a.m.-12 p.m.
Take part in one of the most adorable Boston traditions as children parade through the Boston Common and Public Garden dressed like ducklings. The Friends of the Public Garden have put on the annual Duckling Day for more than 30 years, where hundreds of children dressed as characters from Robert McCloskey’s classic children’s book "Make Way for Ducklings" march from Boston Common to the duckling statues of the Public Garden. While the event is most famous for this precious parade, there’s much more to it.
Enjoy playtime on the Common from 10 a.m.-12 p.m., featuring jugglers, magicians, interactive circus games, kids crafts, face-painting and more. All activities are included with event admission. Families are encouraged to bring a picnic and sprawl out on the common while enjoying the array of entertainment and activities. The parade, led by the Harvard University Marching Band, begins at noon.
The registration fee is $35 per family in advance (before May 10) and $40 per family the day of the event. Each child who registers will receive a special goody bag.
Lilac Sunday at Arnold Arboretum
125 Aborway, Boston
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Pack a picnic for Lilac Sunday! For 111 years, families have made the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University the place to welcome spring, enjoying its spectacular lilac collection at its peak of bloom. Enjoy the sight and scent of hundreds of lilacs, and encounter some of the thousands of other species of trees, shrubs, and vines comprising the Arboretum’s living collections. The Lilac Collection alone numbers some 397 plants.
This is the only day of the year that picnicking is permitted at the Arboretum, so pack lunch and plan to stay all day. Enjoy themed tours of lilacs and other special plant collections and an array of activities for families and children, from fragrance tests to temporary tattoos to Mother’s Day card-making. The Boston Symphony Orchestra and their Children’s Chorus will be performing throughout the day. Lemonade, slush, and ice cream will be available for purchase.
The event is free, though donations to the Arboretum are appreciated. Parking is limited to perimeter streets, so use of public transportation is strongly encouraged.
Family Walk at Great Brook Farm State Park
165 North Rd., Carlisle
Celebrate mom and join other families on a Mother’s Day walk through Great Brook Farm State Park. This 1000-acre park features more than 20 miles of trails where you can see Native American sites and 17th-century cellar holes leftover from English settlers. There's also an active dairy farm that offers free tours on weekends.
The 2-hour guided hike will be easy enough for kids and beginners, winding through woods and fields and passing by ponds and streams. Afterward, visit the animals on the dairy farm or treat yourself at the ice cream stand. The walk is free but there is a $3 parking fee at this DCR property. Register online at or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Marmee’s Mother’s Day Party at Fruitlands Museum
102 Prospect Hill Rd., Harvard
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Stop by the Fruitlands Farmhouse to celebrate mom with this “Little Women” themed Mother's Day Party. Listen in to live readings of excerpts from Louisa May Alcott's classic novel, make a craft, try on period dress-up clothes and play historic games!
Extend your experience by enjoying all that Fruitlands has to offer. This sprawling property is home to five collections on 210 majestic acres of meadows and woods. Go on a hike, learn about the lives of the Transcendentalists, Shakers, the Hudson River School and Native Americans, enjoy treasures in the Art Museum, and take in contemporary outdoor sculptures. You can also enjoy brunch in the Fruitlands Museum Cafe, but be sure to reserve a table ahead of time, as they book up quickly.
Marmee’s Mother’s Day Party activities are included in the cost of admission to Fruitlands; adults $15, students and seniors $12, kids 5-13 $6, children under 5 and Trustees members free.
Picnic & Lilac Festival at Stevens-Coolidge Place
137 Andover St., North Andover
10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Get outside with your family and celebrate mom with a picnic at the Stevens-Coolidge Place at the peak of lilac season. Enjoy live music and explore the garden with your little ones. Play croquet, bocce, ring toss, and other lawn games that will be set up throughout the garden. Take a family photo among the beautiful gardens.The Stevens-Coolidge Place will provide a limited assortment of pastry and beverages to supplement the bring-your-own-picnic atmosphere of the day.
Take guided tours of the gardens and stop in the greenhouse to see what seasonal goodies are for sale to add to your garden. Special arrangements will be available for Mother’s Day.
Mini family photo sessions with a professional portrait photographer from White Dove Photography and Abby Photography available with pre-registration.
Pre-registration is required, and early registration is encouraged. Adults $30 and children $15, or $24 and $9 for Trustees members. Moms are free! Register at trustees.org.
Brunch on the Farm at Appleton Farms
219 County Rd., Ipswich
10-11:30 a.m. & 12:30-2 p.m.
Treat Mom to a memorable farm-to-table Mother’s Day Brunch at picturesque Appleton Farm, a 1,000-acre working farm that offers a glimpse into New England’s agricultural past. Enjoy a hearty buffet brunch with locally sourced in ingredients in the historic Carriage Barn, where you can take in displays of Appleton family saddles, bridles, and fox hunting gear from years past while children enjoy climbing aboard an antique carriage or exploring the Farm Discovery Boxes. Kids can also visit with the barnyard animals and make a craft for mom! All moms will receive a well deserved mimosa with brunch. If the weather is nice, there will be additional seating and lawn games outside, and guests can enjoy a stroll around the farm after brunch.
Pre-registration required; adults $45 and children $20, or $36 and $16 for Trustees members. Children under 2 are free. Register at trustees.org.
Mother’s Day at Old Sturbridge Village
1 Old Sturbridge Village Rd., Sturbridge
9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Spend the day immersed in history and strolling the grounds of Old Sturbridge Village, where all moms get in FREE for the day! Family events are planned throughout the day including demonstrations of 1800s-era cooking for children, hands-on crafts, and live family-friendly performances. Guests can also visit with a 19th century midwife and Lydia Marie Child, author of “The Mother’s Book.” Check online for a full schedule of events.
Admission to Old Sturbridge Village is $28 for adults, $26 for seniors, $14 for children and students. Kids under 4 are free.