Before becoming a parent, I thought I understood cabin fever. And, sure, after a few days inside I might get antsy, but I still relished slow days curled up with coffee and binge watching Netflix. As a parent, cabin fever sets in after a few hours inside. My 3-year-old thinks you dance by literally bouncing off the walls and so, except in the bleakest, coldest, rainiest weather, we go outside. Thankfully, living in Boston means we are surrounded by places where we can run around and explore. Here are a few favorite family hikes from our Boston Moms Blog contributors.
If you have a stroller…
Mount Auburn Cemetery (Cambridge)
Mount Auburn is best known for its stunning fall foliage, but it’s a great place to visit any time of year for its paved paths, restrooms, and interesting monuments to explore. They even provide a guide to visiting with children so that you won’t miss any highlights.
Two lakes (one for swimming!), two paved trails for strollering, and great views of Boston and New Hampshire make Breakheart a wonderful stop for families. There is a also a playground if you still have energy left over after your hike.
The Arboretum draws huge crowds for its Mother’s Day Lilac Festival, but there is much to explore here year round. Lots of paved paths, free Discovery Packs to check out for kids, and really cool exhibits like the Bonsai trees make this a great family stop.
I’m a bit biased because I live a few blocks off the path and use it for daily transportation, but the Minuteman Path is great for getting out with kids on bikes, scooters, or strollers. The path crosses through Bedford, Lexington, Arlington, and Cambridge and connects to other paths to get you all the way to Somerville.
If you’re comfortable with unpaved trails…
This is a great, short trail for toddlers. A half-mile wood-mulch walk will take you around an active cranberry bog and through the woods, where you can see various plants and animals. Try to spot a turtle!
In the off-season, your dog can join you off-leash for these hikes. While a bit longer (2–4 miles each), you have your choice of gentle slopes or more challenging terrain through wilderness or around one of the two ponds.
The Blue Hills Reservation offers a large variety of trails (including some great ones for cross-country skiing). In the summer, the hike to Houghton’s Pond is lovely and easy enough for small children (come prepared to buy a slush after your dip!). Or try something longer and steeper, like the Great Blue Hill trail for a view of Mount Monadnock.
All the Mass Audubon reservations are very family friendly, and Habitat is a great alternative to the often-crowded Drumlin Farm. The trails are gently sloped and cover a variety of terrain — forest, meadow, and ponds. Don’t miss the beautiful gardens around the Georgian mansion, and take time to say hi to the goats.