Buenos Aires Feature
Buenos Aires with Kids
Family is a big part of local life. Porteños definitely believe kids should be seen and heard, and local children keep pretty much the same schedule as their parents. It's completely normal for kids to sit through adult dinners until the small hours, and restaurants (and other diners) are fine with them dozing at the table.
Kids can go to the bank, shop at a supermarket, and play at adult jobs in the Museo de los Niños (Children's Museum) in Almagro. Although the museum is entirely in Spanish, activities like crawling through a large-scale plumbing system and operating a crane on a building site have international appeal.
The motto of Recoleta's Museo Participativo de las Ciencias (Participative Science Museum) says it all—Prohibido no Tocar, or "Not touching is Forbidden." The colorful interactive displays—which explain how music, light, and electricity work—are hands-on enough for most kids to enjoy them despite the Spanish-only explanations. Better yet, it's on the first floor of the Centro Cultural Recoleta, so you can squeeze in some adult museum time, too.
Some of the dusty displays at the Planetario Galileo Galilei in Palermo's Parque 3 de Febrero seem almost as vintage as the gloriously retro building itself. Still, the night-sky projection room and the meteorite collection add up to a quick, fun outing. Cotton candy and popcorn machines near the duck ponds outside make for more earthly post-museum treats.
The few dinosaur skeletons at the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales are probably old hat, but your kids might get a kick from the megafauna fossils (think 10-foot hamster bones). Some sections—like the mollusk collection—are housed in rooms so dark and dusty they're more likely to induce nightmares than curiosity. Av. Angel Gallardo 470, Villa Crespo, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, C1405DJR. 11/4982–0306. www.macn.secyt.gov.ar. 5 pesos. Daily 2–7.
The best place for unbridled running and jumping is Palermo's Parque Tres de Febrero. There are acres and acres of well-maintained greenery, and you can rent bicycles of all sizes (including ones with child seats), in-line skates, and pedal boats. There are also hamburger stands, balloon sellers, and clowns.
The gross factor is high at the Jardín Japonés, where you can actually pet the slimy koi carp swimming in ornamental ponds. Even more back-to-nature is the unkempt Reserva Ecológica —guided moonlight walks are an extra thrill.
The Zoo de Buenos Aires is home to pumas, tapirs, llamas, aguarrá guazús (a kind of wolf), and yacarés (caymans). And these are just some of the South American animals here that your kids might not have ever seen.
The rides at Parque de la Costa, Buenos Aires's only theme park, are perfectly pitched for kids and tweens. The three most extreme roller coasters aren't the world's scariest, but they can keep older adrenaline junkies occupied for a while, and relatively small lines mean you can keep going back for more. Vivanco 1509, Tigre, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, B1648DWE. 11/4002–6000. www.parquedelacosta.com.ar. 80–100 pesos. Jan. and Feb., Tues.–Sun. 11–9; Mar.–Nov., Fri.–Sun. 11–7.
You know you'll never be able to beat your kids on the Playstation. Go retro and give yourself a sporting chance with a Scalectrix championship at Añe. There can be long waits for a turn on its five large-scale electric miniature car-racing tracks on weekends, so come midweek if your little racers are impatient. Scalabrini Ortíz 818, Palermo Viejo, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, C1414DNV. 11/4775–5165. www.anie-slot.com.ar. 6–16 pesos per 30 mins. Tues. and Thurs. 2–11, Wed. and Fri. 2–6, Sun. 10 am–midnight.
Your kids might not be into the city's crowded subways, but there are other fun forms of travel in Buenos Aires. Horse-drawn carriages (called mateos) line up outside the Zoo de Buenos Aires and take you on a ride around the Parque Tres de Febrero.
Trams once ran through most of the city. The Asociación Amigos del Tranvía has saved some of the original carriages and operates free rides through the streets of the Caballito neighborhood on weekends. Emilio Mitre 500, at José Bonifacio, Caballito, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, C1424AYJ. 11/4431–1073. www.tranvia.org.ar. Dec.–Feb., Sat. 5–8:30, Sun. 10–1 and 5–8:30; Mar.–Nov., Sat. 4–7:30, Sun. 10–1 and 4–7:30. E to Emilio Mitre.
When it comes to rewarding—or bribing—their kids, porteño parents are unanimous: helado (ice cream) is the way to go. There are shops on nearly every street block, but classy chains Freddo, Un'Altra Volta, and Persicco do the creamiest scoops. Children's menus aren't common in Buenos Aires: local kids usually eat the same as adults, in smaller portions. One exception to the rule is Recursos Infantiles, a toy shop with a small-scale restaurant that only does children's food.
You and your kids can get a break from one another at Casimiro, a restaurant with separate entrances and menus for grown-ups and littlies aged 2–12, who play (supervised by trained staff) on the other side of a glass wall. Rivadavia 6075, Caballito, Buenos Aires, C1406GLD. 11/4634–3333. www.lawebdecasimiro.com. Noon–late.
You don't need Spanish-language skills to enjoy circo (circus), títeres (puppets), and rock para chicos (kiddie rock). For listings, check the "Chicos" section in the back of local papers or the online Spanish-language magazines Revista Planetario (www.revistaplanetario.com.ar) and Kids en la Web (www.kidsenlaweb.com.ar).
Street performers abound on squares and pedestrian malls and around outdoor markets. The Abasto and Solar de la Abadía malls have supervised play rooms where you can leave little ones while you shop.
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