A Mom's perspective on how to enjoy Quito and its surroundings

08/Agosto/2012 | 16:50

By Mari Hernandez-Tuten

TodayInEcuador@hoy.com.ec


Have you ever seen that family with three kids all going in different directions and the crying baby who will not be bribed with a lollipop?  The ones who are out there making memories not just for themselves, but everyone else around them? 


We are that family.


We often pack our bags and don’t let kids keep us from discovering this beautiful world around us.  In fact, they are the reason we discover it.   We live and we learn what works, and what doesn’t, with each trip and we do not let the unpleasant moments surpass the fun of discovery.


If you have kids, and you are new to Ecuador, this Mom wants to encourage you to experience together the sights, sounds and places that are unique to Ecuador.  So, we offer these ideas and tips as you set out to discover Quito with your family:


South Quito and Old Town Attractions


1. Science Musuem - Museo Interactivo de Ciencias: 

Start with this fun interactive museum just south of old town that will keep your kids entertained for hours. The museum has a series of rooms provide learning opportunities through unstructured exploration.  From the “Guagas” room to the Condor zip-line and the interactive, educational areas,  the science museum offers hands on learning.

  http://www.museointeractivodeciencia.blogspot.com/


2. Chimbacalle Train Station

Just across the tracks from the science museum is one of the seven wonders of Quito: the Ecuador Railway!  A museum at the Chimbacalle train station with old locomotive trains, interactive games, and educational exhibits is exciting for all young kids.  To actually ride a train, though, you will need to plan ahead.  There are several routes that take you north and south of Quito.  For more information: http://www.ferrocarrilesdelecuador.gob.ec/ferrocarriles_en/


3. Yaku Water Museum

Overlooking Quito from the slopes of Pichincha above old town, kids and adults will learn how Quito gets its water from the nearby, snowcapped mountains.  Interactive rooms get the children involved in learning.  They will love the bubble making room (beware the very slippery floor).  And the outdoor area with fountains and green areas, is great for a picnic.  The museum is difficult to get to unless you know the neighborhood.  If not, I recommend a taxi. Fee: $3 adults, $1 children http://www.yakumuseoagua.gob.ec/


4. Changing of the Guards

Although you might be skeptical about this one, my kids, as well as my husband, were fascinated with this tradition, an essential part of your visit to Historical Quito, which takes place every Monday at 11 a.m. at the Plaza Grande.  Cost:  Free!  Just stand in the square and watch.


North Quito Attractions


5. Instituto Geografico Militar: Planetarium and museum

A planetarium is a must for all kids.  This one has an exhibition area with a guided tour and a show about the solar system.  Check viewing times before you go. Entrance $1.50. www.igm.gob.ec


6. Teleferico

Take a short, quiet ride and enjoy a magnificent view of our beautiful city.  The teleferico, cable cars climb from 3,000 meters to 4,000 meters above sea level in only a few minutes.   Take warm clothes, including a wind breaker and hat. Once at the top there are horseback rides available for a small fee, but I wouldn’t go much farther with little ones.  In fact, you might want to stay at the bottom, which is home to the Volcano Park, an amusement park with rides and games for kids of all ages.  Take your cedula or censo to enjoy the discounted, national price.  http://www.teleferiqo.com/


7. Aviation Musuem or Museo Aeronautico de la FAE

Housed on a military base, the Aviation Museum mesmerized my kids with the old planes on display in the outdoor exhibitions.  And the indoor exhibits captivated them with model planes and a small interactive play area.  It is a short but great trip for the family. You will need I.D. to enter.  http://www.aviationmuseum.eu/World/Latin_America/Ecuador/Quito/Museo_de_la_FAE.htm


8. Carolina Park

This is one of our weekly outings as a family.  Carolina Park is the biggest park in Quito, with a perimeter of nearly 3 miles.  It has paddle boats, bicycle and running paths, skate ramps and much more.  The weekends are crowded and attract a variety of food and toy vendors, as well as pony and horse rides. And two other attractions are also found within the park:


9. Vivarium Reptile Museum

See snakes, iguanas, turtles, frogs and other reptiles that are native to Ecuador.   Located on the west side of Carolina Park.Open Tuesday-Sunday 9:30-5:30; Cost: Adults $3, Children $2. http://www.vivarium.org.ec/


10. Botanical Gardens

This is a great family trip. Native flora from all regions of Ecuador are on display.  A recent expansion has play equipment for young kids making it a park to escape the park.  Cost: Adults, $3.50, children $2.  Monday-Friday 8-5, Weekends 9-5.   http://www.jardinbotanicoquito.com/


11. Sunday Bike Day- Ciclopaseo

Every Sunday until 2 p.m. Quito blocks off more than 20 miles of roads to allow pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy a day on the road, car free. The streets become filled with kids, adults and senior citizens as parents pushing strollers.  http://www.ciclopolis.ec/root/


Attractions Near enough to Quito…


12. Guayllabamba Zoo

Broaden your kids’ horizons with a trip to the zoo.  As advertised the Quito Zoo is, “Home to the famous Galapagos Tortoise, the rare Andean or Spectacled bear, the stealthy Jaguar and an incredible aviary, Quito Zoo provides a chance to see the best of Ecuador's wildlife all in one place.”  About an hour from Quito by car or taxi the zoo is large enough that you should give yourself a couple of hours to enjoy it.  A petting zoo has guinea pigs, llamas, donkeys and other animals that kids can feed. Nearby you will find picnic tables, though vendors hours seem to be irregular (take a snack just in case).  And The weather in Guayllabamba is hotter than Quito for the most part, so make sure to dress accordingly.  Open every day but Monday.  Price: Kids $3 and adults $4.  www.quitozoo.org


13. Cotopaxi Volcano

Cotopaxi National Park has breathtaking views, wild horses, ruins, ponds, and wildlife. There is no hiking needed to enjoy the beautiful scenery.  However, if you are up for a trek, consider a short hike to the refuge, but only if your kids are older.  It can be strenuous for young children, not to mention the cold and wind if it is not a sunny day.  At the refuge you can find snacks and warm soup and coffee.  Seasonal Suggestion: Consider a visit during the Christmas season to make snowmen, if you are missing a traditional, “white Christmas.”  The park entrance is about an hour from Quito.  Allow additional 30 minutes to reach the refuge parking lot.  Cost:  Free! (recent changes in the law eliminated fees for national parks).  For a list of all the national parks in Ecuador: http://www.ambiente.gob.ec/?q=node/60




Mari Hernandez-Tuten is a free-lance writer and the founder of Inspired by Family Magazine http://inspiredbyfamilymag.com/


 

Ciudad Quito

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