By Mary Carroll, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – It can often be a task to keep children entertained when traveling as a family unit, and although Rio offers plenty to keep the adults occupied, activities for kids require a little more research and planning. Fortunately Rio’s natural surroundings offer a wide variety of outdoor activities, and the city also has a growing number of indoor adventures as well.
Perhaps the most obvious choice for most on a sunny day in Rio is the beach. Leblon is considered to have one of the more family-friendly beaches and provides amenities for parents with babies and toddlers.
Baby Baixo, between Posto 11 and Posto 12, even has a special area set apart on the sand with toys, fresh water and a diaper post.
Anna Whyte, an expatriate mother living in Rio, explains that “there are great sports options for kids; surfing, paddle boarding, sailing, tennis, golf, hiking, cycling, soccer, horse-riding, capoeira, paint-ball, bowling, and arvorismo [outdoor sport park].”
Going horse-back riding may not come first to mind in Brazil, but past Barra da Tijuca is Haras Pégasus Horse Riding Center and Stables which offers to bring riders on trips around the beautiful landscape of Vargem Grande.
In the same area, Rachael Corrie, another expatriate living in Rio with children offers: “There is the Rio Water Planet out in Vargem Grande, which is great for children.”
For a family day out in Zona Sul (South Zone), Jardim Botânico (The Botanical Gardens) offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of Rio. The Japanese garden, with giant water lilies, orchids, statues and elaborate fountains all add to the fantastic beauty of the surroundings. A playground can also be found in the gardens.
Another adventure that appeals to many youngsters is the chance to catch a glimpse of the wildlife such as the howler monkeys and white-headed marmosets. These can be seen hiking in the Tijuca rainforest which also has spectacular waterfalls.
Rio has many great hiking options although not all are age-appropriate for everyone. Pico da Tijuca is an example of an ambitious but easy-footed climb for most.
Indoor activities are a bit more hard to come by, but Rachael Corrie shares: “The CCBB [Centro Cultural Banco do Brazil] in Centro sometimes has children-focused activities. In Barra, in Via Parque shopping center, there is a toddler indoor activity center.”
One of the rare museums to have a kids-orientated section is Museu do Índio in Botafogo. It is dedicated to the cultures of indigenous peoples and introduces children to a rich cultural aspect of Brazil.
It even has a gallery for kids where body paint is provided so that they can adorn themselves like warriors. Photos, paintings, and films, along with innovative and artistic recreations of tribal environments can also be found inside the museum. Admission is R$3 during the week, with free entry on Sundays.
More outdoor activities can be carried out at Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. The lake has a five-mile pathway which is great for those who like to skate or cycle. The skate park at Avenida Borges de Medeiros is a popular haunt for teenagers
Renting a paddle boat can give a different perspective of the city as well. The paddle boats are available for rent on the east side of the lake, close to Parque do Cantagalo.
And if the kids are not exhausted just yet, it’s time to pull out the ace. There are very few kids in the world who do not enjoy a trip to the zoo. Quinta da Boa Vista in Zona Norte has both a zoo and the National Museum of Brazil, which gives visitors the chance to observe exotic animals whilst also catching up on a bit of Brazilian history.