Top 10 fun ideas

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Take your kids on an amazing adventure to these inventive ideas, and brainstorm your own offbeat activities.

HAVE A SLEEPOVER WITH A DIFFERENCE – Imagine exploring our planet’s rich history, diving deep to the bottom of the ocean, discovering what other galaxies look like and learning all about our furry friends at night, when all the other visitors have gone home. It’s a truly incredible experience and one your kids can do at any number of museums, galleries, aquariums or zoos around the world.

FIND SECRET SWIMMING POOLS – Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is home to thousands of cenotes – natural freshwater swimming holes formed by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock. Some are cavernous, others are lit by shafts of light from the jungle canopy above. Combining bright turquoise water and the thrill of finding something so unusual, swimming in a cenote is usually a big hit with kids. 

GET CREATIVE WITH CLAY – If your creative child is ready to make the jump from mud pies to something a bit more advanced, it’s time to take the pottery wheel for a spin. Held just down the road from one of the world’s great masterpieces – Angkor Wat – Siem Reap’s ceramics workshops help pint-sized potters create their very own Angkor-inspired bowl, complete with Khmer flower carvings. You’ll get the clay out from their fingernails eventually, but mucky memories – and an impressive ‘potter’s diploma’ – will last forever.

TURN YOUR EYES TO THE SKY – To check out your nearest dark sky site, pack some blankets, plenty of snacks and a flask of hot chocolate. Arm the kids with binoculars or a telescope and if boredom kicks in encourage them to make up their own constellations.

NURTURE GREEN THUMBS – Plant, paddle and play dirty in Melbourne at the Royal Botanic Gardens’ famously hands-on Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden. Educational and inclusive, the huge garden is packed with interactive places for kids of all ages to explore. Clamber under rocks in the Ruin Garden, make a splash in the water spout and go bug-hunting in the Wetlands pond. Aspiring agriculturalists (or anyone who just loves dirt) will dig the Kitchen Garden.

New York City during the evening.
 ©Jack Berman/Getty Images 

RIDE THE RAILS – Taking a night train turns the journey into an adventure involving new cities, a comfy cabin and novelty sleeping arrangements. Children squeal at the fact seats turn into cosy beds; revel at the chance to eat meals ‘on wheels’; and soon master the art of scenery spotting without sticking their heads out of the windows. The Ghan in Australia whizzes you across a continent overnight; and the Caledonian Sleeper transports the whole family from busy London to scenic Scotland in style, but there are plenty more to choose from.

LOOK AFTER ELEPHANTS – There are plenty of animal sanctuaries happy to take children as volunteers, but the Elephant Hills in Thailand’s Khao Sok National Park is a pretty special experience. There’s loads to explore in the park and you stay in a luxury tented camp, but the highlight is getting to bathe, feed and spend quality time with rescued elephants. 

STEP BACK IN TIME FOR THE DAY – Bring history to life with a gladiator training session at Rome’s Colosseum, complete with swords, tunics and instructions on the gladiatorial games. In a similar vein you can be a knight at Warwick Castle in England or a spy at Washington, DC’s International Spy Museum. 

TRAIN UP A SOUS CHEF – Family cooking courses are a brilliant way to encourage fussy eaters, teach children about the local cuisine and bond together as a family as you learn something new. Try making pizza in Naples, tagine in Morocco or pho in Vietnam. You may unleash a love of cooking in the kids.

EMBRACE PARKS – Whether it’s a world-class theme park, fun-filled water park or simply a lovely local playground, kids of all ages love parks. If going to a huge amusement park, just be sure to pace yourselves.

Produced with permission from The Family Travel Handbook, Lonely Planet © 2019

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