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Itinerary between Switzerland/Germany and Austria or France with 2 kids

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Hello, looking for some advice for our family. My husband and I are traveling with our two sons, ages 11 & 8.

In terms of what we like to do, we are a pretty active family. We have no agenda that we MUST see/do outside of our into/out of cities and spend a bit of time in the mountains. Kids will tolerate a bit of museums, but generally prefer to be outside. They are very sports oriented. They are mostly just excited to see new things, eat different food, and we largely like to see where the day takes us. I love art & architecture, but will get my fill of that here and there as we go. Beautiful scenery is more important.

We are flying into Zurich in mid-April and back home from Paris at the end of the month. We have 15 nights. We will be with friends who live in Zurich for our first four nights (3 full days). From there I'm trying to rough out an itinerary. The boys (and my husband) would like to go to Germany, but also want to see the mountains (I was thinking Berner Oberland area perhaps). But I'm also leery of staying in Switzerland too long, due to the cost. My younger son would love to go to Salzburg, but is that too far out? My husband loved Munich last time we were there, so we'd be happy to return. Both my younger son & I really wanted to go to Paris, so that's why it's tacked on the end.

I see that we have two potential scenarios. The first is the one we are leaning towards.

OPTION 1
Once leaving Zurich do a week trip to visit 2-3 places in Swizerland, Germany or Austria, then take the train to Paris for the last 4 nights. We do not need to circle back to Zurich necessarily (may want to if we rent a car), and could take the train from wherever we end our week's travel.

OPTION 2
This is the less desirable option to my kids & husband. Leave Zurich and spend a week between a stop in S. Germany, couple nights in rural France then head to Paris and dump rental car. Disadvantages, may not be able to spend as much time in the mountains as we'd like, and additional cost returning rental car to another country. Unless you think the train is still the better travel mode here.

We know the weather will not be ideal. We are from a cold climate (Vermont) so I expect the spring there will be much like it is at home (can run the range of snow to cold & rainy to an oddball 70 degree day).

Once we can decide between the two options, I think given the weather, some flexibility would be nice. If it's going to pour for 3 days, why go to the mountains? Maybe go to Munich instead. But if the weather looks great, possibly head to Grindelwald for a few days. I want to have some ideas roughed out to avoid the dreaded "What do you want to do....I dunno, what do you want to do" scenario.

A rental car is better for flexibility but I'm concerned with tolls and gas prices this is going to be an expensive option, especially in Switzerland (my memory is the tolls there were quite steep). Would we be better off just picking a stop or two, then taking the train between? How does that work traveling with two kids if we pick a mountain town?

Any advice you can offer is appreciated. Thanks!

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