Worldwide travel with her son has left writer Theodora Sutcliffe with inspiring memories and a special family bond. Discover her experiences and more ideas for child-friendly adventures
Sharing new places and experiences with your child can create lasting, inspirational memories. Here, you can discover family-friendly activities for adventure, culture, nature and food and drink from exciting locations around the world
Themed around industry and transport, the Rahmi M Koç Museum (rmk-museum.org.tr/english) is a must for families of all ages. Meanwhile, Istanbul Modern (istanbulmodern.org/en) offers interactive activities about art designed for children. After an exciting day in the city, relax at Raffles Istanbul, where children can splash in their own pool or try kite-making or mini-soccer at the kids’ club. On Sundays, the hotel hosts a family brunch with art activities and a live jazz band.
A variety of traditional activities can be found in Tokyo, from making origami and playing Taiko drums to experiencing a tea ceremony in kimonos. Many dojos also offer classes in Samurai swordsmanship. For a taste of 21st-century Japanese culture, older children and teens will love the districts of Shibuya and Harajuku, famous for boutiques and youth fashion.
Bustling market square Jemaa el-Fna, where snake charmers, magicians and acrobats can be found among the colourful market stalls, has been a lively spot for Moroccan culture since the 11th century. Afterwards, take the family on a horse-drawn caleche tour or practice haggling at one of the city’s many traditional souks.
Staging family-friendly spectacles since 1877, the Bolshoi St Petersburg State Circus (circus.spb.ru/en) can be found on the Fontanka River Embankment. Or spend a happy afternoon painting matryoshka dolls at a local café such as Coffee and Waffles. Of course, no trip to the city would be complete without visiting its stunning palaces, from the beautiful Novo-Mikhailovsky to the world-famous Winter Palace.
Head out into the Serengeti for a true African adventure. There are a number of protected spaces in which to spot wild beasts on safari, including Amboseli National Park, Lake Victoria and Samburu National Reserve. Kids can also learn warrior skills such as spear-throwing and fire-making on a visit to a Maasai village, or explore the savannah on an exhilarating mountain-bike tour.
Take a speedboat trip from Callao to discover Lima’s islands, where you can swim with sea lions and watch wild dolphins, or take a half-day trip to the desert oasis Huacachina for dune buggies and sandboarding. A cycle along cliff-top path El Malecón will reveal breathtaking views of the Pacific coastline, where older children can take the leap and go paragliding.
Families can enjoy a huge range of sporty activities in the Sunshine State. Learn to skateboard like a local at Etnies Skate Park, take surf lessons on Venice Beach or get an introduction to scuba diving at Monterey Bay Aquarium. Joshua Tree National Park is a must for aspiring rock-climbers, while Mammoth Mountain is famous for skiing and snowboarding.
Take a day-trip trek up an active volcano on the island of Luzon. After a boat ride across Taal Lake, ascend Taal Volcano by foot or on horseback for stunning views of the island. Or discover Manila on a Bambike Eco tour (bambike.com/ecotours), where families ride bamboo bikes made by Gawad Kalinga villagers — highlights include tours of street art or key historical or cultural sites.
For food & drink...
Alongside the bustling markets, a street food tour, where you can taste everything from tacos to tamales and tortillas is an ideal way to sample tantalising Mexican cuisine while exploring the city; braver youngsters might want to try gusanos — maguey worms which are considered a delicacy. For a quick snack, find a street vendor selling the pineapple paletas, popular with local children.
Florence is celebrated the world over for its delicious Italian cuisine, with much on offer for children. Look into booking a family-friendly cooking class, where little chefs can try their hand at making their own pizza or homemade pasta. The city also boasts some of the best gelato in the country, so head to Gelateria la Carraia (lacarraiagroup.eu) or Marco Ottaviano (marcoottaviano.it) for a frozen treat.
Manila has many options for families to enjoy the local food. Mayumi Marcelo, Chef Concierge at Raffles Makati, recommends the family-friendly MilkyWay Café (café.milkywayrestaurant.com) for halo-halo — a sugary concoction of shaved ice, evaporated milk and sweet toppings — and a trip to the nearby Laguna province for buko pie, where many stalls sell the well-loved coconut treat.
Hainan offers the young a feast for the senses. An ideal base is Raffles Hainan, where children can learn new techniques at a cooking class, or the whole family can visit the famous floating Lingshui Fishing Village to see traditional Chinese fishermen and taste authentic local Hainanese cuisine. And if you’re in Hainou, historic Qilou Old Street is great for street food, with many stalls selling local favourites.
Children will love watching frogs, kiwi birds and scaly tuatara at forested eco sanctuary Zealandia (visitzealandia.com), while rare monkeys and big cats can be found at Wellington Zoo (wellingtonzoo.com). The Wellington Town Belt, with 520 hectares of natural open space, surrounds the city, offering stunning hillside views and numerous parks, tracks and nature reserves to discover.
Praslin offers the perfect surroundings for families who want to unwind and relax. Daniel Brigilia, butler at Raffles Seychelles, recommends the island’s most beautiful beaches, including Anse Georgette for crystalline waters and Anse Lazio for picture-perfect sunsets. Make time for island-hopping on a taxi boat, a chartered tour or a luxurious yacht trip. La Digue is famous for its natural beauty, while Silhouette Island attracts hiking enthusiasts. To see a different side to Praslin’s natural resources, visit The Black Pearl Museum to discover rare gems of the sea.
A short drive away from the capital is Krysuvík, known for its bubbling mud pools, colourful crater lakes and steaming volcanic vents. Head to pretty Videy Island for peaceful walks with mountain views. When darkness falls, you might be lucky enough to see the awe-inspiring Northern Lights, especially during Aurora season (October-March).
Often described as “the Hawaii of China”, the beautiful island of Hainan boasts both golden beaches and lush mountainous jungle. Monkey Island is home to more than 2,000 macaque monkeys, plus exotic plant and animal species. The verdant Yanoda Rainforest — one of very few in China — and the Hainan Tropical Wildlife Park and Botanical Garden are well worth a trip. Haitang Bay is a popular destination, with a beach that stretches almost 43km. A short ferry ride away, the pretty Fenjiezhou Island is ideal for watersports.
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