3 Top, Free Things to Do with Kids in San Diego

September 6th, 2017

This guest post is by my friend, Beebe Hargrove, Illustrator/Designer Extraordinaire and Mom of beautiful kids. Check out her wonderful site here!

1.Beaches, beautiful beaches

San Diego has 33 of them and I’m listing only a few. Mission Bay has many small coves with little or no waves and long winding paths for bikes or blades. This is a great spot for families with littles because of ample free parking close to the beach and several playgrounds located next to the water.


If you want to spend a little, Mission Beach is close by and features Belmont Park, a colorful boardwalk with vintage games, shops, mini golf and an iconic wooden roller coaster.

 Free parking can also be found, with a little more difficulty, at Coronado, and La Jolla. La Jolla cove is home to hundreds of sea lions who swim and sunbath all day and don’t seem to mind at all sharing the beach with us. Stroll through the streets to enjoy beautiful art galleries, shopping and bites to eat.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, although requiring a day pass for a small fee, has miles of beautiful coastal hikes, a free nature center and a beautiful stretch of sand to enjoy.

2. Balboa Park

We have had numerous outings to Balboa Park and have yet to see it all. Home to 17 museums, gardens, performing arts, an artist vilage, beautiful architecture and if you want to spend money – the amazing San Diego Zoo, it is defiantly worth a few visits. Parking is free and if you are a resident of California every Tuesday select Museums are free. Timken Museum of Art is always free and has a beautiful collection of Russian art. The Botanical Garden is free to walk through and has a colorful collection of orchids and other exotic plants. The Spanish Village Art Center is free to stroll through with many collections of local art to admire and purchase should you wish.

The Museum of Man at Balboa Park

The Spanish Village Art Center

Just a few of the jets at Waterfront Park


3. Waterfront Park 
A gorgeous modern park and play area, filled with beautiful sculptures and two large splash areas with jets located in the heart of the city. A view of the bay and eerily close flybys into the San Diego Airport make this a unique and exciting stop. A few dollars in metered parking gets you just enough hours to enjoy a fun afternoon.


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3 Free, Top things to do with Kids in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

March 6th, 2017

State Capitol of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg

We are currently visiting our friends in Harrisburg Pennsylvania so have another of our 3, Free things to do with Kids posts in our series!

And so here is my 3 Free, Top things to do with Kids in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania installment.

So, here we go

First of all, the State Capitol in Harrisburg is unexpected and magnificent. It’s of course, free to visit and the kids have fun walking and running around in this large and European style complex even if they don’t completely appreciate the splendor. Designed by architect Joseph Huston, built and furnished at a cost of $13 million, the Capitol features paintings, stained glass and furnishings by some of the best artisans of the day. The building incorporates various Renaissance designs in some of its largest rooms: Italian in the House Chamber, French in the Senate Chamber, and English in the Governor’s Reception Room. It also reflects Greek, Roman and Victorian influences in its art and ornamentation. And there are free tours every half hour! http://www.pacapitol.com



Wildwood Park and Nature Centre. This is another gem on the outskirts of Harrisburg. A great place to bring the family for some quality time or a location for you to commune with nature. There are wonderful rambling trails around the lake that abounds with wildlife in a truly natural setting. There’s a nice library for the kids with activities like a costume bin full of animal costumes so they can dress up as their fave animal and imagine what it would be like. And if you are into birdwatching, this is the place! http://wildwoodlake.org



 National Civil War Museum. Okay, so I cheated for this. This is not free but I really wanted to sneak it in as it’s amazing and not expensive at all! This one was more for me than the kids but I think it was good for them, as the Civil War  is such an important part of American History. This museum is Smithsonian affiliated and does a very good job of helping us gain an understanding of the Civil War, its effect on the nation, and on the people.

Their emphasis is on “the human side” of the conflict.  There are over 24,000 items on  the common soldiers, men and women on the home front, and the experiences of African Americans.  The military artifacts encompass all aspects of soldiers’ experiences: from the personal equipage and weaponry of the War, to wounds, disease, prisoner-of-war experiences, and the emotional drain of the conflict. And most importantly, there is no bias towards either the Union or Confederate causes. The grounds and building are modern and well laid out. If you want the kids to understand the Civil War, this is a really good place to go! http://www.nationalcivilwarmuseum.org




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3 Top, Free Things to do With Kids in Berlin

August 19th, 2013


A very warm to Welcome to our new lovely correspondent, Selina Selina von Holleben, designer and owner of stunning Berlin label, Elfen Couture! This is her first post of many.

1. “Fischerhütte“ am Schlachtensee, Berlin Zehlendorf

Known for it's silence, tree-lined avenues, elegant mock-chateaux buildings and a pretty conventional German lifestyle – the district of Zehlendorf lies on the way to Potsdam. In the middle of this idyllic neighbourhood, you'll find the restaurant and beer garden “Fischerhütte“, directly in front of the beautiful Schlachtensee, which my family and I call the “Lago Battallia“

After a 6km walk around the lake, which is also a jogger's paradise, you can take a rest surrounded by nature. The Fischerhütte is separated into two areas. A good restaurant with table service and a self-service„Biergarten“. While sipping your Weizenbier, nibbling your Bavarian wurst salad, brezels & Weißwürschtl in the sun,  you can enjoy the amazing views over the shimmering lake.

© Laggner Fischerhütte Restaurant GmbH.

 Kids can swim here or play around in the playground, right next to the beer garden. A perfect place for families and a totally different experience to hectic Berlin city life!
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3 Top, Free Things to Do with Kids in Stockholm

June 17th, 2013

One of the most striking things about Stockholm is how city and country co-exist harmoniously. These are the 3 top, free things to do in Stockholm with kids that combine both!

1. Gamla Stan (Old Town)

Since Stockholm is made up of 14 islands, the seashore is never far away. Starting in the city with “Gamla Stan” (Old Town) is a natural place to begin.

Pastel colored, medieval, “Gamla Stan” is located on one island which is in the center of the city and was first settled back in 1252 with an architectural visual road map evident in the buildings. The Royal Palace is here, too; and strolling it's winding medieval cobblestone alleyways, small squares, ancient churches, shops and cafes is an easy way for anyone to spend the day. The main streets can get congested but, it's easy to slip off into a quiet side street. Find “Mårten Trotzigs Gränd” which is the city's most narrow street — less than one meter wide, walk the steps to to top of the Tyska Kyrka for a great view of the city and have your children count how many lion statues they can find.

Make time in your visit to watch the 40-minute changing of the Guards. This takes place daily in front of the residence of the King of Sweden at 12:15 weekdays' 1:15 on Weekends where 30,000 individual guards work to continue this tradition.
And don't miss the Hidden play area: “Junotäppan:” A teeny-tiny hidden walled play area that you can escape to when only a slide and sand box will do. Even many city dwellers don't know if this little play areas existence.

2. City Parks + Beaches

If visiting Stockholm with small children Humlegården and Vasaparken are the two largest and most central parks to enjoy with kids. They both have terrific play areas for varying ages, as well as other venus on their grounds.

1. Humlegården is located smack dab in the center of the city; just a hop skip and a jump away from central boutiques and shopping, making an easy break for you and your little ones. It has a fenced in equipment area that's divided into equipment that ranges from youngest to oldest so that both you and your little ones can find just the right pace — with a second smaller section of park equipment nearby, too.

2. Vasaparken is just a little further away but in Vasastan, a popular northern area of town, with a nice playground, room for picnics and running and an interesting “man-made rolling hills” area for kids to hop and to run. Miniature golf for a low fee.Both have tricycles, scooters and sleds to borrow during the park's opening hours. (Vasaparken has a free ice skating rink in the winter, too.)

3. Djurgården, another park, is a vast green island preserved as royal park. The entire island provides bountiful walks, museums, amusement park, animal park, and cafes. Rosendalstragård is one of my favorite stops on the island for a coffee in a green house and has two free favorites: 1. a little play park between it's apple orchards and 2. a hedge labyrinth.

4. Kungstragården is a city center strolling park without a play ground and equipment; however, it's perfect for strolling, watch or play with a giant chess area, a fountain; ice skating in the winter and ever changing festivals. Check out the festival schedule all summer long which includes things like Restaurant Day, a large screen that with live occasional broadcasts (Live Concerts, Opera, Sports, etc) to suited-sumo wrestling, kid swings and other special events for kids.
5. Beaches for Swimming in Town:
Rålambshovparken is a popular city park and beach with a large area for sports, bikes, frisbee playing and a children's play park, as well.

Långholmen is a real city get away. This island, within the city, once housed a prison that is now converted to a conference center, restaurant and cafe. Near this, is a little beach surrounded by old turn of the century garden homes that make the beach very pastoral and ice cream treats accessible. Walking paths on the island with small scatterings of park equipment, too.

3. Rum for Barn in Kulturhuset

The 4th floor of Kulturhuset is one of the free public centers that's one returns again and again with children. It's centrally located with big windows overlooking Sergelstorget giving it great light and an active city view. This floor has

1. on-going art exhibits that are just for kids, as well as a beautiful,

2. well-stocked international children's library with cubby holes to play in, desks to draw at and a reading area.

3. For a material fee only, the painting room is open every day where children have their own easels and never worry about paint drips. An escalator ride up to the 5th floor to the kid-friendly cafe to enjoy more of this view. Occasionally, the 5th floor is used, as well for more, free children's art exhibits.

Worth Noting. Stockholm's public transportation is exceptionally accommodating to those who are traveling with young children. If you are traveling with a baby buggy, the one tending the buggy and buggy ride for free and will find most people and bus drivers to be very helpful in entering and exiting buses or subways.

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3 Top, Free Things To Do in Amsterdam & Rotterdam With Kids – Summer 2012

September 10th, 2012

This is a guest post from Noa Haim from Paper Collective Aesthetics



Papabubble is a candy artisans shop + workshop located at Staalstraat 16 Amsterdam. Apart from the beautiful display of sugar ‘art work’ you can watch the process of Scandinavian candy-making technique. Each candy production set is starting with designing a giant sushi-like mold which is rolled on a warm surface until becoming a perfect roll. From that step, the roll is stretched to tiny tubes and chopped into individual candies. Mika , Dominik and their team are doing about four candy – making sessions each day and you are welcome to join them.




On the other side of the street Staalstraat 7A the Dutch design label, Droog has opened a fairytale garden. The 150 square meters of open inner-courtyard designed by Corinne Julhiet and Claude Pasqer, made us feel as we have just entered a fantasy land. Handmade wire sculptures – in the form of flowers that attract and feed the birds, giant mushrooms that function as seats and shelter for firewood, and other fantastically sculptured surprises.




Traveling by train from Amsterdam to Rotterdam is convenient. The views outside of the wagon provide a hint into rural and urban typical living situations in Holland.





In the spirit of summer & football The Netherlands Architecture Institute was hosting morePlatz (Caro Baumann and Johannes Schele) installation ‘Siedlung’. A group of orange small tents was populating the grass lawns around the institute, invading the entrance area and floating in the water pools in front of the institute. Children as parents, could take advantage of them, and spend the entire evening in a mobile city structure.



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3 Top, Free Things to Do in Barcelona With Kids

August 17th, 2012

This is a guest post from Carina of  XO- In My Room line of original furniture and blog.


1. The Labyrinth Park

The park includes an eighteenth-century neo-classical garden and a nineteenth century romantic garden. All over the park there are a large number of sculptures and many fountains, waterfalls, springs and ponds. In the middle of the park, is the Labyrinth, which is a lot of fun for children who like to get lost in it as they try to find their way out.The Labyrinth Park is the oldest park in Barcelona and since it’s located outside of the tourist radius, (in the district of Horta in the north part of the city) it’s something of an undiscovered treasure.To maintain the park’s beauty, a maximum of only 750 persons are allowed to enter each day. A small amount is required at the entrance to help maintenance and on Sundays and Wednesdays it is free.

The park was built in 1791 by the marquis and landowner Joan Antoni Desvalls of d’Ardena, at the same time the construction of the Desvall palace began. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Desvall palace was a meeting place for the society’s elite. Over the years, three kings have paid a visit to the gardens. When you walk around the garden, it’s easy to imagine how it looked during the celebrations once held there; the outdoor theatre, the beautiful outfits and exquisite food, the children playing games in the labyrinth…




2. The Magic Fountain

Quite spectacular is “The magic fountain” created in 1929 by architect Carlos Buigas for the Universal Expo. It is very popular specially during summer nights (it’s all year round) because of the high temperatures we have in the city, kids like to stand very close to the fountain, and get wet when the breeze blows. The fountain changes colours and pressure of the water according to the music. The showtimes with music now in summer are from 9 p.m. up to 11p.m. every half hour.




3. The Blue Museum, Barcelona

This is a brand new museum!

The Blue Museum designed by architects, Herzog & de Meuron, occupies 9,000 square meters distributed on two floors with modern installations and facilities, built around an immense, free-access hall which is the start and finish point for all the Museum programmes and services: the reference exhibition «Planet Life», the temporary exhibition areas, the Media library, the Science Nest for children aged 0-6 years, the workshops, the cafeteria, the restaurant and the shop and much more.

Herzog & de Meuron, were also responsible for adapting the new Museum premises and for the museographic design of the Planet Life exhibition, a journey through the history of life and its evolution in tandem with our planet, and a portrait of the present day.  The museum is always free for children under 16 and for adults the free admission is on First Sunday of every month and every Sunday after 3 pm.










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3 Top, Free Things To Do In London With Kids – SUMMER 2012

July 23rd, 2012

This is a guest post by Florence Rolando of the fabulous blog, Pirouette. And the second in our series of 3 Top, Free Things To Do With Kids in different cities. Here is our first one from Melbourne.


1. Soak your feet in the pool at the John Madejski Garden

The Victoria and Albert’s Museum (V&A) is a great place to hang out with kids, especially when the weather is hot as they can play in the garden’s shallow pool. The elegant courtyard is a real oasis for families, with a small restaurant offering a wide range of healthy food for all tastes. Parents can take turns to visit the permanent collections, or take the children to the British Design exhibit which is lots of fun and a must-see (until August 12) : architecture, design, fashion but also video clips from the Beatles and David Bowie and a room dedicated to video games. Cromwell Rd, London, SW7 2RL. Some exhibits are free, check http://www.vam.ac.uk




2. Visit the Wellcome Collection


The Wellcome Collection is a museum exploring the connections between medicine, life and art. The permanent collection is free, and displays an unusual mix of medical artifacts and original artworks. The museum is targeted to kids with interactive giant human body helps understanding the anatomy, films and stations to draw. The food served at the cafe is delicious (healthy). Don’t miss the video showing an aquatic creature turning into a human being in 7 minutes. Impressive.  And don’t miss the book store, full of treasures to read or to play with. Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, UK – www.wellcomecollection.org



3. Play with Yoko Ono at the Serpentine Gallery


Every summer, the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Part invites an architect to build a pavilion (see it here) in its garden. This year  the guests are Herzog&De Meuron + Ai Weiwei. The gallery itself hosts a show by Yoko Ono, that includes a glass maze, a giant chess game as well as an interactive video project called “smilesfilm”. Free entrance. Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London W2 3XA – www.serpentinegallery.org/


Photos by Florence Rolando


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3 Top, Free Things To Do In Melbourne With Kids

October 19th, 2011

This is a guest post from Kate Nelson of the blog meetoo.com.au, dedicated to children’s activities in Melbourne.

If you are only in Melbourne for a few days and your time is limited make sure you check out some of these places you can enjoy with children of any age.

Royal Botanic Gardens

Melbourne is the capital of the Garden State – we are blessed with many beautiful parks. And the Botanical Gardens are among the finest in the world. The Gardens are a short tram ride from the centre of town or about 15-20 minutes walk from Flinders Street Station.

You can take a picnic or eat locally.  If you are looking for something nicer than cafeteria food then visit the strip of shops and cafes just outside the Gardens on Domain Road.  There are a number of great venues to eat to cater for most budgets – and most of them are very relaxed (they are used to joggers stopping after their lap of the running track).

The Gardens are a beautiful space to explore with meandering paths, ponds and lakes and different plantings from all over the world.  Best of all there is a dedicated Children’s Garden – which in summer is a wonderful place for Children to explore and play.  Be sure to bring extra clothes or swimmers as there are sprinklers and creeks to play in.  It is closed at certain times of the year and week, so make sure you check the website before you go to avoid being disappointed: Melbourne Children’s Garden

National Gallery of Victoria, NGV International, St. Kilda Road

Recently opened at the NGV is the Kids Space – a permanent dedicated gallery for children 0-8 years.  It is interactive, tactile and colourful – and best of all it’s fun.  Both my children love this space.

The Gallery also offers other spaces where children don’t need to be too ‘hushed’.  The Great Hall is a great space to sit and have a little picnic.  The kids can lie on the floor and stare up at the amazing stain glass ceiling. If you have school aged children ask at the information desk for one of the trail activities – keeps the older kids busy trying to find things within the exhibitions!

Outside at the back of the gallery is a garden – which is often under-utilised – and not only can the kids run around the sculptures, but in the back corner there is a climbing structure!

And finally a trip to the NGV is not complete without running your hands through the water-wall (see below) at the front entrance.

Federation Square, Swanston Street

Fed Square is the central public space in the city. Things to check out:

• Australian Center for the Moving Image – is a gallery dedicated to screen and cinema. Kids love the permanent exhibition as it’s a history of all things screen, so think video games, television and movies from the 1950’s and beyond – lots of fun!  ACMI also has its own cinemas that screen films – and it’s worth checking their listings for ‘kids flicks’ as the tickets are very reasonable at $6: http://www.acmi.net.au/kids_flicks.aspx

•Birrarung Marr – Down the side of Fed Square, on the riverbank, is an area called Birrarung Marr.  This is where you will find the city’s best playground!  And next to the playground is ArtPlay.  ArtPlay runs workshops for children of all ages – and you need to plan these well in advance.  Check their website to make bookings: Artplay. For more info about what’s on at Fed Square check their website: Fed Square

For more local insights, check out: meetoo.com.au. For child friendly places to eat: littleeats.com.au and for kid’s events listings alphabetstreet.com.au


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