February 13th, 2011
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
Lainie and her son Miro are living a location independent lifestyle, slow traveling around the globe and living in the present moment. Lainie writes about staying inspired, participating as a global citizen, volunteering, unschooling & natural learning. Lainie and Miro are both following their interests on the road, as the planet has been transformed into their classroom. Often you will hear Lainie say “we are blessed to be accidental world schoolers” and has become and an advocate for “life learning” at any age. Lainie & Miro have taken this philosophy to heart and are producing a series of family & teen oriented retreats in called Project World School.
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