Petersburg with Kids: Family Friendly Tour Itinerary
There are good and bad news for those visiting St. Petersburg with kids. The positive side: St. Petersburg has a treasury of museums dedicated to every sphere of life and every hobby, e.g. Miniature model of Russia (interactive museum), Railway museum, Oceanarium, Doll museum, Toy museum, Central Naval museum, Peterhof fountain parks, Space Exploration museum and many others. There are different activities available including boat rides, horse riding schools, petting zoos, aqua parks and entertainment parks – choose what your kids are interested in and add it to the itinerary. Among the difficulties I can list lack of such facilities as changing tables at the cultural sights. Bathrooms are not found at every corner and can be 15-20 minutes away from your current location.
Museums in our city are not exactly kid-friendly. I myself started to pay attention to that when I started looking for child specific activities for my own kids. Although on a special request the Hermitage museum can offer various quests for kids of different age groups and it’s possible to make your child’s birthday special ordering one of the interactive programs at the Peterhof museum complex.
However most often people come to St. Petersburg with kids for 2-3 days and would like to see the most famous venues. How to make a more or less standard tour easy and interesting for all members of your family? Here are some tips that can make your family tours more comfortable and interesting.
Tours planned for my own family have taught me one thing: don’t be too ambitious about how many things you want to visit/see. Relax and take it easy. See what you can while your kids are not too tired, take breaks, go slow and don’t rush. Ideally the plan should include one big thing (museum) a day and – by all means – some entertainment or time at a playground. Plans to see one adult thing and one activity for kids also work fine. Plan stops at the local playgrounds between serious “adult” things and let your kids run, climb and play – just 10-15 minutes at the playground can work wonders. Also be prepared for one adult to leave the museum early with kids and let them run around or visit a gift-shop or a coffee-shop if the tour becomes too boring for them.
Once we even had a tour with two guide – one guide was taking the parents around, the other guide took care of the kids, looked after them and went to the entertainment park when the kids got bored with art museums.
Bathrooms & Comfort Stops
Bathrooms can be a long distance from you tour. There are few public bathrooms of dubious quality and cleanness in the city and museums will not have bathrooms at every turn. It’s best to have your kids use bathrooms as soon as you have such an opportunity. When strolling the city make use of coffee-shops (they might ask you to buy at least one drink to use their bathroom) and gift shops. Many gift shops in St. Petersburg offer clean free of charge bathrooms to their visitors, so do not hesitate to ask for it when shopping for souvenirs and gifts.
Baby Buggy in Local Museums
Majority of St. Petersburg museums prefer to see a toddler riding comfortably in the buggy to a toddler running around and trying to touch or even snatch museum pieces. The Hermitage and the Yussoupov palace are examples of such. You can as well make use of your buggy storing wet tissues, nappies, extra dry clothes (if you are going to Peterhof), baby snacks, etc. in the numerous pockets and compartments and wheel it around instead of carrying bulky backpacks (not allowed in many Russian museums). It is also convenient if your kid decides to nap in the buggy while you keep touring.
With younger kids consider taking half-day tours returning to the hotel or changing activities in the afternoon. I had families staying in one of the local hotels that has a swimming pool (Sokos Palace Bridge). We had comfortable half-day tours including one museum at a time, returning to the hotel for an afternoon swim to keep the kids happy. Every kid is unique and every parent is different.
My daughter (6 y.o.) gets sick in cars and we need to stop every couple of ours and take short walks. My son (3 y.o.) on the contrary can sit in his car safety seat hours in a row and just look through the windows at cars, trucks, buses, bicycles, trams, etc. You kids are for sure different and you know what interests them and how you can prevent their being unhappy during the tours. Stay tuned to your kid and don’t force things just because St. Petersburg is supposed to be “once in a lifetime experience”. Your visit to St. Petersburg with kids can certainly be the most enjoyable experience!