Berlin: 5 Family Favorites
This year is the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s demise and the city is popping with all kinds of great deals, events and nightlife. Despite being known as a hip, clubber’s paradise – the Deutscher youth often go holiday there just to party the nights away – your kid can say “Ich Bin Ein Berliner,” too. There’s a ton of great family stuff to do in Germany’s capital city. So much so that it was very difficult for me to narrow it down to five things. But, hey, if I missed something really, really good, you can just add it in the comments!
1. Zoo Berlin
I’ve already blogged about Chet and my adventures in the Berlin Zoo searching for Knut. But this zoo has a lot more to offer than just an internationally adored, adolescent polar bear. There’s a great petting zoo, an adjacent aquarium and, Chet’s favorite, the wild and crazy monkey house. We spent quite a bit of time there watching the affen swing around, flash big, red butts and fling poop at the glass. Good times.
Yes, yes, I know that the checkpoint is only a replica and looks nothing like the actual checkpoint did back in the days of the wall. Even if it’s not authentic, it’s still fun! Take your photos alongside a faux Soviet soldier and then make your way to the nearby Museum Haus. Your kids will be entranced with all of the innovative and, frankly, insane ways that people tried to escape into Western Germany during the days of the Iron Curtain. I was honestly surprised that some of the exhibits weren’t marked with some type of Darwin Award winning ribbons.
3. The Puppentheater Museum
Both you and your kids will be thrilled and also a little creeped out by the puppets on display at this funky museum. The museum offers very kid-friendly tours as well as story hours, puppet shows and other events. But really, the draw will always be those belong-in-Poltergeist-icky-looking marionettes.
4. The Reichstag
The old German Parliament Building is fascinating from a historical perspective – it’s now commonly believed that Hitler had it burnt down (and blamed some poor Dutch guy for it) to vilify the Communists and solidify the Nazi party’s power in the country back in the 1920′s. Your children may or may not be interested in touring the old part of the building (advance tickets are necessary). But definitely take the time to climb up to the top and check out the modern, mirrored Reichstag dome. It offers incredible views of the city even on dreary days and the circular walkway will help your kid burn off a little extra energy.
5. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
I’m sure that this one will cause some raised eyebrows – I know many parents prefer not to take children to these kinds of memorials. Germany, of course, has many monuments and museums dedicated to the Holocaust. And some of them are decidedly NOT kid-friendly. However, the museum underneath the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, a block-wide, concrete-block modern art sculpture, I believe, is one of the most tasteful yet eye-opening exhibits in this vein. For kids old enough to understand the Holocaust, it is thoughtful and educational without being too overwhelming. And for kids too young to understand? They’ll just love running amok along the sloping pathways between the large, concrete block and will then be happy to hang out in the travel stroller as you explore the museum.
So if you’ve considered visiting Berlin, don’t hesitate. There is all kinds of great history and activities for the whole family.