Mass DCR offers weeklong extravaganza with 80 family-friendly programs from February 17-25

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Mass DCR offers weeklong extravaganza with 80 family-friendly programs from February 17-25

The Department of Recreation and Conservation (DCR) announced its plans today to help make February school vacation week a walk in the park for parents. From guided hikes to animal tracking, craft making, and maple sugaring, the agency is offering 81 free or low-cost engaging and educational activities for kids and families across the state from Saturday, February 17, through Sunday, February 25. The programming is part of DCR’s commitment to expanding access to Massachusetts’ State Park system, while also inspiring kids to get outdoors and fostering a connection with the environment.

“School may be out, but the learning doesn’t have to stop. Our February break programming is a tremendous way to connect kids and nature and help us grow the next generation of environmental stewards,” said DCR Commissioner Brian Arrigo. “Access to our outdoor spaces and natural resources is critical for creating healthy communities and should be available to all children and families regardless of their financial ability.”

DCR staff are hosting a total of 102 events at 22 state parks and water supply properties. DCR will also be waiving parking fees at parks offering programming. Additionally, public skating hours during the school vacation week at agency-managed rinks will be 10 a.m. until 2:50 p.m. daily. DCR will also continue to offer its regular programming, including self-guided hikes, and visitor centers will be open for people to enjoy exhibits. For details about staff-led programs and self-guided activities, visit DCR’s website. For a list of adaptive programming offered during February vacation week click here.

DCR encourages participants to tweet, post, and tag photos on social media using @MassDCR. This week, DCR has been promoting this year’s February break programming with engaging videos and fun graphics on its social media channels, including X (Twitter)Instagram and Threads, and will continue to do so over the next week.

Highlights from next week’s February break programming include:


An Oasis for Birds at Belle Isle Marsh Reservation, 1399 Bennington Street, Boston

Saturday, February 17, from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

Participants will search over a mile of flat, easy terrain for birds at a birding spot that hosts about 271 species each year. Expect to move to different locations by car or bicycle. Be ready for chilly weather and a breeze. Sturdy winter boots suitable for walking through snow are recommended. This program is co-sponsored by the Brookline Bird Club and the Friends of Belle Isle Marsh. The program meets in the main parking lot of 1399 Bennington Street, East Boston. Adults and kids ages 8 and up with an adult chaperone are welcome. Dogs are not permitted. For more information, please contact (781) 656-1485 or email [email protected].

Roxbury Heritage State Park, 183 Roxbury Street, Boston

Open Daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for self-guided tours

Roxbury Heritage is home to the 1750-era Dillaway-Thomas House, one of the oldest structures in Roxbury. The building served as the headquarters of the Continental Army in 1775 during the Siege of Boston. The house is now a museum with exhibits that showcase Roxbury’s past and present history. The park’s landscaped grounds also provide visitors with an excellent view of Boston’s skyline. For more information, please call (857) 399-1220.


Community Gallery at Lawrence Heritage State Park, 1 Jackson Street, Lawrence

Daily 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Lawrence Heritage is hosting a new and exciting exhibit of art and historical collections by local residents. This month’s exhibit features Steven Lewis’ poster collection in celebration of Black History Month. The gallery is located at the Visitor Center. No dogs allowed. All ages are welcome. For more information, please contact (978) 794-1655.

February School Vacation = “Stay”cation!  at Halibut Point State Park, Gott Avenue at Route 127, Rockport

Saturday, February 17 through Sunday February 25, from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. 

A “Quarry Quest—Treasure Hunt!” Participants follow clues and then unscramble to find a treasure box. Families will explore trails while learning about the history of Babson Farm Granite Quarry. For ages 8 and up. Meet at the Visitor Center. No dogs allowed. For more information, please contact (857) 268-6024.


Glaciers at Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, 131 Waquoit Highway, Waquoit

Thursday, February 22, from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Did you know Cape Cod was made by a giant ice sheet? Participants will experiment with the way ice moves and make mini glaciers from ice and slime. Ice cubes will be used to create an art project. The program is free and open to children ages 11 and up accompanied by an adult. Participants will meet at the Visitor Center. The program will run rain or shine. Registration is preferred. Please call (508) 457-0495 or visit

Seal Watching at Ellisville Harbor State Park, 1861 State Road (Route 3A), Plymouth

Tuesday, February 20, 2024, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Park staff will be at the beach with a spotting scope to help families view seals basking along the shore at low tide and to teach them about the Massachusetts seal species. Although wildlife sightings are never guaranteed, if it’s a sunny afternoon, participants will have a good chance of seeing seals. Park at the main dirt parking lot at 1861 State Road (Route 3A) in Plymouth, follow the signed trail to the beach (about a half-mile walk), and look for Interpreter Amy. Participants can arrive anytime between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The program is for adults and children ages 8 and up accompanied by an adult. Dogs are not allowed. There are no restrooms on site; plan accordingly. The event will be canceled if there is inclement weather. For more information or to confirm in case of questionable weather, call (508) 272-9376.


Make a Tree Guidebook at Holyoke Heritage, 221 Appleton Street, Holyoke  

Tuesday, February 20, from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Participants will make their own winter tree identification guide. A DCR interpreter will guide families on a walk around the park to make bark rubbings and collect twigs and leaves for the guidebooks. Children can take their guidebook on their next hike to recognize their new tree friends. Adults must accompany children ages 8 and up, and dogs are not allowed. Meet at the visitor center. For more information, please contact (413) 534-1723.

Winter Wonderland Activity Day at Mount Greylock State Reservation, 30 Rockwell Road, Lanesborough 

Sunday, February 18, from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

This program is for children and families of all ages and is a fun-packed day of winter activities, including crafts, scavenger hunts, board games, and sledding, weather permitting. This is designed as a self-guided program, but staff will be assisting with several of the program’s activities. Children can bring their own sled if they’d like. Participants will meet at the visitor center; dogs are not allowed in the visitor center. For more information, please contact (413) 499-4262.


Maple Sugaring Weekend, Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park, 287 Oak Street, Uxbridge

February 24 and 25, from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Families will learn how maple syrup is made on a free indoor and outdoor 90-minute tour that will be offered at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m. First come, first serve. This is appropriate for all ages, but children must be accompanied by an adult. Reasonable accommodations are available upon advance request. For more information, please call (508) 278-7604.

WILD!LIFE ON THE MOUNTAIN at Wachusett Mountain, 499 Mountain Road, Princeton  

Saturday, February 17 and Sunday, February 25, from 1 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

Discover the fascinating lives of the “locals” in this talk about wildlife habitats, competition, and survival on Wachusett Mountain. See and touch the skins, skulls, and tracks of some of the state’s native animals, including coyotes, deer, bobcats, and bears. Meet in the visitor center. This is appropriate for ages 5 and up. For more information, please call (978) 464-2987.

This year’s February school vacation programming is part of DCR’s ongoing efforts to provide Massachusetts children and families with fun, safe and educational recreational opportunities. Each summer, the agency’s Summer Nights Program provides thousands of young people in urban areas across the state with free sports, art, and nature-focused programming during the evening hours. Last year, the Healey-Driscoll Administration expanded the program to its largest reach yet, partnering with 84 organizations to provide thousands of teens with a safe space to engage and learn from each other. In November, the agency encouraged families to “Go Green on Black Friday” with free, guided hikes at four agency parks the day after Thanksgiving, and on January 1, DCR welcomed more than 3,000 people to kick off their New Year with a free guided hike in 13 parks across the state, its largest First Day Hike program ever.

For a full list of all programming offered during school vacation week visit DCR’s website.

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