Madrid is, surprisingly enough, a good place to vacation with kids, even though it has a reputation for late hours, huge museums and excuses to party. The locals just love children, and Madrid has no dearth of ways to amuse them. In fact, here are five great kid-friendly places to start.
Retiro Park's boating lake — Photo courtesy of Javier Lastras
If the weather is nice, visit Parque del Retiro. Aside from the dozens of playgrounds and acres of lawns, there is an artificial lake for row boating and ponds with birds and turtles. On weekends, there are different children’s plays and entertainment. Some are free and sponsored by the local government, while others are put on by entertainers hoping to earn a few coins.
Ratón Pérez House and Museum
Spanish children probably aren’t acquainted with the Tooth Fairy, but they sure do know about her Spanish counterpart: Ratón Pérez. This little mouse lives in a cookie box on Arenal Street in Madrid and comes to exchange money for the baby teeth Spanish children leave under their pillows. Your children can learn more about this interesting character at the tiny Casa-Museo de Raton Pérez.
For the bigger kids, nothing beats the excitement and adrenaline rush of a roller coaster ride. Luckily, Madrid has two amusement parks, each worth a full day of family-friendly entertainment.
The closest one is the Parque de Atracciones in Madrid’s Casa de Campo parkland. But the one with the biggest rides is the Parque Warner, located south of Madrid. Even if you don’t have a car, both parks are easily accessible by public transportation.
Entrance to one of Madrid's amusement parks — Photo courtesy of Jeremy Thompson
Madrid Snow Zone
In Madrid, you can take your kids from shorts, sandals and sunbathing to winter jackets, gloves and skiing in the same afternoon. While Madrid only gets a couple of days of snow a year, the Madrid Snow Zone extends the winter sports season to year-round with its indoor slope for skiing and snowboarding at Xanadu mall.
Located in the historic Las Delicias Station, Madrid’s Museo del Ferrocarril offers a fun look into the past. The star attractions are the steam, electric and diesel trains. But depending on your kids’ interests, they might find the exhibitions on antique uniforms, train lights, communications systems, clocks and train models quite interesting, too.
One of the museum’s historic train cars is used as a snack bar, so don’t forget to treat the kids to a little something and sit inside it.