Senior Center

5 Great Places to Take Your Grandchildren

By Jan Bolder - May 16, 2014

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Grandchildren are so special because you get the joy of being around children without having to worry about raising them right. There's a special bond there, of being able to just enjoy their company and see them grow right in front of your eyes. And instead of entertaining them in your own home all the time, going for a trip with them is a way to both still forge that relationship and help them discover new things about the world. Here are some of the best places to take your grandchildren.

Small Museums

Skip the big museums that are in the state guidebook of best things to see. They'll be huge, overpriced, take too long to get through, and be full of people. Instead, pack up the grandchildren and go to a smaller museum. Children can get easily overwhelmed in huge places, and can tend to use them as giant playplaces instead of viewing the objects individually. And while not every city has its own small museum (or collection of them), there are so many of them you can usually find one a short drive away. The smaller ones are also better because children will have more of an opportunity to ask questions, rather than being relegated to having to read the little plaques.

Factory Tours

Remember when you were a small child and wondered how things were made? This sense of curiosity isn't generation-specific, but rather something that almost all children possess. Most factories have some sort of tour set up, with some even designing them specifically toward children. Pick out a Saturday and take them on a tour of a chocolate, car, toy, or household parts factory. When you visit a confectionery museum, there's usually even a small loot bag your grandkids can take with them! Although the factory will say so, remind them not to touch equipment and machinery unless given permission.

Cross the Border

We don't mean to Mexico, but to America North, as Canada is sometimes affectionately called. These two countries share such a close relationship and similar way of living that your grandchildren can visit a different country without having to adjust to a drastically different culture. Depending on where along the border you live, you can drive into Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto or Montreal, or fly into further away cities that offer a more authentically Canadian experience, like Halifax, St. John (New Brunswick, and close to the Hopewell Rocks), or St. John's (Newfoundland). Just remember to tell your grandchildren Canadians don't say "oot" and "aboot" the way they do in movies.

Overseas

If you can financially swing it, go for a trip to Europe with just you and the grandkids. No matter what country you visit, the whole continent is like an intellectual and aesthetic playground for all ages. One of the biggest reasons for this is Europe is so much more densely populated than the States, and so they've had to think creatively about how to fit everyone in and still make their cities viable. As a result, the architecture is breathtaking, the public transportation is affordable and efficient, and there's no shortage of things to do during the day — often well within walking distance. For great cities to visit, try London, Vienna, Edinburgh, Munich or Amsterdam.

Amusement/Water Parks

If you're physically able and live an active lifestyle, then going on a day trip to an amusement park or water park is the perfect fit. Just make sure you can keep up with the kids for an entire day! Another great tip is to check for seniors' or kids' discounts beforehand, letting you save a bit of extra money that you can splurge on cotton candy or funnel cakes. Depending on the amusement or water park, you may or may not be allowed to bring in a picnic lunch with you — their food is notoriously expensive — but there's something to be said about the convenience of just being able to have lunch made for you there.