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How to dazzle your out-of-town guests: Families with kids

By Kara Baskin
July 18, 2010

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Friday Dine On select Friday evenings, Aura at the Seaport Hotel offers a $30 prix fixe menu for parents and an accompanying menu for kids, featuring health-conscious treats like organic chocolate chip cookies and turkey burgers. There’s also a kids’ room with toys, books, and movies, so parents can dine peacefully. Or pop into one of the North End’s many family restaurants (Antico Forno, L’Osteria, and Pizzeria Regina are kid- and wallet-friendly).

Aura Restaurant, 1 Seaport Lane, Boston, 617-385-4300, http://www.aurarestaurant.com

Do Watch the sunlight melt over the water and enjoy a movie with the Boston Harbor Hotel’s free “Movies by Moonlight” series. The hotel screens classics for the whole family, including Tootsie and Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s a relaxing, frugal way to launch the weekend. Showtime starts at dusk.

Boston Harbor Hotel, 70 Rowes Wharf, Boston, 617-439-7000, http://www.bhh.com

Saturday Do Cool off on a whale watch run by the New England Aquarium. The three- to four-hour guided excursions leave from the aquarium dock in Boston and venture to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, 25 miles off the coast. Kids can gawk at whales, seabirds, and dolphins; parents can unwind and savor the view (and there’s a snack bar on board). Book the 10 a.m. cruise to return to dry land in time to catch a 6 p.m. ImprovBoston Family Show comedy performance in Cambridge’s Central Square. The madcap troupe always summons pint-size performers on stage for sketches. The show lasts an hour – ideal for shorter attention spans.

New England Aquarium, 1 Central Wharf, Boston, 617-973-5200, http://www.neaq.org; ImprovBoston Family Show, 40 Prospect Street, Cambridge, 617-576-1253, http://www.improvboston.com

Dine After the show, dine nearby at Picante, a friendly counter-service Mexican joint. Service is brisk, and prices are low; weary parents will appreciate that beer is served. After dinner, walk to Toscanini’s Ice Cream for a funky-flavored cone.

Picante Mexican Restaurant, 735 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 617-576-6394, http://www.picantemex.com; Toscanini’s, 899 Main Street, Cambridge, 617-491-5877, http://www.tosci.com

Sunday Do Head west on Route 2 to Acton, home of the Discovery Museums. You’re in the right place if you see Bessie, a big green dinosaur, lounging outside. The campus has two museums – a science museum for both younger and older kids and a colorful Victorian house packed with activities suitable for babies through early elementary schoolers.

Discovery Museums, 177 Main Street (Route 27), Acton, 978-264-4200, http://www.discoverymuseums.org

Dine Since you’re already out in the burbs, hop in the car and head to Kimball Farm in Westford. Once known exclusively for massive portions of ice cream (especially the Kimball’s Special, three gargantuan scoops of ice cream bathed in every topping imaginable), this former roadside stand is now a mini theme park, complete with bumper boats, hot-air-balloon rides, batting cages, and mini golf. Plan on lengthy lines – and share the Special. Burgers and seafood are also available.

Kimball Farm, 400 Littleton Road, Westford, 978-486-3891, http://www.kimballfarm.com

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