25 Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

25 Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

The Burj Al Arab has become the modern symbol of Dubai. Whenever Dubai is mentioned this beautiful iconic building is almost always the first thing that comes to mind.

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Dubai has a lot of fun things to do for kids; water parks, theme parks, skiing, and more; but admission and tickets to these places add up fast, making a Dubai vacation pretty costly.

Here is a list of things you can do with kids in Dubai that are free or cheap, combining them with some paid attractions will help stretch your vacation dollars and make your vacation all the more memorable.

A visit to Dubai is not complete without at least seeing this building which is home to what is billed the world’s only 7 star hotel.  The nightly cost to stay at this hotel starts at around $2000, but you don’t have to stay there to see it, at least from the outside.

You are welcome to enjoy a meal or snack at one of its restaurants or bars, but it will be expensive. We had lunch at the Al Iwan, the Arabic buffet restaurant on the first floor, a couple of years ago. We paid a over $400 for 3 adults; the price for a lunch buffet is 505AED ($138US) per person.  Children 3-12 is 50% off, under 3 is free.

There are other restaurants, bars, and lounges in the hotel, expect to pay high prices and you must have reservations to get on hotel property; you’re name is checked off at the gate; no reservation, no entry.

If you don’t want to actually go inside the building you can see it as you walk along the shore of Jumeirah Beach.  If  you’re not staying in one of the hotels along this stretch of sand you can spend the day at Jumeirah Beach Park, entrance to the Park is 5AED ($1.36US), a considerably cheaper option than staying or dining at the hotel!  Great views of the building can also been seen if you’re on Jumeirah Beach Road.

Superb views of the Burj can also been seen from Kite Beach, entrance is free.  Kite Beach is on the shore opposite the Al Manara Road junction

 

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in DubaiSafa Park in Dubai is a large green space in the middle of the the city’s modern high rise buildings.

The park has 3 lakes, a waterfall, and a fountain.  Park facilities include boat and bike rentals, barbecue area, sports fields and courts, snack bars, and stores.

Entrance fee is 5AED for adults ($1.36US)

 

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in DubaiZa’abeel Park in the more residential area of Dubai is another large municipal park in the city that holdsthe distinction of being the first technology driven park in the Middle East.

The park has children play areas, lake with boat rentals, an ice skating rink, mini golf and cricket, 3D cinema, picnic and barbecue areas, cafes, and more.

 

 

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

It is also home to Stargate Dubai a futuristic indoor space themed educational and entertainment center.

Park entrance is 5AED ($1.36US) for adults. Entrance to Stargate is free.   All park attractions are priced separately.

If you time your visit on Friday mornings you can wander around the Ripe Food & Craft Market in the park.  It’s Dubai’s largest open market featuring food at very reasonable prices and local crafts as well.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

Al-Mamzar Beach Park located close to Hamriya Port is one of the best beaches in Dubai.  It has 5 coves along the coast, green space, swimming pools, a park train, play areas, rollerskating rink, bike rentals, barbecue areas, chalet rentals, restaurants, and more.

Park entrance is 5AED ($1.36US) per person.
Air-conditioned chalets can be rented daily for 150AED ($41US) for a small that fits 4 people and 200AED ($54US) for a large that fits 6.  All activities and attractions including pools require separate fees.

Mondays and Wednesdays are ladies day, meaning the park is open only to women and their children (male children up to a certain age only)

Russian Beach, on the lower end of Beach Road on the opposite side of the Burj Al Arab is an open free beach.

There are some showers and restrooms, but the facilities are limited.  However the shops and restaurants along Beach Road are close by.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

 

JBR Beach is another free beach.  It’s located next door to the Jumeirah Beach Resort.  It has clean facilities including restrooms and showers and a bit of green space.  There are also many ocean view restaurants around where you can enjoy a nice lunch or snack.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a ride on the Metro.  It’s not so much the destination, it’s the ride on this state of the art driverless automated train that kids love!  You can start at Dubai Mall to Dubai Marina and back again.

Fares are 2-6AED (.50 – 1.50US) depending on the length of the ride.

The kids will love the space age looking stations!  My grandsons thought they were cool, they look straight out of s sci-fic movie!

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

The Dubai Miracle Garden is a refreshing break from all the buildings, although they do have a floral version of the Burj Khalife.

There are kid’s play areas, , and floral displays.

Admission is 30AED ($8.25US) per person
Kids 3 and under are free[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

Take a wooden boat across the creek, (an Abra found along the creek in Bur Dubai), to the Gold Souk in Deira.  You can just wander along the alleys for a bit of window shopping.
The amount of “Bling” in the shop windows is amazing.  You don’t have to buy anything, assuming you can resist the temptation of different shades of gold just calling your name. I can never resist and end up spending way too much, next time I’m leaving the credit cards locked in the hotel safe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll find these abras along the creek in Bur Dubai ferrying people across the creek.  It’s the best way to get to the Gold Souk in Diera to avoid the problem of finding parking.

The kids will love bobbing along this wooden boat that have been modernized with the addition of diesel engines.  You’ll get a different perspective of the Dubai skyline.

The cost of an abra ride is 1AED, .27 cents US![spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

Take a day trip to the Emirate of S

 

harjah and search for bargains at the Blue Souk.

The tile on the outside is worth the trip!  The inside is filled with shops selling everything from electronics to antiques.  There are several snack bars inside as well.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in DubaiBuilt in 1787 the Al Fahidi Fort is the oldest building in the city.  It houses the Dubai Museum where you can learn about the region’s history.  They have various exhibits of historic books, traditional dress, and dhows (wooden boats).

The Museum is located in Bur Dubai.
Admission tickets cost 3AED (.80US) for adults and half price for children.

 

 

 

Built in the late 19th. Century along the Creek at Shindagha is the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum’s House.  Once the seat of the local government and the official residence of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, the grandfather of the current ruler, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, this imposing building has been converted into a museum that showcases the progression of Dubai from Bedouin tents lining the creek to the amazing buildings we see today.

The ancient wind towers served to cool the building and is a testament to Arab architectural ingenuity.  For those interested in architecture this museum is a must see!  Admission cost is 2AED, (.54US)

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in DubaiLocated behind the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum’s House
is the Camel Museum.  The museum will probably tell you everything and more that you want to know about camels.  This museum is a testament to the Emiratis’ passion for their beloved animals and explains why they they gained such prominence in Arab history.

The museum blends history with technology with their camel race simulator.  Visitors can virtually ride a camel in a race.

Admission is free.

 

 

 

 

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

Take a breakfast picnic to Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary .  The sanctuary has 3 hides, head to the Hide 2 at the junction of the Al Wasl and Oud Metha roads, that’s by the flamingo roost.  If you’re there at high tide the kids will love watching the big pink birds.

Admission is free, just register in the visitor’s logbook.

 

 

 

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

Check out the Dubai Dino.  This is an almost complete skeleton of a dinosaur called
Amphicoelias brontodiplodocus. It was discovered in 2008 in Wyoming, USA and transported to its new home at the Dubai Mall.

Talk to the Dubai Dino Team, they’re armed with some interesting facts.

Best of all it’s free!

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

While you’re at The Dubai Mall have a look at the Dubai Aquarium.  The gigantic aquarium is the Centerpiece of The Dubai Mall.  You can view the aquarium inhabitants from the mall viewing panels for free, but if you want to walk thru the tunnel for a more up close and personal look you must purchase a ticket.  Tickets include a walk thru the tunnel and a visit to the Underwater Zoo.

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

Directly across the Dubai Aquarium  is Candylicious one of the world’s largest candy stores.  It’s also the home to Spun Candy  where candy confectioners make handmade candy on site.  You can even design your own candy and watch them make it for you.

A visit to the store is free, but what you fill your basket with is totally up to you and your budget.

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

If you’re at The Dubai Mall, wander around, window shop, and enjoy the fountain and store fronts, some of them are pretty cool.  My grandkids loved the kiosk selling Camel Milk Candy, there’s a large golden camel at the front!

If you’re hungry wander over to the huge food court or one of the many restaurants throughout the mall.  Better yet grab an outdoor table at one of the eateries along The Dubai Fountain and watch the show.  The fountains shoot up to 500 ft. and dance to all types of music.  There are daily afternoon shows (except Fridays) at 1:00 and 1:30, and evening shows every day every half hour from 6:00 to 11:00.

This area also offers wonderful views of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in DubaiLet the kids splash around in the fountain at Marina Walk, it’s fun and it’s free!  Just bring a change of clothes for them.

You can grab a cup of java from the Starbucks next to the fountain and keep an eye on the kids from the outdoor tables.

 

 

 

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

Catch a ride on the Marina Water Bus.  This air conditioned boat shuttles between  Marina Walk, Marina Mall, and Marina Promenade.  The cost is 2AED (.54US) each way, kids ride free.

 

 

 

Feed the ducks in the lake located in the Dubai Media City Park, it’s a bit of green space with a couple of cafes near by.  Along with the ducks you may see some office working having lunch or just taking a break.  There are no facilities, and no admission fees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Head a bit out of town to the Mirdif area to Mushrif Park.  It’s the largest park in Dubai. The park has pools, gardens, playgrounds, camel and horse rides, train rides, bike and walking paths, but the best attraction is the International Village.  The village has 13 child-size houses from around the world, perfect for tots filled with imagination.

Admission is 3AED (less than $1US)

 

 

 

 

The Burj Park is a man made island between the Burj Khalifa lakes.  It offers an excellent view of the Burj as well at The Dubai Fountain show nearby; best of all you can enjoy the Burj and the fountain away from the jostling crowds at the mall.

There are no shops or cafes here, but the mall is steps away, you can grab a drink or snack from there and have a picnic in this small green space in the middle of downtown Dubai.

Admission is free and it’s open 24 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

Creek Park  along the Dubai Creek in the heart of the old city is one of the oldest parks in the city.  It’s home to the Children’s City, Dubai Dolphinarium, and Wonderland Theme & Water Parks.

There are barbecue and picnic areas through out the park as well as play areas and walking paths.  You can also ride the cable car for views of the city.

Park admission is 5AED ($1.30US) per person and must be paid even if you have tickets to the attractions inside.  Cable car tickets can be purchased separately.

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

Children’s City in Creek Park is an interactive museum geared towards kids from 2-15 years old.  They have fun displays to teach kids about the world we live in.

They have a toddler’s section for little ones to climb and play, a human body section, a planetarium, and more.

Last time we were there children went it free and adults were 5AED ($1.30US).  It’s a great place to spend a hot summer afternoon.  It’s air conditioned and there’s a small snack bar where you can purchase lunch or snacks, or you can bring your own and eat it there.

For more info on Children’s City click here!
Address: Creekside Park, Gate 1, Umm Hurair.
Open: Saturday to Thursday 09:00 to 21:30;   Friday 15:00 to 21:30
For more things to see and do in Dubai click here!


Best Kid Friendly Resorts in Hawaii

Best Kid Friendly Resorts in Hawaii

Hawaii is a great family vacation destination.  Hawaii has many fun family activities to keep kids entertained; nature hikes, surfing, hula, and ukulele lessons, museum exhibits, pirate ships, and Mickey too!

Our world class hotels on the shores of our world famous beaches offer luxurious accommodations, award winning cuisine, and diverse activities sure to please guests young and old.
Here is a round up of the the best kid friendly resorts in the Aloha State.  Spring break is coming up, escape the cold winter for some fun in sun.
Hawaii

Stitch in Hawaii

“Voted No. 1 in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2014 for Top Family Hotel in the U.S.A”

Hands down Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa wins the top spot.  No one does family fun better than Disney.
Located on Oahu’s west shores this resort boasts a lazy river, water slides, a kids club, and more.  Book your Hawaii Disney adventure today!

Hawaii

The Kahala Hotel & Resort is tucked away in Honolulu’s plush Kahala district.  It’s a favorite with presidents, international royalty and celebrities. 
This luxurious oceanfront resort boasts a natural lagoon that is home to a family of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.  
During your stay you can reserve an interactive encounter with these playful creatures with Dolphin Quest.
They offer several packages for different age groups.  

Reserve your family vacation here!

Hawaii

The Hilton Waikaloa Village  is situated on the Kohalo coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. Stay, play, and dine in this lush 62 acre resort.

The fun begins when you board a boat or tram to take you from the hotel lobby to your room. Indulge in a couples massage at a private poolside cabana while the kids splash in the waterfall pool or play and swim with the resident dolphins.

Reserve your Dolphin Quest encounter here!

HawaiiSip a tropical drink at the grotto bar while the kids float along the lazy river or ride up the water elevator.  Situated on 40 acres of lush tropical gardens on the shores of world famous Wailea Beach on the island of Maui is the Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort.  It will surely meet your expectations of any resort under this iconic brand.


Free Dinner

Barcelona With Kids

Barcelona With Kids

Last April we ended up in Barcelona with kids.  We were there with our daughter, son-in-law, and grandsons aged 8 months, 5 and 10.  Pretty wide age gap I know and finding things for the kids to do can be challenging at times. Specially when the adults want to do things too!

But Barcelona is a pretty kid friendly city and there are quite a few things for kids to do and a lot of fun places for them to visit.

Ever since my kids were small I always liked to mix things up when we went on family vacations and I see no reason why the same wouldn’t  hold true with vacationing with grandkids.  What I mean is I feel that vacations are a fun way to learn about the world and the different people and cultures that live in the many places we visit.  That’s why as part of any vacation I include something educational, like museums, local cuisine, and architecture, and something fun, like a beach day or an amusement park, in our itinerary.

So here are 7 kid friendly places and activities that will make your Barcelona with kids vacation fun for everyone.  I’m sure you’ll find something to suit your family!

This article contains affiliate links too help you plan your Barcelona family vacay!

Exploring Gaudí’s Work

Let’s face it one of the main tourist attractions in Barcelona are the whimsical buildings designed by Antoni Gaudí.  And whether you’re in Barcelona with kids or without those buildings are a definite must see.

Kids may not be that impressed with the unfinished Sagrada Familia Basilica but they’ll probably find the fairy tale buildings and sculptures in Parc Guell fun and charming.  And they’ll probably love seeing the dragon like roof of Casa Batló and the wavy facade of La Pedrera aka Casa Mila.

Ok that’s a lot for some kids to take in, actually it’s a lot for some adults too!

So what’s the best way to see all this?  Well a private guided tour of La Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell is a great start!

You can book a kid friendly tour of both the basilica and the park with a guide who will tailor the experience for your child.  The guide will make visiting these places both fun and educational.  Best of all the tour includes skip the line tickets to both attractions (who wants to stand in line for hours to buy tickets and gain entrance, specially when you’ve got antsy kids with you!) and a cab ride between the two sites.  And since it’s private you decide how long you want to spend in each place.

So you can fit in a time for some silly photos.  Like spelling out YMCA in front of the Basilica!  Or letting the kids do a bit of running and climbing at the playground located across the street from the church.  Hey while the kids let off some energy parents and grandparents can grab a sangria and a snack at the truck located in front of the playground entrance.  There are tables and chairs located in the same place where you can rest and have a snack or drink while admiring the front of La Sagrada Familia.  (Just beware of pick pockets, they love to work the crowded sites. Keep your belongings in front of you always and keep and eye on the kids in the playground!)

Click here to book a kid friendly private tour of Barcelona’s 2 great attractions!

After visiting 2 of Gaudí’s masterpieces take a stroll down Passeig de Gracia if you still have the energy!

Here you’ll find high end fashion boutiques including Gucci, Chanel, Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Hermes, and more.  Definitely the Rodeo Drive or Fifth Avenue of Barcelona!  Kids might enjoy the store window displays along the boulevard, or they can check out the Apple Store or the little fashionistas might like to pop in to Desigual, a clothing brand headquartered in Barcelona that features trendy and chic clothing for the whole family.  We love Desigual!  They have fun clothes!

Along this wide street you’ll also pass Casa Batló and La Pedrera.  You can if you want buy tickets and check out the interior of each building, they’re pretty cool and some kids might find it interesting.  Our kids did not.  They preferred window shopping, go figure!

 

Stroll down La Rambla

La Rambla is Barcelona’s main pedestrian street.  It’s a crowded bustling pedestrian zone that stretches from Placa Catalunya right off Passeig de Gracia down to the Columbus statue towards the waterfront.

It’s lined with souvenir shops, hotels, cafés, fast food joints, restaurants, street vendors, and street artists.  Kids like La Rambla because it’s lined with shops and vendors hawking things kids love like gelato, ice cream, and even toys.  Our 10 year old basketball fanatic loved the NBA store and café.

Also on La Rambla you’ll find La Boqueria Market.  Kids love markets!  They’re colorful, fun, and filled with good things to eat.  Specially these frozen fruit bars!

Drop in around lunchtime and gather some picnic fixinigs!  You’ll find everything you need for a family picnic including fresh bread, deli meats and cheeses, fresh fruits and veggies, locally made olives and pickles, and more.  Or you can find ready to eat tapas like fried shrimp and calamari.

If you don’t want to take your food to go you can sit down at one of the tapas bars inside the market.

barcelona with kidsMosaic Class

Kids love arts and crafts.  Take them to this hands on Mosaic Class and let their creativity run wild for a couple of hours.

Kid friendly artists will teach kids the art of mosaic making.  The kids will learn how to handle and set tiles to create a mosaic which they will take home at the end of the class.

Our kids loved this!  Click here to book a Mosaic Class for children.

Camp Nou Private Tour

Football (Soccer) fans old and young will enjoy  a private tour of Camp Nou, home of the FC Barcelona or Barça.  This is the current team of Messi and the former team of other great players like Neymar and Ronaldo.

The tour includes one way transportation from Barcelona city center, guided tour of the stadium and museum,  and a light meal.  Of course you get to shop in the megastore for logo items such as shorts, shirts, balls, and more.  Click here to book a private tour of Camp Nou!

Barcelona with kidsL’Aquarium

Spend a couple of hours at the Barcelona Aquarium.  It’s one of the largest aquariums in Europe and is home to the world’s largest collection of Mediterranean Sea Life.

We love aquariums and have been to some of the best around the world.  The one in Barcelona is a definite must if you find yourself in Barcelona with kids!

Click here to get your skip the like L’Aquarium tickets!

barcelona with kidsBarcelona Zoo

Located in the city’s Cuitadella Park the Barcelona Zoo is another kid friendly favorite.  Founded in 1892 it is one of the oldest and most modern zoos in the world.

This zoo prides itself on it’s humane treatment of its animals.  It’s modern facilities and habitats do seem to house happy and content residents.

You can ride the train around the zoo or rent an electric buggy to putter around in.  Then of course there’s a restaurant serving fresh meals as well as snack vendors.  You can easily spend a day here and the kids will love it!   Avoid the ticket ques and click here to purchase your zoo tickets!

PortAventura and Ferrari Land Theme Parks

Spend the day at 2 theme parks!

Thrill to the super speed rides in Ferrari Land then the breathtaking coasters in PortAventura.  Truly and adrenalin junkie’s dream parks!

For those of us not so interested in heart stopping rides and the younger kids find family friendly rides and venues in both parks.  PortAdventure features a Sesame Street section complete with Big Bird and his gang!

The parks are located outside the city center and the tour includes roundtrip transportation and admission to both parks.   Click here too book this awesome tour!

Ready to book your family vacation to Barcelona?  Let Savvy Nana Travel help you plan a family friendly custom itinerary!

3 Tips for Renting a Cool Airbnb Apartment

3 Tips for Renting a Cool Airbnb Apartment

Have you heard about Airbnb? This is a platform that allows you to rent other people’s apartment or home, especially when you are away on a trip. It enables you to save a few bucks that you would have spent renting an expensive hotel somewhere in town. An Airbnb coupon code allows you to pay further less money than other individuals who rent houses using the platform. It is, therefore, one of the perfect means of ensuring that you experience an enjoyable stay at your place of visit at a pocket-friendly price. But you wouldn’t want to feel cheated after finding that you’ve actually overspent instead of saving some funds? There’s a perfect way of ensuring that your experience with Airbnb is a blessing rather than a frustrating moment. On that note, you need to check on the following tips of renting an apartment on Airbnb.

  1. Negotiate the price before settling

Your primary aim of renting an Airbnb apartment is to ensure that you spend as little as possible on accommodation to free up funds for use in other activities during the trip. Therefore, you need to negotiate for the lowest possible price before making a payment. On the Airbnb website, there’s a button that indicates “Request to Book” where you need to click when making a booking. If you intend to negotiate the price, don’t click on the button first. Instead, click “Contact this host” and it will prompt you to indicate the dates that you are willing to stay in the house. Put this data in the necessary slots, and this will guarantee you of a place in the house that you are booking even though you don’t pay at first. From here, you can then negotiate with the house owner for the best price, and once you’ve agreed, you can proceed to make the payment.

2. Booking for more days than you need can be cheaper

You can save a lot of money while booking on the Airbnb platform if you are keen on the special offers they have for their users. At times, there are particular offers that enable you to save more if you book a number of days, say, one week. For instance, if you intended to stay for five days at a standard  price of $ 800, you might find a similar home with a special offer of 7 days at $ 750. In such a case, it’s evident that you stand saving $50 should you pick the special offer.   So, consider checking out such special offers before you select an apartment on Airbnb.

3. You can visit the place before you book

If you happen to be already at the area that you intend to stay in during your vacation, you can pay a physical visit to the place that you intend to stay in after identifying it on Airbnb. This will enable you to evaluate whether it is exactly where you would like to stay and has the facilities you need in an ideal apartment. Remember, booking first can be tricky as you may find out that the place is not as attractive as you thought. After visiting the apartment and you are satisfied that it is perfect for your stay, you should pay via Airbnb platform. This is a precautionary measure to ensure that you are not scammed which is a possibility if you pay directly to the house owner.

When you follow the tips mentioned above, you might save some bucks and will be able to choose a perfect home away from home through Airbnb.

Venice with Kids: 10 Fun Things to Do

Venice with Kids: 10 Fun Things to Do

San Marco Bell Tower

Piazza San Marco Photo by Savvy Nana

Last summer we took the fast train from Rome to Venice, one of our favorite cities.   We left Rome on the Frecciargento #9406 at 07:50 and arrived at the Mestre Train Station by lunch time.
The kids love taking trains around Italy.  The seats are comfy and the passing scenery is beautiful. The dining car helps too!
Train travel in Europe is fun and can be economical with train passes.  I always buy ours on Italia Rail.  You can get several types of passes for 1st. and 2nd.  class seats.  I always check their specials before I buy passes, sometimes it’s less expensive to buy point-to -point tickets, specially if you will mostly be taking the Eurostar or fast trains.  Seats on those trains require you pay a 10 Euro reservation fee per person  per train ride.  If you have a pass you must buy the reservation before you board the train, city-to-city ticket prices already include the fee.

Italy Trains

First Class Seats on the Eurostar Trains Photo by Savvy Nana

Italy Trains

Photo by Savvy Nana

First Class Seat

Photo by Savvy Nana

 

 A trip to Italy wouldn’t be complete without a visit to this magnificent city.  From its opulent mansions to the grandiose Basilica, Venice is a city of Byzantine splendor.
But a trip to Venice does not come cheap.  Hotels, even the lower rated ones cost a pretty penny.  If you feel like a splurge the Danieli, Cipriani (where George Clooney and his guests stayed on his wedding weekend),  or the San Clemente Palace are high end luxury hotels.
San Clemente Palace Hotel

San Clemente Palace Dock

 I love the San Clemente Palace , built in the late 1700’s as a monastery, the hotel is located on a private  island in the lagoon.   It retains the ancient atmosphere and some rooms have awesome views of San Marco.  The hotel, as all other hotels in the lagoon, have their own private boats to ferry guests to San Marco Square.
A more family budget friendly alternative are hotels on the mainland in the town of Mestre.  This year we stayed at the Novotel Venezia Mestre Castellana  located just 4.3 miles from the city center of Venice.  It has larger rooms that accommodate 2 adults and 2 children.  Kids under age 16 stay free in their parents room and breakfast in included.  The hotel has a small pool and playground as well as a couple of video game stations in the lobby for kids to use.  The hotel is around the corner from the bus stop where you can hop a Venice bound bus for the 15 – 20 minute ride.

Novotel

Novotel Venezia Mestre Castellana Photo by Savvy Nana

Novotel Venice

Photo by Savvy Nana

Novotel Venezia Mestre

Photo by Savvy Nana

Another plus to staying in Mestre is that you don’t have to drag your luggage on the cobble stoned streets of Venice, or hire a porter, to your Venetian hotel.  Cars are not allowed in Venice.  Buses drop you off at the Piazzale Roma which is a short walk from Venice’s Santa Lucia train station.

Where ever you decide to stay here are kid friendly things to do in Venice.  Some can be done for little costs, others not so little.  Approximate costs are given to help you plan and budget.
 
1.  Buy a 1 Euro bag of corn nuts from one of the feed vendors in Piazza San Marco and feed the pigeons. The kids love it!  You get great pictures.  The Piazzetta di San Marco is right off the main square towards the lagoon, try feeding the pigeons there it is usually less crowded.  Keep away from and do not feed the big seagulls, they can be very aggressive and will “bite”.  
 
Piazza San Marco

Pigeons in Piazza San Marco Photo by Savvy Nana

 

 

 

 

 

St. Mark's

Piazza San Marco

 

             2.  Visit San Marco Basilica to see it’s magnificent mosaics.  When inside you can visit the Treasury, Museum, loggia, the tomb of St. Mark, and the spectacular high altar – each attraction has its own entrance fee, I believe we paid about 5 Euro per person for each attraction..
      Entrance to the Basilica is free, but you will have to stand in line for a long time.  Skip the que, make online reservations for a 2Euro service fee per person, kids 6 and under are free.   To book your ticket click here!
      You can get some great photos out on the loggia, you have an awesome view of the piazza in front and the piazzetta and lagoon from the side.  Photography is not allowed inside the Basilica or in any of the attractions, having said that I will share some photos my kids took in spite of my scolding.  To be accurate they took them in full view of staff, everyone else was taking photos, and at least they did not use flash.

za

 

3.   Ride a gondola in one of Venice’s side canals.  A must do for first time visitors although it is a bit pricey.  About 100 Euro for a gondola that seats 6.  Otherwise you can book a shared gondola tour for 30 Euro per person.  Click here to book your tickets.

Gondolas

Gondolas in the Lagoon

 

 4.      Hop on the slow moving Vaporetto #1 (public “bus”) for a scenic cruise down the Grand Canal, this is the best deal in Venice.  It cruises by many landmark buildings.   Get on at one end, I prefer getting on in front of the train station Venezia Santa Lucia, and getting off the other end at Piazza San Marco.  You can buy a one way ticket or a 24 hour pass if you will use it to get around during your stay, or want to go to other islands such as Murano and Burano.
 
ACTV

Vaporetto

5.   Make your own mask.  Visit Ca’ Macana one of the oldest and finest mask making workshops in Venice.  They have mini-mask making courses, at the end you get to take home the mask you made.  
Click here for more info.
Mask workshop

Ca’ Macana

      6.   Hop on a Vaporetto to visit a glass blowing studio on the island of Murano.  These fine craftsmen having been making beautiful glass jewelry, figurines, and more for 700 years.  You can also pick up strings of glass beads here at half the price as those in the shops and vendors in the city.
Murano glass

Murano glass factory

 
7.  Take a day trip out of the city to the Brenta Canal (towards Padua). Take a bus to Stra or Mira, you can rent bikes  (they will deliver the bikes to any bus station) and bike alongside the canal to Villa Pisani, its hedge maze in the gardens will surely interest the kids. You can get lost in one of the most difficult hedge mazes in the world, Il Labirinto.  The maze is made of a dozen concentric rings of tall hedges that surrounds the tower in the center. The tower is climbed by a double-spiral staircase — someone is usually posted there to direct those who are hopelessly lost. 
 
Maze

Il Labirinto

 
8.  Walk up to the center of the Rialto Bridge for classic views of the Grand Canal. Then wander thru the shops and markets around the bridge.
Grand Canal

Grand Canal as seen from the Rialto Bridge

 

Rialto Market

Peppers at the Rialto Market

 9.      Enjoy a gelato and listen to music in Piazza San Marco.  If you feel like a splurge have at seat at Caffe Florian  or GrancaffeQuadri  they’re located in the Piazza across from each other.  Their outdoor diners  are entertained by the orchestra, my husband calls them the dueling orchestras.   Both are iconic landmarks in the piazza having been around for over 300 years.  My husband usually grabs a table and sits with the grandkids while the rest of us go shopping.  The good thing is once you’re seated you can occupy the table for the whole day.  
 
Expect to pay 14+ Euro for a few scoops of gelato plus a 6.25 Euro coperto per person.  A snack for a family of 4 will cost about 80-90 Euro.  

A pleasant surprise we found in the Cafe Quadri ladies’ room was a nice clean IKEA baby changing station.  These are hard to come by in Italy in general.
 
For a budget friendly option buy a gelato from one of the gelaterias in the piazza and enjoy the music standing up.  Unfortunately there is a lack of public seating in and around the piazza. If you try to sit at one of the café’s  tables someone immediately appears to tell you about the cover charge to sit and if you don’t agree to pay they make you leave, they can be rather rude about it. 
 10.   Have a nice meal by a quiet canal, away from the pricier places along the Grand Canal.  Try Trattoria da Giorgio ai Greci or one of the restaurants behind San Marco at the Fundamente ai Greci. Or Trattoria Pizzaria da Roberto on Campo San Provolo not far from St. Zaccharia church. 
 
     Whatever you decide to do in Venice I’m sure you will have a memorable vacation.  Venice is truly a magical city.A word on restrooms, this is crucial when traveling with kids!  There are public restrooms located throughout Venice.  Look for the sign that says “W.C.” there will be arrows pointing you to them. Some may have a small fee of  about .50 cents Euro to use.
M Most cafes and restaurants have bathrooms, they are usually very nice about letting tourists use them even if you aren’t purchasing anything from them.   I found Italian shop owners very helpful when you have kids that need to use their bathrooms.  But ask first to avoid problems.
Ciao!


VENICE GONDOLA ITALY TOUR

Children’s Cooking Class In Italy

Children’s Cooking Class In Italy

children's cooking classItaly is a great place for a family vacation.  There is so much to see and do, and Italians love kids!  That’s why the towns are filled with parks, amusement centers, and other venues that are very family friendly.  Of course a trip to Italy would require visits to museums and churches, but when you’ve go kids you’ve got to add in some fun kid friendly activities.

What better way to add a bit of hands on fun than a children’s cooking class!aLast week my grandson Jett and I spent half a day at a children’s cooking class in Vicenza.  The class is offered by these two lovely ladies, Monica and Silvia.  It’s held at Silvia’s house in Rettorgole a small town in the province of Vicenza.  The Province of Vicenza is located in north eastern Italy in the Veneto region,  It’s just a 45 minute train ride from Venice and is home to some of the greatest examples of Palladio’s architecture.

chidren's cooking classMonica and Silvia offer cooking classes for children and adults.  We attended the children’s cooking class along with 5 other children and their moms.

For the children’s cooking class Monica and Silvia planned several easy dishes including gnochetti, little rolled pasta balls similar to gnocchi but made with durham flour instead of potato.  We also made bread balls stuffed with cheese and prosciutto, dough pinwheels stuffed with zucchini and prosciutto, and a delicious tartlet.

The ladies were very helpful and helped the children with the preparation of each dish.  Actually in our case they were extra helpful and very  vigilant.  Jett is allergic to eggs and dairy so they provided him with egg and dairy free alternatives.  Monica and Silvia were also very careful with the cooking utensils.  They made sure that Jett’s utensils did not come in contact with the other children’s things to avoid cross contamination.

The children’s cooking class was about 4 hours long.  After the children made the dishes Monica and Silvia cooked everything and served it all to us for lunch.  It was a wonderful experience.  In fact Jett and I had such a good time I’m looking forward to doing a cooking class with these ladies next time I’m in town.

Here are some of the highlights of our class.

children's cooking class

children's cooking class

Making the prosciutto and cheese stuffed bread balls.  We used  Vegan cheese for our bread balls as well as the pinwheels we also made.

We rolled out the dough for the pinwheels stuffed with zucchini and prosciutto.

Jett really enjoyed using the rolling pin!  [spacer height=”-20px”]

children's cooking class

children's cooking class

Making gnochetti using the wooden mold.  Jett was and expert at making this tiny rolled pasta.  He caught on real quick and made the entire tray by himself!

children's cooking class

children's cooking classMonica helping Jett roll out the cookie crust for the tartlet.

The kids all took turns slicing up fresh fruits to top the tartlets with.  Jett of course managed to snack on a few berries.

Ready to reserve your Children’s Cooking Class with Monica and Silvia?  Let Savvy Nana Travel help you plan your family’s Italian vacation!!

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