Madrid with Kids
We decided when we first moved to Germany that we would invest more in experiences than physical things. That means for each birthday, we travel to a new place for a vacation! Maddie has the first birthday of the year and she picked Spain! She actually did. We gave her the choice of Portugal or Spain and she picked Spain! She didn’t know why she picked it… probably because it was easier to pronounce! So we booked a trip to the Spanish capital of Madrid!
This was actually the first trip where I didn’t buy the Rick Steves book to go along with it. I’m not sure why I didn’t. It’s still sitting in my Amazon cart so I must have shopped for it. So we went with no plans and no expectations. The only thing I knew I wanted was tapas and sangria! Turns out, Rick’s book would have helped out a lot. Our hotel was in the most amazing location! We stayed at OH Madrid which we reserved through Booking.com (use this link and get 10% off your first booking!) We booked the OH! Madrid Sol apartment which had two bedrooms, a full kitchen, and a huge bathroom. The apartment was steps from Puerta del Sol and everything touristy in Madrid. The Metro station was right across the street too which was super convenient. I cannot recommend this apartment enough! The service was exceptional and the apartment was perfect.
Our problem came with finding places to eat. Being so close to everything meant that everything was right up in our face! Tons of restaurants to choose from but none giving us that “YES!” feeling. Finally I googled for a Rick Steves recommended place and it took us to a part of our neighborhood that was quieter, less traveled, and filled with locals. If we had just bought the book we could have spent every meal in this neighborhood! But we dined like locals the second half of our weekend trip and it was glorious!
We found Madrid to be lovely. It was beautiful and lively! But we didn’t find it to be particularly kid friendly. In my opinion it is more of a destination for couples. The dinner time kicks off rather late and the attractions are more cultural than full of family fun! We visited the Museum Reina Sofia on Sunday morning and had a good time. We went early to avoid the crowd. The guy at the information desk helped us navigate to the places he thought the kids would enjoy the most. But every 50 feet there was a museum employee who watched our kids like hawks! Literally they would come stand next to us in fear of our kids going batshit crazy on the art work! It was a little insulting since I consider myself a respectful parent who wouldn’t let her kids destroy priceless works of art. But I understood their concern. Our kids were remarkably well-behaved. Maybe they sensed the additional observation! Henry and I chatted about what we saw in the paintings and Maddie went on a scavenger hunt for any dog or horse depicted in a work of art. In the halls, outside of the galleries, we let them run. Then they were rewarded with pizza and ice cream!
The employees at the “tourist” restaurants weren’t overly friendly. But once we found our quiet neighborhood restaurants and cafes, the locals seemed warm to the kids and us! They offered jokes and played with the kids!
I liked Madrid because of the laid back vibe it had. Everyone slept late into the mornings. Siestas were encouraged. Dining was low key and delicious! Plus the weather was divine… sunny and warm “ish”.
The kids loved the huge park with the garden maze and Henry is still talking about the big palace! The plazas were full of men with the big bubble wands and if you gave them a couple euro they let you hold the wand or they did tricks for you!
We had a good time! I really enjoyed Madrid!
Also, in case you didn’t know, Henry has his own YouTube show about flags of the world. (He doesn’t know who Sheldon Cooper is, even though he dressed up like him for his first Halloween, but the show was inspired by The Big Bang Theory!) He’s only done a few episodes and he filmed the Spain episode on-location in Madrid! You can check it out here.