My friend Sarah and her husband Rob have just returned from a city break to Barcelona with their four-year-old daughter, Ella. 'She loved it,' Sarah told me last night. 'She saw a parade, she tried seafood and she even learned to say ''gracias'' .'
I'm a big fan of city breaks for kids, particularly in the summer, when you can pick up some great bargains. But experience has taught me you have to take things slow – it simply won't be possible to see all the sights. Lots of rest stops and even afternoon naps are also crucial (unless you want them to fall asleep in their dinner, which is what happened to us once in San Francisco.)
Here, in no particular order, are my top city break destinations for kids – I'd love to hear your suggestions, too:
Stockholm: Probably one of the most child-friendly cities in the world. They can see Swedish brown bears at open air museum Skansen, explore Pippi Longstocking's world at Junibacken, and enjoy the rides at Grona Lund. You're only a short ferry trip from the beaches, too. Winter is magical, but go in summer and you'll experience the midnight sun.
New York: The Big Apple is simply awesome for kids – a dizzying array of new experiences, sights, smells and sounds. Take them up the Empire State Building, visit legendary toyshop FAO Schwarz, have a picnic in Central Park and see the Statue of Liberty.
Rome: Kids big and small will love exploring the Coliseum and walking in the footsteps of Roman soldiers, throwing three coins in the Trevi fountain and enjoying a pizza and ice-cream in the Piazza Navona. Give them an afternoon siesta then let them stay up late, Italian-style.
Washington DC: Older kids in particular will appreciate the US capital – it's like a giant film set, with all the famous sights they've seen on the news and in the movies, including the White House and Capitol, and of course the fantastic Smithsonian museums, as seen in Night at the Museum 2.
Paris: Enjoy a freshly baked croissant in one of the many lovely parks, see Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, and as an extra treat, Marne-la-Vallée – home to DisneylandParis – is only a short train ride away.
VirginHolidays have some fantastic offers to New York and Washington DC right now, and ThomasCook have brilliant deals to Rome, Stockholm and Paris. Book through KidStart, and you'll even get money back, which you can put towards your next holiday.
written by Liz Jarvis