Planning a family vacation that includes a visit to a big city? Keep your family moving (and healthy) by signing on to a family-friendly walking tour.
A far cry from standard tours dripping with dull historical facts, these kid-approved treks earn big points with every family member.
• London Walks . This company offers dozens of tours but the real winner is its Harry Potter itinerary, which hits a load of film locations while plugging in buckets of trivia, such as origins of characters’ names and origins of monsters. They also toss in a few mysteries so you’ve got two hours of sheer fantastical fun. ($12 adults, under 15 free!).
• Goodnight, Mr. Lincoln. Wait—before you panic that this is a boring historical tour, get a load of this: This Washington D.C. tour is specially designed for kids. The guides use stories and props to tell Abraham Lincoln’s story and kids really get into the random facts they uncover, like why ol’ Abe grew that long beard and what kind of odd pajamas he wore. ($10 per person, by reservation only).
• Family Birding Walks. Yes, San Francisco is loaded with steep inclines, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take an easy walk with little ones in tow. Hop on a free family birding walk at the San Francisco Botanical Garden (don’t forget your binoculars) and your kids will get an eyeful of nature (hummingbirds to hawks) plus plenty of run-around time. (free)
• Context Travel. Whether you’re headed to Paris, Rome , Florence, Venice or Naples, this tour company will create a specialized family walking tour for you. Their docents are trained in kid-friendly educational approaches and employ a few specialty techniques (they call them “visual thinking strategies” and “inquiry-based learning” to fully engage kids in a fun, meaningful way.
• City Walks for Kids. Skip the organized tour and jump over to amazon.com to order “City Walks with Kids” by Elissa Stein, a set of cards that maps out 50 short, sweet and perfect-for-little-ones neighborhood walks. ($14.95 at www.amazon.com)