CHILE, Santiago with kids – Sandwiched between the Andes Mountains and a smaller coastal range of hills, Santiago sits within a bowl-shaped valley in central Chile. The mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to the capital and are the setting for myriad outdoor activities including horse riding and skiing. Its unique geography is not always a blessing, however, the valley location means that smog can linger. Pollution problems aside, sophisticated Santiago is a brilliant destination for foodies, culture seekers, adventurers and, yes, families.
The Chilean capital is filled with excellent museums and art galleries, a mixture of stately and contemporary architecture, leafy parks and grand plazas, and a buzzing food and drink scene. It’s a safe city and easy to get around (the metro is efficient and Uber works well here, too). What’s more, there is lots to do with children. If you’ll be visiting Santiago with kids, here are 4 great things to do along with 1 great place to stay and 1 great place to eat while you are there.
Activity 1: Reach for the stars at Sky Costanera
Get the lay of the land with a trip to the top of the Gran Torre Santiago. At 300 meters high (984 feet), it’s almost the same height as the Eiffel Tower and holds the record for being the tallest tower in Latin America. The ultra modern steel and glass structure dwarfs its neighbors and super-speed elevators transport you up the 64 floors to the top. From the double-height observation deck the city spreads out below you and the Andes mountains stand guard in the distance. For something a little different, visit at night and see the city lights illuminate the streets. The ticket office is positioned on the basement floor of the tower in the Costanera shopping mall. Find out more: http://www.skycostanera.cl
Activity 2: Step into The Future
The futuristic Centro Cultural La Moneda (CCPLM) is one of the capital’s newest art and cultural spaces and is a must-visit in Santiago. Located beneath the Plaza de la Ciudadania, the capacious modern space houses regularly changing exhibitions of Latin American art and photography. A permanent exhibition showcases some of the best arts and crafts from around Chile, including delicate textiles and beautiful jewellery. A selection of this artesania is also for sale in the center shop. The temporary exhibitions when we visited were fun and hands-on, in particular the Pinta Con Luz (Painting with Light) exhibit. Here, we created our own self-portraits using a camera set to a long exposure and a hula hoop ringed with little lights – cue some very crazy photos! Find out more: http://www.ccplm.cl/sitio/
Activity 3: Get Arty
Families will love Artequin, a fantastic hands-on museum where kids can get up close and personal with dozens of replicas of famous paintings. The idea is to educate and inspire kids about art through interactive displays; children can replicate Munch’s Scream, get creative with giant building blocks or dress up as their favourite artist. When we visited my children were transformed into Andy Warhol and Frida Kahlo! The building itself is just as impressive and it is worth visiting for the architecture alone. The museum is housed within Paris Pavilion, which was built in France in 1889 to represent Chile in the Universal Exposition of Paris (the same expo that the Eiffel Tower was built for). Once the expo was over, the Pavilion was dismantled, shipped to Chile and reassembled. The museum is located in front of the Quinta Normal Park. Find out more: http://www.artequin.cl/
Pssst! Don’t miss the map of our Santiago recommendations and pinnable at the end of this feature.
Activity 4: Get Outside
Santiago is home to a number of excellent parks and green spaces and one of our favorites was Park Bicentenario. Located in the northeast of the city, the park is very popular and if you visit on the weekends or on National Holidays, you may feel like the entire population of Santiago has joined you! In spite of (or perhaps, because of) the crowds, the atmosphere is jolly and welcoming, and there’s lots to keep kids busy in addition to just running around outside. A number of playgrounds are scattered throughout the park with climbing nets, slides, swings and more, and there’s a small pellet dispenser near the pond where kids can feed the ducks and fish.
1 Great Place to Stay: Meridiano Sur Petit Hotel
Family-run Meridiano Sur Petit Hotel is utterly charming and a wonderful place to stay. Located in the neighborhood of Providencia, this once weary old townhouse has been transformed into a bright eight-bedroom bolthole. Each room is named after a region in Chile and there’s a generous family room that can sleep up to four people. There are also two cozy living rooms, a library and a terrace. What I really love about this place, however, is the décor; woven textiles add a splash of color to otherwise simple white rooms and Chilean poetry decorates the walls. The hotel serves a very good breakfast but you’ll have to eat out for lunch and dinner. Fortunately you are well placed to enjoy many of Santiago’s best restaurants. Find out more: http://www.meridianosur.cl/
1 Great Place to Eat: Peluqueria Francesa
Located in El Barrio Yungay, in the old town, is this “French Barber Shop.” Don’t let the name deceive you, however. This is a fabulously quirky restaurant that sits alongside and above a traditional barber’s salon. Tables are spread throughout a handful of bright rooms and cozy nooks and the walls are covered in framed posters, gilt-edged mirrors and an eclectic selection of memorabilia, including wooden bird cages and old crockery. Vintage lamps stand in corners and old chandeliers hang from above. The extensive menu includes a small section for kids (mine had hamburgers when we visited) and the food is good. Service, however, is not snappy so be prepared to wait and arrive early to grab a table. Find out more: https://www.boulevardlavaud.cl/