February Break Fun
February 12, 2014

Not everyone flees the state during this wintry school vacation break. Those in the know realize there’s plenty to do keep the whole family busy---and some of the best activities are free (or almost free), too! Here are some of our top picks, just a bit outside of Boston.

* Over the course of the year, there are several times that 133 (out of the 401) national parks which charge an admission fee, waive it. This year, the dates include February 15-17, the kickoff to school vacation break. The Lowell National Historical Park is holding events over Presidents’ Day Weekend at the Boott Cotton Mills Museum, where kids can experience the sound and vibration of the looms in the working weave room and find out what working in a textile factory was like in the 19th and 20th centuries.

* The Springfield Armory National Historic Site in Springfield is offering activities during school vacation week. Kids can become Junior Rangers and earn a badge and prize after they explore the exhibits and grounds to learn about our first national armory.

* Lowell Kids Week (Feb. 17-23) is a partnership between many community organizations offering free, unique activities for kids and families during February and April school vacations. All the programs are free, but many require pre-registration. Highlights include  performances, story-telling, kite-making, animal adventures, arts and crafts, ranger talks, ice-skating, and much more.

* The Newport Winter Festival (Feb. 14-23) has two days dedicated to just kids with a children’s fair held on Feb. 16 and 17. There’s music, face-painting, balloon creations, arts and crafts, reptiles and much more. While the fair is a big draw, other events during the festival include a teddy bear story time (Feb. 18); a princess party and a kids’ dance party (Feb. 19); a magic show (Feb. 20), among other events. Check online for a full schedule.

* WinterFest Weekends at the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, MA run through the end of March. Bring your own sleds, snowshoes and cross country skis and enjoy the hills and three miles of trails at the 210-acre property. The fire pit offers a place to warm up, as does the hot chocolate offered. Some weekends feature hiking and winter sports clinics, as well as other special programs. Check their schedule for details.

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