Guest author Ben Cohen-Leadholm is the author of the family activities blog Kids Are Awesome But So Am I, helping parents reclaim their mojo through activities equally enjoyable to child and parent. Find him on Twitter (@parentingmojo), Facebook (www.facebook.com/kidsactivity), and Email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Antigua, Guatemala is a perfect destination for a family trip. Located at 5000 feet, this colonial town is malaria-free and surrounded by stunning mountains. The town is safe and walkable, and it offers good restaurants and diverse activities. Just 45 minutes from Guatemala City, Antigua also makes for easy transportation. Here are 10 activities for families in Antigua.
1. Parque Central
Parque Central is the hub of Antigua’s textbook central plaza. This tree-lined park is a perfect place to leisurely sit on a bench, eat an ice cream, people-watch, and admire the regal façade of Cathedral de San Jose.
2. Artisans’ Market
The Artisans’ Market is where you will find vibrant clothing, traditional wooden masks, jade jewelry, roasted coffee beans, and more. The market is located inside an open-air building away from the street, creating a calm and comfortable atmosphere.
3. La Fonda de la Calle Real Restaurant
This restaurant offers authentic Guatemalan cuisine in a setting that is clean and family-friendly. In addition to offering typical dishes like Pepián and Jocón, La Fonda has a kids’ menu with familiar items from the States.
4. Arco de Santa Catalina and La Merced
The bright yellow arch is Antigua’s signature architectural structure. After admiring the arch, continue to the equally yellow La Merced cathedral. La Merced offers an astonishing façade, gorgeous fountain, impressive ruins, and unmatched rooftop view.
5. Finca Filadelfia Coffee Plantation
Finca Filadelfia is an idyllic coffee plantation 10 minutes outside town (providing free transportation). Once at Finca, take a coffee tour, go for a mule ride, do a canopy tour, or even go paintballing.
6. Porta Hotel Antigua Pool and Playground
Even if you are not staying at Porta Hotel Antigua, you can pay a small fee to use its amazing family-friendly facilities. The well-kept colonial property offers a swimming pool, playground and swings, and resident parrots. On weekends, the hotel offers numerous kids’ activities.
7. Dona Luisa Xicotencatl Restaurant
This eclectic restaurant is an experience. It is situated in an ornate two-floor building, and tables are spread throughout five different rooms. There is hearty yet reasonable breakfast and lunch cuisine (all day), good people-watching in and above the lush courtyard, and a huge fish tank filled with piranhas.
8. Choco Museo
Admission to the informative, mouth-watering Choco Museo is free. Plus, there are paid chocolate-making workshops and cocoa farm tours. As well, the gift shop offers a wide variety of irresistible chocolate-related items.
9. Three-Wheeled Taxi Tour
A three-wheeled taxi (or “tuk-tuk”) is a unique way to tour town, especially when walking and biking become tiring on Antigua’s cobblestone streets. Simply hail one near Parque Central, agree on pricing, and enjoy the “auto-rickshaw” experience.
10. Pacaya Volcano
Although this excursion requires a hired guide and decent level of fitness, the experience and vista are memorable. The entire trip lasts about half a day and for those who encounter issues with the hiking, there are horses to bring you to the summit.
Antigua is a fun, beautiful, and safe way for families to experience Guatemala. Everyone can find something unique and enjoyable in this time capsule of a colonial town amidst the volcanoes.
Photo credit: Ben Cohen-Leadholm