As much as you might want your children to become global citizens, traveling with kids can be intimidating, especially if you’re headed to a bustling, foreign city, like Quito. It helps to know what to expect and to know good options that your entire family will enjoy. In the following, we’ll provide useful tips on how to have a good time in Quito with kids.
Top places to visit in Quito with kids
Apart from the usual sights to see in Quito, like the Basilica Cathedral, here are a few options that your kids will definitely enjoy.
Parque La Carolina on a Sunday
Ecuadorians are family people. It’s one of the many things I appreciate about Ecuadorian culture. Nearly every weekend, families organize lunches or go on an outing, and Parque La Carolina happens to be one of their more popular destinations, especially on a Sunday.
At the park, you can stroll around, buy fresh fruit juice, take a paddle boat out for a spin in the lagoon, and watch skaters at the skate park.
Located at the West side of the park is a beautiful botanical garden that you and your kids can visit for just a few dollars each. Make sure to check out the playground! Also, a personal favorite: there’s a vivarium hidden in another nearby section of that park that nobody ever talks about. If you like reptiles and amphibians, check it out!
If your kids feel comfortable on a bicycle, take them on the Ciclopaseo! This is a weekly Sunday event that draws Quiteños out in masses to cycle across the entire city, from South to North. Main roads are blocked off exclusively for cyclists, making it a great opportunity to explore Old Town, which is otherwise jammed with cars and buses. You can rent bikes (and helmets) near Parque La Carolina or Avenida Amazonas. The Ciclopaseo starts at 8 am and ends at 2 pm.
YAKU Parque Museo del Agua
You’ll probably see YAKU Museum without realizing it while exploring Quito’s Old Town. This museum sits at the top of a hill and is made entirely of glass. Yaku means water in Kichwa and the museum is dedicated to the study and conservation of water. KIDS LOVE YAKU MUSEUM, take them there on one of your free mornings! There are activities and spaces for them to explore, including life-sized snakes and ladder game.
Like swimming? Balneario Cununyacu is not technically in Quito but rather in Tumbaco, only a 20 minute Uber ride from Quito’s Old Town. The entrance fee is $2 and try to head there during the week and in the morning to avoid the weekend crowds. Take lots of sun protection and insect repellent!
You seriously can’t visit Quito without going up Rucu Pichincha. Rucu Pichincha is the enormous mountain overlooking Quito from the West and is part of an active caldera. Though you may not be intent on summiting a volcano with your kids, you can still ride up the TeleferiQo (gondola) and get crazy amazing views of Quito. Once at the top of the TeleferiQo, you can have a picnic or hike up part of the mountain. Make sure to take it slow and drink lots of water, altitude sickness commonly affects visitors here. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue.
Where to stay with kids in Quito?
When looking for accommodations with kids in Quito, the neighborhood you choose will make a huge difference. There are some nice spots in Old Town, but some streets feel chaotic. La Mariscal has many options but is also party central from Thursday-Saturday night.
Personally, I’d recommend staying between the neighborhoods of La Floresta and La Mariscal OR near Parque La Carolina on the streets Republica el Salvador or Avenida Portugal.
- Casa Aliso Hotel Boutique – This little hotel is technically in La Floresta, but more like midway between La Floresta and La Mariscal. It’s adjacent to many great restaurants like Banh Mi and Frida Tacos and walking distance from cute cafes farther up La Floresta.
- Ikala Quito Hotel – Closer to La Mariscal, but not too close to the party district is Ikala, a small and elegant hotel built from a traditional, colonial-style house.
- Hotel Finlandia – This is a large hotel located near Parque La Carolina, which is convenient if your kids (or you) feel like you need easy access to green space.
- Hotel Selina – Selina in Quito offers beautiful rooms and excellent services, including co-working spaces, yoga and movie rooms.
Local food kids will love
Ecuadorian food doesn’t always appeal to children’s palates, but here are a few meals most kids (and adults) like.
- Locro de Papa – This is a traditional Ecuadorian potato soup that usually has cheese and is served with avocado. It’s wholesome and delicious, especially on those cooler Quito days.
- Camarones apanados – A common meal from the Ecuadorian coast (and easily found in Quito) is breaded shrimp, or camarones apanados. This one might be cheating because, come on, anything breaded is delicious, right?
- Llapingachos – Fried potato patties usually served with cheese, egg, and sausage. You’ll find it at most food markets and restaurants. It can be a lot for one child, but you can always share!
- Empanada de viento – This is a large, fluffy fried cheese empanada that is sprinkled with sugar, usually only $0.50 each off the street. It’s not the healthiest meal but it sure is yum.
- Helado de Paila – Helado de Paila is a traditionally-made Ecuadorian ice cream. Many of the fruit options don’t have milk, which is great if you or your kids are lactose intolerant. It is, however, really sweet.
Tips and recommendations
Here are a few final tips when traveling in Quito with kids:
- Sun and hydration – The Ecuadorian sun is no joke! It’s very likely that you or your kids might get a little sun burnt, especially after exploring Old Town or going on the Ciclopaseo. ALWAYS carry a hat, sunscreen and a bottle of water.
- Hotel – Choose a hotel near food options, like the two neighborhoods mentioned above (between la Mariscal and La Floresta and near Parque La Carolina)
- Safety – Make sure your kids know the name of your hotel and a phone number to reach if they get lost. If you’re traveling with small children, have them carry a small (waterproof) card with relevant information.
- Taxis – Don’t get into any random taxis off the street. Make sure it has an orange license plate and a blue sticker on the window. Alternatively, use Uber or Cabify, which tend to be cheaper and safer.
The Wanderbus is an EXCELLENT option if you’re traveling with kids.
You can select the most convenient pass and we’ll pick you up directly from your hostel/hotel in Quito (from this list) or nearby. Don’t worry about dragging the family to bus terminals late at night, or paying huge sums for a car rental. Each of our buses comes with a bilingual guide and our routes are designed to take you to the best destinations across Ecuador.
Check out our passes here and happy wandering!