By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With its natural beauty, friendly locals and tropical climate, Rio de Janeiro has so many things going for it that make it perfect for a family holiday. Often travel guides focus on the side of the city that is devoted to parties and Carnival, but there is a wealth of attractions on offer for younger folks.
Bamboo Family Club (Ipanema)
For anyone looking to begin their Rio adventure with kids, Bamboo Family Club is the place to start. “We wouldn’t call ourselves a crèche, but a Family Club,” Flavia Idland, co-owner, explains, “that can offer support, information and be a social place at the same time.”
Bamboo Family Club runs activities for children up to the ages of ten years old, including capoeira, theater, zumba and music, while staff speak English, Spanish, German and Portuguese. And being in the heart of Ipanema, in Rio’s ‘Zona Sul’ (South Zone) this is a useful place to check in with for further recommendations, something they are more than happy to do.
Jardim Botânico and Parque Lage (Jardim Botânico)
This is a must visit for anyone with children. The tranquil and awe-inspiring surroundings of Jardim Botânico are sure to wow even the adults, and children will love exploring the many different areas, all while being in safe surroundings. The nearby Parque Lage also has a great reputation for tranquility, and during the winter months the ‘Escola de Artes Visuais’ (School of Visual Arts) puts on many activities for children, including art and theater workshops.
“Both places have a lot of space for the children to explore and run free. It’s a great place to get in contact with nature and they might even see some small monkeys.” Idland comments, “I would suggest taking some snacks and having a nice picnic.”
Fazendinha Estação Natureza Rio (Vargem Grande)
On the outskirts of Barra da Tijuca, Fazendinha Estação Natureza Rio is a rural educational park with more than 30,000 square meters of green space, farm animals and activities. They offer areas for petting and tending to the animals, such as cows and geese; rides on horses and ponies; a restaurant and even some areas for fishing.
Similar to Jardim Botânico, this is a wonderful place to take children who are interested in the outdoors and nature.
Ilha da Paquetá (Paquetá)
Just a short ferry ride away from the city center, the island of Paquetá almost seems like it was made for children. Cars are banned, so most islanders and visitors explore their surroundings using bicycles.
This small, paradisaical island has breath-taking views of Guanabara bay, friendly shops and restaurants selling home-made goods and food, and a handful of well-run and interesting museums and places of cultural interest, making it perfect for a family day out.
Leme Fort (Leme)
For those with children, finding a hike that isn’t too challenging can prove difficult when you have younger ones to entertain, so Leme fort is a perfect way to combine a healthy activity with an interesting museum and some wonderful sights.
As Flavia Idland points out, “It’s a well preserved nature reserve; the hike takes about thirty minutes and is not difficult, and the views from up there are very beautiful.” The fort now contains a permanent exhibition detailing the military history of the area, along with a film room and some other exhibits; although the trip is well worth it even just for the view and its close proximity to Copacabana.
Museu de Astronomia e Ciências Afins (São Cristóvão)
The ‘Museu de Astronomia e Ciências Afins’ (Museum of Astronomy and Affiliate Sciences) is an awe-inspiring destination to take any children who are fascinated by space. The museum has many permanent exhibitions, including a scale model of the solar system and a real asteroid on display.
The best time to visit is at the weekends, when the museum allows children (and adults too) to gaze through their state-of-the-art telescopes at the night sky above. This museum is also closely located to other kid-friendly attractions in Rio’s ‘Zona Norte’ (North Zone) including the beautiful park of Quinta da Boa Vista (Estate With the Good View).