Kid-friendly adventures in Germany
Traveling Europe with young children calls for a delicate balancing act worthy of a prima ballerina. Well-intentioned moms and dads understand that experiencing the sights, sounds, customs, flavors and historical significance of a different culture is a valuable educational experience. However, parents also know too many museums with too few opportunities to play and explore is likely to make for a crew of bored and unhappy little ones. To avoid the viable threat of munchkin mutiny on your next vacation, look outside the box of popular travel destinations in Germany. Treat your family to one of these kid-friendly adventures that adults are sure to enjoy, too.
1. Delight them with a day at a theme park.
With more than 100 venues to choose from, no matter where you are in Germany, you’re never far from a day of family fun at a local theme park. Consider setting aside some time in between destinations on your next journey to enjoy a few carefree hours riding roller coasters, enjoying the entertainment and sharing favorite carnival treats with your children.
Special mentions: Experience the joy and nostalgia of favorite toys come-to-life at LEGOLAND Deutschland or Playmobil FunPark; inspire young imaginations with fantasy world attractions at Phantasialand, Märchenwald fairy-tale forest and Ruhpolding Leisure Park; hit up a smaller facility, such as Traumland or Tripsdrill Adventure Park, that caters to younger children; or go all out at one of Germany’s biggest theme parks, like Europa-Park or Heide Park Resort.
2. Stimulate their senses with indoor thrills.
A jolt of adrenaline to the system is sure to rejuvenate even the moodiest of youngsters on yet another sightseeing trip. If the thought of touring one more castle has them falling asleep standing up, surprise them with a side trip to somewhere unexpected on the way. From indoor ski slopes to playgrounds to skydiving simulators, there’s always excitement to be found in Germany, no matter the season.
Special mentions: If you plan to be in the Düsseldorf area, head to JEVER FUNpark for a day of snowy adventures on the slopes year round; Sensapolois near Stuttgart is an indoor playground on steroids, boasting 10,000 square meters of play space for children of all ages; or, for the thrill of a lifetime, splurge on a flight in the state-of-the-art wind tunnel at the Bottrop Indoor Skydiving Centre. Packages are available for children ages 4 and up.
3. Unleash their wild sides at an animal park.
After only a few hours of practicing quiet restraint at crowded tourist attractions, children’s energy levels are likely to be bursting at the seams. To avoid a meltdown of epic proportions in a less than favorable location, take your kids to unleash their wild sides outdoors at one of Germany’s wonderful animal parks.
Special mentions: Many large cities — including Berlin, Cologne, Dresden and Nuremberg — have fantastic zoos and wildlife parks. Walk through a rainforest paradise in Leipzig and experience animals from Alaska, Africa and Asia at Gelsenkirchen’s ZOOM World of Adventure. At Stukenbrock Safari Park, you can observe nature’s predators, such as white lions, tigers and cheetahs, roaming as they please — from the safety of the zoo train or your own car. Afterward, head over to the adventure zone, where children can expend excess energy on trampolines, jungle gyms, carnival rides and water attractions.
4. Wow them with wonders at a discovery center.
If your children have lost interest in visits to historical monuments and museums with ancient artifacts, rekindle their curiosity by introducing them to something new. Treasures abound at Germany’s many fascinating discovery centers.
Special mentions: Just two hours from Grafenwöhr, you can explore the magical Saalfeld Fairy Grottoes, which have earned a reputation for having the most colorful caves in the world. Walk through Europe’s largest butterfly farm in Trassenheide, where more than 2,000 winged beauties fly freely within a giant tropical greenhouse. Or visit Wiesbaden’s Schloss Freudenberg, where you can explore the world of sight, sound, and movement through mesmerizing sensory experiences.
5. Indulge them with a stay at a holiday resort.
Every now and then, it’s important to plan a relaxing vacation without an agenda. Use these precious moments to relax and reconnect with your family, and to allow your children to explore and play on their own time. Germany’s kid-friendly holiday resorts are the perfect place to escape the stresses of everyday life.
Special mentions: For the ultimate kid-friendly adventure, reserve a holiday house at Schloss Dankern, a baroque castle-turned-family-resort. Children and adults alike can enjoy water sports (such as scuba diving, wakeboarding and jet skiing), indoor and outdoor entertainment facilities (such as miniature golf, soccer fields and race tracks), and an amusement park. If you’re dreaming of a more low-key getaway, imagine letting your little ones play in the sand while you sunbathe on the beaches of Tropical Islands, Europe’s largest tropical holiday resort, where it’s always summer.
There’s more to Germany than castles, wine routes and fairy-tale villages. While you're planning your family trip for the warmer months to come, shake things up a bit by adding a few kid-friendly adventures to your travel plans. Your inner child just might appreciate it as much as your little ones will.