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15 last-minute ideas for things to do with kids during April school vacation

For parents who’ve been swamped, we’ve put together a list of fun family adventures where they take COVID safety precautions.

Shaw Nielsen for The Boston Globe

Even though every day might feel the same, a break is on the horizon, at least for kids: April vacation! But if you’re anything like me, you’ve planned absolutely nothing because you’re busy coping with online school, work, and finding a vaccine appointment. Well, we’re here to help. Ahead, find plenty of exciting adventures that are low-maintenance and take COVID-safe precautions. (Hours and availability change frequently. Check with the organizations before heading out.)


1. New England Base Camp

At this outdoor adventure park in the Blue Hills — operated by the Boy Scouts of America, but open to anyone — families can hike, attempt archery, rock climb, throw tomahawks, and more; parents or guardians are required to attend with kids. Buy a $20 day pass and let that energy out. Age restrictions apply. 411 Unquity Road, Milton, 617-615-0004,


2. Old Sturbridge Village Earth Week

Harvest the fields, help sow crops like onions and peas, (safely) explore honeybee hives, and celebrate Patriots Day on April 19 with military drills, canon firings, and chats with Minutemen. Tickets start at $14. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, 800-733-1830,

3. TreeTop Adventures

If the kids have turned your living room into a Floor Is Lava course, work off pent-up energy at TreeTop Adventures, which offers zip-line and obstacle courses for kids 7 and older. They can scramble up ladders, across logs, along zip lines, and more — you can join them or relax with a cup of coffee on the sidelines. Prices start at $52 for 2½-hour slots. 200 New Boston Drive, Canton, 781-989-5800,

4. The Trustees of Reservations

With sprawling properties throughout the area, there’s plenty to do depending on your kids’ ages and hobbies. Book a firepit for two hours at South Hamilton’s Appleton Farms and make s’mores (and buy baked treats onsite); groove to live kids’ music at Hingham’s Weir River Farm; go on an egg hunt at Beverly’s Long Hill; and more. Registration is required; prices vary by activity.


Shaw Nielsen for The Boston Globe


5. Live Boston Classroom

Visit the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau website to find an array of hands-on, experiential learning opportunities throughout the city — many of them outdoors for maximum safety, and offered at discounts. Enroll in a city-wide scavenger hunt, take Boston By Foot walking tours, and score deals on many of Boston’s big attractions, such as the New England Aquarium. There are virtual events, too, as well as hotel staycation packages if you’re really desperate to get out of the house. Prices and locations vary.

6. Museum of Science

If this year hasn’t been tough enough, take on the museum’s Arctic Adventure challenge, an interactive exhibit where kids try to escape a frozen tundra — complete with a wall of real ice. Insider tip: The museum is operating at up to 35 percent capacity due to COVID-19, which means tickets are tougher to score. Friday night tickets (when the museum is open until 9 p.m.) tend to be a safer bet. Tickets are $24 and up. 1 Science Park, Boston, 617-723-2500,

7. New England Aquarium

The aquarium is now open at limited capacity for in-person visits, but it also offers daily virtual animal encounters. Round up your pod and choose from daily online half-hour visits with fur seals, penguins, and more, led by aquarists. Great for groups or parties, tickets start at $195 for up to 30 people. 1 Central Wharf, Boston, 617-723-5200,


8. Plimoth Patuxet Museum

If you’re in charge of history homeschooling this year, consider a trip to Plimoth Plantation, which opened April 10. Explore a 17th-century English village and Wampanoag Homesite, and the restored Mayflower II, and coo over endangered breeds of cows and goats. If you’d prefer to stay home, they also offer a vacation “adventure box” with a book, daily challenges, a doll-making kit, virtual workshops, and more. Prices vary by attraction. 137 Warren Avenue, Plymouth, 508-746-1622,

9. Salem Kids Tours

These hourlong kid-focused walking tours — overseen by a sixth-grade social studies teacher — feature ghost stories, tales of the witch trials, visits to “haunted” Salem sites, and graveyard stopovers. It’s best for kids 5 and older. Tickets start at $11. Tours meet at 185 Essex Street, Salem, 978-766-1103,

10. T. Rex Adventure at the Stone Zoo

Does the pandemic make you feel like you’re frozen in time? Embrace the sensation with the Stone Zoo’s prehistoric T. Rex Adventure, which begins this Friday, and roam among animatronic dinos and realistic skeletons (included with zoo admission, $12.95-$19.95). Or Zoom in from home for animal encounters with reptiles, amphibians, and more ($40-$45). 149 Pond Street, Stoneham, 617-541-5466,


Shaw Nielsen for The Boston Globe


11. Character Meet & Greets at Derby Street Shops

Get away from the TV and head to Hingham to meet Chase from Paw Patrol and Elmo from Sesame Street outdoors; sign up in advance. Also look for al fresco story times with the Hingham Pride Project; live music and dancing; and even a stroller-friendly barre class for those who still aspire to fitness. 92-98 Derby Street, Hingham, 781-749-7800,

12. Crafternoons with Alex Makes Art

If you need a quick diversion during the workday, log the kids onto a class led by local mixed-media artist and teacher Alexandra Adamo. She engages kids in crafting activities using items you likely already have around the house, such as painting with leftover Easter Peeps and making bird’s nests out of paper plates. Classes are 90 minutes. Tickets are $10.

13. Movies at the Mendon Twin Drive-In

Enjoy family-friendly movies from the comfort of your car as in days of yore, with flicks like Tom & Jerry: The Movie (PG) and Godzilla vs. Kong (PG-13). The concessions stands are also now open, and include wine and beer for the grown-ups. Tickets are $30 per car. 35 Milford Street, Mendon,

14. Under the Big Top

Does your home already look like a circus? If so, Wheelock Family Theatre’s got you covered: Check out the vacation week virtual circus classes (ranging from $90 to $220), where kids learn to clown, spin plates, juggle, and more, led by circus artists from Diamond Family Circus. Clear away breakables! Note: Registration for grades 1-3 and 4-8 programs closes on April 11, at 5 p.m.


15. What Does The Earth Know?

Visit the Peabody Essex Museum for lots of artsy Earth Day programming throughout the week, including make-your-own banners, poetry writing, workshops where kids can discuss what eco-friendliness means in their own lives, guided meditation (who doesn’t need that right now?), and artist chats. 161 Essex Street, Salem, 978-745-9500,

Kara Baskin can be reached at Follow her @kcbaskin.