What's open? 18 places to bring the kids this month

Staff Writer
Baystateparent Magazine
Children enjoy the treehouse at the Discovery Woods, an outdoor exhibit at the Discovery Museum in Acton.

Looking to make the most of the final weeks of summer? Many museums, parks and attractions have recently reopened. All require that visitors adhere to the most recent guidelines set forth by the state, including observing social distancing practices and/or wearing face coverings or masks. In most cases, tickets are limited and must be purchased in advance. 


Berkshire Museum

General admission set to resume on Aug. 17, operating on a Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday schedule. Enjoy private experiences in the Aquarium and see the special “Art of Warner Brothers Cartoons” exhibit that the museum is currently hosting. The museum is also offering an ‘@home’ experience, including a Digital Library to pique curiosity and imagination of its youngest patrons, in line with its WeeMuse programming. Timed tickets are required and go on sale beginning July 23. berkshiremuseum.org

Price: Members free; nonmember adults $5, youth under 18 free

Boston Children’s Museum

The museum reopened to the public on July 22 on a Wednesday through Sunday schedule. Visitors can select two time slots during which to visit the museum: 10 a.m. -12:30 p.m. & 2 p.m.-4:30 p.m. All ticketing procedures are conducted online. When visitors enter the Museum, they will be able to access all exhibits open except for the PlaySpace, the New Balance Climb, KidStage, and parts of the Construction Zone and Boston Black. Museum capacity limited.bostonchildrensmuseum.org

Price: Members free; nonmembers $18

Discovery Museum

The museum in Acton has reopened to the public at a reduced capacity, with tickets placed in advance at allotted times. Offering free play for all visitors until Aug. 23. One-way directional markers are placed throughout the museum. Though outside food is not permitted at the museum, patrons will be able to bring water bottles and utilize on-site bottle filters. Masks are required for all visitors ages 5 and up. Tickets can be purchased up to three days in advance for members and up to two days in advance for nonmembers. discoveryacton.org

Price: Free through 8/23; 8/25 onward: Members free; nonmembers $15.50, ages under 1 free.

deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum

An experience built on interactions of crafted art and the natural world, deCordova has opened its facilities and lands for visitors during COVID-19. In order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, the museum requires visitors to reserve timed-allotted passes in advance. Alongside its on-site attractions, deCordova has begun offering virtual visits to its current exhibitions, and live streamed ARTFull Play story hours. Register in advance of programming through the deCordova website. deCordova.org

Price: Members free; nonmembers $15 per vehicle


Explore the main museum building, scenic paths, and trails, and visit the wild cats, native birds, red foxes, and river otters. Food service available at the outside pavilion. In addition to in-person events, the EcoTarium is offering a variety of online STEM educational content and activities, including coloring sheets, a bird nest challenge, animal activity sheets, and crafting guides. All tickets must be purchased in advance and will be sold with specified times of arrival. ecotarium.org

Price: Members free; nonmember adults $19, children $14, ages under 2 free

The Institute of Contemporary Art: Boston

The ICA is welcoming back patrons for ticketed entry this summer, and continuing its tradition of offering free admission to all visitors under the age of 19, plus free Thursday nights. Upon entering the ICA, visitors are permitted to spend as much time in the galleries as they choose, though must observe proper social distancing guidelines, including restroom, store, and elevator capacity limits. The ICA Watershed has been converted to a food distribution site, and therefore is not open to the public. icaboston.org

Price: Members free; nonmembers $15, ages 18 and under free

Museum of Science

Visitors are being welcomed back to Exhibits Halls, including its special exhibit “The Science Behind Pixar.” Built by the Museum of Science and Pixar Animation Studios, the exhibit explores the entire process involved in turning an idea into a finished Pixar film, and features larger-than-life renderings of some of kids’ favorite Pixar characters. Access to the Science Behind Pixar exhibit is included in the regular price of admission, though a separately timed ticket is needed. Tickets can be purchased online or via phone in advance of visits and will include a designated time of arrival for guests. mos.org

Price: Members free; nonmembers 12+ $29, ages 3-11 $24, under 3 free.

Old Sturbridge Village

Costumed historians welcome back and transport visitors to the 1830s at Old Sturbridge Village. Families can enjoy programming adapted for viewings outside of buildings, with new programming and additional outdoor activities developed to ensure as many stories of the 19th century can be accessed by visitors. Old Sturbridge Villages’ Bullard Tavern and Scoop Shop are open for take-out services, and families are invited to bring a picnic to eat on the grounds. Tickets are being sold in advance with three time slots each day. osv.org

Price: Adults $28, youths 4-17 $14, ages under 4 free

Peabody Essex Museum

Now open Thursday through Sunday campus, with the museum will be resuming its Tuesday through Sunday schedule as the option becomes viable. During visitor’s experiences, they can enjoy the museum’s new wing devoted to its Permanent collections, garden space, and installations. Timed ticketing will be implemented for on-site visitation. The museum is also offering a number of virtual events, including its weekly PEM Pals program for children under the age of 5, focusing on art, stories, and learning, with new episodes premiere each Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. on the Museum’s YouTube channel. In addition, families can find nature-themed activity sheets, coloring pages, video artmaking tutorials, and ‘spot the difference’ activity pages. pem.org

Price: Members free; nonmember adults $20, youths 16 and under free

Springfield Museums

Experience the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss, explore the Circle of Life in The Lion Guard, and enjoy the Hall of Heroes during visits to the Springfield Museums. Currently operating 7 days a week and maintaining the 1 ticket for 5 museums pricing policy. All tickets must be purchased in advance with assigned time slots. springfieldmuseum.org

Price: Members free; nonmember adults $25, youths 3-17 $13, ages under 3 free


Stone Zoo

Go on an Outdoor Safari Walk through a one-way trail traveling from the Caribbean Coast’s flamingos, macaws, and bush dogs to the snow leopards and yaks of the Himalayan Highlands. In between, visitors will see treasures of the Sierra Madre including jaguars and cougars, look into Windows to the Wild, travel to Yukon Creek, and see porcupines, white-cheeked gibbons, Mexican gray wolves, two-toed sloths, and more. Plus, the Stone Zoo playground is open. Tickets must be purchased in advance with designated arrival times. zoonewengland.org

Price: Members free; nonmember adults $19.95, children 2-12 $12.95, ages under 2 free

Franklin Park Zoo

Visitors can experience all exhibits, allowing families to enjoy the gorillas and hippos of the Tropical Forest Pavilion to the zebras, wildebeest, and ostrich of the Serengeti Crossing. Staff will be present to ensure crowding is limited at indoor enclosures, and there will be a single-directional flow through the zoo. Tickets must be purchased in advance with designated arrival times. zoonewengland.org

Price: Members free; nonmember adults $21.95, children 2-12 $14.95, ages under 2 free

Southwick’s Zoo

All outdoor animal exhibits have opened, including the Deer Forest, playground, and petting zoo. In addition, the Rainforest Adventure Maze, Skyfari, pony and camel rides, Woodland Express Train, and Soaring Eagle Zip Line are available to visitors for an additional fee. On Zoofari Drive Thru Tours, an opportunity to view species that are more active around dusk, offered Mondays and Wednesdays at 4:30, 5:30, and 6:30 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance with designated arrival times. southwickszoo.com

Price: Adults $25, children 3-12 $20, ages under 3 free

Roger Williams Park Zoo

See red wolves, gibbons, bison, giraffes, red pandas, Moon Bears, African Elephants, and more daily from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Grab-and-go food options, gift store, All Abilities playground, and on-campus rides, including its Carousel, also open. Food Truck Friday will resume during the summer, with updates posted to the Zoo’s Facebook Page. Tickets must be purchased in advance and will list designated entry times. rwpzoo.org

Price: Members free; nonmember adults $17.95, children 2-12 $12.95, ages under 2 free

New England Aquarium

With its centralized tank leading from penguins to sea turtles, the New England Aquarium visitors can expect an opportunity to encounter their favorite seafaring friends during reopening. Traffic flow around the tank runs clockwise with one-way traffic flow. To maintain social distancing and reduce surface touching, currently touch tanks and live presentations are suspended for visitors. Tickets should be purchased in advance online. The Aquarium recommends that visits arrive at least 5 minutes before their scheduled time allotment. neaq.org

Price: Members free; nonmember adults $32, children 3-11 $23, ages under 3 free

Outdoor Experiences

MassAudubon Sites

MassAudubon has reopened trails at all of their wildlife sanctuaries for visitation. For visiting families, bathrooms are closed except at Drumlin Farm, Long Pasture, Wachusett Meadow, and Wellfleet Bay sites. Broadmoor, Ipswich River, Drumlin Farm (weekends), and Blue Hills Trailside (weekends) sites require advance entry and parking reservation to ensure that visitors can observe social distancing regulations. massaudubon.org

The Trustees 

Over 110 properties operated by The Trustees of Reservation are open to the public. Currently timed and daily parking passes are required at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Castle Hill, Fruitlands Museum, Long Point Wildlife Refuge, Naumkeag, and World’s End sites. These parking passes can be acquired online and are available 2-3 weeks in advance. The Trustees is also offering regular online and virtual programming, including story-times, vernal pool explorations, simple crafting lessons, barnyard animal encounters, and a Hike and Seek scavenger hike for your backyard. thetrustees.org

Southshore Natural Science Center

While the EcoZone Museum is currently closed, visitors are invited to walk the trails, visit with the Center’s hawk and owl, and enjoy the Children’s Garden. southshorenaturalsciencecenter.org

Drawbridge Puppet Theater

This theater in Lunenburg is offering outdoor shows throughout the summer. Shows are every Wednesday and Saturday evening, weather permitting. Bring a blanket, lawn chairs or cushions to sit on and your own picnic or snacks. Restrooms open and snacks available for purchase. Arrive early to check out the Enchanted Garden, doors open at 6:30 p.m. Reserve tickets online in advance. drawbridgepuppets.com

Price: Adults and children $7, babies (on laps) free