When it comes to traveling with kids in South America, Santiago has been one of the best places we have visited. The city is clean and easy to get around, and it is just full of great museums and activities for kids.
We stayed in Santiago for about a week and a half, and during that time we visited a handful of the best museums for kids in the city. A lot of the time I took J and Z to the museums on my own, and I always felt completely safe as I moved all around the city. So far Santiago is the city in South America that I would most like to be an expat in (that being said, we have only visited Argentina, Uruguay and Chile so far).
One thing to note: the public transportation system in Santiago is not very pram friendly. Although Z prefers to be in a baby carrier, it was just too hot during our time in Santiago to have him pressed up against my body for hours on end. However, despite the many, many stair encounters we had while taking the trains around Santiago, we never had any difficulty in getting assistance. Chileans are super warm and friendly people, and all I had to do was simply approach a set of stairs before someone would come up to me and offer assistance in carrying the pram.
The below list are some of our favourite museums. This list is certainly not exhaustive. There are so many great museums for kids in Santiago, and a week and a half was not enough time to visit them all.
J at the Mirador Interative Museum
Mirador Interactive Museum
This science museum was one of Jacob’s favourite museums in Santiago. It was probably his second favourite after KidZania, but it makes number 1 on this list because it was much more cost effective. This massive science museum is all about interaction. Every exhibit is designed to be explored, and there are so, many, exhibits. The museum is actually made up of two buildings and a massive outdoor area. The largest of the buildings is the general museum. There are sections on fluids, art and science, biology, the earth… really everything that you can think of. Even though all the exhibits are in Spanish, it doesn’t really matter. Jacobs favourite game in the museum was an interactive earthquake simulator where you construct homes out of different materials, and then test how they stand up to a quake.
The second building is smaller and is home to the space exhibition. This exhibition appears newer, and the exhibits were both in Spanish and English. This section was a little less hands on as the first, but Jacob still found lots to keep him busy. While he explored, I found a nice dark cinema playing a visually stunning tour of the universe where I could breastfeed Z. We didn’t explore the outdoor area as it was just way too hot that day.
Cost: I was blown away by the incredible value of this museum. Children aged 2 – 12 cost 2,700 pesos while adults are 3,900 pesos.
Getting there: The museum is a short walk from the Mirador train station. The museum is located in a park and while we were walking there the park itself looked really run down and decrepit. We were worried that maybe the museum was shut down or something. But when we arrived we found that the section of the park where the museum is located is really well taken care of.
More info: http://www.mim.cl/
Natural History Museum
Natural History Museums are always a hit with kids, and this small but well presented museum is a must visit. Best of all, entrance is free. Chile is a long and skinny country which covers all sorts of different ecosystems and biomes. The museum, set up in a circle around a central exhibition space, takes you through all the regions of Chile and introduces the flora and fauna of each part. It was fascinating for both Jacob and I as this trip will take us from Patagonia in the deep south of Chile, all the way to San Pedro de Atacama in the north.
During our visit, there was an exhibition about dinosaurs and how they evolved into birds in the central exhibition space.
Getting there: The museum is located in Parque Quinta Normal. The park is also home to loads of other museums, but we didn’t have time to visit any of the others. Take the train to Quinta Normal station.
More info: http://www.mnhn.cl/sitio/
We first came across the KidZania concept when we were in Singapore, but at the time we thought Jacob was a little too young to benefit from a visit (he had just turned 4 at the time). I discovered that there was also a KidZania in Santiago by accident… I had to take Z to the pediatrician for his baby vaccinations, and KidZania just happened to be in the area.
KidZania is a hugely successful Mexican franchise which is now located all over the world. The concept is brilliant. The amusement park is designed like a miniature city. Kids need to perform jobs to earn KidZania money, which they can then spend in other places in the KidZania city.
J is now almost 5, which is probably the starting age where kids can really get a lot out of KidZania. He had a blast doing different jobs like “fire fighter”, “paramedic”, “post man”, and “gas delivery man.” Some of the activities were too advanced for him, like “newspaper editor” and “radio announcer” but there was still plenty for kids in his age range to enjoy.
Cost: Children aged 4 – 17 years 16,950 pesos, adults 10,950 pesos
Getting there: KidZania is located in Parque Araucano of Las Condes which is located across the street from the large shopping centre of the same name. It is a short walk from Manquehue metro station.
More info: http://santiago.kidzania.com/es-cl/
Fighting fires at KidZania
Parque Quinta Normal
Santiago is full of great parks and green spaces but Quinta Normal is my favourite. This is probably because it was really close to our apartment and also because it is full of different museums. It is here that you will find the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Human Rights, the Train Museum and Artequin. The park has lots of green spaces and fountains (which seemed to be full of kids having a swim), and also features a large water feature where you can hire paddle boats.
Getting there: The metro station of the same name
Summer in Santiago is HOT, but luckily there are a ton of great swimming pools and water parks all over the city. We found quite a few near us in both places we stayed in the city, and I also saw tons of them whenever I was on an above ground train. A quick google search should turn up the pool nearest to you.
Getting there: Various
Pre Colombian Art Museum
The Pre Colombian Art Museum near Plaza de Armas in the centre of the city isn’t the first place you would think of as being kid friendly. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find a childrens interactive museum room on the bottom floor near to the temporary exhibition space. On top of really enjoying the childrens room, Jacob also found the exhibitions fascinating.
Cost: Children up to 10 years, free. Adults, 4,500 pesos
Getting there: The closest metro station is Plaza de Armas
More info: http://www.precolombino.cl/