We’ve all heard the story about the Boston tea party where the colonists dressed as Native Americans and threw the British tea into the harbor. 247 years after the event, your kids can experience the tea party in a hands-on, immersive way at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. It will be an experience that your child never forgets!
On December 16, 1773, members of the revolutionary Sons of Liberty boarded three British ships in the Boston harbor. Dressed as Mohawk Indians, these colonists smashed and threw 340 chests of tea overboard to protest the tea tax assessed on the American colonies by the British Government. This destroyed over 92,000 pounds of tea and led to the closure of Boston Harbor by the British Government. It was seen as the first act of defiance by the American colonists and lit a spark that ignited into the American Revolution 16 months later!
One of my favorite stories about the Boston Tea Party is the historical note that the harbor smelled like tea for weeks afterwards and the revolutionaries had to keep rowing out into the harbor and dunking the tea to make it unusable! That made the harbor the largest tea cup imaginable!
Learn more about the Boston Tea Party’s history here.
The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum is located on Fort Point Channel where the original ships were docked. Just south of the financial and waterfront districts, this site is now easily accessible thanks to the “Big Dig,” which eliminated the elevated highway that once kept this area separate from the rest of Boston. The museum opened in 2012, and we visited a few years ago on a family trip to Boston. My kids still talk about the fun experience they had on the ships!
The museum is currently open but has COVID restrictions in place. Be sure to check its website before any visit and adhere to local, state, and federal regulations on visiting Massachusetts.
Your tour begins in the Meeting House where actors use the audience to help recreate the story leading up to the night of the tea party. My kids loved getting quills and hearing the actors’ enthusiastic portrayal of Samuel Adams and others leaders of the Sons of Liberty.
This museum does one of the best jobs I’ve seen at getting kids excited about events from history. By immersing them in the time period, kids start to think about the actions taken so many years ago and ask themselves, would I have done the same?
After the Meeting House, your tour will move onto the ships where your kids will actually get to toss boxes of tea into the harbor!
My kids absolutely loved this and really got into the spirit!
Your kids can explore the boat and talk to the captain and crew about what life was like on a ship in the 18th century.
The tour will then move indoors to the museum where you can see the only remaining tea chest still in existence from the tea party. The museum also has a neat hologram story and interactive portraits that really bring history to life for kids!
The tour ends after watching the film, Let It Begin Here.
During this time of travel restrictions, the museum has made many of its programs accessible virtually, including tonight’s 247th anniversary commemoration! I also love how the museum is providing virtual field trips for schools all around the country.
The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum is an immersive way to learn about this important time period in America’s history. When you visit Boston, make sure to put it on your must-see list. Your kids will always remember throwing tea into Boston Harbor!
- Cost: $30/adults and children over 13; $22/children 5-12 (check online for discounted pricing)
- Recommended for: all ages
- Tour time: 1 ½ – 2 hours
- Gift shop located onsite and online
- Transportation: See this link for nearby parking garages and trolley information. Nearest T (subway) stop is South Station.
- Dining options: Abigail’s Tea Room is onsite and makes a great stop for snacks or food. When we lived in Boston, we always loved the nearby Barking Crab restaurant.
- Nearby hotels: The nearest hotels are the Intercontinental Hotel and a Residence Inn. The nearby Faneuil Hall area is a good place to look for lodging, including a historic Hilton.
- Nearby attractions include: Boston Children’s Museum, Boston Fire Museum, Rose Kennedy Greenway (where the highway used to be!), New England Aquarium (a must-see for kids!), and Faneuil Hall and Marketplace
Books to Read:
All books are Amazon affiliate links.
- 14 and up:
- American Tempest: How the Boston Tea Party Sparked a Revolution
- Johnny Tremain (don’t forget the Disney movie!)
- Rise to Rebellion: A Novel of the American Revolution (for older teens)
- Worth the Read
- 10 and up:
- 6 and up: