8 Reasons Why Our Kids Love Nantucket, MA

Comment

8 Reasons Why Our Kids Love Nantucket, MA

Nantucket Island is the place I dream about from my childhood as being the perfect beach vacation spot. I hoped my kids would love it as much as I did when we took them this summer, and, not surprisingly, they did. Since I hadn't been to Nantucket in over twenty years, it was fun to explore the island again through their eyes and pretend I was a kid again. There are a lot of things to love about Nantucket, but if you were to ask my kids this is probably what they would remember:

1. The Ferry Ride. We chose to take the high-speed ferry from Hyannis to Nantucket and it was the perfect 1 hour adventure. We got a snack on board and played games and watched the water splash against the windows. Because the ferry went really fast and was a little bumpy, we only stayed inside and didn't explore the boat much (other than a few potty trips). We loved the ferry because it had an easy boarding process, felt like we were on a ride at Disneyland, and it dropped us off right in downtown Nantucket so we could begin our adventures.

2. Bike Rides. Nantucket Island is covered in bike paths and instead of renting a car we opted to only use bikes the entire time we were on the island (we did use Lyft and Uber a few times too). We rented from Easy Riders Bicycles and the process was very easy. They had kids' bikes for the older girls and a bike seat for our younger daughter. We picked our bikes online, confirmed them over the phone, and they dropped off the bikes at our rental house with locks and helmets and picked up the bikes on our last day. We biked to the beach, to get groceries, to the lighthouse, and we even figured out how to ride a bike while holding an umbrella stroller plus beach gear (not an easy feat). Every night before bed we'd ride bikes to the Sankaty Head Lighthouse to catch fireflies and watch the sunset. 

3. The Food. We'd heard all about the food on Nantucket before we got there and couldn't wait to eat out. Of course, we stopped at the famed Juice Bar daily for ice cream and Aunt Leah's Fudge for candy. We also picked up Steamboat Pizza slices to take the beach several days and we grabbed sandwiches from Claudette's in Sconset. We ate a few meals at our rental house to keep costs lower but one night we went out to B-ACK Yard BBQ with the kids. They had a great kid's menu and the servers were really attentive and you could tell they enjoyed kids. For an adults-only activity we ate dinner at The Chanticleer in Sconset and the food was delicious and the ambiance was perfect. There were so many restaurants we wish we could've tried, but our visit was too short.

4. Beaches. There are so many beaches to choose from in Nantucket. We only made it to three beaches, but they were each wonderful in their own way. Our first stop was Sconset Beach because it was close to our rental home. The beach is quiet and relaxing and not very crowded. We saw a seal in the water, which was pretty exciting. There is a nice, new ADA accessible playground near the beach and bathrooms a few minutes away in Sconset Village. When we got hungry at the beach we grabbed sandwiches in the Sconset Market and Claudette's. Our second stop was Children's Beach because we heard a lot about it. This beach is right in Downtown Nantucket and close walking distance from everything in town. The beach doesn't have very many waves because it is in the harbor. There is a big playground by the beach, a grassy area for picnicking, a snack shack, and places for kids to catch crabs. During the summer months the park also hosts a variety of games and activities. Our last beach stop was Jetties Beach. To get to this beach you can take a shuttle from downtown, ride your bike, or walk. We walked, but it was a little far for little legs. The waves at Jetties are small and calm so it is almost like swimming in a pool and there is a sandbar that our kids swam out to and played at for hours. We also loved that they had a place to rent beach equipment and had changing rooms, showers, and a snack bar. There was also a little playground near the beach. I tried to ask my kids which of the beaches was their favorite, but they couldn't pick. I know we missed several other great beaches -- so, we've got a few to try next time!

5. Lighthouses. Lighthouses are a quintessential symbol of Nantucket. Nantucket has three lighthouses. We managed to visit two of them. Sankaty Lighthouse is on the Eastern Shore of Nantucket (it was a 5 minute walk from our rental home) and it used to be much closer to the edge of cliff but was moved because of erosion. It is a beautiful lighthouse and we loved watching it shine every night, Brant Point Lighthouse is one of the most popular lighthouses on the island and the one you see as your ferry comes and leaves Nantucket. It is customary to throw two pennies in the water when leaving the Nantucket Harbor, one for luck and one to ensure a return trip. The last lighthouse is the Great Point Lighthouse located on the Northeast tip of the island. The area is only accessible by a 4-wheel drive vehicle or a 7 mile hike in sand.

6. The People. We can not express enough how much we enjoyed getting to know the people of Nantucket. Most of our conversations were with small shop owners, restaurant servers, and taxi drivers and they helped us get to the know the island better. We also loved how much everyone enjoyed our kids. Nantucket can see a bit intimidating when you arrive (it is a little high brow) and I was a little nervous about how my kids would fare but families with kids were treated very kindly and accommodated. For a few brief scary moments we lost our six-year old when we were wandering around town and we had so many people offering help to find her -- luckily a nice elderly couple found her immediately and kept her safe til we could get to her.

7. The Wave. Most people don't take cars to Nantucket. It is pricey and the traffic is pretty horrible. However, we were able to get all over the island thanks to The Wave, which provides seasonal island-wide bus service. Children 6 and under are free on the bus and adults are either $1 or $2 depending on the loop you take or you can get a multi-ride pass. The bus was our favorite way to get around the island, particularly because we stayed in Sconset seven miles from downtown. There is something about kids and buses too, they acted like it was a ride at Disneyland. And, we loved meeting other families on the bus and usually we'd see those same families on the beach. The bus rides provided a great opportunity for our kids to make friends and for the adults to relax and avoid having to drive in Nantucket traffic.

8. The Scenery. I can't say enough about the beauty of Nantucket. My kids commented regularly how gorgeous the houses and flowers are. But, I will say the scenery is what made me love Nantucket the most. I love the architecture, gardens, flowers, ocean views, smells, rolling hills, cliffs, bike trails, etc. In my dreams I live on Nantucket. And, I kinda feel like when you are somewhere that beautiful and your kids are whining or complaining it doesn't seem that bad, because you are in paradise. 

Have you been to Nantucket? Did you take kids? What was your favorite part? We'd love to hear from you.

Comment

Travel Family Spotlight: The McEvoy's

Comment

Travel Family Spotlight: The McEvoy's

One of my favorite things about social media is meeting other families that love to travel and adventure. I like to dig in and find out what works for them and what draws their family to want to be "on the go" so we started a little series here on the blog where we spotlight other families who love to travel. We hope you will enjoy the next installment of the "Travel Family Spotlight" series.

The McEvoy family inspires me to get outdoors with my family and go on an adventure. They crave beautiful landscapes and unique experiences and have traveled the world to to find them. The McEvoy's also hope to teach their children that they can do hard things, to love and respect the planet, learn about new cultures, and help them see that life isn't just meant for adventure but you are meant to make a difference along the way. We loved learning more about the McEvoy family through this interview and know you will too. You can also find them on Instagram at @macs_explore or on their Adventure Together website.

1. Tell us about your family.
We are the McEvoys--Eric, Christina, Austin (12), and Carson (9) and you can find us on Instagram as @macs_explore. We love outdoor adventures and traveling, and if we can combine both, than we've hit the jackpot! We try to do a little of everything in every season--mountain biking, kayaking, camping, skiing, paddle boarding, and of course, lots of hiking. We also live very "normal" lives. My husband and I both work, and our kids go to school so our outdoor adventures and travels fit in on weekends and school holidays most of the time.

2. Where do you live? Has your family moved around at all?
We currently reside in Boise, Idaho and love living in the Pacific Northwest. We chose this location because it was close to Utah, where we have a lot of family (plus we are obsessed with Southern Utah!), but also because we are close to Oregon, Washington, and Montana. There is so much to see and do just in those states alone that it would take a lifetime to see it all. We have grown to LOVE Idaho too though, there are so many secret gems all over the state! People call Idaho, "America's Best Kept Secret" and it really is true!

Since 2000, we have lived in Utah, Ohio, and California, but Idaho the longest.

3. How often do you travel with your family? Is it local travel or international? Where has been your favorite place your family has traveled?
We travel as often as we can afford (and take time off from work), however at the moment, most of our travels are within the West Coast states. We do leave the country at least once a year, but wish it was more often! Our favorite places we've traveled so far would be Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Alberta, Canada. We are currently on working on plans to travel full-time in a year, we are really excited about it!

4. You do a lot of outdoor adventures and activities with your kids and husband. What are your favorite activities to do together? What has been your most adventurous trip as a family?
Our favorite outdoor activities are probably skiing, hiking, and paddle boarding. One of our most adventurous trips was kayaking around the San Juan Islands last summer. We had some wild weather (to be expected in the PNW), but we saw so many whales, bald eagles and seals, making it all the more memorable! We camped right on the water each night and enjoyed some hot springs after each day. It was heaven!

5. Why do you like to travel with your kids?
We love exposing our kids to different areas of the country and world, because we feel like that is truly how they gain an education about the world around them. Our kids know a lot about different plant and animal species since we spend so much time outdoors and they are are also quite savvy with many outdoor survival skills. We also want our kids to see that most of the world doesn't live like us in the States, so it's very important to us to travel to third world countries as their eyes and hearts are opened to different cultures and ways of life. We try to find small ways to serve in the countries we travel to, which make for the longest lasting impact on our kids. They still talk about the time we went to an orphanage in Costa Rica to play with the kids and give them clothes and toys!

6. What's a memorable travel experience you've had with your family?
There are so many memorable travel moments (as mentioned above), but one of our favorites was our hike to Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park. It was a really tough, long hike and the weather was temperamental, but so many life lessons were learned on that hike such as not giving up, focusing on the journey and not the destination, working together as a team, and realizing our potential. Our kids still talk about that hike. It was one for the books.

7. What are the easiest and hardest parts about traveling with kids?
The hardest part about traveling for us is we often do hard things (or try new things), and that isn't always easy on our kids. One of our kids is more timid and cautious by nature, so it can require some gentle coaxing and reassurance to get him to try some thing he hasn't done before (like rappelling off a 100 ft waterfall!). Our family vacations are rarely relaxing or easy, they usually require a lot of physical exertion, patience, and testing our limits. But the reward is more than worth it. Our kids astound us with what they are capable of.

The easiest part of traveling with our kids is we are at a good stage where we don't have to deal with car seats, naps, temper tantrums and early bedtimes! Our boys are great travelers--they adjust well in a new place/culture, they will eat pretty much anything, and they love to learn about the places we go.

8. What are your favorite travel resources?
Lonely Planet Kids has been a great resource for us, especially as we focus on outdoor travel. We get a lot of great ideas on Instagram from other like-minded families too! We love the community on Instagram of others sharing tips and ideas. The possibilities are endless!

9. What tips do you have for families who want to do adventure travel, but aren't sure where to start or might be a little afraid?
Adventure travel can be intimidating, especially with little ones. Our #1 tip would be to start with small adventures (we call them micro adventures) and build from there. For example, a short, local hike is a great way to build your kids' endurance and confidence. Gradually add in trying new things such as paddle boarding, or snow shoeing and always make it fun for them! When the parents have fun, the kids usually have fun! Sounds like a no-brainer, but so many parents stress about every little thing and that wears off on the kids. Relax, don't worry so much, and enjoy the time you have together.

10. What are three items you never leave home without?
Our camera gear (a DSLR, GoPro, tripod, extra batteries, etc), good shoes, and our Hydro Flask water bottles. :)

11. How can you afford to travel and do all of the amazing adventures you do?
We don't go on luxurious vacations where we stay at 5-Star hotels and resorts and splurge on amazing food. We tend to save our money for experiences and adventures such as canyoneering, horseback riding, etc. We often choose to stay in Airbnb's because we can find something great in our price range, have a kitchen to cook in (which saves us a lot of money by not eating out a lot), and we can "live like a local". We also do a lot of camping if we are traveling within driving distance and that always saves us money on accommodations and transportation and it's always an adventure!

For us, it always boils down to prioritizing our spending when we have extra money. We don't buy fancy cars or a nicer house and we don't eat out a lot when we are at home. We save every bit we can and put it towards our travels and adventures and invest in good outdoor gear that will last us a long time.

12. What's your next travel adventure?
We have a fun summer ahead with lots of shorter trips over long weekends to places like the Tetons, the Sawtooths, Bend Oregon, and possibly Aspen, Colorado but our big trip is to Iceland in early September for two weeks. We are so excited about that and have some amazing adventures planned!

13. Anything else you want to tell us or want us to include?
We have a blog called http://adventuretogether.com/ that we launched recently with our good friends, the Vons. It's been a lot of work and we still have content to add, but we have some big things planned for it. We also have a community page that we started on Instagram called @goadventuretogether (which is tied to our blog), where we feature others outdoor adventures and tips. It's been a lot of fun!


Don't forget to follow the McEvoy's on Instagram at @macs_explore or on their Adventure Together website.

 

Comment

Travel Family Spotlight: Lil Kid Big City

Comment

Travel Family Spotlight: Lil Kid Big City

One of my favorite things about social media is meeting other families that love to travel and adventure. I like to dig in and find out what works for them and what draws their family to want to be "on the go" so we started a little series here on the blog where we spotlight other families who love to travel. We hope you will enjoy the next installment of the "Travel Family Spotlight" series.

Beth Beckam loves everything about New York City and she and her son spend their days "exploring NYC and beyond, one playground at a time". She is the creator and face behind the Instagram account @littlekidnyc (although you mostly see her 4-year-old son in front of the camera!) and its accompanying website.  She started "Lil Kid Big City" as a way to showcase her love affair with New York City through the eyes of a toddler. We know you'll love her perspective on adventuring with her son and living life to the fullest!

1. Tell us about your family.
Hello! We are a family of 4 fun loving New Yorkers – My husband and myself, our 4-year-old son, and a mini dachshund named Hot Dog, with a not so mini personality! She is our first baby and absolutely considered a member of our family.

2. Where do you live now? Have you always lived there? Where do you consider "home"?
While we are currently (and will forever be) New Yorkers we originally hail from Wisconsin. My husband and I both are originally from Wisconsin (however we didn’t meet there – another story in itself!). We currently live in the Financial District in Lower Manhattan. We've lived in Lower Manhattan for 15 years, and have seen the area change drastically. When I first moved down here it was a desolate area - with no grocery, very few restaurants and residents. We've had the incredible opportunity to watch the neighborhood drastically change and grow - now home to many families, schools, movie theaters, and things to do (and even soon to be Whole Foods!) it is most definitely “home.” Couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

3. How often do you travel with your family? Is it local travel or international?
We travel as often as possible (and as financially feasible!). We love exploring a new city, location, country or town. To me, traveling is everything. It is a cultural experience, an opening to a new way of thinking, and a better learning experience than any school setting.

4. What would you say your typical week looks like?
I recently left a long career in fashion to concentrate on writing and photography full time. I went from long days at an office to working at home and exploring. While my days do feel busier than ever – I have never been happier. I love spending more time with our son, seeing him grow and exploring our city together. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I didn’t like working for the weekend. Everyday can be a weekend.

5. You do a lot of local adventures and activities with your son around the NYC area. How do you find all of the fun activities you plan? What motivates you to get out so much and explore where you live?
I had the misfortune in my life to have several family members pass while I was young. Life is such a blessing – and we never know what the future could bring. My motivation is simple - to live each day to the fullest, to surround yourself with loved ones, and to experience and see as much as possible.

There’s no better place to do this than New York City. I am completely and totally driven by the energy and beauty of our incredible city. The cultures and people of this city are everything. We’re so lucky to live in such an amazing city. I couldn’t imagine not taking part of this energy.

We have often been asked how we find activities.  As I have been living (and exploring!) in the city so long – much of the annual events and activities are committed to memory. Years ago, I compiled a picture book of the city – and walked every single city block from lower Manhattan to 100th street. It took an entire summer – but I learned so much about our city, the neighborhoods, restaurants, architecture, and history. So much so that the city feels quite small to me now. In addition to all my city knowledge, I do also spend a bit of time Googling current events, joining mailing lists, and the usual roster of city experience websites, always trying to stay on top of the latest art opening, and special events.

All of this is what inspired us to start our website. Our friends and followers trusted our research, our city knowledge, and were looking for a curated list of activities. Lil Kid Big City was born.

6. Why do you like to travel and adventure around NYC with your son?
I’ve always been a city explorer – way before our son was born. I would tear open an issue of Time Out New York with as much enthusiasm as a present on Christmas morning. To my delight – our son is just as much of an explorer as me. He loves experiencing new things, seeing the city, and learning about our world (often asking me to take him to see things!). My utmost joy comes from watching his reactions, and discoveries. Experiencing the city again through a child’s eyes may be the best gift of all.

7. What's a memorable travel experience you've had with your family?
My husband and I recently celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary in Las Vegas, with a vow renewal ceremony. We were originally married there, by Elvis, and hired the same Elvis to perform the ceremony. It was so special to have our son there by our side (Vegas can be fantastic for kids!). Now our little guy is the biggest Elvis fan, and is so excited to see Graceland next month.

 

8. What's the easiest and hardest parts about traveling with young kids?
Now at age 4 – traveling with our son is a breeze. A loaded iPad, a plethora of "dollar store" toys and small books and games make the time fly by. The challenges always come from the things you can't control – delays, unexpected travel changes and weather. Pack for the worst, hope for the best – you'll always be okay (just be sure you have a great back-up battery and used the bathroom before leaving!

9. What are your favorite travel resources?
I love to search and discover a city before traveling – often making our own itineraries way before leaving. I cross reference many different platforms and sites in doing this – everything from local bloggers, travel websites, tourism boards, Instagram, and more...

10. What are three items you never leave home without?
Back-up cell phone battery (I have a mega one that would last about a week if needed – its heavy and big, but I love the peace of mind!), iPad (a must now these days, no?), and a supply of snacks. You never know when you may be delayed, or need to fill a hunger pain.

11. What advice would you give to someone who wants to explore where they live with their kids but is nervous or isn't sure how to get started?
No need to be nervous! I find that fear comes from not being prepared. Do a little research (Where to? Opening hours? How to get there?) and pack smart so you feel comfortable for anything (diapers, snacks, wipes, change of clothes, etc.) Once I feel confident in these things I feel like I could take on anything.

Regarding getting started – the amazing internet resources today make it so easy. A quick Google will usually yield many choices – but I urge you to find the resource that calls to you personally. There are many company sites with journalist approach to activities with a basic synopsis, and many sites that offer opinions and first-hand experiences. There are (very!) large sites that seem to list everything – which is great for an explorer! But this may be overwhelming for someone looking for a quick activity and a small sampling. Search for what calls to you. You’ll get more out of it, find yourself inspired, and (most likely!) enjoy your experience even more.

12. What's your next travel adventure?
Memphis and Nashville next month! Our son has been asking to see Elvis’s home. My husband and I have been before – but are excited to share the experience with him. In addition to this we have arranged for our son to be the Honorary Duck Master at the Peabody Hotel! Nashville is a quick drive away! We’re exciting to visit this fun music city again. We have a very exciting stop to make while we are there. We recently wrote a children’s travel book on NYC and are working with an illustrator who lives there. We will be visiting her and her studio while in town. More to come on this soon!

Dont't forget to follow Beth on Instagram at @littlekidnyc and on her website Lil Kid Big City.

 

Comment

Travel Family Spotlight: Capitol Momma

Comment

Travel Family Spotlight: Capitol Momma

One of my favorite things about social media is meeting other families that love to travel and adventure. I like to dig in and find out what works for them and what draws their family to want to be "on the go" so we started a little series here on the blog where we spotlight other families who love to travel. We hope you will enjoy the next installment of the "Travel Family Spotlight" series.

Alexis Aschenbach is the face behind the Instagram account @capitol.momma. She is a mom of two girls (ages 3 and 6) and is expecting a baby boy in a few months. She started "Capitol Momma" as a way to chronicle her adventures around Washington, D.C. with her daughters. She loves scouting kid-friendly places, activities, and events. She is also a contributor to the Mommy Nearest website. We know you'll love her perspective on adventuring with her kids. And she takes beautiful pictures of their adventures. You can also follow along on her website Capitol Momma.

1. Tell us about your family.
Hello! We are currently a family of 4 with a baby boy due in September. I'm Alexis, my husband is Tommy, and our two girls are Clara (6) and Mae (3). I grew up in Nebraska and moved out to D.C after college. I didn't think I would end up staying forever but I met my husband out here and this is where we started our family. Now I absolutely love raising our kids here - there's so much to do and experience in the D.C. area.

2. Where do you live? Has your family moved around at all?
We live in Potomac, MD just a few miles outside of Washington, D.C. My husband owns a local business so we are here to stay!  We really like this area because it offers the best of both worlds - we get to enjoy the benefits of suburb life but are close enough to the city to be able to enjoy everything it has to offer too.

3. How often do you travel with your family? Is it local travel or international? Where has been your favorite place your family has traveled?
We take a few trips within the U.S. every year. In January we head south to Florida when we really start to feel like we need a break from the cold weather. In the summer we visit family in Nebraska and also go to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Those are our regular trips and then we usually go somewhere new as well. We haven't traveled internationally with our girls yet. I hope to take them to Europe when they get a little bit older. I was in a study abroad program in London during college and really found a love for traveling while there. I want my girls to experience that too.

It's hard to pick a favorite because I think there is something special about every trip but Napa and Sonoma will always be a favorite of mine. Before having children, I was a wine buyer for a large U.S. wine retailer and spent a lot of time in wine country. When my oldest was just five months old we went as a family. It's pretty easy to tour wineries with a baby strapped in a Bjorn but I definitely wouldn't take older kids! Save that for a parent's getaway trip!

4. You do a lot of local adventures and activities with your kids around the Washington, D.C. area. How do you find all of the fun activities you plan? What motivates you to get out so much and explore where you live?
I keep a running list of all the places I want to take my kids and do a lot of research too. We have our favorite places we like to visit over and over again like local farms for berry picking and the Smithsonian museums but then I try to mix in some new places to keep things interesting. I find a lot of activities on Facebook and Instagram and by reading other mom blogs.

I actually find it more stressful to be at home with my girls than out exploring! When I am out with them I am not worrying about trying to get the dishes or laundry done - I can just be present with them and temporarily forget about all my other responsibilities. My oldest daughter is now in Kindergarten and I'm realizing that it's going to get harder to find time to go explore together. I am really trying to do as much as I can with them before sports, birthday parties, and school activities completely fill up our schedule.

5. Why do you like to travel with your kids?
They love it and I love watching them experience new things. It's the best to see the world through their eyes with such wonder and excitement. Plus it's a great learning opportunity for them. Especially in the D.C. area, we have so many historical sites and museums to explore and I try not to take that for granted.

6. What's a memorable travel experience you've had with your family?
Last summer we had a memorable trip to Colorado that the girls still talk about all the time. I've really missed the mountains since moving to the East coast! Growing up in Nebraska, we used to ski in Colorado every winter so it felt great to go back. It was just so relaxing breathing in the mountain air, going horseback riding, picnicking, and hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.

7. What are the easiest and hardest parts about traveling with kids?
I've always been a planner so that part comes easy to me. I like to make sure we have a schedule even while traveling so we make sure to maximize our time and see everything we want to see. The hardest party is probably when I'm traveling without my husband. He works really long hours so most our local trips are just myself and the girls. I've flown solo with them many times as well and that can be hard with a restless toddler on a long flight but still always worth it.

8. What are your favorite travel resources?
For flights I usually check Kayak.com and Google Flights. For rental cars and hotels, I often book them through the Bank of America Travel Center and use credit cards rewards points. I find that Instagram is also a great resource to find fun things to see and do while traveling.

9. What are three items you never leave home without?
1. Snacks - My girls seem to always be hungry so I always pack snacks in my bag and keep extra in the car. Food is an essential to keep everyone happy when we are out on adventures.
2. Water bottles - another essential! We are usually doing something active so it's important to stay hydrated.
3. My camera -  I always take my DSLR with us everywhere we go. It can get a bit heavy to lug around but documenting our adventures is a passion of mine. I love capturing a moment in time and being able to go back to it by looking at a photo.

10. What's your next travel adventure?
We will be taking a few local day trips over the girl's spring break. I'm trying to do as much as I can with them without completely exhausting myself while pregnant! In May I'll be going on a trip to Palm Beach, Florida without my husband and the girls for a little R&R time with a girlfriend. I hardly ever travel without my kids so I'm really looking forward to having a break! And then we are headed to Nebraska in June to visit family.

You can follow Alexis on Instagram at @capitol.momma or on the Capitol Momma website.

Comment

10 Things to Do With Kids in Budapest

1 Comment

10 Things to Do With Kids in Budapest

Budapest is an amazing city and surprisingly very family-friendly. We hadn't been to Hungary before so we did a lot of research beforehand and asked some friends for tips on what our kids would like. When we travel with kids we prefer to get the feel of a city, wander, and explore rather than just check off a "To Do" list, but, of course, we had to fit in some of the iconic sites too. We hope this list will be helpful to you on your own adventure to Budapest with kids.

1. Wander the Castle District. The castle district of the city is full of sights and attractions. We hiked the hill up to Buda Castle (the Funicular was under construction while we were there) and stopped along the way to look over the Pest side of the city and at the Danube. My husband took the shorter staircase up to the top with our two oldest daughters while I pushed a stroller the long way around. In the castle district some of the sights you can visit Buda Castle, the Labyrinth, Fisherman's Bastion, Holy Trinity Square, and the Mattias Church. We hiked up to watch the sunset over the Danube from the Castle District and it was breathtaking.

2. Visit the Great Market Hall. Budapest's largest indoor market is a great place to buy souvenirs, taste local cuisine, and sight-see. The lower level of the hall mostly has produce, meat, and paprika vendors and the second level consists of shops selling arts and crafts and embroidery. The second level is also a good place to grab cheap Hungarian food. The basement is more of a supermarket and also where you can find fishmongers, spices, and pickles. We picked up a few souvenirs here and walked around tasting local cuisine that looked good to us. Our three-year old didn't last long inside because she wanted to touch everything, but our older girls had fun exploring this expansive market.

3. Stop at some playgrounds. We cannot say enough about the playgrounds in Budapest. We found them everywhere and they were wonderful. We especially liked the ones that were fenced in. Our favorite playground was just across the street from Erzebet Square on the way towards St Stephen's Basilica on Oktober 6th Street. We also loved the Olimpia Park playground near the Parliament.

4. Take a break in Erzsebet Square. This square is the largest green area in inner city Budapest. It was named after the wife of the Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph. The main attractions are the Danube fountain the middle of the square, the Design Terminal, and the Budapest Eye (Ferris wheel). It is also home to many cultural events and has a playground that our kids enjoyed. Our apartment was just a block from here and we loved wandering through and people watching. We also quite enjoyed the views of Budapest at night from the top of the Budapest Eye.

5. Enjoy the architecture of Parliament. The Hungarian Parliament is one of the iconic buildings in Budapest and it was built in the Gothic revival style. It lies on the Danube and it is the largest building in Hungary and the tallest building in Budapest. The best views of the building are from a Danube river tour. Guided tours are available of the building and you can also visit the Hungarian Crown Jewels. We enjoyed watching the changing of the guards outside the building and visiting the Lapidarium. We didn't take a guided tour on our latest visit.

6. Soak in the Szechenyi Thermal Baths. One of our highlights of our trip was visiting the thermal baths. I took my older daughters (ages 5 and 7) and left our 3-year-old with her dad because I was worried she might be too young for the baths and she isn't completely potty trained. After buying our tickets, renting a cabana (private changing room), renting towels, and changing into our swim suits we were ready to explore the baths. We mostly stayed in the larger baths outside because they were warm but not too hot for kids. We also explored some baths inside (paying close attention to the temperature readings) and soaked in some for a few minutes. I encouraged my kids to relax but not be too rowdy in the baths since most people were there to soak without distractions. We had a great time and wish we had been able to stay longer. The baths are located in City Park.

7. See the sights on a Danube River tour. We did a Hop On/Hop Off Bus tour in Budapest and it came with an evening boat tour of the Danube. It was a 60 minute ride along the Danube where we learned about the history and architecture of the buildings and bridges we passed. We didn't take our kids on the boat tour, although they would've enjoyed it. It did get a little chilly so we'd suggest dressing warmly. We took the boat tour that was closest to sunset and it was fun to watch the sunset across the city.

8. Step into history at the Budapest Zoo. While we soaked in the thermal baths my husband took our younger daughter to the nearby Budapest Zoo. The Budapest Zoo is one of the oldest in the world. It has 1,072 animal species and is located in City Park. Our daughter was especially enchanted with the hippopotamus, but apparently they also have a Komodo dragon and a wombat. Before arriving in Budapest we'd heard a lot of people telling us to visit the zoo and we don't usually visit zoos in other cities, but this one didn't disappoint.

9. See the mummified hand at St Stephen's Basilica. We might have visited St. Stephen's Basilica three times while we were in Budapest because our kids were obsessed with seeing the mummified right hand of Stephen (the first King of Hungary). The church is beautiful and decorated in the neo-classical style. Visitors can climb 364 stairs to the dome of the church to see amazing views of Budapest (there is also an elevator). We would definitely recommend stopping by this church and maybe grabbing a gelato nearby (see below).

10. Eat, a lot. We were surprised at how wonderful the food was in Budapest. We loved the traditional Hungarian dishes at restaurants we went to and also stumbled upon the Budapest Spring Fair where we got to try a variety of specialties. When we made our "To Do" list for Budapest we also had a "To Eat" list and we included the following foods on our list: Goulash, Langos, Rakott, Rantott, Dobos Torta, and Turo Rudi. Of course we tried some other things too. We also found some gelato we liked at Gelarto Rosa and donuts at Mr. Funk (sometimes we crave American food when we travel for a long time). Definitely spend some time trying food when you wander the streets of Budapest!

We hope you enjoy these "To Do" activities in Budapest. Let us know if you have any favorite activities that we missed!

1 Comment