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Trip Report Rio with a toddler

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My daughter, 18 months, and I, traveled to Rio De Janeiro with my husband while he was there for a work conference. We stayed at the Hotel Astoria Palace, which was quite nice. The rooms, which were $130, were just big enough for the 3 of us and all our stuff, including my daughter's pack-n-play. The bathroom was huge, though, with a shower big enough to put her inflatable travel tub inside with lots of room to spare. The breakfast was tons of really good food, and it lasted until 10:30. There is a pool on the roof with a waterfall. It's not huge, but it was nice, with an area with tables and chairs, lounge chairs, and right inside a bar, sauna, and workout room. The view from the roof was amazing-the hotel is right across the street from Copacabana Beach. I would definitely stay at this hotel again. There are also a number of great restaurants nearby, and a street with grocery stores and pharmacies just a couple of blocks away. Our favorite restaurant was Tratoria-an Italian place around the corner which had good pasta, pizzas, and bread, and nice wine. There is a good Arabic restaurant a few doors down, and a restaurant right next to the hotel that had a bit of everything.

We met friends at a churrasqueria-Porcao-one night for dinner, which was very good, but there was not much at all for our daughter to eat. She doesn't typically like plain chicken or beef, and usually eats bread, a lot of fruit, pasta, and cheeses. This place had a salad bar with veggies and sushi, and lots of meat. We loved it, but I'd wished I'd taken more food for her to eat. There was a play area for her, which was nice.

We went to the beach every day, and it was always very nice. It did get crowded, especially on the weekends, but people there were very friendly, and our daughter played with and shared toys with lots of local children. There are places near the street to buy drinks, ice cream, and food, and there are almost always poeple walking around selling food and drinks as well, (and kites,beach dresses, toys, etc.) There are showers and bathrooms downstairs on the beach, so you can get cleaned up and changed before you leave the beach. We didn't use these, but just went back to our hotel, since it was so close. We never had anything stolen at the beach, as we heard could happen, but we took only towels, shoes, sunblock (which is very expensive by the way, so take extra) (and-apply often; we put SPF 50 super waterproof on our daughter every time we went out, and she still got a bit of a tan). We put money in a plastic bag and inside our swimsuits. We also stuck stuff like our shoes or toys under the towel when we were in the water, so they would be out of sight. We did not go to the beach at night, though some people did, but we did walk along the path between the beach and the street, which seemed fine. Lots of people, including families, and we could sit and have a drink or ice cream.

My daughter and I visited the botanical gardens, which were very nice-lots of plants and trees, a good kids' snack bar and playground (near the back of the park) and a more adult-type food restaurant as well. We spent the whole day there, splashing in the man-made ditches, climbing, walking, playing at the playground, and looking at birds (there are monkeys but we didn't see any). There is another park nearby the botanical gardens that is also nice-about a 15 minute walk away-but we didn't go there. The paths are dirt, so I was glad I had a second set of clothes for her. It was quite muddy, but still very nice.

We went on a jeep eco-tour of the Parque Tijuca on the outer part of the city. We strapped our daughter's carseat to the bench in the back of the jeep, which actually worked very well. We're pretty sure if she wouldn't have been in her carseat, we would have struggled to keep her sitting down. She enjoyed the part of the ride in the park, because there were trees, and it was a little windy, so we went more slowly, but she didn't like the open-air ride in the city, with the wind on her face. She got used to it after a bit, after whining for a bit. She did enjoy the short walks we took through the forest. We put some baby-friendly insect repelant on her, which worked well. We saw a nice waterfall, and there's a snack shop and bathroom partway along the tour. As this is a common tour, it can be arranged at almost any hotel.

We went to the Christ the Redeemer statue, which isn't a very kid-friendly outing. You can ride in the tram up the side of the hill most of the way, but we took a taxi that waited for us and then took us back to our hotel. If you do this, agree on the price beforehand for the round trip. I also found that the taxis the hotel called for me were more expensive than the ones I got myself. The metered taxis were usually less than the flat rate ones. The most fun our daughter had was playing with another little girl at the observation deck of the statue. We were glad we took along her backpack with toys, so she had something to do and toys to share.

We took the aerial tram up to Sugarloaf mountain, which was very nice. The middle level has lots of room to run around, a few monkeys in the trees, food and drinks, good restrooms, and helicopters landing there about every 10 minutes. Our daughter ran back and forth from the tree with the monkey in it, to the place where she could see the helicopters landing for about an hour. We went in the evening, and the view of the sunset was amazing. All the taxis that leave there are flat rate and a bit pricey, but that's all there is.

One day it did rain, so my daughter and I went to a mall in Botafogo and hung out. She rode the carousel, we at lunch at the food court, got ice cream, and there was even a very nice play area. Children over the age of 2 can be left there while parents shop, which a number of people did. It had a lot of great toddler toys.

It was a great trip, and I think a family with older kids or no kids could do a lot more. We didn't do any of the great museums, or go to live music at night, because we had to be at the hotel for bedtime, but there was still plenty to do.

One thing we thought about doing was going to Baixo Baby, which is a section of Ipanema Beach with a play area for kids. We just went to the beach near us, because it was so easy, but it sounded like a nice place to go.

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