When people think of Brazil, they don’t usually think of it as a family-friendly destination. Sun-splashed adult playground is what initially comes to mind, but throughout South America’s largest country, kid-friendly attractions and accommodations abound. You just have to know where to look.
Since Rio de Janeiro remains the Number One destination for visitors to Brazil, there’s no reason that the little ones shouldn’t be able to partake of the city’s charms. To take in Rio’s biggest landmarks at a speed more suitable to little feet, try the Corcovado Mountain and Christ the Redeemer half-day tour, which includes a train ride through the magical Tijuca Rainforest up to the feet of one of the world’s most recognizable statues. Or, consider the Sugar Loaf Mountain half-day tour, which whisks visitors up to the top of the iconic stone mound via cable car for spectacular views of the beaches and the bay. More adventurous families can explore the exotic local flora and fauna on the Tijuca Rainforest jeep tour, giving kids plenty to write about in their “How I Spent My Vacation” essays.
Travelers with tykes in São Paulo for business or leisure can enjoy the interactive science installations at the Catavento Cultural educational center, housed in a pink Victorian-era mansion reminiscent of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. Sporty youngsters can get up close and personal with artifacts from “the Beautiful Game” at the expertly-designed Soccer Museum located inside Art Deco masterpiece Pacaembu Stadium. For kids who love snakes and other creepy crawlies, the serpentarium at the Instituto Butantan is one of the largest in Latin America.
If venturing into the Amazon, consider the Amazon Rainforest Survival Tour from Manaus, capital of the state of Amazonas and primary gateway into the region by air. This five-hour guided excursion into the jungle includes lessons on identifying edible plants and building traps for animals.
And if the endless stretches of pristine beaches that ring the Northeast of Brazil bore your children into a stupor, have a splash at the Beach Park outside Fortaleza, a multi-attraction water park with aqua-slides and surfing simulators.
When traveling with children in Brazil, be mindful that sections of the larger cities may not be safe. Also, children tend to be more susceptible to food- and water-borne illnesses and should stay away from street food and water that hasn’t come from a sealed bottle. And don’t forget the sunscreen!