Family-Friendly Vienna

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Family-Friendly Vienna
Vienna has plenty of activities that appeal to kids: Explore parks and playgrounds, roam under the city's streets, and take in an aerial view of the city from the Prater Ferris Wheel or Donauturm.
Photo by Paul Gillingwater
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    Prater: Fun for the Whole Family
    Vienna's large, outdoor amusement park, Prater, is open 24 hours a day. Here, you'll find rides and games for all ages, from ponies and merry-go-rounds to the park's famous Ferris wheel and the world's highest flying swing. Entrance to the park is free; rides and attractions carry individual charges. If you and the kids are feeling more adventurous, throw caution to the wind and experience the adrenaline rush of the Space Shot, which rises to a height of around 200 feet before dropping you at 60 mph. For food, try the famous Schweizerhaus, noted for leg of pork, schnitzel, and frothy beers.
    Photo by Paul Gillingwater
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    The World's Oldest Zoo
    Vienna is home to the world's oldest zoo and it also enjoys one of the most interesting locations for an animal park: the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace. Since its inception, founded as an imperial menagerie, the zoo has focused on acquiring special species; indeed, it is one of the few zoos in the world to house and breed giant pandas in captivity. The pandas, wolves, penguins, elephants, and tigers are sure to please children. Don't miss the petting zoo—with goats and a playground for kids—as well as the Tyrolean farmhouse that was taken apart piece by piece and reconstructed within the zoo. The house offers a peek at authentic farm life; if visiting on a weekend you can watch butter and cheese-making demonstrations.
    Photo courtesy of Willfried Gredler-Oxenbauer /Vienna Tourist Board
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    Family Swimming Pools and Spas
    There are various swimming pools throughout Vienna if your kids want to hit the water. Prater Park is a popular spot with families in summer; its water park features a few different attractions, including water slides. If visiting during colder weather, head to the city's thermal spa, Therme Wien, which has something for every member of the family. Kids love the spa's warm pool and slides, while adults appreciate the sauna, massage treatments, and the glow of the fireplace in the relaxation center. The city's Schafberg and Doblinger Pools are also family-friendly, with more slides and play areas just for kids.
    Photo courtesy of Cathrine Stukhard/Therme Wien
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    The Danube and Donauturm
    The Danube River is a summer refuge for both local and visiting families, many of whom rent sailboats, electric boats, or surfboards for an afternoon of river fun. If you're playing around on a rental boat, keep your eyes open for your very own beach, or dock and join the crowds at one of the many swimming areas with lifeguards, restaurants, and outdoor pools. Donau Park offers plenty of playgrounds and kids love looking out at Vienna from the top of Donauturm, an observation tower that is also Austria's tallest structure. Take an elevator to the revolving restaurant at the top, where you can gaze over all of Vienna while the restaurant turns a full 360 degrees.
    Photo courtesy of Heinz Angermayr/Vienna Tourist Board
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    Lainzer Tiergarten Nature Preserve
    Lainzer Tiergarten is a nature preserve located about three miles from the Vienna Zoo. It is home to the Hermesvilla, a beautiful villa once used by the royals as a hunting lodge; with lots of wild boar and deer roaming about, it's not hard to see why. Children will be mesmerized by seeing animals in the wild in such a non-restrictive setting. The preserve has plenty of walking paths and picnic spots to chose from; many paths are paved for strollers and there are frequent rest stops. After winding throughout the park, most paths lead to the restaurant Hirschgstemm, which serves traditional Austrian cuisine.
    Photo courtesy of Karl Thomas/Vienna Tourist Board
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    Museums for Children
    Several museums appeal to children. The Museum of Natural History houses the skeletal remains of dinosaurs, as well as a man-made allosaurus which moves and emits a terrifying roar. Kids with an affinity for astronomy should visit the hall featuring the world’s largest and oldest collection of meteorites. The Sisi Museum will appeal to your little princess, with its display of dresses, jewels, and other finery that belonged to Empress Elisabeth, while Haus des Meeres will excite budding zoologists with its aquariums, snakes, insects, and giant spiders. Haus der Musik is a unique interactive musical discovery museum for children and adults alike. The museum was awarded the Austrian Museum Prize for its creative child-friendly installations.
    Photo by Paul Gillingwater
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    The Third Man Canal Tours
    Vienna's family-friendly attractions aren't just at street level; go underground for an entirely different take on the city. The Third Man Canal Tour takes you deep under Vienna's streets, back to 100 AD when the Romans began building their highly sophisticated sewer system. The guided tours are named after Graham Greene’s tale, The Third Man, and the movie it inspired, in which Vienna was portrayed as a bombed-out city, divided into zones and administered by the Four Allies. Greene's Vienna was a hub of international espionage, where crime and the black market flourished. The tour evokes the mystery and intrigue of that era, and is worthwhile for all generations. It also features an unusual underground view of the Wien River.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Ice Cream and Pastries
    Vienna loves its sweets, especially sumptuous homemade Austrian pastries and Italian ice cream. Don’t pass up a visit to the famous pastry shop and chocolatier house of Demel, founded in 1786 on the Michaelerplatz. Locals as well as tourists stop for coffee, tea, and probably the best apple strudel in Vienna. The street level window displays are a visual delight, but be sure to step inside, too, so you can see how chocolates are handcrafted. When it comes to ice cream it may be surprising to learn that some of the best Italian ice cream makers have made the 1st District their home. Take your pick; you will find exceptional scoop shops on Rotenturmstrasse, Hoher Markt, Tuchlauben, and Schwedenplatz.
    Photo by Ernst Wrba/age fotostock
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    Innovative Playgrounds in Vienna
    The playgrounds in Vienna’s parks will delight children with their exceptionally fun and adventurous rides and play houses. Many are located within the 1st District, such as Stadtpark, while others are further afield, such as Türkenschanzpark in the 18th District, so named for all the historical Turkish entrenchments discovered there. This park is known for its large trees, botanical gardens, and charming play areas with a variety of playhouses and swings. Prater Park too is home to a number of fun attractions, including a slide that begins on a rise from which the young and old fly down a cable before slowing to a gentle stop. It also has a large swimming pool with a towering water slide.
    Photo by McPHOTO/age fotostock