Things to Do in Quito With Kids | Ciao Bambino!

Top Things to Do in Quito with Kids

At the top of the TelefériQo with Rucu Pichincha in the background
At the top of the TelefériQo with Rucu Pichincha in the background

Founded in 1534, Quito, the capital of Ecuador, seamlessly merges the old and the new to give visitors a glimpse into Latin American history through the lens of a vibrant, modern city. Cobblestone streets and colonial Spanish architecture blend with chocolate-tasting rooms, artisan shops and restaurants that showcase local cuisine. As a cultural showpiece with a central location for sightseeing, Quito is a must-see stop on any Ecuador family vacation.

Quito Historical Center
Rooftop view of the historical center and beyond

Top Things to Do in Quito with Kids

Explore the Historical Center

Quito’s historical center is the jewel of the city and considered one of the best-preserved colonial centers in all of South America, as evidenced by its designation in 1978 as a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. The city of Quito is dedicated to creating an experience that is safe and comfortable for tourists, adding extra police presence and pedestrian streets — though, as in any large city, be alert for pickpockets.

For tourists, especially non-Spanish-speakers, I’d recommend a private guided walking tour or combination van and walking tour. Not only do the guides show you areas you would not see on your own, they provide peace of mind in unfamiliar territory and, as a bonus, are very reasonably priced. The following are don’t-miss highlights.

La Compania Quito
Clockwise from top: a visit to La Compañía; learning how to spin a top in La Ronda; El Panecillo

La Compania de Jesus Church. Among the dozens of churches in Quito, La Compania de Jesus — the oldest church in the city — is the star. Its Baroque architecture is paired with a jaw-dropping, ornate interior. Constructed over a 160-year period beginning in 1534, the Jesuit church includes pounds of gold leaf throughout and literally dazzles the eye.

Want help planning an Ecuador escape with kids?

That's where we come in! Our Family Vacation Advisors will work with you one on one to book accommodations, craft a custom kid-friendly itinerary and more. Click to send us a request >

The Plazas. Two plazas stand out in the historical center: Plaza Grande, also known as Plaza de la Independencia; and Plaza de San Francisco. Plaza Grande is a leafy meeting point, watched over by the Presidential and Archbishop’s Palace and bordered by outdoor cafes. Plaza de San Francisco sits in front of San Francisco church on a large cobblestone plaza, perfect for kids to run around and chase pigeons. There’s also an outdoor cafe and a one-of-a-kind winding maze of artisan shops in the old catacombs below the church. Across the street, buy an authentic Panama hat from Ecuador’s oldest hat maker, Homero Ortega.

La Ronda. This pedestrian-only street is hopping on Friday and Saturday nights with Quitenos out for an evening stroll and dinner. The atmosphere is family-friendly, but late afternoons are quieter. Favorite kid stops are Chez Tiff for a history and tasting of chocolate, Api Real for all things honey, and Zabalartes, where kids learn (much more quickly than parents) how to spin a hand-carved wooden top.

El Panecillo. The 150-foot-tall Virgin Mary statue standing guard over the city of Quito is visible from many points in the historical center. If time permits, there are expansive valley and city views from El Panecillo, plus a small tower to climb, though you’ll need a taxi to reach the statue.

Casa del Alabado Museum of Pre-Colombian Art. This small, private museum is located in a colonial mansion near the Plaza de San Francisco. It works well with kids for a short visit because it’s packed with just enough information to provide an overview without overwhelming them.

Quito Basilica Gargoyles
Finding the marine iguana Galápagos gargoyles at the Basílica

Play “I Spy” at La Basilica de Voto Nacional

The Basilica is not technically in the historical center, but it’s nearby enough that it’s convenient to visit on the same day. The outside is most interesting for kids; it’s easy to create an “I Spy” game with the gargoyles, which represent animals from different regions in Ecuador. Look for jungle animals like monkeys and pumas on one side and wildlife from the Galápagos Islands on the other.

Intinan Museum Quito
Standing on the equatorial line

Test Your Science Skills at the Equator

Ecuador gets its name from the equatorial line that runs through it. The official Mitad del Mundo (middle of the world) monument is located about 40 minutes from the city center. Families may prefer the Intiñan Museum next door, which includes a guided tour and hands-on science experiments like balancing an egg on a nail.

Food Market Tour

Many local residents still purchase the majority of their groceries from the city’s indoor markets, so this is one way to show kids a slice of local life. The markets are full of fruits and vegetables found only in Ecuador and other parts of South America, not to mention the meat and fish that don’t look anything like the packaged products we are used to. Purchase fruit to taste or a freshly made juice as a treat at the end of the tour. Two good markets for tourists are the Mercado Central near the historical center and Inaquito Market in the newer part of Quito.

At the top of the TelefériQo with Rucu Pichincha in the background

Ride up the TeleferiQo

The TeleferiQo, a word combination of teleferio and Quito, is a cable car ride up Pichincha Mountain. If the skies are clear, the views of the entire valley and city below are worth the visit. Once at the top, where the elevation reaches 13,000 feet, there are hiking trails and horseback riding, though it’s recommended to take a guide for any hiking. Parents beware: The Vulcano Amusement Park sits below the TeleferiQo and is irresistible for kids.

Most of the sightseeing for a short visit to Quito is concentrated in and around the historical center, but there are also museums and parks in the “new town,” where the larger chain hotels with pools are located. Quito is also a convenient base for day trips to Otavalo and the artisan towns of the highlands, north of the city.

Relevant Links:

Browse all family-friendly accommodations and activities in Ecuador on Ciao Bambino

South America Family Travel 101: Our Best Insider Tips

Nature, history and haciendas: Three unforgettable weeks in Ecuador with kids

Countryside colonial splendor at Ecuador’s Samari Spa Hotel

Postcard from Ecuador: Snorkeling with sea lions in the Galápagos Islands

5 reasons to visit the Galápagos Islands now

Essential tips for planning a Galápagos family vacation

Editor’s Note: Quito Tourism provided a media package for Kristi to experience the city. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos by Kristi Marcelle.

Start a Discussion

  • Thanks so much for these tips! We’re hoping to get to Ecuador with the kids in the not-too distant future (not too!). 😉 I especially like your recommendation of playing I Spy at the Basilica–ha!

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Let Ciao Bambino! Plan Your Dream Trip with Kids

Get the latest family travel news, exclusive deals & more!

Sign up for our newsletter and you’ll be the first to know about special promotions, perks, tips and hot destinations.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Sign In

Want to save all the great intel and tips you are finding on Ciao Bambino? My Trip Planner allows you to bookmark articles, family-friendly hotel reviews, and family vacation packages. Simply click the heart icon on anything you want to save. Site registration is required to get started. Happy planning!

Create an Account

Please fillout the form below to create your free My Trip Planner account.