December Adventures: 11 Ideas for Family Fun This Month
Splash and Bubbles: Dive In, Lend a Fin!
Tuesdays to Sundays, through Jan. 16 (closed holidays)
This new exhibit at the Springfield Museums is based on the popular PBS KIDS TV show, Splash and Bubbles. Building on kids’ connections to the characters and their habitats, the exhibit immerses them in a larger-than-life marine environment and introduces them to the incredible world of ocean exploration. Featuring a variety of hands-on exhibit components, this invites children to discover a whole new world as they navigate an under-the-sea maze in a kelp forest, explore a sunken ship that has become an artificial reef, interact with puppet characters created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, become a Reeftown Ranger to learn to protect the ocean, and more. Included with museum admission: adults $25, youth $13, children under 3 free. springfieldmuseums.org.
Preschool Story Hour: Animals in Winter
Dec. 15 & 16
A thematic story hour at Broadmeadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary featuring a story, an activity, and a naturalist-led walk. Be prepared to be outdoors as much as possible for this program, which will use a pavilion and sheltered porch as the classroom. Adults free, children $5. Pre-registration required. massaudubon.org.
Family Group Farm and Nature Exploration Programs
Available weekends and limited weekdays through Dec. 18
Take a personalized and private guided tour into the wonders of nature and farming with your family. A Mass Audubon Naturalist will lead your group on a two-hour exploration of Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, guiding you through hands-on investigations of plants and animals and observing the interactions and energy flow in the ecosystem or a hands-on family farm chore experience. Choose your program: Morning or Afternoon Farm Chores; Habitat Hike; or Pond Exploration. Program must be booked in advance; $150 for a family up to 5 people; $130 for members. massaudubon.org.
Solstice Celebration at Chestnut Hill Farm
Saturday, Dec. 18
At this annual winter solstice celebration you’ll welcome winter by making upcycled tin can lanterns. At dusk, light the lanterns and embark on a guided walk along the trails that will include presented passages from the story, “The Shortest Day,” by Wendy Pfeffer. After the hike, guests will gather back in the orchard to warm up by a campfire and enjoy hot drinks, cookies, and s’mores while welcoming the new season under the stars. Pre-registration required; tickets are $30 for adults, $15 for children; members $24/$12. thetrustees.org.
Fruitlands Solstice Stroll
Sunday, Dec. 19
Take a guided, candlelit stroll through the grounds of the Fruitlands Museum. Family strolls geared towards kids are offered at 4, 4:30 and 5 p.m., and include presented passages from the story “The Shortest Day.” Later sessions, geared towards older audiences, explore stories of solstice celebrations throughout the world and over the centuries. After your stroll, enjoy a cup of cocoa or cider around one of the firepits. Pre-registration for timed tickets is required. thetrustees.org.
John McDonough's Pumpernickel Puppets Musical Variety Show
Join Bugsy and his Pumpernickel Puppet Friends both old and new for an interactive, musical variety show at the Worcester Art Museum featuring hand, string and life size puppets. For nearly forty years, the Pumpernickel Puppets have captivated audiences of all ages with humorous and colorful adaptations of classic folk and fairy tales. Included with museum admission; adults $18, youth 17 and under free. worcesterart.org.
Daily through Jan. 16 (closed holidays)
Grab a Jurassic passport and feel the thrill of standing next to 30+ giant moving dinosaurs on this walk-through expedition at historic Quincy Market. Along the journey, earthquakes might erupt, dinosaurs could battle, and your family might just have to help save a baby dinosaur’s life. You'll learn how dinosaurs evolved over time, where on Earth they lived, and the discoveries paleontologists have made about how they ate, moved, and behaved. Tickets start at $20. dinosafariboston.com.
Daily through January
Southborough and Walpole
Get the family outside to discover an elusive herd of wooden reindeer throughout the trails at Chestnut Hill Farm in Southborough and Francis William Bird Park in Walpole. This is a free, self-guided program. At the Bird Park, grab a bell from the office to put around the reindeers’ necks. Directions can be found at the trailhead parking lot kiosks. thetrustees.org.
Winter Skate at Patriot Place
Daily (closed during Patriots home games)
Take to the ice in the shadow of Gillette Stadium. After a year hiatus due to COVID-19, Winter Skate at Patriot Place is open through February. The 60-by-140-foot, professionally-maintained ice surface is specifically designed for recreational skating, non-contact hockey and figure skating and features an observation deck for non-skaters. The surface is large enough to accommodate beginners and experts alike. Onsite skate rentals, concessions and bathrooms are available and parking is free. Patriot Place encourages guests to bring a new or gently used coat or hat/glove set to donate to Cradles to Crayons. Public skating is Monday through Wednesday from 4-9 p.m.; Thursday from 4-6 p.m.; Friday from 4-10 p.m.; Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday and all school holidays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Price is $10 for adults and $6 for children 12 and under. Skate rentals are $5. patriot-place.com.
All Aboard! Trains at Science Park
Daily through December (closed holidays)
The Museum of Science Boston’s seasonal tradition continues with this fun-for-all-ages temporary exhibit featuring classic winter landscapes and a hint of nostalgia. Miniature trains, snow-covered peaks, and engaging activities. Experience a whimsical setting where powered model trains at different scales run through various colorful scenes, complete with intricately created décor, buildings, and even people. You can also check out smaller wooden train tables where you and your group can move trains by hand and around different layouts and curves. Developed by expert train model makers who spent hours creating tiny trees and adjusting tracks to create an unforgettable Boston experience (including miniature versions of the Museum, Custom House, and the city’s iconic Zakim bridge, created by master model maker John Goodson of The Mandalorian fame), this exhibit is a great way to welcome the winter season. Included with museum admission. Adults $29, children $24, kids under 3 free. mos.org.
The Polar Express 4-D Experience
Go on an extraordinary 4-D adventure on the Polar Express! The Polar Express 4-D Experience is based on the beloved Caldecott Medal children's book by Chris Van Allsburg. Featured in digital 3-D and brought to life with multisensory effects, this is an immersive experience for the whole family to enjoy at the Museum of Science. 4-D tickets are $6 in addition to museum admission. mos.org.