July Adventures: 22 things to do with the kids this month
With hundreds of activities over Independence Day week at Boston landmarks, this is one of the country’s largest Fourth of July festivals. Activities include the annual opening ceremony at Faneuil Hall, historical reenactments, Freedom Trail walks, boat tours, live music, and much more. Enjoy live entertainment, fashion and puppet shows during the Friday kickoff. Saturday’s lineup includes a classic car show, Chowderfest, fife and drum festival, Parade of Lights and Harborfest fireworks. The celebration culminates with Boston’s 264th Independence Day Celebration and the Boston Pops and Fireworks. bostonharborfest.com.
The Caterpillar Lab
The Caterpillar Lab, located in Marlborough, NH, takes over the PlayLabs at the Discovery Museum and turns them into a mini version of their own lab space. See a huge variety of New England caterpillar species showcased on open-air displays of local plants. Get up close to enormous giant silk moth caterpillars, fierce-looking snake-mimicking caterpillars, convincing twig-mimicking caterpillars, and bubbly butterfly caterpillars. Witness rare moments of metamorphosis and watch ecological relationships play out first-hand under a digital microscope. Drop-in 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Included with admission. Advance reservations are required to visit the museum. discoveryacton.org.
Independence: 4th of July Celebrations
Celebrate Independence Day Weekend with a citizens’ parade, fife and drum music, cannon demonstrations, and more at Old Sturbridge Village. Learn how and why early 19th-century New Englanders celebrated the holiday, hear a stirring reading of the Declaration of Independence, and hear excerpts from Frederick Douglass’s 1852 address “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July.” You can also join in a game of old-fashioned style baseball and watch a toy hot air balloon flight. Included with admission. osv.org.
Free First Thursday at New England Botanic Garden
Enjoy free admission to the garden on the first Thursday of each summer month. Soak up the sun exploring the beautiful trails and gardens during the daytime hours, or unwind in the evening with live music and local brews from the outdoor Beer Garden. Admission is first-come-first-served. nebg.org.
Thursday Summer Evenings at the Garden
Thursdays through August
Unplug, recharge, and escape at New England Botanic Garden. Every Thursday, enjoy your summer nights exploring and enjoying the gardens and trails, listening to local musicians, and playing fun lawn games. Enjoy small bites, craft brews, and wine from the outdoor Beer Garden, hike the mile-long loop trail, and watch the sunset over the Wachusett Reservoir. A wide variety workshops and classes for children and adults are scheduled, too, including: Pet Rocks, a hands-on exploration of the rock cycle through activities and investigations followed by creating your own pet rock (July 21), and Birds and Bees Treasure Box Making (July 28). These evenings are included with the cost of admission; workshops an additional fee. Advance ticket purchase recommended. nebg.org.
Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience
Opens July 8
The magic and mystery of Ancient Egypt comes to Boston’s SoWa Power Station for a limited run. This exhibition combines the power of cinematic storytelling and soaring imagery to invite visitors into the golden king’s world like never before. Meet Ancient Egyptian gods like Ra and Anubis before descending into King Tut’s burial chamber and joining his quest for immortality. Relive one of the greatest discoveries of all time – the king’s tomb with all his treasures waiting inside, reclaimed from the desert sand after 3,000 years. With nine galleries to explore, wind through the story of a young boy whose name still looms large, and how he changed the ancient – and modern – world. Tickets start at $32.50 for adults and $22.50 for children ages 5-15. beyondkingtut.com.
Summer Friday Nights Free
Fridays through Labor Day
Enjoy free admission to the Discovery Museum every Friday night through the summer, 4:30-8 p.m. Explore the museum and Discovery Woods, but note that the Treehouse and Discovery Woods will close at dusk. Non-perishable food donations for Open Table and the Acton Food Pantry gratefully accepted. Reservations are required and can be made 10 days in advance. discoveryacton.org.
Art on the Plaza: Chalkfest
The MassArt Art Museum Plaza comes to life with outdoor activities and music for the Art on the Plaza series. At July's event, join MAAM and artist Zahirah Nur Truth for an afternoon of sidewalk chalk fun with live music offered in partnership with Fenway Porchfest. Share your connections to birth and motherhood using colorful chalk, fun imagery, and vibrant patterns that bring to bring the plaza to life.Enjoy drop-in activities in the Barkan Family Big Ideas Studio and check out current exhibitions Designing Motherhood: Things That Make and Break Our Births and Joana Vasconcelos: Valkyrie Mumbet. maam.massart.edu.
Family Farm Chores at Appleton Farms
Weekends through the summer
Hamilton & Ipswich
Get on your muck boots: your whole family will get to be farmers together! Help feed Violet and Vanilla, the rabbits, and Morgana, Maeve, Merlin, and Mordred, the goats. Collect eggs from the flock of chickens and maybe even take the goats for a stroll on their halters. This is an immersive, hands-on experience best suited for families—adults and children alike will get to try their hand at a variety of tasks. Cost $20/members $15. thetrustees.org.
Befriend the Barnyard
Weekends through the summer
Hamilton & Ipswich
This hands-on barnyard experience at Appleton Farms lets families approach the barnyard buddies under the guidance of a professional farm-based educator. Join for a new activity every half hour. Activities might include: petting the angora rabbits and carding wool; collecting eggs from the chicken coop, or brushing the goats in their pasture. As part of Befriend the Barnyard, you can make and take home a different farm-themed craft every weekend. This program is best suited for families with young children. Adults $10, children $5, kids under 3 free. thetrustees.org.
Barnyard Babies & Stroller Walks at Appleton Farms
Wednesdays through the summer
Hamilton & Ipswich
To encourage time in nature, familiarity with the natural world, and a time for parents and children to get together outdoors, this new a farm-based infant/toddler stroller walk program will meet weekly from 9:15-10:15 a.m. Come to one or all of the sessions and explore the farmyard, fields, and forest. A farm educator leads the group on a walk throughout the farmstead, and attendees are invited to stay for Story Hour at 10:30 to extend your fun on the farm. This program is intended as a walk for parents with children in strollers. Pre-registration recommended. Adults free, children $10/member $5. thetrustees.org.
The Discovery Museum’s Fairyborough is a little city with a big future. Design, build, and explore a mysterious forest environment of fairy houses, gnome homes, and sprite skyscrapers, constructed completely out of natural materials and creativity. This changing and evolving temporary space is put together by staff and visitors over the course of 6 days. Included with admission. Advance reservations are required to visit the museum. discoveryacton.org.
Butterflies & Bees Festival
Boston Nature Center and Wildlife Sanctuary hosts this celebration of the majesty of summer. Learn about the lifecycles of butterflies and bees and their essential pollination. Meet live caterpillars and butterflies with the Caterpillar Lab. Enjoy a tour of the Boston Area Beekeepers Association beehives with beekeepers and a honey taste test. Finish out your day with summer lawn games inspired by pollinators. Sign up for a 1.5 hour slot. massaudubon.org.
Red Apple Farm’s celebration of all things blueberry! Fill up your bucket with fresh pick-your-own blueberries, sip on an ice cold Blueberry Cider, or try Bart’s Homemade blueberry ice cream and blueberry-glazed cider donuts. BBQ firing up the grill and live music round out the weekend festival. Free admission. redapplefarm.com.
STEM + Movie Night on the Lawn
As part of its 40th anniversary celebration, the Discovery Museum hosts hands-on STEM activities then invites guests to settle onto the lawn for a screening of FernGully. Frozen treats available from VeeBop’s Ice Cream truck. Bring your own chairs or blanket. Rain date July 22. Free. discoveryacton.org.
Stroller Tour at MassArt Art Museum
Enjoy a special stroller-friendly tour for children up to 2 years old and their caregivers. Designed as a unique opportunity to visit before regular hours, this interactive exploration of current exhibitions includes touchable objects, artmaking, and conversation for adults. Meet up with a MAAM Educator and new friends for a thematic experience highlighting Joana Vasconcelos: Valkyrie Mumbet and Designing Motherhood: Things That Make and Break Our Births each third Thursday morning of the month. maam.massart.edu.
Boston Lights at Franklin Park Zoo
Opens July 22
Sparkling lanterns will once again illuminate Franklin Park Zoo. Experience the wonder of over 55 magnificent displays comprised of hundreds of beautifully crafted lanterns spanning the zoo's 72 acres. Discover luminous scenes from the rainforest, whimsical ocean displays with creatures of the deep, glowing corridors of lotus and bamboo, traditional Asian lanterns and a stunning 66-foot-long rose corridor. New this year is a colossal 82-foot-long octopus tunnel with blinking eyes and color-changing tentacles. Tickets $26.95/family 4-pack $92.95. zoonewengland.org.
Christmas in July
Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s Gardens at Elm Bank host this second annual winter wonderland in the middle of summer. See what the citizens of Snow Village, the winter-themed model train display that draws thousands of visitors at Christmastime, are up to! Take part in crafts or drop in on Garden Tails workshops, and more wintery fun. Included with admission. masshort.org.
Charlton Arts & Activities Center hosts this annual event with all sorts of kid-friendly fun. Enjoy bounce houses, clowns, magicians, face painting, sand art, and an Animal Adventure Show. Of course, blueberries will be part of the fun with baking contests and delicious blueberry shortcake. Admission is free. charltonarts.org.
Celebrate National Moth Week by getting to know the moths of Central Massachusetts at Wachusett Meadow’s Moth Ball. Loree Burns has written about moths and moth-watching for both children and adults, and she'll share what she's learned in this hands-on evening event, 8-10 p.m. Bring a headlamp if you have one, plus whatever observation tools you like best: magnifier, journal, camera, etc. Loree's book for children, 'You're Invited to a Moth Ball', will be available for purchase. Adults $18, children $12; members $15/10. massaudubon.org.
Dino Safari: A Walk-Thru Adventure
Wednesdays through Sundays
This interactive experience at Faneuil Hall has been extended through Labor Day weekend. Visitors can walk among more than 20 full scale animatronic dinosaurs, and see them come to life in a virtual reality experience. See real fossils on display and geographic representations of where the dinosaurs lived. Tickets start at $18, children under 2 are free. dinosafariboston.com.
How People Make Things
Tuesday through Sunday, through Sept. 18
This new exhibit at the EcoTarium links familiar childhood objects to a process of manufacturing that combines people, ideas, and technology. Inspired by the factory tour segments from the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood television series, the exhibit offers hands-on activities using real factory tools and machines to create objects with four manufacturing processes - molding, cutting, deforming, and assembly. Many common manufactured products help tell how people, ideas, and technology transform raw materials into finished products. Included with admission. ecotarium.org.
Sensory-Friendly Films: AMC Theatres offers family-friendly movie showings with the lights up and sound down on the second and fourth Saturday of each month. Check local listings for specific showtimes.
Morningstar Program at Boston Children’s Museum: Saturday, July 2. Children with special needs/medical needs can visit the museum with few other visitors. Registration required.
Sensory Friendly Hour at Apex: Sunday, July 3. Enjoy all that Apex Entertainment in Marlborough has to offer in a sensory-friendly environment.