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Sisters Laura Chassaigne and Natalie Chassaigne Kurtzman are the mothers behind The Boston Day Book, a blog that covers everything from style to food to travel to life with kids in Boston.
Chassaigne, mom to 2-year-old Serena, lives in Beacon Hill, and Chassaigne Kurtzman, mom to 1-year-old Milo, lives in South Boston. The sisters are always on the hunt for family-friendly activities in the city and beyond. So when asked what parents can do with their kids over April vacation from April 16-20, the sisters had lots of ideas.
“Hopefully we’ll have plenty of warm weather coming up for vacation week,” Chassaigne Kurtzman said. “I think everyone is itching to get outside.”
1. Ride an iconic Swan Boat
Both sisters said they’re looking forward to taking a boat ride with their kids on the iconic Swan Boats in the Public Garden. The boats debut for the season on Saturday — just in time for April vacation.
“I think it’s important to be a tourist in your own city,” Chassaigne Kurtzman said. “It really is such an iconic Boston thing to do.”
Families can relax on the historic boats, in operation since 1877, and enjoy the scenic garden while a driver pedals them around the lagoon. The rides last about 15 minutes, and the boats are open every day, weather permitting.
2. Head to the farm
Chassaigne recommended heading to Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Lincoln, a spot that holds a special place in the sisters’ hearts — they used to go there with their own parents as children.
“It’s nice when you are living in the city to have a little dose of nature,” Chassaigne said. “And take a little walk in the woods and run through a field on a nice day.”
The 206-acre farm is home to pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, and cows, and four miles of hiking trails. During vacation week programming from April 16-20, kids of all ages can can explore the farm’s ponds and woods, help plant a garden, learn how to care for the animals, and do farm chores.
3. Experiment at a science festival
Little scientists will want to check out this year’s 10-day Cambridge Science Festival, from April 13-22, according to Chassaigne Kurtzman. The free festival will bring hundreds of science events and scientists to Cambridge and beyond.
“To get to talk to a scientist,” Chassaigne Kurtzman said, “that’s really cool.”
A few events that especially caught Chassaigne Kurtzman’s eye: Kids can look through a telescope at the stars, planets, and moon at the Museum of Science, explore the tide pools at the Northeastern University Marine Science Center, and get up close with robots at the Science Carnival & Robot Zoo.
4. Be free as a bird at the zoo
You don’t have to go very far to spend the day with leopards, gorillas, and tigers. The Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and Stone Zoo in Stoneham are both hosting vacation week programming, and a visit to the zoo is a great way for kids to take part in hands-on activities, get out their energy, and explore nature, Chassaigne Kurtzman said.
“The thing I love the most about the Franklin Park Zoo is it’s really a beautiful piece of land,” she said.
Both zoos are celebrating National Bat Appreciation Day on April 17.
At Franklin Park Zoo, the Aussie Aviary will open for the season on April 16, meaning kids can meet and feed hundreds of colorful birds. Kids can also celebrate Earth Day at a Party for the Planet on April 21.
Note that if you buy your tickets online, you’ll save 15 percent at both zoos.
5. Climb into a tree house
Acton’s Discovery Museum is “super highly interactive and really fun and fascinating,” Chassaigne Kurtzman said.
The sisters have fond memories of visiting there as kids.
The museum offers both indoor and outdoor fun, Chassaigne Kurtzman said. Its galleries include hands-on activities involving water, sound, light, color, and math. Outside, children can tackle a 550-square-foot tree house and nature playscape.
“They have this outdoor Discovery Woods,” Chassaigne Kurtzman said. “It’s a huge tree house and bridges and this entire backyard fantasy world for kids to explore.”
Between April 14-22, the museum is inviting visitors to help construct a Tinytropolis, a mini city created from cardboard.
6. Wander around an art museum
The Boston area’s art museums have excellent programming for kids, according to Chassaigne. And that’s especially true during school vacation week.
At the Institute of Contemporary Art, kids and their families can contribute their own digital art to an interactive art project in the museum’s Bank of America Art Lab called Hybrid-Digital Home, created by New York-based artist Saya Woolfalk and her 6-year-old daughter Aya.
7. Make fun food
The Kitchen at the Boston Public Market will be full of hands-on cooking fun during vacation week, Chassaigne Kurtzman said.
Throughout the week, kids will have the chance to craft monsters out of locally-sourced fruit and vegetables, make breakfast foods packed with veggies like carrot and sweet potato waffles, and create “chocolate dirt pudding” with Taza Chocolate and gummy worms in celebration of Earth Day.
While some activities are free, others require a fee. You can view all vacation week activities here.