5 Fun Kid Outings in Antigua, Guatemala

5 Fun Kid Outings in Antigua, Guatemala
January 9, 2012 Lainie Liberti

Antigua with Kids

One of our favorite places on our travels (and favorite places we’ve lived) is Antigua, Guatemala. Why? So Many reasons. The culture, the lifestyle, the colors, the market, the art, the weather, the people, the location….

Whew! I could go on, but just to make sure you understand that we LOVE ANTIGUA, we mention this in every interview we’ve done PLUS  when someone asks us if we are homesick for the States, we always reply with an emphatic “no!“,  and in unison, Miro and I will say “...but we miss Guatemala!

We hope you are convinced.

“But what if I have kids? Is there something for us to do there together?” you ask.

Well, good thing you asked…

Miro and I lived in Antigua for almost 9 months and we definitely can recommend 5 fun family friendly kids activities. And we are not into recommending the expensive or pre-arranged tours and are big fans of creating our own agenda. (As if you hadn’t noticed). So if you’re budget conscious, playful and adventurous, these suggestions are for you.  If you are planning on visiting our favorite destination with your family, here’s our top 5 picks of things for you to do with (or without) kids:

See Art, Explore the Wonderful Grounds

Make a game of it. Santo Domingo is one of the most magnificent hotels in Antigua. It’s a 4 star hotel with a 4 star restaurant. But that’s not why it’s on our list. Santo Domingo also has an incredible museum and extensive grounds, which you have access to if you pay for admission at the museum. (And we love art!)

The Casa Santo Domingo Hotel is set amidst the ruins of the former church and convent. The grounds are fun to explore with fine gardens set amongst crumbled walls and restored walkways and if you make a game of it, you can find at least 3 stairwells on the ground that retreat into underground tumbes and tunnels.

More on Santo Domingo from the official site:

The Colonial Museum was installed in a space outside the church that was used as a burial ground for children. Here there is a fountain that was probably used as a watering-place. A mezzanine was built here that duplicated the capacity of the space, because it resulted in a second floor that permitted the exposition of 50 colonial objects of extraordinary quality produced during the 17th, 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries, and that includes religious paintings, silver objects such as lecterns, monstrance, crowns and chalices; sculptures of domestic wood and great format of angels, saints, virgins, cherubs, souls, and painted metals, most of which are protected in glass showcases.

For more, be sure to visit their site here.

Get Lost on a Macadamia Farm

Even though this is located just outside of Antigua, we wanted to include it here. It’s only a 25 minute bus ride out of the city and it’s well worth the adventure. The Valhalla Macadamia Farm is open to the public where you have the opportunity to sample macadamia nuts, chocolates and their macadamia skin care products. Additionally, you will learn about the history of macadamia trees and how they are cultivated and processed. Ok, still not convinced? Here’s the real reason you should visit:

The legendary macadamia pancakes!! Yum!!

Trust me, they are not to be missed. They are made with macadamia flour and nuts, served with macadamia butter and blueberry jam. For more on Valhalla Macadamia Farm, visit their web site here.


A Garden Restaurant with a Blooming Nursury

This is a garden cafe. I know what you are thinking, why would she put a cafe on her list of things to do? Well I’ll tell you. In addition to having a wonderful lunch menu, they have a beautiful garden and nursery. What I love about the nursery, is that the plants are labeled by the country of origin and they have plants from around the world. Every time Miro and I would go there, we’d make a game of it:

Who could find a certain plant from a certain country first, who could find a plant from a neighboring country next, and who could find a plant from a country that starts from a particular letter.. and so on.

We love roaming around the nursery, love being outdoors and love being in the midst the beautiful blooming plants. Go on, you know you want to play!  For more on the Vivero y Cafe de la Escalonia, visit their web site here.


Convent Las Capuchinas

This was one of the most bizarre and fascinating paid tourist attractions in the city. After checking out the miniature of the city of Antigua when it was the capital of Guatemala,  you move into the old nun’s convent ruins.

The convent has a beautiful garden,  grounds of the ruins which include seeing where nuns bathed in the public bath. But the highlight is the round building where the nuns lived, prayed and were tortured.

Then unusual circular upstairs contained novices cells, which were the nuns small living quarters.  Below this circular patio is a mysterious, subterranean chamber famous for resonating  certain notes. Try chanting, try praying or try whispering… no one seems to know the original purpose of this dungeon-like chamber. I personally thought this is where the nuns would pray or meditate. Miro and I discovered if you stand on one side of this circular room and whisper something the other person can hear it. (Yes, this too, we made a game of.)

Lastly the outside of this round building boasted individual torture areas where the bad nuns would be brought, restrained by the wrists and have drops of water dropped on their head to drive them nuts. Nice….  Miro and I wondered just  what could a nun do to be sent to the water torture chamber?

What do you think? Regardless, it’s definitely a fascinating visit. To read more on the Convent Las Capuchinas visit this site.

Door knockers Photo Tour

Living in the beautiful colonial city is truly a gift. The buildings are painted in soft pastels with  the occasional red brick. Bougainvilleas line many of the buildings and each couple of blocks you will find a church or cathedral. It’s obvious, the residents of Antigua take pride in their city.

With every stroll down the cobblestone streets, Miro and I marvel at the different antique door knockers displayed proudly on the residents doors. So…. one day Miro and I decided to take make own photographic tour of Antigua, focusing on the door knockers. We found all kinds of animals, from loads of  lions, sea otters, turtles, human hands, and even one dinosaur. Why not? It was fun and highly recommended!

Other Guides

Want a quick guide of 5 Family Fun Things to do in other places? Be sue to check out:

Ambergris Caye, Belize by Sabina from A King’s Life
Boston, USA by Justin from Great Family Escape
Brisbane, Australia by Tracy  from OurTravelLifestyle
Central Australia by Jarrad from Wandering Photographer
Chiang Mai, northern Thailand by Barbara from The Dropout Diaries
Costa Rica- by Mary from Bohemian Travelers
Fethiye, Turkey by Renee from Ramblecrunch
The Holy Land, Israel by Gabi from The Nomadic Family
Kingston, Ontario, Canada by Jennifer from EdventureProject.com
Lake Chapala, Mexico by Alisa from Living Outside of the Box
London, UK by Theodora from Travels with a Nine Year Old
The Netherlands by Emiel from Act of Traveling
New York City, USA by Diya from A Minor Diversion
Seattle, WA, USA by Keryn from Walkingon Travels
Sunset Coast, Michigan, USA by Jessie from WanderingEducators.com
Vancouver, B.C. Canada by Jess from With 2 Kids In Tow
Washington, D.C. U.S.A. -Susan Verbeeck


  1. Justin 12 years ago

    I think we are coming next year, maybe for a few months.u00a0 Everybody loves it! So many places to explore. And Love the door knockers!nu00a0nThanks for this.u00a0 I’ll have to talk to you more when we get ready to come.

    • Author
      ilainie 12 years ago

      Justin, you and your family will love it! For sure, I’ve got tips and contacts.. Let me know before you go. I’m excited for you tou00a0experienceu00a0Antigua for yourself!

  2. While loving Mexico, we are certainly drawn to Antigua and will visit this April to see if it is the next stop in our “find-a-permanent-home-base” tour!! u00a0If Guatemala wasn’t breathing down our necks, we could happily stay put here. But seeing how you two, who have seen the world over (okay, it seems so!), love Antigua…I’m pumped!! u00a0Thanks for sharing these ideas!!

    • Author
      ilainie 12 years ago

      Yay! Keep us posted! I am so excited to hear what you think! Maybe we’ll be back too, and meet you in person!

  3. Amy 12 years ago

    That looks incredible – so much history! u00a0

    • Author
      ilainie 12 years ago

      It’s an amazing city, Amy. I hope you get to visit it at some point.

  4. A King's Life 12 years ago

    You’ve made me want to live there! u00a0Perhaps we’ll have to delay Asia a bit and live in Antigua, we’re so close (in Belize currently) to there right now as it is.

    • Author
      ilainie 12 years ago

      You should reallyu00a0experienceu00a0the city! I think you’ll fall in love with it just as we did. We loved Belize too, by the way, so it’s a tough call. 😉

  5. Mary 12 years ago

    What a beautiful city full of history it seems. u00a0I have heard a lot of great things about and this list confirms it, add another area to the bucket list!

    • Author
      ilainie 12 years ago

      Yes, do add it to your list! I hope you get to experience it too!

  6. With2kidsintow 12 years ago

    You’re so lucky to be living in a place that you adore so much–it certainly looks lovely and sounds exotic! u00a0Thanks for sharing your tips for families, particularly loved the door knocker pics!

    • Author
      ilainie 12 years ago

      Thank you and thank you so much for the comment!!u00a0

  7. Renee 12 years ago

    What a beautiful city. My family and I, like others here, are on a “find-a-permanent-home-base” tour. I thought we might have found it in Turkey, but your post makes me think we should spend some time in Latin America before deciding.nnI enjoyed reading this. Thank you!

    • Author
      ilainie 12 years ago

      Renee, I certainly hope you and your family get the opportunity tou00a0experienceu00a0Antigua! Think you’ll love it!u00a0

  8. Marina K. Villatoro 12 years ago

    I live here and still can’t get enough of it. My son ran after a rat at the Macademia farm then got sick and wondered why 🙂 That’s what you call going out with boys.nnEscolania is our favorite restaurant and I love the nursery!

    • Author
      ilainie 12 years ago

      We know we’ll live in Antigua again, some day. Hopefully our boys can chase rats and photograph door knockers together! I am dying for a piece of the that amazing chili-chocolateu00a0I could only find there.. Ah, Antigua, we miss you!

  9. Wandering Educators 12 years ago

    love all this, but it is a tie for me between the door knockers and the macadamia pancakes. oh YUM!! can it be, miro is TALLER than you? or is that photo skewed? great tips – thank you!!

    • Author
      ilainie 12 years ago

      Theu00a0Macadamiau00a0pancakes areu00a0definitelyu00a0more fattening, but well worth it! The door knockers were a lot of fun too. It’s a tie for me too. 😉

  10. Diya 12 years ago

    The tortured nuns sounds really sad, but I could see how it would make for interesting discussions with kids. You and Miro have so much fun together, thanks for mingling your stories with your travel tips!

    • Author
      ilainie 12 years ago

      Thank you for the comment! We’ve decided, we are both super grateful we are notu00a0torturedu00a0nuns in this lifetime as well.u00a0

  11. The world is a great place! And now I know Antigua is certainly one of them. I love your style of writing and how you turn a Door Knockers Photo Tour into an event! Well done!u00a0

    • Author
      ilainie 12 years ago

      Thank you so much Emiel! We had a blast.. As I was looking at the photos Miro took of the door knockers, I could seeu00a0exactlyu00a0how high they were based on the angle of the photo. Funny and a lot of fun. We really miss Guatemala, know one day I’ll live there again.

  12. Growingracefarm 12 years ago

    Sign us up ! This article paints a beautiful picture of Antigua. What a wonderful life you are giving to your son. We used to help out some migrant workers from Guatemala while we lived in New York. They were such sweet people, always smiling even through their hardships ( missing family and not the nicest living environment ).
    Thanks for sharing !

    • Author
      ilainie 12 years ago

      Susan! Thank you so much for your comment. Guatemalans are the kindest most amazing people, indeed!

  13. Whitneyks 12 years ago

    I am a single mom, looking into travel with my 5 yr old daughter. It’s just us. I wanted us BOTH to take spanish classes, so we are in classes at the same time.  Any suggestions? I will take any.  

    • Whitneyks 12 years ago

      Just thought I’d clarify, because I saw you have traveled several places with your son. We are specific to looking at traveling and living in Antigua for about 2 months. All advice is welcome – thanks

  14. lepuppy hack 10 years ago

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  15. Alyson 10 years ago

    Perfect Lainie, exactly the sort of things we like to do. We arrive tomorrow!

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