How best to take little kids sightseeing?

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vveat
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How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by vveat »

We are in the midst of a trip in Europe and it's not going as easy as expected. The kids are 5 and 8, we are doing a family visit in Europe and I decided that we can get them started with a couple of days in Amsterdam and in Vienna on the way back and forth. We specifically picked what we thought were more manageable cities for a short visit and selected a few sights I thought would appeal to them, or at least to the older one. They have been in Europe previously but just for family visits and for seaside vacations, staying in one place and not sightseeing.

In Amsterdam we did a canal boat ride, a visit to the Van Gogh museum (my older one loves "Starry Night" which to our disappointment though turned out not to be on exhibit in this museum). Regretfully I didn't manage online tickets for Anne Frank's house (daughter is also very much into WWII history) and the line was too long to wait. And we picked a hotel next to Vondelspark, so each day they can do some running around and playtime.

Our kids are normally well behaved, mature and well read for their age, but frankly so far it's been not a success. They are jet lagged, cranky, not interested in sights, complaining about food (they are not picky eaters at all otherwise). The only thing they seemed to enjoy is tree climbing and chasing the pigeons in the park :oops:

My husband has been saying they are still too young to appreciate sightseeing, and maybe he is right after all, but when can one get started? Before kids we loved travelling and exploring, we want to show them enough of the world before they get into teenage years and don't enjoy travelling with us.

What is your experience with kids and sightseeing in cities? Did I go wrong by deciding on short time in each place, maybe we should have taken them to Paris for a couple of weeks and just explored the city slowly. Any tips and tricks? Vienna is still ahead of us :confused
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njboater74
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by njboater74 »

They might do better outside of the larger cities. If you're going between Amsterdam and Vienna, I think they'd really enjoy the Alps. The little towns look like something out of a fairy tale, the scenery is breathtaking, and they'd probably love a gondola ride. Plus you could also do the types of activities that help them burn off steam like hiking, swimming, and bike riding. We went to a little resort hotel outside of Kitzbuhel. You get a full fledged European experience with the more laid-back vacation environment.
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barnaclebob
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by barnaclebob »

I'm wondering if the jet lag is the biggest issue here. Adults can push through when their body wants to go to sleep at 2PM and wake up at 2AM local time but kids probably not so much.

They probably wont start not wanting to travel with you until they get boyfriends or girlfriends...unless you bring them along too. So you've got several years left to try again.
psteinx
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by psteinx »

Your 5 year old is highly unlikely to care about a Van Gogh museum, an Anne Frank museum, or the like, and probably does not like exotic (i.e. unfamiliar) foods.

The 8 year old is probably just at the beginning of being able to appreciate such things (depending to some extent on the kid in general).

Trying to push such experiences on one kid who is likely uninterested, and another who is marginally interested, is not likely to yield highly positive experiences.

At this age, the park, the beach, etc, and simple sandwiches, chicken fingers, or whatever they like, food-wise, is likely to be preferred by them, and easier on you.

Give it time. In 3-4 years, this kind of stuff will likely be far more appealing and rewarding to them.
avalpert
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by avalpert »

Take them to a local playground, find out what local families do to entertain their kids. There is nothing wrong with climbing trees and chasing pigeons - that is what kids enjoy doing. Find a carnival or funfair around, You can try the Nemo museum if you want.

Personally, I find it hard to appreciate the way most people do 'sightseeing' in cities - I believe in experiential travel and don't find moving between museums and statues to really accomplish that. It isn't surprising that your kids are restless with it - it could be a sign that they are ready to be world explorers and not tourists. Did you ever try a day like that at home with them before taking them to Europe?

And yes, sleep can definitely be an issue to.
livesoft
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by livesoft »

Ages 5 and 8 are perfect for beach trips: snorkeling, aquariums, zoos, fishing, farms, mini-golf. Maybe visiting battleships.

Art museums are good for college age and older.

Teenagers may be good for other kinds of museums. Some kids like natural history museums, but some don't.

One has to realize that almost all "cultural things" are instantly accessible on smart phones. In the future, one can just visit places via a Virtual Reality interface.

Van Gogh's Starry Night is at the MOMA in NYC. :)

When our kids went to Europe around the ages of your kids, the train rides were the most fun, then the animal parks and petting zoos.

In Holland, rent bikes and ride through parks.
Last edited by livesoft on Wed Jun 29, 2016 10:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by hicabob »

My kids at that age enjoyed walking expeditions to find the best of a specific type of street food in European cities. Baklava in Crete, crepes in Paris. Perhaps stroopwafel's in Amsterdam?
jfave33
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by jfave33 »

You probably picked more adult cities.

Somewhere like London is great for kids with the science and natural history museums. Nice shops like Hamleys and Harrods. Interesting sites eg the London Eye, walking up the steps to the top of St Pauls, Seeing the guards change at Buckingham Palace etc. Nice parks. Take them to a kid friendly show at the West End.
Last edited by jfave33 on Wed Jun 29, 2016 10:19 am, edited 4 times in total.
sls239
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by sls239 »

I think chasing pigeons and climbing trees is a version of sight seeing. If you want to squeeze in more formal sights than the children can handle, I suggest tag teaming. One parent stays with the kids, the other hits up a sight or pops out for a bit of nightlife. You can also tag team for lines. One parent stands in line, the other takes the kids to do something other than stand in line. Or one slips out early in the morning and gets tickets for later in the day while the rest stay sleeping.

Also, I find getting the hotel room dark (summer daytime hours are quite long) and using some white noise helps sleep.

And snacks and water more often that you would think.
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by Engineer250 »

Are they helping to pick what they want to see? When we were kids my dad would get a Fodor's book from the local AAA and we'd get to pick what we wanted to see in the cities we visited.

Also do they enjoy reading maps or navigating? Could you maybe have them help in finding the way from one place to another, or in looking at maps for parks/museums and finding their way? That might get them more involved. I agree with the person above who stated they might just be a bit young. They are just as likely to enjoy simple trips to the beach or to the park as to museums. But like another person mentioned, you have plenty of time.
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jfave33
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by jfave33 »

They might enjoy the horse show a the Spanish riding school in Vienna
https://www.wien.info/en/sightseeing/si ... ing-school
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vveat
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by vveat »

Thanks, in Vienna the Lipizzaners are on vacation right now, that was my first thought too. I am hoping they will stand a short walk through the Hofburg Imperial Apartments and then we'll try the Prater.

Good points, I probably had too high expectations. They like natural history museums, aquariums and such just fine, but it's the culture, art and history in Europe that I wanted them to start experiencing.
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by Rupert »

vveat wrote:Thanks, in Vienna the Lipizzaners are on vacation right now, that was my first thought too. I am hoping they will stand a short walk through the Hofburg Imperial Apartments and then we'll try the Prater.

Good points, I probably had too high expectations. They like natural history museums, aquariums and such just fine, but it's the culture, art and history in Europe that I wanted them to start experiencing.
Kids seem to appreciate culture, art and history in only very small doses. So I think your expectations were a little high. I'd stick to venues where they can interact with European children, e.g., parks and zoos and the like, or children's museums, which tend to be more hands on. When I take my kids to adult museums, they tend to be more interested in the security guards and stairwells than the art. We had one good experience at a museum which had created a scavenger hunt game for kids but even that was short-lived. I'm not shy about bribing my kids to behave in such venues when I really want to visit one. One hour of uncomplaining quiet time at a museum that the grownup wants to visit, earns them one ice cream in the cafe or toy from the gift shop. I always take activity books or electronic devices to keep them busy while I look at the art.
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by Da5id »

Kids have different interests, so you have to cater to them to some degree.

My kids when younger liked climbing things. So going up Notre Dame bell tower was good activity.
They like armor/weapons. So museums that featured those were a win.
They like sports, so attending a soccer game was a feature (and a cultural experience).
They like castles.
They like the outdoors and hiking and seeing animals/zoos.

They didn't like museums with rows and rows of pictures. Had limited patience for art. Some interest in buildings with lots of variety to look at (palaces, cathedrals are OK).

Comes down to knowing your kids tolerances/preferences really. And some you can figure out by visiting similar local venues (art museums say) and seeing how quickly they get bored.
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by PhysicianOnFIRE »

My boys are 5 & 7, so I can understand. I agree with others that you can't expect a whole lot from them at these ages when it comes to sightseeing or appreciating art or history. I think it's Great to expose them, but vying for the full-fledged European sightseeing tour may be a bit much a bit too soon.

I don't know how you fell about screen time for them, but our saving grace in situations when they're bored and making it tough for anyone to have fun is to give them Kindle time. We save it for when we need it, and it makes them happy.

Good luck!
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by White Coat Investor »

vveat wrote:
My husband has been saying they are still too young to appreciate sightseeing, and maybe he is right after all, but when can one get started? Before kids we loved travelling and exploring, we want to show them enough of the world before they get into teenage years and don't enjoy travelling with us.

What is your experience with kids and sightseeing in cities? Did I go wrong by deciding on short time in each place, maybe we should have taken them to Paris for a couple of weeks and just explored the city slowly. Any tips and tricks? Vienna is still ahead of us :confused
Your husband is right. My kids are more interested in the hotel pool than anything else in any city we visit. Finally, at 12, I think we've got one we can actually take to a city and see some sites and have her find them cool. But 5 and 8? You've got to be kidding me. If you want to see the sites bad enough to drag them along, then fine, but to expect them to like it is an unrealistic expectation.

We did take kids all over Great Britain when they were 4 and 1.5 and saw lots of castles, churches, museums etc. But they were primarily luggage! The 4 year old (now 12) remembers a little of it. But we had a great time. I was working over there intermittently so I'd work for 3 days while they relaxed and played on the playground, then we'd go to Scotland, London, or Wales for three days.
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Hoosier
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by Hoosier »

If they have some favorite toys with them, have them bring their toys to some of your sightseeing locations and take pictures of them. Also, make sure to talk with them about why you want to show them this or that sight... they will usually take your cue as to why it was important for you to take them there.
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njboater74
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by njboater74 »

Kids also like castles and palaces, although the real thing might be slightly disappointing :( . I take mine on open air double decker bus tours everywhere we visit (even Philadelphia :P )

Science museums are usually a hit with the kids too. I echo the thoughts about art and history -- They won't really be able to grasp it except in smaller doses.
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by jfave33 »

vveat wrote:Thanks, in Vienna the Lipizzaners are on vacation right now, that was my first thought too. I am hoping they will stand a short walk through the Hofburg Imperial Apartments and then we'll try the Prater.

Good points, I probably had too high expectations. They like natural history museums, aquariums and such just fine, but it's the culture, art and history in Europe that I wanted them to start experiencing.
That is a shame.

Small doses is probably best with the culture, art and history. Mix it up with some of stuff they want to do. Perhaps give them a choice out of a few things.

Everyone is different - lots say they are too young but I've known plenty of kids that are ready for it all at young ages. I took my then 3 year old to an art gallery and she loved it when we kept it short. She loves old churches and castles. Gardens are good too. Do your kids have cameras - that could get them interested in some of the sights if they can take their own pictures? Mine loves taking pictures. Though art galleries in Europe are understandably strict about photos.

One thing is preparation before the trip which is a bit late for you now. Mine likes looking at guide books and pictures and things and gets excited about what she can see. Get them involved with maps, packing their own things, picking activities etc.
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by expat »

>> How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Forget sightseeing. I would reorient your trip towards kid activities - swimming, playgrounds, amusement parks, zoos.

For example, for Vienna, I would go here.
http://www.praterwien.com/en/home/
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by joebh »

vveat wrote:Our kids are normally well behaved, mature and well read for their age, but frankly so far it's been not a success. They are jet lagged, cranky, not interested in sights, complaining about food (they are not picky eaters at all otherwise). The only thing they seemed to enjoy is tree climbing and chasing the pigeons in the park :oops:

My husband has been saying they are still too young to appreciate sightseeing, and maybe he is right after all, but when can one get started? Before kids we loved travelling and exploring, we want to show them enough of the world before they get into teenage years and don't enjoy travelling with us.
Your husband is correct. Sightseeing is for adults and far more mature children. You loved travelling and exploring, but you are adults.

Showing them "the world" is something to do in later years, when they can appreciate it. You might be bored with your house and hometown and long for something bigger, but to a small child their home, school, and town are already "big" - and already have many features to be explored.

As you enjoy the sights on your trip, try to find at least one thing each morning and each afternoon that focuses on the kids. A park, a pool, a movie, even a visit to a more familiar food establishment could be enjoyable to them. Try not to pack too much into any one day.

Depending on your location and the kids' preferences, a hike, a visit to a lake or the seaside, or even an open-top bus ride could be fun.

And ask the locals or at your hotel about local attractions for kids. Think fun, rather than cultural.

Oh, and perhaps they need to sleep in and watch television one morning :shock: in order to get over the jet lag.
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by Rodc »

A little late now, but a good idea is to try out "sightseeing" on a smaller scale and ramp up over time as you see what works and as the kid's interests broaden.

We went on a fabulous two week trip to Italy where mom years before had done some archeology work and where she has taken many student trips (so we had our own 24x7 tour guide) and our twins who are very different 12 year olds had a great time (they declared it to be their best vacation ever).

Given our two, this was really as young as this would ever have worked well and even then we were not sure we could pull this off.
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by celia »

vveat wrote:The only thing they seemed to enjoy is tree climbing and chasing the pigeons in the park :oops:
When I read the title of the thread (before I opened and read it), this is the first thing that came to mind. But, first everyone has to get over jet lag.

How about riding a bus around the city? They can focus on the bus and the adults can look at the sights that go by. You could agree with the kids that after an "adult-choice adventure", they will get to eat at McDonalds (a kid-choice adventure) if they stay well-mannered. They will look forward to that, then look for the differences compared to US McDonalds, which they will later share with their friends. Of course, you need to first find out that there is one in the area.
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by dbr »

vveat wrote: My husband has been saying they are still too young to appreciate sightseeing, and maybe he is right after all, but when can one get started? Before kids we loved travelling and exploring, we want to show them enough of the world before they get into teenage years and don't enjoy travelling with us.

They don't enjoy sightseeing now. There is a fighting chance they will when they are older.

What is your experience with kids and sightseeing in cities? Did I go wrong by deciding on short time in each place, maybe we should have taken them to Paris for a couple of weeks and just explored the city slowly. Any tips and tricks? Vienna is still ahead of us :confused

Our experience is that kids aren't interested in sightseeing or nice restaurants or odd food, etc. They are interested in activity, especially swimming, amusement park rides, hiking in the woods or running up a mountain trail (some kids), rafting, riding a bike, reading books, going to movies, going to airshows, maybe exploring ships or a real life train museum or air and space museum, boat tours if it is a speedboat but not if it is slow and pokey, go down in a mine, etc. Castles and weapons are good.

Maybe a puppet show would be interesting though if in a foreign language that might fall flat. Learning words in the local language could be a hit though (How do you pronounce uit and what does it mean?) A Holiday Inn (in Europe?) with a pool and hamburgers and movies in the room will out-rate the most interesting and quaint historical B&B anywhere. On the other hand our kids had great fun exploring an old landmark hotel where we were staying. I had to do some explaining to the house security, but it really was ok.

Anything with animals is a help, so the zoo? The Lippizaners would have been a good bet. Probably a better example for that particular case would be had one been in Lipice, Slovenia at the stud farm. This is not that you should hop on a train to another country but that at the farm it is an example of a more kid appealing indoor/outdoor experience with seeing training, a show, the stables, the mares and colts (all kids love baby animals more). Maybe an equivalent outing that could be found near you would work well. Outdoor adventure with trekiing or some kind or camping might go a lot farther than city sightseeing . Not sure how practical that is with the younger one. As you mentioned, kids do relate to art. If Starry Night was not there, the other dozens of paintings in the Van Gogh museum would surely have still stuck a chord, one would think. I wouldn't imagine there would be an attention span for the Rijksmuseum. My experience is that Anne Frank is a book read that attracts children, at least girls, perhaps as young as 8, but that does not usually include any appreciation for historical or real-life context at that age.

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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by curmudgeon »

Sightseeing is pretty much drudgery for kids at that age. Playgrounds (or the hotel pool) and other kids are much more fun. Around age 11 it might start getting better, but still with some care in selection of what you are doing. Younger than that, and you are mostly just trying to keep them (and yourselves) sane while doing the traveling for the adults (not to say that they will get nothing out of it, but it will be pretty limited).

Plan your days with rest and play breaks. Look up playgrounds that you can use. Don't spend too much time trooping around and looking at glass cases. In Vienna, you might use the Prater in short doses, for an hour or so at a time to break up the day. The Hofburg might be a challenge for any longer than an hour. The Naschmarkt might be a good stop. You might swing by the Opera for a few minutes in the evening when they are showing the performance on the outside screen. If you go to Schonbrunn, go for the zoo, the tram around the park, and exploring a bit, not for the palace. Street food much more that formal restaraunts and cafes.
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by JMacDonald »

I hope you are able to enjoy the rest of your trip. Maybe next year a trip to a national park like Yellowstone would be more exciting for your children. Seeing Old Faithful and seeing a bison is fun for both kids and adults.
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by bwheeler »

A few thoughts, some of which have already been stated by others.

It could make sense to spend parts of day split into 2 groups, each with one parent and one child. Get back together at lunch time and/or dinner time.

In Vienna:
The Prater Amusement Park would be fun for everyone. Subway U1 to Praterstern. There is a ferris wheel (Riesenrad) which might be nice. There is also a fun house/labyrinth/hall of mirrors called 'Funball'. My son is 10, and has been going to it once or twice a year for several years. One or both parents should accompany the children, as they may get lost and frightened in the labyrinth. The Prater is a typical amusement park, like there used to be in the US many years ago.

There is a city park (Grüne Prater) south of the Prater amusement park. It's nice for children.

The Donauturm (Danube Tower) may be nice to go up. There is also a city park around it (Donaupark). It's also reachable by subway U1, next to the UN complex (UNO-City).

Climbing to the top of the Stefansdom to the Pummerin (bell tower) may be good exercise, and fun for the children. Also on the subway U1 in the city center.

The Schönbrunn Palace and gardens are nice to walk around, and the zoo (Tiergarten) is there.

Taking the bus 38A to Cobenzl, from the Heiligenstadt Train Station (last stop of the subway U4), would be a nice excursion (bus takes ca. 15-20 minutes). There is a nice view of the city from there, and it is at the beginning of the Vienna Woods. There are many nice hiking trails from there. There is a nice playground next to the Octagon Restaurant, a short walk from Cobenzl.

Ice Cream! There is excellent ice cream in Vienna (typically Italian gelato, made by Italians). There is a famous to-go ice cream parlor at Schwedenplatz (at the intersection of the subway lines U1 and U4), with a sit-down ice cream parlor a few feet away. There are ice cream parlors throughout the city, and it's hard to go wrong at any of them.

If you like, send me a private message for more ideas.
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by denovo »

White Coat Investor wrote:
vveat wrote:
My husband has been saying they are still too young to appreciate sightseeing, and maybe he is right after all, but when can one get started? Before kids we loved travelling and exploring, we want to show them enough of the world before they get into teenage years and don't enjoy travelling with us.

What is your experience with kids and sightseeing in cities? Did I go wrong by deciding on short time in each place, maybe we should have taken them to Paris for a couple of weeks and just explored the city slowly. Any tips and tricks? Vienna is still ahead of us :confused
Your husband is right.
+2 for husband. I don't think you need to go forgo sightseeing just because you have children. Aren't there grandparents or an uncle or aunt that could hold them for a week while you go sightseeing. That's what adults used to do when they wanted to take these kind of trips and parents didn't have the urge to drag their kids everywhere. At 5 and 8, the kind of trips that make sense are things like Disneyworld. Let kids be kids and stop trying to force things down their throats. :oops:
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by rainyday1 »

We do a lot of travel with small children, and I think it is key to manage MY expectations. I always know that no matter what, my 6 year old is going to complain. That's just who he is. And I'll be honest - I tend to act a bit like your kids when I'm jet lagged :shock: It's hard when they don't understand why they're feeling so badly. I try to cut my kids a bit of slack when I know they're exhausted.

I do try to find family-friendly tours. We have found some great tours in Europe specifically geared for kids - one of the most popular ones was a treasure hunt in the Louvre. It was focused on the main sights in the Louvre, so I did not get to see everything. The kids had a great time though, and then they were even willing to go to the Orsay for a couple of hours. We have also had good luck with family-friendly historical tours. Once the kids do a couple of hours of sightseeing, we stop for churros, gelato, some other food they do not normally get to eat in mass quantities...

We plan one main activity in the morning, some hotel time relaxation time, gelato time, play time. During hotel relaxation time for kids, my husband and I will take turns heading out to sightsee if we want. Sometimes the kids will recharge enough that they are ready to absorb a bit more.

Also, the Big Bus Tours are enormously overpriced, but if you want to cover a lot of ground with kids, it's great. The kids can catch a nap if they want, and I can still feel like I'm seeing things!
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BL
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by BL »

One of the places our kids still remember is Madurodam:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madurodam
It is a wonderful 1:25 miniature of Dutch cities and landmarks. I expect it is even greater these days. I recall a fire boat shooting water at a building on fire alongside the canal.

Besides the above suggestions, you can get additional results by Googling something like "Vienna children's activities" for various kid attractions.
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by otinkyad »

Kids are all different, but I don't think 5 and 8 are just too young. We started taking our son when he was 6; at 13 he's been to Europe five times. I've seen lots of good advice here: vary the days rather than going to more museums each day, shorter stints in museums (museum passes are great, so you don't feed bad about spending only an hour in the Rijksmuseum, and we go back to some a second time), riding trams and buses, playing in the parks, and having the kids pick one thing a day, or plan a whole day, overindulging in electronics and books. We don't do long-term tag team, but we trade off on who goes through a museum at a blistering pace and gets ice cream and who enjoys the exhibits solo. Another idea is doing ordinary weekend activities: we go to the movies, putt-putt golfing (or find a local variation: we went football golfing with soccer balls in Denmark), ride the pedal boats at parks, etc.

The main tools we use are narrative and connection. Tell a story about a place, and tie it together in different settings. In Amsterdam, the story was about commerce and communal spirit. Connecting a place to things kids read in books or learn in school is great. We started with a trip to London and Paris, where our son already knew a little about Henry VIII and Napoleon, and he was reading a 39 Clues book set in those places. By the time we went to Italy he was looking forward to seeing the paintings by Caravaggio he'd learned about in school. Giving kids the sense that history is about real events in real places that you can visit is an amazing and (eventually) rewarding task.

Oh, and definitely enjoy the stroopwafels!
virgingorda
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Location: New England

Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by virgingorda »

For what it's worth, I have great memories of our kids chasing pigeons in Europe at that age! They are 19 and 22 now. Loved the pigeon days. We also have a classic accidental video of the ground where you hear my husband chew out our older one for being too exuberant on crowded sidewalks spinning around and stuff and nearly running into people. We would have totally forgotten that if it hadn't been accidentally recorded. Quite hysterical!

The younger one was/is a picky eater but we've discovered you can get spaghetti with butter almost anywhere in the world. Other advice: visit playgrounds.
jharkin
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by jharkin »

What you have described is exactly why we have vowed not to be one of those families that takes their screaming 2 year old to Disney or overseas. Too young to appreciate it, and the short attention span means you can only take things in 30min to hour blocks before they get bored.


Our kids are 5. When they where 2/3/4 we stuck to road tip vacations - we took them to Bar Harbor ME (they liked the beach, walking though Acadia, going on a boat ride). Then we took them to New Hampshire and they liked some short hikes, riding the cable car up Cannon mountain, riding the mountain coaster at the Attitash ski lodge, going to the kid theme parks there (Storyland, Santas Village and Clarks for those that know the area).

This year at 5 years old we took them on their first plane trip, a short hop down to FL for a week on the beach in Sanibel Island. They did great for that but it was mostly beaching and some sightseeing boat tours and nature preserve drive. And it was offseason so no crowds/traffic.

The kids like museums and we have taken them to a bunch - but the theme has to be something they will appreciate and understand. And we need to accept they will only tolerate an hour or two tops. The Boston Science museum was great. We have taken them to some old car museums and to the New England Whaling museum. They would probably tolerate a quick tour of the natural history museum in NYC. They can do the planetarium show. But they wouldn't sit through an art museum. They would probably not "get it" walking around London. Those trips will wait.

And anywhere we take them to eat pretty much has to have grilled cheese. They are better eaters than that at home, honest! but out at restaurants, not so much.
chx
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by chx »

A pair of child harnesses with leashes is a good idea in crowded areas.
kir_royale
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by kir_royale »

rainyday1 wrote:
We plan one main activity in the morning, some hotel time relaxation time, gelato time, play time. During hotel relaxation time for kids, my husband and I will take turns heading out to sightsee if we want. Sometimes the kids will recharge enough that they are ready to absorb a bit more.
I agree. Have one goal for the day and do it first thing and then have no sight-seeing expectations for the rest of day. Only way to do it with small kids.
leonard
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by leonard »

vveat wrote:The only thing they seemed to enjoy is tree climbing and chasing the pigeons in the park :oops:
Perhaps the Louvre waits a couple years and you go with what obviously works as you pointed out. If the goal is not a forced culture march and the main goal is to enjoy the vacation - what's the downside?
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dolphintraveler
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by dolphintraveler »

Agree with some of the suggestions above. We were in Europe last summer with our son, age 6 at the time. He was a picky eater already, so we didn't expect much and that went about as expected, but otherwise it went great.

We didn't do museums practically at all (we'd done that pre-kid). We visited caves, castles, waterfalls and family. He (and we) loved the salt mine trip outside of Salzburg (a couple of hours away from Vienna depending on your transport). There were slides in there that we all enjoyed. We ensured there was plenty of walking/hiking every day so we'd all feel better. We did the ice cave in Werfern, Austria as well. For castles we did tour a few completely, but sometimes they were let's go see the outside and kept it short (worked for us too). He loved the pigeons too, and we found we could have a peaceful cup of coffee and watch him playing about in the square. Bonus for all of us.

We did find that the Austrian kid parks (and a few other countries) had zip lines in them, that was a highlight (low to the ground, kids could get themselves going or with pushes). Whenever we saw one we'd note it and it'd be a carrot for going through a more parent chosen activity - the zip line would be next.

We'd have him note ice cream (gelato) places, and help us navigate back to them when it was time. He loved testing ice cream everywhere. As for food, we found it easiest to pick up a picnic from a grocery store and we all ate well for lunch. Similarly for breakfast. Just dinner out, which kept the pickiness to a minimum.

For the long drives, electronics were allowed and we did way over-use per nominal 30 minutes a day recommendation. But it meant he got the play time, we got peace while enjoying the drives, then we were all ready to explore when we got there. Once we parked, we spent time walking (and we have a good walker/hiker). After we got comfortable in a place (usually a half day) we'd let him navigate (lead) us to places (the clock tower, the hotel). He loved being in charge.

We did plan for breaks each day. Well past napping, some down time was appreciated by all of us.

Good luck and enjoy!
leftcoaster
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Re: How best to take little kids sightseeing?

Post by leftcoaster »

Buy two notebooks and two packs of colored pencils.

Form teams of one parent, one child

Head off in different directions in the museum, with a meeting time of 30m to 1 hour pre arranged.

Child member of team chooses a painting, object, or detail of a painting. Together, you sketch it on the notebook. Does not have to be good. Repeat until time is up. Go to different rooms.

Swap notebooks at the meeting time and try to find the other team's catalog of drawings. You can do this as a group and make it hot/cold or just watch the other team sweat it out.

Children will be utterly captivated as parents "try" to find the item. Parents, of course, are enjoying the journey rather than just the destination.

Winner gets to pick a treat.

We kept a five year old engaged in the Musée d'Orsay for 5 hours on one visit, including a lunch break.

Bonus, the drawings you make together go right into the scrapbook.

Works outside too - use buildings. In San Francisco we have elaborate urban scavenger hunts for adults that focus on architectural details. Same idea.
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