"This is boring!" - To any parent, this is a statement they are familiar with. While it is common at home, it is sure to be even more common when travelling. Adults simply have different priorities when it comes to vacations. While Venice may be a hub of culture and a piece of history, none of that is very appealing to kids. However, when parents cater to a child's natural curiosity and sense of wonder there are enough kid-friendly attractions in Venice to assure that the dreaded "b-word" never passes through their lips, at least until they get home anyway.
Take a Vaporetto (Water Taxi)
With no cars allowed in the city proper, Venice is a real pedestrian city. Alas, little legs can only take so much walking before the complaining starts up so it is best to make use of the city's most iconic attraction - the canals. While a romantic gondola ride at night might be nice for the parents, the faster-moving water taxis or water buses will be a better choice. The little ones can enjoy the high speed boat ride down the Grand Canal while the parents gawk at all the fancy palazzos that line the waterfront.
Visit the Piazza San Marco
Saint Mark is the patron saint of Venice and in his honour, the main square in Venice is named after him. The Piazza San Marco is always bursting with life and is home to a number of kid-friendly attractions. Families can enjoy visiting the grand San Marco Basilica and viewing the number of winged lion statues (the sigil of St. Mark) perched atop beautiful Roman pillars around the square. One of the most popular activities for children is to feed the horde of pigeons that gather in the square for just such an occasion. Of course, a number of children also enjoy running through the flock and scattering them into the sky as well. Before leaving, be sure to get a ticket up the Square Bell Tower. From the top, visitors get one of the rare sweeping views of Venice.
Tour Doge Palace
After the Roman Empire fell and Europe began to emerge from the dark ages, a new city sprang up with the Renaissance. That city was Venice. During this time, Venice was ruled by a Roman-style senate with the Doge at its head. Today, the grand Doge Palace still stands as a gem of Venice. Even kids who have little interest in history will be entertained by at least two sections of the palace. The first highlight is the armoury. The armoury room is filled with an amazing array of weapons, some given to the Doge as gifts from all over the world. Visitors can view some of the first hunting bows from the 15th century, porcelain guns from China and all different kinds of swords. The showpiece of the Doge armoury is the armour sent to the city by King George the First. This armour was supposedly made from the strongest metal in the world. When it was tested against a modern bullet, the bullet bounced off and confirmed its strength. The second highlight of the Doge Palace is the prisons. Similar to a dungeon, the Doge prisons are above ground and built in a maze making it easy to get lost and hard to escape.
Enjoy a Gelateria
What better way to pique energy levels than a cool, sugary treat? Luckily, Venice has a serious sweet tooth and shops host an array of pastries, strudel, croissants and large traditional zaletti cookies. However, one of the most iconic Italian sweets is their gelato-style ice cream. This cool treat is available in gelaterias all over the city, especially around its most famous attractions. Visitors can sample unique flavours like fig and pear, or just stick with traditional tastes like strawberry or rich chocolate. However, as gelato contains more sugar than regular ice cream, it is best to save it as a treat for after all those posh museums.
Rest at Lido
The best way to unwind after a long day is to visit a beach. Lido is the classic seaside resort of Venice. Located on a long, narrow sandbar just south of the city, it is a sandy oasis away from the city crowds. Visitors can bury their toes in the powder soft white sand or take a dip in the ocean to help unwind and beat off the occasionally balmy heat. Before leaving, be sure to book a bicycle ride down the boardwalk. While visitors can also rent their own bikes, the hired bicyclers pull four-to-six seater carts and do all the pedal work.
Get Spooked on the Venice Ghost and Fun Kids Tour
For a taste of spooky family fun, the Venice Ghost and Fun Kids Tour makes the history of the city come alive through its legends. Although ghost-themed, the tour is not graphic or scary, but rather presents some of the city's history in a way that is interesting to kids. The tour covers architectural gems and follies lost in the back streets of the city while slipping in some educational facts. It's the perfect way to trick kids into learning.
Have you taken the family to Venice? What did your kids love most?
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