Boston: Top Things To Do In 24 Hours!

©Harvard Common Spaces

This article has been written by Noreen Hughes



Boston is a city unlike any other. It is chock full of historic sites, wonderful museums, prominent universities, outdoor activities, world-class sports, and exceptional restaurants. In one day, you can visit Harvard, take a ferry to one of the harbor islands, or discover phenomenal works of art. As far as cities go, it is on the small side, which makes it easier to explore on foot. Noreen Hughes, part of our Facebook Club Bébé Voyage shares her favourite spots! 


Breakfast at

Swiss Bakers are one of my favorite places for European-style pastries. The almond croissant is my favorite, but my children prefer the chocolate croissants and Nutella Berliners! It’s the only place around to find an authentic German-style pretzel, it’s a must-try! Or you can get a breakfast sandwich on a pretzel roll.

Charles River Canoe and Kayak has been one of our favorite family activities. If you are visiting Boston, you may not realize that the Charles River is at the heart of the city. It traces the route of the Boston Marathon and is home to the annual Head of the Charles Regatta.


Must See

At a few different locations along the river, you can rent canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and paddleboats for the day from Charles River Canoe and Kayak. Since we discovered this, we have visited the different launch points and explored the river. It’s such an easy and enjoyable activity, and our three young children love getting out on the Charles. 

From the Boston: Allston/Brighton location, you can paddle eastward towards downtown. The river stretches about nine miles, with parks, walking paths, and playgrounds on both the northern bank of Cambridge and the southern bank of Boston. Along the way, you will pass multiple historic boathouses and race with many rowers from the local universities. If you paddle far enough, you will be rewarded with unparalleled views of downtown Boston. 


Lunch at

After a morning on the river, you can head to Cambridge for lunch. Harvard Square has so many options not to be missed.

Alive and Kicking Lobsters doesn’t have a website and keeps lunchtime hours, so it’s wise to check ahead of time if they’re open. But their lobster sandwiches are fantastic and affordable. They have a great selection of other seafood as well. There’s no seating inside, but there are a few picnic tables outside. It’s an easy spot with kids, food comes out fast and it’s a casual atmosphere.

Zinnekin’s is the spot for a Belgian-style waffle. It’s small inside but works well for a quick bite with hungry kids. Plus, who doesn’t love a waffle!

Charlie’s Kitchen is a diner-style restaurant in the heart of Harvard Square. Affordable, delicious meals with an outdoor beer garden in the back, including one of the best milkshakes I’ve found in town!

Clover Food Lab is a great option for a healthier, lighter lunch. It started as a food truck and now has locations all over Boston and Cambridge. They are very conscious and deliberate about their suppliers so you can feel good about supporting local farms while eating something fantastic. 


Hidden Gem

Artesani is a favorite of ours. We can easily spend a day here. At first glance, it seems like just a playground but if you look closer you will find a spray park and a wading pool. It’s the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer afternoon!


Chilling Time

After lunch, there are a host of places in Harvard Square to relax with children.

Harvard Museum of Natural History has a comprehensive collection of rocks and minerals and preserved animals of all kinds.
Putnam Gallery Harvard has a collection of interesting machines and unusual scientific tools.

Harvard Yard is great for people of all ages. You can stroll through the historic ground and rub the foot of the John Harvard statue for good luck!

Cambridge Common has a lovely playground if the kids need to get out some energy.


Dinner At

For dinner, I’ve included a few “fancier” restaurant options in Harvard Square and a bit farther north into Cambridge.

Russell House Tavern is probably one of the two most expensive restaurants I’ve included on this list. It’s always busy, so it can be a wait for a table. But the food is a bit more refined with some more elegant options. They have a large dining room with two levels, so there’s plenty of space to spread out. There’s a great raw bar selection, delicious pizzas, and seasonally-inspired food.

Grendel’s Den is a staple of Harvard Square. We’ve been coming here for years, and every time we go we remember how great the food tastes and how affordable it is for a family of five. You can’t go wrong with any of their sandwiches, but their Pulled Pork Plate is fantastic. They also have seasonal outdoor seating.

Gustazo is consistently one of our favorite restaurants, although we more often dine at the Waltham location. It is one of the more expensive restaurants on this list, and lies close to Porter Square, about a mile and a half north of Harvard Square. The food is Cuban and Spanish influenced and the cocktails are superb.

Greek Corner is another favorite of ours. Casual atmosphere, delicious food, and affordable for a family. Who could ask for more?


Best of The Rest

LA Burdicks is a can’t miss for sweet treats and pastries. If you like spice, be sure to try the Mexican Hot Chocolate.

Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage has been a Harvard Square staple since 1960 and often ends up on the Best of Boston list. The burger and frappe are a must-try! 


You might also like these articles on the Bébé Voyage Blog:

24 Hours In London: The Perfect Family Day Out

A Day In Buenos Aires: Discover This Kid Friendly City!


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