Best places to go with a toddler?

My wife and I will be having our 5th wedding anniversary in 2014 and I'd like to take her to Europe to celebrate. We just had a son in March, and wouldn't consider traveling without him. Can anybody who has taken a toddler to Europe provide suggestions on the best places to go that would be enjoyable for both him and us? I'm thinking the trip would be about two weeks, with about a week each in two different places. We'd rent an apartment for a home base in each, so places that have enough stuff to do either locally or via short day trips (either by train or rental car) for a week would be what we are looking for. We're pretty wide open on timeframe: any time between April (our son would be 12 months old at that time) through the end of the year (20 months old) would work as long as temperatures aren't extreme at the destination. Last year we went to Italy, Greece and Turkey on a cruise. We enjoyed Greece and Turkey, but wouldn't be interested in going back to either of them right now. We spent a few days each in Venice, Florence and Rome before the cruise, so I doubt we would go back to those specific places so soon (we did absolutely adore Venice, but I can't imagine it would be enjoyable to use a stroller there). So any place in Europe besides Venice, Florence, Rome, Greece and Turkey is on the table. Thanks in advance for any ideas or help anyone can provide!

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3313 posts

I would travel in the summer when you can do outdoor activities. Then I would pick a place where you can do outdoor activities, but there are indoors options as well so you aren't stuck in an apartment. No one will be surprised that I suggest you consider Scotland. There are so many outdoor activities. Even if you decide you want to explore Stirling Castle. You can check out the Renaissance Palace and then let your son have a good run in the garden. And then stop by Bannockburn where there are more opportunities for running. : ) On a rainy day, you could go to Dynamic Earth. Even though it's probably strongest for toddlers for school children and older I saw lots of parents with toddlers when I visited. And if your child is a Thomas the Tank Engine boy, you can go on Steam Engine rides. Or visit the the Transportation Museum in Glasgow. It was packed with kids when I visited the older location. Then you could go walking near Dunkeld. The trails are nice and you could do it with a child backpack or there are some that are short enough that he could walk. And there is the lovely little Beatrix Potter garden in Birnam next door. Check out this website for lots of UK ideas. Lastly, I really like the comment that I saw on another site. "Sure, your kids won't remember this trip, but you will. And you'll remember it with joy." So, don't be discouraged. Pam

Posted by Nancy
Costa Mesa, CA, USA
149 posts

Hello John, Well, to be honest, I am not a huge fan of taking toddlers to Europe and definitely not a fan of taking them to large cities where the bulk of activities (museums, historical sites, shopping, dining out) are not activities that toddlers enjoy. Thus, I'd suggest steering clear of large cities and going to the country - the south of France and Tuscany come to mind. You could easily rent a small villa or house for a week and with a rental car could do a few short day trips. As for time, May or September would be good - the weather is very nice and you don't have to deal with summer crowds.

Posted by Nancy
Costa Mesa, CA, USA
149 posts

Hello John, Well, to be honest, I am not a huge fan of taking toddlers to Europe and definitely not a fan of taking them to large cities where the bulk of activities (museums, historical sites, shopping, dining out) are not activities that toddlers enjoy. Thus, I'd suggest steering clear of large cities and going to the country - the south of France and Tuscany come to mind. You could easily rent a small villa or house for a week and with a rental car could do a few short day trips. As for time, May or September would be good - the weather is very nice and you don't have to deal with summer crowds.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

How about " April in Paris?" ( or May). My son and his wife just returned from a trip to Amsterdam, Berlin, and Paris with their 15-month-old. This was the baby's second tripmtoEurope-they took him to Ireland when he was 7 months and had a wonderful time. They said this trip was a bit more challenging because he has more of a mind of his own, and he was not patient with all the dinners out (they were Paris for a wedding so events could ot be avoided). but they had a wonderful time with him the rest of the time, visiting parks where he could play, and even quick forays into museums with him in a front-carry pack ( like a Baby Bjorn). I just happened to be on the phone with him and asked if he had any advice. He said the younger the baby the easier it is, so 12 months instead of 15 or 18. That is why I suggested April, or May. Apart from that, he said Paris is great with kids, lots of child-friendly parks. Get an apartment to make it easy, and go out to eat as little as possible. ( he said high chairs were almost unknown). Cafes are easier than full restaurants. So. . . Paris and???? South of France, Alsace, London, what suits your fancy?

Posted by John
Pennsylvania
2 posts

Thanks for the suggestions Nancy, Lola and Pamela. Lots of good ideas. I had thought of both Paris and Tuscany as well, but wasn't sure what to pair them with for this particular trip. Maybe it would be better to just stick with one location on this trip anyway due to how young our son will be. I was mainly thinking of doing two because of trying to get more value out of the cost of the airfare. Scotland and the South of France were ones I hadn't considered but both really pique my interest.