History, culture and the fine arts may be what draw you to Boston, but in teen talk, that translates to stodgy, fussy and boring. It is possible to score on the fun scale, though, when you focus on offbeat adventure, tap into technology and stray off the Freedom Trail. Add awesome food to the itinerary and your teen may even forgive you for reciting a poetic ode to Paul Revere's midnight ride.
Tours With a Twist
Charge up the smartphones, slip on the sneakers and head to the Boston Commons starting point for your own “Amazing Race”-style challenge. Like the award-winning TV show, you'll have riddles to solve, points to win and quirky sidetracks through places you're unlikely to see on an ordinary guided tour. The game from Urban Adventure Quest can be played with your teen's favorite electronic device that has cell service and it takes a little over two hours to complete on foot. For those who prefer a less vigorous introduction to the city, the big Boston Duck Tours' amphibious vehicles offer seats, chatty tour guides and a fearless drive straight into the Charles River to wrap up the entertaining ride.
Bypass the taxicab rank, say “no” to hotel shuttle vans and impress your teen by going straight to the water taxi dock for a grand entrance to the city from Boston's Logan Airport. The ride across Boston Harbor takes less than 10 minutes and the panoramic view sets the tone for an exciting visit. If you arrive in town by car or train, you can still take advantage of nautical transportation. Well over a dozen water taxi stands on the city's waterfront make it convenient to get from one tourist attraction to the next by sea. For short jaunts, the fare can be more than taking a regular taxi or bus, but the trade-off of avoiding Boston traffic and giving your teen an uncommon experience is priceless.
Screens: Little and Large
When your teens are glued to their mobile device screens, it's tempting to insist they unplug and enjoy the sights. Or you could adapt. Don't worry, there's an app for that. With downloads like “Boston Offline Map Travel Guide,” Lonely Planet's “Boston City Guide” and apps that show subway, bus and train details for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, teenagers can become the navigation ninjas of your trip. There's even an app for exploring the Museum of Science, but the biggest teen hits at this destination tend to be the big screen IMAX films and the rocking music and laser light shows in the Planetarium.
Winning the Hunger Games
Teenagers' appetites are legendary and Boston's food scene offers the variety to satisfy both picky and prolific eaters. From dozens of food vendors in the touristy Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market area to the landmark Legal Sea Foods restaurants, dining establishments woo the city's visitors. Brighten your teen's view of touring the Old North Church and Paul Revere's House with a pasta dinner in Little Italy, a part of the same North End neighborhood where the historic sites are located. Tap into more of the city's authentic flavor when you do dim sum in Chinatown, brunch in the Back Bay and finish in the Fenway with a light meal at one of the diners and delis where university students hang out.