I love travelling with my kids (seven and nine years old)! To keep things fun, I usually plan for only one or two sightseeing visits a day and then I let them choose something we can do or see together.
In order to keep them engaged during sightseeing, I set out photo challenges for them to complete with their own little iPod Touch that has a camera. On occasion, my daughter will opt to carry a slightly larger point and shoot camera. These challenges can be as simple as take 15 different photos, five of which can be “selfies” showing the architecture of the building we are at. Of course, the “selfies” are always their favourites.
I usually keep our sightseeing visits short and try to find something to engage them while we are there. We also take loads of breaks, stopping for tea or drinks throughout the day. It is nice because it forces me to slow down and enjoy this precious time we have together.
Here are some of the best places we’ve visited together as a family:
1. Hannover, Germany
- Hannover’s fantastic, untraditional Zoo was established in 1865 and is divided into different geographical habitats.
- My kids love spending the afternoon at Lister Bad, an incredibly clean outdoor public swimming complex.
- Hannover’s New Town Hall is a beautiful building in a pretty setting!
- Lister Turm Biergarten is a beautiful outdoor beer garden on the edge of the Eilenriede forest area. There is a lovely park right next to the outdoor seating that the kids played in while we lingered over our meal.
- Movenpick is the place to go for over the top desserts enjoyed outdoors.
2. Tokyo, Japan
- Pom Pom Purin Cafe is one of many themed restaurants in Japan that are based on characters. This restaurant is busy, so you need to go when it opens and get a ticket which will give you an entry time, usually an hour or two later. The kids loved the foods shaped into characters.
- The Ghibli Museum is located in Inokashira Park in Mitaka, a western suburb. My kids absolutely love the Studio Ghibli movies so it was worthwhile to visit the museum. You need to purchase your tickets before your trip as they cannot be purchased at the museum.
- Ueno Park is perfect for the kids to run around and then have a ride on a colourful, duck-shaped paddle boat on the lake.
- Kiddy Land is like no other toy store we have ever been to. You can spend a long time going through all the interesting toys!
- There are several waterbus routes to choose from. Any of the routes to Asakusa will be an adventure and a chance to see a bit of “old” Tokyo.
- My kids loved walking right up to the base of Tokyo Tower!
- We took a day trip down to Hakone, which is quite close to Tokyo to see Mt. Fuji up close. We stayed overnight in a traditional Japanese room where the kids could experience sleeping on futons in a tatami style room. Kids are also welcome in most onsens or Japanese hot springs, which is also an experience they loved!
- The kids loved the crayon-coloured little houses on Burano. It was nice to visit later in the day when many of the cruise ship tours had left and the island was quiet.
- Of course, you can take a gondola! However, the kids loved the ferry along the Grand Canal, which allowed us to get off at various stops to check out different areas. We enjoyed wandering through the quiet Accademia area and walking to Punta della Dogana, one of Venice’s contemporary art museum.
- Stay on one of the island hotels with a pool to escape the city. Most have water taxis that pick up and drop off right at San Marcos square from morning until late at night.
- Rosticceria Gislon is an excellent deli-style restaurant where the kids loved that they could see the food and pick out which local dishes to try.
Leslie Shewring is the artistic mind behind A Creative Mint. When she had her first child, she decided it was time to step away from the crazy deadlines of her corporate design job and make her dream of what family life could be a reality. These days, she shares her light and airy design aesthetic through all kinds of projects on her blog, from feminine fabric designs to watercolour illustrations.