Need a spreadsheet to organize the Boston badge information? We’ve got it here.

We love Boston. I mean love. There is so much to do. So much to learn. That is why when my husband needed to go up there for a conference, we all got on the plane. Grands included. And we can’t wait to go again.

Below are the Boston Area National Parks that provide Junior Ranger Badge opportunities. Unless otherwise stated, we print the booklets in color or black and white, complete as much as possible at home, and turn them in at the site when we visit. This keeps our visit at the site focused on the experience. 

Boston National Parks

You cannot print this booklet ahead, but can acquire it at all the parks in the group. This is a booklet that you do while walking on the Freedom Trail. It covers basically all the downtown national parks. Requirements are to complete activities for at least 5 parks and attend a Ranger Program.

For our Ranger Program, we attended the talk at Faneuil Hall, which was quite wonderful. My children enjoyed talking about the artwork and the architecture in the building. We stayed for quite some time, and the rangers loved to answer our questions.

This can be a harder booklet to complete with more writing required. There are deeper questions like analyzing a bit of poetry or asking someone with you what liberty means to them. Easier activities include locating two artifacts from Bunker Hill, drawing a figurehead for a ship and drawing something they have seen or learned. There are spots in the booklet to put stamps for each park although we did seem to run out of space and had to use one of the drawing pages.

Confirm hours because they are different at each location. We recommend consulting a map to consider if you want to follow the trail straight or backtrack. Some sites (like the Old North Church) cost extra to enter, but entrance is not always required for completion.

The trail covers the parks listed below. 

Faneuil Hall Visitor’s Center and Great Hall

Old South Meeting House

Old State House

Paul Revere House

Old North Church

Bunker Hill Monument and Museum

Charlestown Navy Yard

USS Constitution

USS Constitution Museum

USS Cassin Young

(Visits to all sites are not required for completion.)

African American History

I liked this booklet from a parent/teacher perspective. Most of the answers are found within its pages. I really appreciated the deeper questions: “What does freedom mean to you?” The downside is that if you have a child who struggles getting thoughts down on paper or hasn’t learned to write yet, it can feel overwhelming. Don’t hesitate to be willing to take dictation.

Boston Harbor Islands
Multiple islands are included here. Because the ferry schedule to the more popular ones, like Spectacle Island, didn’t fit with our schedule, we actually ended up on Thompson Island. I found the website by accident, and we couldn’t have been happier. It was such a wonderful, lazy morning for a quiet hike. We recommend this island even though we don’t have a visit to another island to compare it to! In truth, we’d love to do all of them! The beach scavenger hunt and bird counting pages of the booklet work for any island and do require a visit to complete.

The Rangers at the Islands visitor center/pavilion were more than willing to chat a bit and give badges for the work and island visit the kids did since there isn’t a booklet for Thompson Island. If you are having trouble finding the pavilion on the mainland, search for this address: 191W Atlantic Ave, Boston, MA 02110

Frederick Law Olmstead House

This is a wonderful location to visit if you have taken your children to places like Central Park or the Biltmore to see how the designer of those grounds lived. While the booklet feels long, there is often more reading and just a simple activity on each page. A tour is required to complete the booklet, and spots are limited. Since there were 7 of us, my folks and I sat in the sunroom and read (I always carry a book in print, audio, or Kindle app.) while my husband took the kids and their tickets on the tour. The children really enjoyed the tour and tried hard to remember things to share with us. Lesson: Get there early to reserve your spot! 

John F. Kennedy House

This site was closed when we visited. I worked with the rangers through email to get badges mailed to us. Rangers were willing to answer questions asked in the booklet that we couldn’t answer without the tour (like which chair did JFK sit in.)

Washington Headquarters/Longfellow House

Winter hours are different at this beautiful mansion. Even in the spring, the house and visitor center was closed, but the garden was open and had volunteers working in it. It was magnificent, and the children were very excited to see a chipmunk rifling through the bushes. (We only have squirrels at home.)

I emailed and called the rangers to work with them to get badges for the completed booklets and outdoor visit. They were very kind. Unfortunately, we only received one badge in the mail from this site. Twice, the envelopes got stuck in the mail and ripped open. They promised to send a third envelope, but it never came, and I was too embarrassed to continue harassing them. We hope we can get there someday when it’s open.

John Adams/Quincy Adams Homes

Sadly, we missed out on this national park because it did require travel from the downtown Boston area, and we weren’t sure when we would have time to get there. By the time we got the schedule together, there were no reservations left. I emailed the rangers, and my kids were able to receive badges for the work. Note: There are separate books for over and under 9 years of age.

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