Subscribe Now

Even when Santa departs and the Christmas cookies start to crumble, there is plenty of family fun to be had across the North Shore. From twinkling lights and ornaments, to magic shows an snowy owls, the region’s museums, outdoor areas, theaters, and more are serving up plenty of ways to stay entertained until school starts again.

1. Enjoy tea time or go on a cocoa quest, everywhere | All week

As winter kicks in in earnest, nothing is cozier than settling in with your favorite hot beverage. The area offers plenty of choices for enjoying a traditional (or not-so-traditional) afternoon tea, and perhaps more than its fair share of very good hot chocolate, all just waiting for you to discover them.

2. ZooLights, Stone Zoo, Stoneham | All week (and beyond)

Wild animals and cascades of twinkling lights make an unbeatable combination, even after the presents have all been opened. Stone Zoo’s traditional ZooLights display will be up and glimmering through Jan. 7, so there are still plenty of chances to check out lynx, reindeer, bears, and more, surrounded by thousands of lights. As an extra bonus, from Dec. 26 to 31 the zoo is celebrating Ugly Sweater Week – snap a selfie in your ugly sweater as your stroll ZooLights and tag the zoo to be entered to win the ultimate sloth experience, including a sloth stuffy, a zoo membership, and an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of the sloth habitat. More information at tickets available at

Photograph by Anantha Kondalraj

3. Winterlights, Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens, North Andover | All week

Christmas may be over, but Winterlights continues to bring holiday brilliance until the end of the month. Stroll paths illuminated by thousands of lights, sip hot chocolate or cider, and get a start on next year’s shopping at the gift shop. Tickets are available at

4. Puppets, science, yo-yos, and magic, Wenham Museum, Wenham | Dec. 26-28

The Wenham Museum’s exhibits about toys, play, and local history already make it a great destination, but the museum has also packed three days of Christmas break with family-friendly performances. On Tuesday, catch the Pumpernickel Puppets at 10:30 a.m. or the interactive science of Ed the Wizard at 2 p.m. On Wednesday, John Higby, the Yo-Yo Guy, will do two performances and, on Thursday, Fred the Magician offers up two shows of magical wonder. More details available at

5. Snowy owl prowls and full moon hikes, Crane Estate on Castle Hill, Ipswich | Dec. 26-31

Get outside and immerse in the natural world – by sunlight or moonlight. During the day, join a snowy owl prowl to wander through the dunes on the hunt for majestic snowy owls. Or, as the sun starts to set, head out for a guided stroll on Crane Beach, followed by an exploration of the dunes under the light of the full moon. Both hikes have both standard and shorter, more leisurely paced family versions. Find details at

6. Frozen Fire Festival, Charlotte Forten Park, Salem | Dec. 26-Jan. 1

Back for its second year, the Frozen Fire Festival will serve up live ice sculpting, mesmerizing fire installations, circus performances, food trucks, curling, live music and more. The kids will especially delight in the s’mores and hot chocolate garden. Learn more at

Photograph courtesy of Frozen Fire Festival

7. E.T. at The Cabot, Beverly | Dec. 27

For the latest installment in its $1 movie series, The Cabot will be showing the 1982 classic E.T.: The Extraterrestrial. Get there early for your dose of nostalgia cinema: Tickets will not be sold in advance. Learn more at the The Cabot’s website.

8. Hiking with goats, Great Rock Farm, Georgetown | Dec. 27 and 28

For some farm-style fun, take a stroll through the woods with the animals of Goats to Go. Goat treats are provided to help hikers win the affections of their new friends, and there will also be a chance to meet and greet other farm denizens. The hourlong walk covers about a mile of varied terrain and is generally appropriate for children ages five and up. Learn more at book tickets at

9. Snapshot! Fun With Photography on Cape Ann, Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester | Dec. 27-29

Children and their guardians receive free admission to this hidden gem of a museum from Wednesday through Friday. And for December break, the museum will be offering a series of activities connected to its current exhibition Above the Fold: The Photographers of the Gloucester Daily Times, 1973-2005. Make a press pass, design a headline, and fill out a photo assignment. And don’t forget the museum scavenger hunt, which challenges visitors to seek out Cassie the Sea Serpent in the galleries. More information available at

10. Garlands, ornaments, and fun, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem | Dec. 29 and 30

Jumpstart next year’s holiday decorating by handcrafting ornaments or garlands with drop-in art making at the Peabody Essex Museum. On Dec. 29, learn how to string wool balls into a striking and colorful garland (recommended for ages 10 and up). Or stop by the next day when visitors of all ages can make classic popsicle stick ornaments. Make the outing even more fun by stopping in at the The Pod, for hands-on art and nature learning activities, or by exploring the other fascinating exhibitions throughout the museum. Details available at