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New York's Central Park can keep families busy all day with its trails, playgrounds and Children's Zoo. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
New York's Central Park can keep families busy all day with its trails, playgrounds and Children's Zoo. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Ah, Paris, New York ... with tots in tow? Add to ...

Where to eat: There really is a Peanut Butter & Co. in Greenwich Village (240 Sullivan St.; www.ilovepeanutbutter.com) that serves 21 different varieties. Finish the meal with make-your-own s'mores. Younder also recommends making a quick stop in one of the city's Au Bon Pain locations for clean, kid-friendly washrooms and big comfy chairs for feeding babies.

Transportation: Walk -- and pray for good weather. The subway is also a good bet if you want to get off your feet.

Where to play: Central Park can keep you busy all day with its trails, playgrounds and Children's Zoo. But there are other parks and gardens to visit in the city. Try Bryant Park on Sixth Avenue, tucked away behind the New York Public Library.


Montreal with young kids can be a blast -- as long as you don't mind leaving your stroller at the door. Many of Montreal's old buildings offer little in the way of space for storing anything larger than a bitty purse so be forewarned, says Ingrid Jain, a Toronto mom who visited Montreal two years ago with her husband, Puneet, and her then-one-year-old daughter.

And, as Jain discovered the hard way, a small boutique hotel room in old Montreal is a formula for disaster when travelling with a baby. Alyssa, who was sleeping in a cot in the same room as her parents, awoke every morning at 4 ready to play. "It was a hotel room so I couldn't just let her cry," Jain says. "I was scared she was going to wake up the whole hotel. And at some point she must have."

Where to stay: If you don't have friends or family to crash with, the next best thing could be Le Square Phillips Hotel and Suites (1193 Place Phillips; www.squarephillips.com) where families will find one- and two-bedroom suites. You can have a crib and highchair sent up to your room. Or check www.oldmontrealapartments.com to book furnished apartments and lofts in Old Montreal.

Where to eat: Yes, you can experience a little slice of your old, carefree life. Lots of restaurant options - with inviting summer patios - can be found in Old Montreal.

Transportation: Many of the Métro stations in Montreal have escalators. The trains, however, are narrow so be prepared for a tight ride if it gets busy.

Where to play: Juliet Winters, author of Fodor's Around Montréal with Kids, and mom to five-year-old Ben, says older kids and parents should check out the newly revamped Jean-Talon market north of the Plateau (www.montrealfood.com/jtalon.html). The off-the-beaten-track collection of shops and restaurants lure customers by offering tastings of cool local treats. Or wander over to Parc Jeanne-Mance for the regular Sunday-afternoon drum jam at the foot of the Sir George Étienne-Cartier statue.

San Francisco

Despite the hilly terrain, San Francisco is a perfect walking city. Aimee Culhane, a Waterloo, Ont.-based mom who brought her two-year-old son to San Francisco last year, enjoyed the city's compact size, but admits her downtown hotel's neighbourhood didn't feel safe, with homelessness and alcohol addiction evident throughout much of the city's core.

"I wouldn't have walked around myself, that's for sure," says Culhane, who explored during daytime hours with her husband, John. Yet if you stay in other neighbourhoods, such as Cow Hollow or Union Street, safety concerns wane.

San Francisco and the outlying area offers activities to keep both kids and parents happy. Wine tasting in Napa Valley, only an hour away, is doable -- and still feels very grown-up -- at larger wineries such as Robert Mondavi where parents sip in open-air tasting areas and kids can run outside.

Where to stay: For inexpensive digs in Cow Hollow, only a 20-minute walk from hands-on museum, Exploratorium, try Cow Hollow Motor Inn (2190 Lombard St.; www.cowhollowmotorinn.com). With free parking and large suites, it stands out as a family-friendly establishment. But, there is street noise. Or choose from any of the Fisherman's Wharf chain hotels, from Hilton to Holiday Inn.

Where to eat: The best breakfast this side of Presidio belongs to Bay Watch (2150 Lombard St.; www.sanfranciscovisitor.com/brekfast.html) for its warm banana pancakes and the Acapulco omelette with chunks of avocado and homemade salsa. Kids are welcome. Or for burgers, try Barney's (numerous locations) where you can get a Russian burger with sautéed mushrooms, sour cream and scallions on dark rye bread. Plenty to share with a toddler.

Transportation: Take the cable car at least once in San Francisco. It hits many of the tourist destinations and is a fun ride to boot. It costs about $3.70.

Where to play: Although the Monterey Bay Aquarium is more famous, Aquarium of the Bay ( www.aquariumofthebay.com) located in Fisherman's Wharf is as fun. Families stand on moving conveyor belts that run through clear, acrylic tunnels loaded with fish. Then head over to Pier 39 ( www.pier39.com) to watch the California sea lions roar. Golden Gate Park ( www.nps.gov/goga)is also a must see. Pack a picnic lunch and visit the park's Academy of Science, Planetarium and Japanese Tea Garden.

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