8 Winter Break boredom busters

Staff Writer
Baystateparent Magazine

Explore the rails 

A suite of train-themed attractions at the Museum of Science in Boston  is sure to entertain any railroad enthusiast. The museum’s temporary model train exhibit, All Aboard! Trains at Science Park, makes its return for a second year in a row, alongside a variety of other attractions, including Thomas & Friends and OMNI and 4-D films. Enjoy a day exploring the rails with miniature trains and hands-on activities. Kids can lay wooden tracks and consult with expert train model makers. Younger children will delight in the Thomas & Friends exhibit, where they can solve a variety of challenges combining play and STEM concepts. Experience The Polar Express and Thomas & Friends: Boiling Bubblers in 4-D, or catch the popular Rocky Mountain Express in the Omni Theater. All Aboard! is open through Jan. 7. more info


 Go on a reindeer quest 

Grab your boots and get the kids outside. Trustees properties are hosting “reindeer quests,” and inviting guests to find some elusive wooden reindeer sculptures hidden throughout trails. You can search for a herd of them at Appleton Farms Grass Rides in Ipswich or Chestnut Hill Farm in Southborough. Or, check out Francis William Bird Park in Walpole, where four reindeer are hidden along the trails. Before you head out, stop at the trailhead parking lot kiosk to pick up some trail trips and bells. When you find a reindeer, place a bell around its neck. These are self-guided programs, and the parks are open dawn to dusk. more info


Get artsy 

Hands-on fun might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, but there’s plenty that kids can touch in the museum’s various children’s programs. Bring kids to the MFA during the holiday break for activities exploring works of art inspired by light, free with admission. They can even make their own masterpiece to take home. Program runs Thursday through Tuesday, Dec. 26-31. more info


Take in some history 

One of New England’s most historic homes, the Old Manse in Concord, is hosting longer hours and extra tours over winter break. Learn about the minister who sparked a revolution, his grandson who inspired the transcendental movement, and world-famous artists, musicians, and scientists who have all called this 18th century house their home. From upstairs, you can look out over the North Bridge, where the famous battle of April 19, 1775, took place, and on the window panes, you can see the poems Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife wrote to each other. more info


Go skating -- in your socks 

Several special winter break experiences are on tap at the Boston Children’s Museum, including a production of Curious George and the Golden Meatball, a live musical created exclusively for the Museum, as well as “snowmazing” activities, live animal presentations, STEAM activities, story times, dance performances, and more. On Dec. 28, the museum is hosting Morning Cocoa with Characters events, which include early admission, a hot chocolate bar, and the chance to meet Curious George. (Advance tickets required). Or, stop in any day for sock skating through the museum’s Alpine Village. more info


Live out your Lego dreams 

Lego lovers will be in heaven at the Springfield Museums’ Everything is Awesome: Build It Week. Each day is a little different from the one before and each features a guest appearance, including magician Eric Benton and illustrator David White, a western Massachusetts-based artist who specializes in designing giant robots, or mecha, for video games and books. Daily activities include sustainable building demos, a Brick Lab and self-portrait studio, and an art discovery center with costumes, gallery games and more. Build It Week activities run Friday through Monday, Dec. 27-30. more info


See the ‘Northern Lights’ 

Head south to see the aurora borealis? Sort of. The Mystic Aquarium is hosting its first-ever evening lights display this month. The unique experience takes visitors on a journey along the lighted pathways of the aquarium's outdoor habitats, illuminated by a recreation of the Northern Lights.The spectacle is set to music and-crafted lanterns help shine a whole new light on Arctic species. Check it out Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings through Jan. 4. more info


Marvel at ice sculptures 

Boston’s downtown waterfront and Harborwalk gets transformed into a magical, winter wonderland for the annual Ice Sculpture Stroll. Over a dozen businesses and cultural institutions from the city’s waterfront neighborhoods come together on New Year’s Eve to provide an afternoon of free family fun. Wind your way down the waterfront through the trail of interactive ice sculptures as you get ready to ring in 2020. more info