Guest post and photos by: Kristen Rosenfield
Our family has lived in Buenos Aires for nearly two years and, after five years living in Delhi, we have particularly enjoyed the blue skies, being outside in fresh air, and cheap, easy to navigate public transportation. And, although waiting for restaurants to open for dinner at 8:00pm can be tricky when traveling with young ones, this country has snack foods aplenty to keep hunger at bay while exploring the sights and sounds of this dynamic and beautiful city. For families, Buenos Aires offers wide open green spaces, the opportunity to pick up some Spanish, and a kid-friendly culture. Here are 10 favorite activities for families traveling to this South American city with a European vibe.
1. Buenos Aires with Kids – Discover the street art
No matter in which area of Buenos Aires you find yourself, there is plenty of urban art to check out while walking along. Big, bold colors and curious characters are the hallmark of these eye-catching, oversized pieces throughout the city. If you have interest in learning more about some local artists and what they aspire to convey via this medium, consider a walking tour with non-profit organization, graffitimundo.
2. Explore the San Telmo Fair
On Sundays throughout the year, head down to San Telmo – one of the oldest neighborhoods of Buenos Aires – and take in the art, crafts, and antiques for sale along Calle Defensa. One can spend the better part of an afternoon poking along the cobblestone street in search of gifts and souvenirs and chatting with the artists who make them. For entertainment or a short break, there are musicians, food vendors, and ice cream shops along the way.
3. Wander About Colorful La Boca
Buenos Aires is a fantastic walking city and Buenos Aires Free Walks provides four opportunities to learn about the history of different neighborhoods. We have been on all all four tours and think that the most kid-friendly is the one offered in La Boca, the neighborhood at the southern end of the city limits from where the Tango originated. The tour lasts about two hours and does not cover a long distance so perfectly doable for children. It concludes just outside the Boca Juniors stadium with a few stories about the history of this club, the most successful fútbol team in Argentina. When the tour is over (at about 1:00pm), there are friendly parrillas nearby for a traditional Argentine lunch.
4. Taste the Best Ice Cream in the World!
In all our travels we’ve not found anywhere that does ice cream better than Buenos Aires. And, no matter what the temperature is outside, Porteños (locals) will wait in line to get their fix. A unique feature of how it’s done in Argentina is that unless you order the tiniest option on the menu (and why, oh why, would you do that?), you will be expected to choose TWO flavors and it’s fun to watch as one is skillfully stacked and swirled on top of the other. Be sure to try Argentina’s most popular flavor, Dulce de Leche.
5. Have an Empanada Picnic
Snacks are essential when traveling with kids and this city has you covered. Empanadas are inexpensive, available on every block, easy to transport to a picnic spot, and come with range of fillings to suit everyone’s palate. The most popular options are beef, ham and cheese, chicken, and spinach. The fold on the empanada indicates what is inside. The neighborhood of Palermo contains several large parks which are filled with families on the weekends. Pack up your empanadas and get ready for great people watching under blue skies.
6. Look and Touch
What better name for an interactive science museum than “Prohibited Not to Touch”. Located in a convenient area of the city (just outside “must see” Recoleta Cemetery), No Tocar Museo is a perfect place on a rainy day or whenever the kids to burn off some energy in between seeing the sights. Even with little or no Spanish skills, the exhibits – which include Perception, Mechanics, Art, and Forces of Nature – are accessible to children (and adults) of all ages.
7. Check What’s On at La Rural
This centrally located exhibition center offers something new throughout the year. There we have see the traveling Bodies Exhibition, filled our bellies at a food truck festival, bought souvenirs at a handicrafts fair, attended a wine tasting (okay, that was without kids in tow!) and most recently went to our first international auto show. In July, La Rural hosts a ten-day Exhibition of Livestock, Agriculture, and International Industry at which representatives from all provinces across Argentina share their traditions and expertise.
8. Go on a Scavenger Hunt
When the kids get wiggly, we like to distract them from their hunger / boredom / sleepiness by presenting them with a scavenger hunt of sorts. Give them a list of four or five easily spotted examples of local culture and see what happens. Some items for the list in Buenos Aires would be: people wearing Boca Junior shirts, dog walkers with four or more dogs, platform shoes, and one or two favorite displays of urban art (if you have a young artist with a sketchbook in your family, he or she might want to sit a while and try to create a copy).
9. Float Upstream for Lunch
When in need of a break from the big city, it’s great to spend a day on the Tigre Delta. It’s easy to access via the Mitre from Retiro Station. From the station in Tigre it’s a very short walk to the boat taxis. From there, take a ride on the Gato Blanco boat, which drops passengers off at their lovely restaurant where typical parrilla fare is served in a breezy garden setting. There is a green space and play set behind the restaurant and families can easily spend two hours here, taking in the peaceful surroundings and watching boats glide by.
10. Escape from Within
When we need a break from the rain, or the sun, or our house, our go-to escape is the Panamericano Hotel. Located just across 9 de Julio from historic Teatro Colón, and a short walk from the city’s iconic obelisk, this hotel offers an indoor swimming pool on the top floor with large, comfy lounge chairs along both indoor and outdoor deck areas. Kids can splash around for hours while adults read, rest, or catch a much-needed siesta.
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