Top 5 Ways to Uncover Fun Family Activities While Traveling

Try one of these approaches to uncover fun activities or special events on your next family trip.

Finding a fun parade

1. Ask a cab driver. Cab drivers are often friendly locals that want you to enjoy their city as much as you do.  Since they are driving the streets all day, cab drivers likely know the hot spots, parade and festival schedules and special events in town.

I once asked a cab driver in Cordoba, Spain, if anything special was going on in town, largely to practice my spanish.  He told us of a flamenco show the following night. Walking up a quiet residential street amid the street lights’ orange glow and the twilight blue sky that next evening, we would have thought we’d been duped if it weren’t for the flow of well-dressed Spaniards heading in the same direction.  We paid at a fortress-like wooden door and entered an intimate al-fresco theater.  For the next few hours, we witnessed a surreal collection of skilled flamenco dancing and rhythmic music.  As the lone Americans in the crowd, we felt we had somehow broken into a secret convention of master dancers.  The night was an accidental treasure for our travel archives, all thanks to our cab driver.

2. Ask a Parent at a Playground.

Running bases at local minor league baseball game

What better way to find out where kids have fun in the city than to ask the local kids’ parents themselves.   If you come across a playground, introduce yourself to a parent and ask for their favorite place in the city to take their kids.  They may know of a fun way to see a city park, such as the kids train in Borghese Gardens in Rome, Italy, or a museum that’s especially exciting for kids, such as the Fire Museum in New York City.

3.  Pick up a flyer from a toy store, children’s clothing store or school.  Oftentimes stores or restaurants catering to families will allow local advertising near the register or door for upcoming family-centric events or shows.  If you pass a school, look for flyers posted for an upcoming festival nearby or school fundraiser with fun kid’s activities.

4.  Grab a “Time Out” magazine. “Publisher of cultural experiences for urban adventurers”, Time Out circulates weekly magazines for major cities around the world providing up-to-date reviews and information on upcoming events, shows, festivals, museum exhibits, food and drink, and other cultural information.  Time Out Kids, a monthly kid-centric edition, is printed for New York, Chicago and Dubai and most online versions, including London and other major cities, have a families and kids page.  Grab a magazine at the airport, local news stand or book store when you arrive.  Most magazines are in English but some are in the local language.  If you don’t know the language, you can still figure out what’s going on from dates, pictures and knowing the local word for “family” or “kids”.

Other traditional printed guidebooks, while very useful for practical information on lodging, dining, attractions and history of area, are usually updated once per year and may not have specific or new events.  Several guidebooks have online versions, however, that may include an up-to-date calendar of events and activities.

5. Research the city’s official tourist website . Often sponsored by the city’s chamber of commerce or tourist office, city websites typically include an events calendar with upcoming festivals, cultural events, holiday activities, museum exhibits and other fun activities for families.  Also, many city websites include information on public playgrounds, pools, parks and other outdoor activities. Your hotel concierge may also be a good tourist guide to current events and activities in the area.