A friend of the family

DAVID L. RYAN/GLOBE STAFF Kim Foley MacKinnon’s book “Boston Baby’’ is full of helpful tips for parents looking to entertain their kids while not being bored themselves.
Kim Foley MacKinnon’s book “Boston Baby’’ is full of helpful tips for parents looking to entertain their kids while not being bored themselves. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)
By Hayley Kaufman
Globe Staff / February 18, 2010

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Children love repetition, as anyone who’s had to sit through repeated viewings of “The Incredibles’’ or “Finding Nemo’’ can attest. Adults, not so much. Thus, parenthood becomes an endless quest to discover pastimes that will interest (and, with any luck, educate) the children and keep the grownups from sinking into a glassy-eyed stupor. So let us now praise Kim Foley MacKinnon, author of the new book, “Boston Baby: A Field Guide for Urban Parents,’’ for doing all the legwork necessary to keep local families entertained for months, perhaps years to come. MacKinnon has checked out libraries and kiddie gyms, ice rinks and beaches. Sure, you’ll see some listings familiar to every local parent. But when was the last time you took the kids to Weir River Farm in Hingham, or Breakheart Reservation in Saugus? What about sitting down for family-friendly meal at Full Moon Restaurant in Cambridge? Thanks to MacKinnon, the next time we get a request for “The Incredibles,’’ we’ll know just where to go.

Q. There are so many options in this book. Do you hear from parents guilty they’d been denying their kids all this time? A. I don’t know about guilty. I’ve had parents tell me very sincerely “thank you’’ because they get in a rut and they need new ideas. We all get into a routine, I think.

Q. What are your tips for surviving the snow?

A. We spend a lot of time in bookstores, and we always have. So when [my daughter] was smaller we’d make the rounds of bookstores with activities. Now that she’s older she’s very interested in ice skating. Not my sport. So she goes to a lot of rinks with her father. The Kelly Rink in JP is outside . . . and it’s less crowded then the Frog Pond.

Q. Anything else? A. We go to the theater a lot. So that’s another good activity. There’s Wheelock [Family Theatre]. Also Riverside Theatre in Hyde Park.

Q. If you had to pick three relatively unknown kid-friendly destinations in the area, what would they be?

A. I guess for the summer I’d say Houghton’s Pond [in Milton], which is a fantastic place to swim in the summer. It’s free parking, free to swim, they have lifeguards and a snack bar. I just found out about it a couple of years ago. Also, the Coolidge Corner [weekend] matinees. I love the movies. They have a show at 10:30 in the morning with some sort of entertainment - puppets, it might be singer or a clown, they mix it up - and then they show a kid-friendly movie. On the 20th [of February] they have the Three Stooges.

Q. What’s your third pick? A. The Higgins Armory in Worcester. It’s a private collection that was turned into a museum. You’ve got all these swords and shields and medieval stuff. It’s just a really neat place that I don’t know a lot of people have been to. And it’s huge.

Kim Foley MacKinnon signs her book at the Coolidge Corner Theatre tomorrow at 12:30 p.m.