Taking the Family to Boston’s JFK Presidential Library

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library pin

Boston is a city full of interesting historical places for traveling families to see. However, a fascinating place every family in Boston needs to experience is the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. This library is the perfect place for families to know more about the life of this noteworthy president. Traveling families can also enjoy the nearby Edward M. Kennedy Institute.
Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library view


What You Will See 

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum honors the life and legacy of the President through exhibits about his public and personal life, as well as events that occurred during his presidency.
Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library office

The museum is focused on both John F. Kennedy’s public and private life. Permanent exhibits include coverage of his campaign, how he effectively used the television to get his message to Americans, the “Space Race” to the moon, furnishings from the Oval Office and exhibits about his wife, Jackie, and their family. The museum also features special exhibits about a variety of Kennedy-related topics (Presidential getaway to Cape Cod, the Cuban Missile Crisis, his Inauguration, and more).

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library appliance

Our son loved the slabs from the Berlin Wall that he had also seen in the Reagan Library. He commented on how both a Republican and Democrat president had a slab in their respective libraries. He was also fascinated with how the Kennedy family, JFK in particular, led the advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. One of JFK’s sisters was mentally disabled, so the topic was close to his heart. Furthermore, our son liked seeing JFK’s office with a replica of the ship he was on while he was in the Navy. We also saw all the gifts sent to him and his family while they were in the White House, including a small Japanese doll for his daughter.

One of the best things to see in this museum is the artifacts and memorabilia from the JFK election period. Visitors can see an extensive collection of newspapers, TV clips, costumes, dresses, hats, and pins. All these items get guests to relieve the tense environment of the election.

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library hat

Edward M. Kennedy Institute

Located near the JFK Library and Museum, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute is a tribute to the influential senator’s 47-year career. It also educates the public about the Senate and encourages visitors to participate in the democracy of the United States.

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library posts


At the entrance to the Institute, visitors first see impressive granite pillars carved with the names of the fifty US states and the year each was accepted into the Union.
Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library hall

The Institute boasts interactive exhibits to help both children and adults gain a better understanding of this governmental body. Visitors can get a real experience of being in the United States Senate in the full-scale replica of the U.S. Senate Chamber. They can also learn all about what the Senate is, who works there, how a bill becomes law and how we can all make a difference. In fact, kids can create their own bill and try to convince fellow congress people the importance of what they’re presenting in the Senate Chamber. The Institute also features an issue of the day, rotating between Immigration, Health Care, and Civil Rights.

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library ship

Visitors can also learn about Edward M. Kennedy’s legislative battles, where he stood on a variety of issues and can hear some of his speeches. Also not to be missed is his office, which includes a bust of his brothers RFK and JFK. Here, visitors can see his paintings, since Edward Kennedy had a talent for landscapes.


Location, Hours, Cost 

The JFK Library is located at Columbia Point, 220 Morrissey Boulevard. The Edward M. Kennedy Institute is next door at Columbia Point 210. Both are roughly a 20-30 minute drive out of Boston. The JFK Library is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM, and the Institute is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM and Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM.

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library display

Admission to the JFK Library is $14 for adults and $10 for children 13-17. Children under 12 get in for free, and there are various discounts for seniors, college students, and veterans/active military.

Admission to the Institute is $16 for adults 25-61, $14 for adults 18-24, and $8 for children 6-17. One can get discounts for seniors, veterans, and MA residents, and children under 6 get in for free. Visitors can enjoy a $2 discount if they show a same-day ticket for the JFK Library.

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library tv

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The JFK museum features a free educational iPad app for children called the JFK Challenges. This app focuses on astronauts and the moon landing, as well as the Peace Corps created during JFK’s presidency.
  • There are some great resources on the website to help prepare children or adults who might not know what to expect at the museum. These sites include photos and recordings of speeches from John F. Kennedy, a family tree that starts all the way back with Joseph P. Kennedy (born in 1888) and the many legacies that JFK has left behind (the Peace Corps, Green Berets, different funds and charities).
  • Families should attend a family friendly docent-led tour to learn more about the highlights of the museum.
  • Both institutions are ideal for older, school-aged children. However, younger ones might have a tough time staying interested.
  • The website recommends 1.5-2 hours to visit the Edward M. Kennedy Institute.
  • Visitors can enjoy a café, gift shop, and coat check at the Institute.
  • The Institute is wheelchair friendly.

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library variety




Five Sensory Attractions Worth Visiting in Dallas

When someone mentions Dallas, Texas, some of us envision wealthy oil tycoons driving fancy cars, their wives shopping at all of the luxury stores, and of course, BBQ brunches.

Perhaps the successful 80 series with the same name fueled that stereotype a bit, but regardless, I admit that I never thought of Dallas as a place to take kids, especially kids with autism.
This all changed last November when we went to the family travel conference and attended some of the post-conference trips.

We discovered that Dallas is the perfect place to take kids with autism because it has multiple museums and tourist attractions that will provide an educational experience for your children without putting them into sensory overload.
We particularly enjoyed the Zoo, Aquarium,  Arboretum,  Perot Science Center, and the Sixth Floor Museum.And yes, we even got a chance to visit the TV set and gawk at the replica of Southfork, TV’s most famous ranch.

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas view

The Dallas Zoo

The zoo was founded in 1888 as the first zoo in the southwest, and over the 100+ years that it has been operating, the zoo has grown from two deer and two mountain lions to over 2,000 animals.
Visitors can find a variety of unique exhibits, such as Giants of the Savannah, which is an exhibit that mixes elephants and other species within the same habitat, and the koala exhibit, which is the only one in the state of Texas, and one of just ten across the United States.

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas lions

We’ve always enjoyed close animal interactions, and in Dallas, we were able to feed giraffes (we discovered their smooth tongue), hold an owl like Harry Potter (with the appropriate glove), watch young lions in training, and walk next to a hyperactive penguin.

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas giraffes

Dallas Aquarium

With performances, restaurants, and (of course) the aquarium itself, the Dallas Aquarium is ideal for families with different interests.
There is a rainforest exhibit, several conservation projects with endangered animals, and an outdoor South African exhibit with penguins. The aquarium also has the more traditional aquarium animals – sharks, rays, sawfish, and more.

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas fish
What is great about the Dallas Aquarium is the fact that it is on the smaller side, self-contained, and temperature controlled, which is a good option for kids that hate to be outdoors or that are temperature sensitive.
Our son loved standing in the glass shark tunnel viewing the giant predators swim overhead.

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas shark tubes

The Dallas Arboretum

The Dallas Arboretum covers 66-acres of display gardens with seasonal flowers, ornamental shrubs, trees and plant collections, creating quite a lovely setting on White Rock Lake.
The Arboretum also has seasonal outdoor festivals, concerts, and art shows.

They also have two restaurants – Restaurant DeGolyer in the historic DeGolyer House, or the Lula Mae Slaughter Dining Terrace, overlooking downtown Dallas.


Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas pumkins

We discovered the Dallas Arboretum is so much more than “boring plants”, which was my son’s initial thought when he first heard of our plans to visit.
We were treated to a magnificent array of colors, and especially enjoyed the pumpkin village, feeling new textures (they have over 28 types of pumpkins in various shapes and skin textures!), and enjoying the fragrant smells of fall.
Best of all, we got a rare chance to see a sampler exhibit from  Seattle’s famous Chihuly  Museum.


Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas chaihuly
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science Center

The Perot Museum opened in December of 2012, is on a mission to “inspire minds through nature and science”.

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas entrance

The exhibits here involve ALL  senses with interactive stations for the visitors to get information from buttons that provide sounds and smells of different animals and plants.
The earthquake simulator and motion activated lit walls, along with the stairs that make bubble sounds occupied our son for half an hour!

Although we’ve visited other science centers in the past, this one was different in that it provided a broader interactive platform for kids, and also provided an insight of how one’s interest in a particular aspect of science parlays in the real world into a career.

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas dinasaur

Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

The Sixth Floor Museum gets its name from its location on the sixth and seventh floors of the Texas School Book Depository, which is the actual building from which Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

The permanent exhibit on the sixth floor features memorabilia of JFK’s life, death, and legacy while the seventh floor shows temporary exhibits.

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas sixth floor

The museum is compact, indoors, and temperature controlled, all bonuses for travelers with autism.A walk among the exhibits takes guests back to that period through visual and auditory items that help them relive history in a way few museums do.

Visitors can listen to emotional radio broadcasts as well as newspaper clippings that describe one of the hardest times America faced as a nation, from the actual place where it happened.

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas memorabilia


Have you been to Dallas and explored any of these places? What are your favorite sensory attractions across the world?

Disclaimer: The tours were hosted by VisitDallas for the participants of the Family Travel Conference.




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