With 9 year old kids who have traveled to many places you would think we would be aquariumed out by now, but I was still pretty curious about the New England Aquarium because I had heard a lot of fabulous things. We were staying at family-friendly Residence Inn Boston Seaport and the aquarium was a short 15-minute walk away. We had been given two Citypass Vouchers to try and the New England Aquarium is one of 5 sites included on Boston’s Citypass. It’s good to know that you can also use AAA membership at the Aquarium for a $2 discount if you don’t have Citypass-every dollar counts, right?
We showed up for opening at the New England Aquarium and there was only a handful of other people there so we didn’t need to take advantage of the designated Citypass line, but later in the afternoon I heard the line for non-CityPass holders was over an hour! With lines like this, a CityPass might just be worth it for skipping the line alone. And the New England Aquarium is an incredible aquarium. We started out in an area where you could touch rays and gentle sharks in a giant tank and they had some of the biggest rays I’ve ever seen in a touch tank. When you enter the main part of the aquarium, there is a 4 story tube-like tank that seems to represent the layers of a tropical ocean and you journey your way up a spiral ramp to see the schools of swimming fish, turtles and sharks and the top of the ocean. We were especially impressed with an interactive activity where two aquarium staff walked around the aquarium with glowing tubes of jellyfish. We also loved seeing all the penguins, especially the fairy penguins, because we recently spent an evening in Melbourne trying to spot these adorable creatures.
MUSEUM OF SCIENCE
The Museum of Science was one of the reasons I might not have bought a Citypass. I have a reciprocal membership with our Museum of Flight membership in Seattle which is part of the ASTC Passport Program. This program allows you to use your membership card for free entry at many museums across the United States. The hubby was working the day the kids and I went. There was a huge rain and lightening storm and the museum was quite busy but it didn’t feel crowded. My kids liked an area where they could build and test a racing car and one of my guys was so brave that he tried out the bed of nails and I was almost too terrified to even watch. We spent hours here and we don’t usually spend hours in a museum, and the guys still wanted to go back. So this was definitely a place I would recommend visiting if you have kids and are traveling to Boston. And if you don’t have a membership, it definitely makes the Citypass very appealing.
Always check a place out before you go! We learned our lesson the hard way because we didn’t check the website to make sure the SkyWalk was actually open when we went and this was probably the only afternoon it was closed to the public this summer. However, the SkyWalk is located right next to Eataly and I have never been to an Eataly before, so I was in complete heaven. It didn’t matter that we had walked for an hour in burning sunlight or that we missed out completely on this activity, Eataly is like a giant museum of Italian food and I could have wandered the aisles for hours, eating, buying and happily shopping. If you have your heart set on going to the SkyWalk, make sure you check the tickets page and scroll down to the calendar to see if there are any other events booked there before you go.
Harvard Museum of Natural History
You have to choose between the History Museum and a Boston Harbour Cruise if you buy the Citypass. If you have a science museum membership from your hometown like we do, you might have reciprocal entry benefit through the ASTC Passport Program so you won’t have to make a choice. We loved checking out all the rooms of animals, rocks, glass flowers and science paraphernalia. We also had lunch at Mr Bartley’s Burgers and participated in a scavenger hunt at the Harvard Book Store.
BOSTON HARBOUR CRUISES
We probably would have missed out completely on this activity if we didn’t have a Citypass. Since we already had tickets to the Harvard Natural History Museum through our Seattle Museum of Flight membership we made a last minute booking to go on the last Harbour Cruise on one of the days we were visiting Boston. It was supposed to be rainy and we’re not really boat people, but the sailing took us out into the harbour, talked about the history of Boston and pointed out some sights we would not have seen if we hadn’t taken this cruise. The hubby and I were almost lulled to sleep because we were tired from all the site-seeing and the kids were content just to look out at the water. This was such a peaceful and relaxing way to take in Boston and I’m glad we had a chance to check this out. I think if I had more time in Boston I would really like to visit some of the nearby islands that we saw from our Harbour Cruise.
Is The Boston CityPass worth buying?
With a price tag of $56 dollars for adults and $44 for kids, the CityPass would almost have been worth it to see the Boston Harbour Cruise and Aquarium alone, except for the fact we had AAA which made not having a CityPass slightly cheaper but we would not have had the line-skipping benefit. If we had been able to go to the SkyWalk, then the CityPass would already be a huge savings. So even though I have free membership to the Museum of Science and the Harvard Natural History Museum, I would recommend the Boston Citypass because it is easy to use, saves time in line and ultimately saves you money if you visit 3 of the 4 activities within the 9 days you can use the pass. I love easy travel and having a booklet that is prepaid takes the headache out of deciding where to go and what to do as well.
(PS. I received 2 adult Boston Citypass vouchers to use for this trip and the opinions in this piece are my own.)
(PPS. Considering that the Seattle Museum of Flight membership could get my whole family into the Natural History Museum and Museum of Science for free, this also might be a membership you consider buying before you visit Boston. If you are not based in Seattle, you should check museums in your area to see if they have reciprocal benefits in other cities too.)
At the time I traveled, the rates for the activities without passes or discounts are below. It is always important to check the actual venues’ sites before you visit for the most accurate and up to date information. (See SkyWalk Observatory Paragraph above…….)
Adults $27.95 (save an additional $2 off each admission with AAA membership.)
Children 3-11 years old $20
Children 3-18 $8