Cities with kids – absolutely! Not only do I bring our four kids to major cities, but I also love doing it. As I teach my children about the city, I learn more myself. For them, it broadens their exposure, helping them develop into global citizens. That said … it does take a LOT of energy! Here is what works for us:
Tips for Taking City Trips with Kids
Play: You have to infuse play into everything. Kids want to play no matter where they are. Find a park, jump crack to crack on the sidewalk, play I spy, you get the idea. For kids, the way to a destination can be as interesting as the destination it self.
Preparation: Preparation and planning will serve you well! By having well-selected lodging, an idea of what your family would like to see and some information about the city, you can better utilize your time. Review books and on-line resources together to generate interest in places you’d like to see, as well as, filter out sights that don’t appeal to your group. I put together city book list for Boston, DC, NYC, London, Paris, and Rome, which highlight some of our favorite story and reference books.
Thoughtful Sightseeing: For those short attention spans, try to streamline how many sites you see and how you visit them. Instead of seeing five sights in a day, you may see only two, but in a way that’s geared to their attention level and captivates their interest. Children cannot sustain an adult pace. Embrace it as a benefit of traveling with kids … sneak in more coffee, food stops, parks, etc. Being forced to slow down helps you take in the surrounding culture, allowing you to enjoy things you may have previously hurried past.
Balance: Select a mix of activities that each member of your family will enjoy. Striking the balance between adult and child interests, between educational and fun endeavors, and between structured and relaxed time is important. You can go to a gallery, but then also go to a street fair. For ideas about kid-friendly events and unique activities I use Parents Connect and Viator.
With kids, downtime is key! We can now do four-hour blocks of touring, with that last hour being a bit dicey! Then we re-group at a park or the hotel. I love hotels with pools. They provide great relief for tired feet and grumpy parents or kids. Also, the in-room movies are great way for everyone to rest.
Photo by Nancy Solomon