A city with parks is most definitely a city for families. Quito is no exception. Its parks are the most visited places on weekends, where the locals take a moment to stroll, bike, play sports (mainly soccer and the Ecuadorian version of volleyball: ecua-vólei) or participate in any number of organized outdoor activities from courses and workshops to concerts and fairs. There are more than a dozen parks throughout the city, some themed, such as the beautiful archaeological park of Rumipamba, and others, such as La Carolina, with an assortment of options for your family fun.
La Carolina can remind one of a beach in summer, jam-packed with people doing everything from tai-chi to eating hot-dogs and cevichochos (Quito’s very own lupin bean ceviche). Located in the heart of the “new” town, aside from its sports fields, artificial lagoon and an emblematic 80s skating ramp, you’ll find some of the most family-friendly sites in the city. Among them, the very special Quito Botanical Gardens (Jardín Botánico). It’s a great place to get some fresh air, learn about the ecosystems and flora that make the Metropolitan District so biodiverse and ecologically rich, while walking in and out of beautifully landscaped installations, designed to transport us from the warm subtropics (with all the orchids and heliconias to fit) to the cold tundra-like páramo in a matter of a few steps.
Younger visitors will learn about Ecuadorian nature and there’s enough awareness to make it a meaningful experience, but above all, the recreated worlds offer a nice space to work up their imagination.
Temporary exhibits and fairs bring rare animals and treats to share (check the Gardens’ agenda on their active Facebook page, or website, jardinbotanicoquito.com).
La Carolina is also home to Vivarium (on Avenida Amazonas), a small house-turned-refuge for amphibians and reptiles in recovery, whose mission is to bring city-dwellers into contact with creatures not usually on anyone’s cute-and-cuddly list. If you have the mettle, you’re welcome to touch a snake’s skin.
Mundo Juvenil, in the eastern sector of the park, closes the menu of family activities with events and workshops for every inkling, a large library for children (with a curious giant dinosaur), a theater and an amphitheater, in addition to its small museum that is not always open to the public, but if it is, do check out the four classic dioramas representing Ecuador’s four worlds.
There are two institutions dedicated specifically to family activities in the city: the Interactive Museum of Sciences (or MIC) in Chimbacalle and the Water Museum, or “Yaku” (which means “water” in Kichwa), located on the rugged slope of El Placer (if you look to the west, sitting on the mountain, you may notice its glass-and-steel structure).
This curious thematic and educational museum dedicated to water and, by extension, the Ecuadorian páramo and glaciers (it is actually located on the grounds of the public water company in a historically important water collection area) also offers a wonderful view and spectacular Andean garden.
The MIC, on the other hand, is precisely what its name designates: an interactive museum with halls suitable for every ages displaying experiments, optical illusion effects and games to understand the complexities of Science.
It is perhaps the most suitable large-scale museum for children in Quito.
Of course, several “adult” museums offer options for children, such as the “Creactivo” hall within the Museo de la Ciudad, the EducAlabado program of Casa del Alabado or the children’s library on the second floor of the Metropolitan Cultural Center…
On the other hand, for those who do not need to occupy their children with something designed specifically for them, visiting the Historic Center itself is a fascinating encounter for all ages, as there is always something that will attract their attention. Maybe look in the mirror and try to identify the black angel from the central dome of La Compañía or admire its false staircase looking back from the altar to the entrance; perhaps you can touch the wooden lions on El Sagrario’s door (and check out the beautiful hearts San Agustin’s door), buy a devil, clown or gorilla mask at Sombrerería Benalcázar (on Calle Benalcazar near 24 de Mayo) or chatter with the parrots in the main courtyard of the Pedro Gocial Museum, in San Francisco Church.
And for your inner child, maybe you can venture with our kids to VulQano Park amusement park and hop on one of the rides before getting on the Telefériqo cable car… Or why not visit our very own Star Wars museum (before Disney finds out!), technically called “Expofixión“, in which the collector and die-hard Star Wars fan Carlos Sánchez Montoya displays his passion (and childhood collection of hundreds of action figures, costumes and objects) to all.
May the force be with you!
Hacienda La Querencia, in Nono and Tío Mario’s Farm are two countryside places to visit with kids, with petting zoos and outdoor activities.
Hacienda La Querencia
Parroquia de Nono, 18km de Quito
+ (593 9) 8337 8445
La Granja de Tío Mario
Pomasqui, barrio Santa Rosa