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Boston's Mass. Appeal

Bartley's Burger Cottage 1246 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; 617/354-6559; lunch for four $30. This Harvard Square fixture is beloved by everyone from neighborhood kids to university alumni. Big burgers and soul food sandwiches are served with heaps of vegetables or mashed potatoes and tall glasses of lemonade. At least three generations of initials are carved into the long wooden tables.

I'm Bored! What Are We Doing Now?

Museum of Science Science Park, Boston; 617/723-2500. Because nearly all the exhibits are hands-on, even the most jaded kids will want to spend hours here. At the Human Body Connection, Susannah measured her skin temperature with the biofeedback machine. Other highlights include a life-size Tyrannosaurus rex model; a beautiful planetarium; the five-story-high Mugar Omni Theater, with a domed screen and a digital surround-sound system; and the Virtual Fishtank, in which children use a computer program to create their own fish and send them swimming into one large simulated sea. (When your kid watches his fish get bumped by another kid's, it takes playground territory battles into a whole new dimension.)

Children's Museum 300 Congress St., Boston; 617/426-8855. Most of the displays are interactive, including a two-story climbing apparatus and a life-size pretend supermarket where kids can shop or run the register. Meghan enthusiastically clambered over a giant red sculpture of a telephone while Susannah hung around in a replica of a Japanese subway car. At the Grandparents' Attic dress-up chest, the kids paired size-10 pumps with frilly housedresses and mammoth handbags.

Museum of Fine Arts 465 Huntington Ave., Boston; 617/267-9300. Children of any age will be entranced by the Egyptian exhibits. Standing next to 20-foot-tall sculptures made Meghan giddy, and Susannah was amazed to see evidence of human life in 1570 b.c. Things will get even better on November 14, with the U.S. debut of the "Pharaohs of the Sun" collection: 250 artifacts from the reigns of Akhenaton, Nefertiti, and Tutankhamen.

USS Constitution Charlestown Navy Yard, Charlestown; 617/426-1812. The 200-year-old Constitution is the oldest warship still afloat (the Navy tows it around the harbor once a year). During the War of 1812, it earned the name "Old Ironsides" when British cannonballs seemed to literally bounce off the ship. The museum displays thousands of ships' artifacts, and has a row of sailors' hammocks to swing in.

New England Aquarium Central Wharf, Boston; 617/973-5200. Like a Guggenheim for fish, the aquarium has a spiral ramp that corkscrews around a three-story tank. The surreal lighting is ideal for viewing the sharks, turtles, and eels. On the ground floor, penguins reign over a large open-air tank; one level below is a simulated tide pool for a very unlucky group of starfish, mussels, and snails that kids are allowed to touch. Also check out the Aquarium Medical Center, where children can watch the staff operate on injured fish (perhaps the very creatures the kids just manhandled downstairs).

Boston Children's Theater 321 Columbus Ave., Boston; 617/424-6634. For more than a century the kids of the BCT have been performing elaborate, very professional plays for a mostly preteen audience. This season opens with The Little Prince (in December), and moves on to Heidi (in February) and a Huckleberry Finn musical (April).

Boston Boy Choir St. Paul Church, 29 Mount Auburn St., Cambridge; 617/868-8658. Even nonbelievers will spend an hour at mass to hear this angelic choir sing at St. Paul, located in a pretty section of Harvard Square.

KidPort Logan Airport, East Boston; 617/561-1212. While biding time at the airport, stop by this amusement area in Terminal C, where kids will find fun-house mirrors, touch-sensor maps showing what's going on throughout New England, a jungle gym of large geometric shapes, and toys, toys, toys.

Happy Trails

The three-mile Freedom Trail starts on Boston Common and passes many of the city's best-known Revolutionary landmarks, including Paul Revere's House , with its 931-pound bell sitting in the yard. But the idea of a historical trek rarely excites kids, and keeping track of the painted line linking the sights will only occupy them for so long. One diversion is a cannoli at Mike's Pastry (300 Hanover St.; 617/742-3050), in the North End, Boston's Italian neighborhood of narrow streets and brick storefronts. If you're walking the Freedom Trail on a Friday or Saturday morning, stop by the Haymarket , near the north end of Faneuil Hall. Children love the frenetic bartering scene, not to mention the mess of crushed vegetables and boxes. (The Freedom Trail starts at the Boston Common Information Center on Tremont Street; 617/536-4100.)

Kids ages 6 to 12 might prefer the hour-long tour Boston by Little Feet , which takes in Faneuil Hall and nine other historic sights. (Tour starts by the statue of Samuel Adams on Congress Street in front of Faneuil Hall, May through October only; children must be accompanied by an adult; 617/367-2345.)

The 1.6-mile Black Heritage Trail begins at the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial (Beacon Street Mall; 617/742-5415 for guided tours or self-guide booklets), and ends at Beacon Hill's 1806 African Meeting House , the oldest African-American church still standing in the United States. The trail passes 14 pre-Civil War sites, such as Hayden House , a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Bedtime

Boston Harbor Hotel 70 Rowes Wharf, Boston; 800/752-7077 or 617/439-7000, fax 617/345-6799; doubles $250. The guest rooms here are decidedly Old Boston, with gold-framed maritime maps and Colonial drawings, dark wood, and lots of leather—clearly designed for businessmen. But the view of the boats on Boston Harbor was endlessly fascinating to Susannah and Meghan. (From mid-May to October, harbor tours leave from Rowes Wharf right outside). And the kids got a sense of Boston's Anglophilia by indulging in Sunday tea. A seven-minute water shuttle runs between the airport and the hotel (617/439-3131 for information; $10, kids under 12 free). It's a cool way to avoid traffic and get a great first view of the city.

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