Ecuador is a great place to raise a child. For many people who move to the country, the best thing about it is the ability to bring a family up in the city, yet with easy access to the natural world, and this is what many people value most about living in cities such as Quito and Cuenca. There are many other cities that offer a variety of fun, unique activities for kids. Here are some of the ones your children will love best.
Quito, Ecuador’s capital, has many parks, and this is one of the greatest aspects of living in this beautiful city. Try taking the kids for a picnic in Parque Metropolitano, a forest-like park with a children’s playground and plenty of space to picnic and hike.
La Rana Sabia, a 30-minute drive away from Quito, offers puppet shows for kids and it’s an entertaining activity that may well help to get your children into theatre. It also has a museum and a library focussing on the importance of puppetry and puppet heritage.
Organic cafeterias such as UWI and Mulala offer brunch on Sundays and have gardens and places for children to play, making brunch a family activity that reflects the importance to most Ecuadorian families of having family meals on Sundays.
Watching Butterflies and Birds in Mindo
Mindo, a sleepy cloud-forest town approximately two hours north of Quito, is one of the most family-friendly destinations in the country. A butterfly sanctuary will keep the kids entertained as they try to attract the greenhouse butterflies with pieces of fruit and get them to land on their hands. Birdwatching while walking in the cloud forest is another popular activity with families, despite the need for something approximating silence.
The beer isn’t for the kids, but many places, such as Sabai Beer Garden in Cumbaya, offer great open spaces for the kids to run around in, as well as drinks. The grown-ups get to relax and enjoy a good artisanal beer, and the kids get to explore the garden and do some colouring in. Everyone’s a winner.
The Alliance Française, an arts institution in Quito, offers children’s book readings on Saturday mornings at their library. The atmosphere is fun, and even if the children don’t understand the language, it is a good way for them to pick up another language at an early age, as well as playing with the other kids who attend.
Banana Boats at the Beach
Beach cities such as Manta and Salinas have banana boats, a fun activities for families or big groups of people. Ecuador’s coastline offers a great variety of beaches, from cities to smaller, sleepier hippie towns that are great to visit with the family.
As Ecuador is one of the most diverse countries in the world in terms of its landscape, it’s no surprise there is a vast array of national parks, from the Machalilla National Park, a protected, pristine beach, to the Podocarpus National Park in southern Ecuador. Many of these parks are great destinations for a trip with the kids.
Ecuador is fairly well connected with roads, and most of them are in decent condition, but do check before setting out, as rains can wreak havoc on some roads. You can be sure of some great views along the way.
Rock climbing is becoming very popular in Quito. Some of the gyms in the city offer classes for kids, and more families are joining in the fun at weekends. Gyms usually have all the necessary equipment available for rent.
Ecuador is surrounded by hills, mountains and volcanoes and many of these are located less than half an hour’s car journey away from the capital, Quito. Setting out on one of the mountain trails early one morning is a great adventure for a family.