I wanted to ask those that travel with younger children (our are 10 and 12), if they had a preference between these two places? I thought Ghent would be our choice since I can take our oldest on a kayak tour along the river. However we are going at the end of October and I wasn't sure if my husband and younger child would be bored in Ghent? They are not into art and seeing churches. I thought to just have them stroll the town checking out all the chocolate stores, but would we all be happier visiting Bruges instead? We don't have time for both as we want to head to the North Sea for most of this trip. Thanks!
Bruges will be more compelling for the children. You can do a canal tour, and the buildings are more striking - it has a movieset quality in places, you don't need to be an architecturally minded adult to enjoy it.
Also, if you don't have time for both, I would say Bruges beats Ghent in terms of sightseeing, even if you don't step inside any buildings.
Having been to both and having children the same ages as yours...Bruges all the way.
I think Bruges has more sights that children might enjoy (windmills, old city gates, canals, etc.) than Ghent and may be more child friendly. However, Ghent has a nice castle, and it too has canals. I think of Ghent and a place for 20 somethings wanting some nightlife. Of the two, i’d Choose Bruges.