Stuttgart is a great place for donkeying around with your kids…
First thing’s first. I am not a parent nor do I play one on TV. I am, however, a bit of a big kid. I usually update this blog on weekends because that’s when my husband, Bill, indulges my big kid proclivities.
I often see people in our local Facebook groups wanting to know where they can take their kids on weekends and holidays. While I am sure there are many other people in the community who are even more in the know than I am about kid friendly activities, it’s a rainy Saturday and we’re stuck at home because my dog just had surgery and I don’t want to leave him alone. I figure a blog post about the kid friendly stuff I’ve found offers some one stop shopping for those who are looking for a convenient list. This is not intended to be an “end all be all” list. I’m just offering a few ideas for those who need inspiration.
Here’s my list of what we’ve found so far. I’m not ranking them in any particular order and I’m generally only going to include places I’ve actually tried myself. For that reason, I’m not going to list attractions like Europa Park, Legoland, or Sensapolis because I haven’t yet had occasion to try those places (I’m trying to convince Bill to go to Europa Park, though). With a few exceptions, most of these places are close to the Black Forest because that’s where we happen to live right now.
The Stuttgart area happens to be blessed with a number of museums, many of which would be fun for young people. Bill and I have visited a few places that we thought were interesting to kids and adults alike. Here are just a few.
Schweine Museum– The pig museum in Stuttgart is a fun place to kill a couple of hours and learn about all things swine related. The museum’s owners have created a bizarre and fun little tourist attraction that includes many kid friendly areas within it. Parents should be advised that there is a room that has exhibits that are definitely more adult related and include sex toys. The room is easy to spot because it’s red. Each room has explanations in English. An added bonus is that the museum has a really nice biergarten out back that offers good food.
Experimenta– Experimenta in Freudenstadt (and Heilbronn, though we haven’t been to that one) is a hands on science museum intended for kids. I have heard the Heilbronn location is pretty extensive. The one in Freudenstadt is fairly small and offers old school, no frills science fun for youngsters. The activities include German explanations, but are not hard to figure out. I’d say it’s good for a couple of hours of activities, after which you can find a restaurant or take a walk around Freudenstadt’s pretty center.
Welt der Kristalle– This is a small, but cool, museum in Ditzingen (south on A81) that features fossils, rocks, gems, and petrified wood. I was delighted by the enormous amethysts they had as well as the different fossils from places around the world. Again, it won’t take all day, but it’s an interesting place to spend an hour or so. Afterwards, you can get the staff to open an amethyst for you.
Ritter Sport– Aside from offering a great little cafe for breakfast treats, the Ritter Sport factory in Waldenbuch also has a museum and a “Schokowerkstatt” for kids. If you visit the Berlin location, you can also have your own chocolate bar custom made. This is not the same thing as the “chocolate workshop”, which is just for kids.
Fernsehturm– Stuttgart’s awesome TV tower is well worth a visit. You take an elevator up to the top, where you can see splendid views of Stuttgart. Then you can enjoy refreshments at the Panorama Cafe! I have heard Stuttgart’s TV tower was the inspiration for Seattle’s Space Needle. Having seen them both, I will say I like Stuttgart’s tower better because no one forces you to pose for a picture.
Other possibilities include any of the car museums in Stuttgart. Bill and I have only been to the Porsche museum to eat dinner at Christophorus, but we have visited the Mercedes museum. I have not blogged about it because we went during our first tour here, before my blogs existed. I would like to visit the Mercedes museum again, if only so I can see the Popemobile one more time!
It’s not hard to find outdoor fun in the Stuttgart area. This place is chock full of gardens and parks where you can work off all the beer, broetchens, and brats. Some of the stuff around here is pretty cool, too… You wouldn’t find it back home.
Baumwipfelpfad Schwarzwald– I might as well start with everyone’s favorite tree walk. This very cool and solidly built structure is located in Bad Wildbad. It’s fairly new, having been constructed as of September 2014. On a really pretty day, you can spend a few hours enjoying nature and the kid friendly activities on the tree walk. Be advised, dogs are not allowed on the tree walk, but there are kennels where they can stay until you’re done sliding down the spiral slide! Just a heads up– the city of Herrenberg is currently building a structure that appears to be somewhat similar.
Barfuss Park– Ever been to a park where you’re expected to walk barefoot? Here’s your chance! You can visit Dornstetten and take your shoes off, then walk the trails where your feet will encounter everything from pine cones to glass shards. You can walk through mud, wade in icy water, and bounce on a trampoline. Bill was surprisingly enchanted with our visit to the Barfuss Park and wants to go again, probably even more than I do. This activity would make a great accompaniment to a trip to Experimenta in Freudenstadt, since the route to Freudenstadt can take you past Dornstetten.
Ropes Courses– I haven’t actually tried any of the ropes courses in this area, but there are a number of them and they tend to be located within or next to other activities. For instance, there is a ropes course near Lichtenstein Castle. There’s one at the Wildpark Pforzheim. There’s also one right next to the Tiefenhöhle. After you check out the main attractions, you can burn off some steam before heading home for the night.
Bärenschlössle– This is a huge park in Stuttgart with many miles of trails and a castle dedicated to bears. It’s also within walking distance of Schloss Solitude, but you may not want to try walking there with very young children. There’s a serene lake, a nice biergarten, and plenty of opportunities to people watch and stretch your legs.
Monbachtal– Lovely park in Bad Liebenzell that offers tranquil walking trails and a chance to glimpse nature. Just the drive there is pretty. Then you can take a walk along a flowing river and maybe spot a heron or two.
Hohenzollern– This is another place Bill and I visited the first time we lived here and haven’t been back to yet. You can hike up the steep hill to see the castle and its grounds or take a bus. We walked up and it was quite a workout. The beautiful views are well worth the effort.
You might also want to check what the cities in your area offer. We are near Nagold, which happens to have an excellent Freibad park, as well as a fabulous playground for kids, mini golf, and proximity to Hohennagold. I know Esslingen also has nice play areas for children.
Waterfalls, mines, and caves
If you feel like chasing waterfalls or exploring caves, you’re in luck. This part of Germany offers a number of great places to visit.
Triberg– Triberg is home to Germany’s tallest waterfall, delicious Black Forest cake, and cuckoo clocks galore. It’s a very touristy town and tends to be crowded. However, I think it’s worth a visit to see the waterfall, try the cake, and maybe visit the world’s biggest cuckoo clock.
Silver Mine– Near the cute little town of Neubulach, there’s an old silver mine where you and your young ones can see where azurite, malachite, and silver come from. Although the tour is in German, the mine itself is pretty interesting. Afterwards, you can visit the small museum, check out the outdoor exhibits, or take a walk on the Fledermaus trail. Or you can venture into the town for a round or two of mini golf and lunch.
Bad Urach– Bad Urach is a really nice area where visitors can climb up a waterfall or visit castle ruins. Besides being kid friendly, Bad Urach is also very dog friendly. It also happens to be convenient to a couple of other attractions on this list…
Blautopf– Want to see really blue water that’s not in your toilet? You might want to check out Blautopf, which you can visit after you see Bad Urach or save for another day. Blautopf is the end of a cave system– indeed, Germany’s only publicly accessible vertical cave, Tiefenhöhle, which is also in the area. I would also recommend a visit to the Hammerschmiede Museum, which is directly adjacent to Blautopf. Your kids can see how an old fashioned blacksmith works!
Tiefenhöhle– Really cool vertical cave near Blautopf. Be advised that visiting this cave is pretty strenuous. I would not recommend it for very young kids or those who don’t listen to directions. To negotiate the cave, you must climb up and down steep ladders. I recommend good shoes, long pants, and plenty of stamina.
Bärenhöhle– This is what I’d call a “kid friendly” cave (technically it’s called the Charles and Bear Cave), especially for little kids. Located in Sonnenbühl near Schloss Lichtenstein, it’s rather small and easy to walk through, with no steep stairs or ladders. One can see this cave system in about twenty minutes or so via guided tour (in German) or on your own. Be advised that if you go on your own, you will probably end up in a tour group by default because you’ll eventually run into them and probably won’t be able to pass. Printed English explanations of the caves are available on request. When you’re finished in the cave, you can have lunch at the biergarten on site and stop by Traumland, which is a kiddie amusement park. Or you can visit the Easter egg museum.
Nebelhöhle– is another cave system, a bit more challenging to navigate, located very close to the Bear Cave. It’s my favorite of the three caves we’ve been to so far because I think it offers a good combination of things to see and ease of navigation. It’s a bit more interesting than the Bear Cave, but not nearly as physically demanding as the Tiefenhöhle. There are also playgrounds on site for after your visit, as well as a biergarten.
I could probably write a very extensive section on animal related activities, but in the interest of keeping this blog post from getting too long, I will offer just a few ideas.
Naturally, you can visit Stuttgart’s awesome zoo, Wilhelma, which Bill and I saw the first time we lived here. I have not been back to the zoo in the eight years since our first visit, but I do remember really being impressed by the animals there. I would love to go back and spend a day. Maybe we’ll even do it next weekend, if Zane is recuperated enough to be left home alone.
Wildpark Pforzheim– If you have kids who love animals, you should take them to the Wildpark Pforzheim. Besides having a whole lot of “wild” animals that kids can feed and observe, this park also has a whole lot of play areas for kids. I kind of wished I was under twelve so I could play on some of the imaginative structures there. The park is large enough to wear your little ones out, guaranteed!
Affenberg-Salem (Monkey Hill)– This is a super cool park where you can feed popcorn to monkeys and view other wildlife. The monkeys are super gentle and sometimes they play! After you’re finished visiting the monkeys, you can have a beer and a bite to eat at the biergarten.
Tierparks– I have linked to my blog post on our trip to Der Kleine Tierpark Göppingen, which was the small zoo we visited last Sunday. However, I think it’s fair to mention that this area is home to a number of Tierparks, some of which are probably closer and move convenient than Göppingen is. If you look around, you can find places where kids can learn about animals and interact with them.
Fischzucht Zordel– This is a fish farm where kids can feed trout caught in the brook running past the property. Afterwards, they can enjoy some fishy delectables. I’ll leave it up to parents to decide if they want to teach their kids that the trout they feed will eventually be consumed.
Okay… this is a pretty good list of kid friendly stuff to do. If you read this blog regularly, you have probably already been exposed to these ideas. Sorry for the rerun! I am mostly intending this list for newcomers who are looking for ways to combat cabin fever. If people enjoy this post, I may write a sequel or two on the next rainy day. Stay tuned!