Monday, January 7, 2013

Big City Travel with Kids Tip: Visit the Library!

One of the challenges of visiting big cities with young kids is that you can't let them run wild on crowded city sidewalks. And if you've got a crawling baby, you definitely can't let them loose on dirty cement for a whole host of reasons.

But as any parent knows, young kids have a huge need to MOVE. The stroller or baby carrier will only suffice for so long. Never fear, traveling moms and dads. There are places to go, even in the confines of urban environments, where your kids will be welcome to wiggle to their heart's content.

I've written about city playgrounds and what a lifesaver they can be. But what to do in inclement weather or when a park can't be found?

The public library.

Minneapolis Central Library

We spent a morning wandering around downtown Minneapolis during our trip there this fall. Little Arrow snoozed through a lot of our walk, and Big Arrow happily rode in the stroller or walked for the most part. But as we were beginning to contemplate where to go for lunch, I had a hunch the boys needed some time to play.

As luck would have it, we walked right by the Minneapolis Central Library in downtown Minneapolis. We ducked in, found the children's area, and let the boys explore for about 20 minutes.

This environment was particularly advantageous for moms of babies. There was a nice, cushioned area perfect for crawlers. It was clean and safe for both boys to have some fun. Changing tables, water fountains to refill sippy cups or make a bottle, and countless age-appropriate toys added to the convenience.

And we adults got to sit and rest a bit while we watched them play. Win, win.

Oh, and visiting is FREE.

So in addition to identifying a few parks or playgrounds during your trip to the big city, go ahead and look up the address to the public library too.

*I claim no responsibility if your 3-year-old throws a fit because he can't check out the books, though. And don't ask me why I know that there's a possibility of that happening.

This post is a part of Travel Tips Tuesday at Walking on Travels and Suitcases and Sippy Cups.


  1. This is such a great tip! So many libraries are amazing sights to be seen in the first place, so you really do end up with a great outing for parents & kids alike. I like your idea to have the address researched & saved ahead of time.

  2. What a wonderful library and great tip! We used to travel frequently as a family and one of our highlights was to visit the local libraries and see how they differed from our library at home. We never found one that nice though.

  3. This is such a great tip! Libraries really have changed and are so family friendly now.

  4. I love this! As a current Library and Info Science student, this makes me smile. I love to visit children's library areas and see which ones are alive with activity.

  5. I love visiting library when we travel. This library looks great. We have visited one in Seattle and Bangkok. It was great for kids and us too.

  6. I love this idea. We stumbled into a library in Italy when we had some "free" time and it includes some of my favorite memories from that trip. :)