Traveling to Munich for 5 days with 3 kids, 10, 8, 4. Would love some suggestions on things our kids would enjoy as well as any private tour guide suggestion we can have also shuttling us around?
Private tour guides...hrmm...Mike's Bike Tours is a popular option, but I doubt the 4 year old could keep up. In addition - the groups appear to be mostly flip-flop-wearing college kids, who are mostly keen on drinking lots of beer in the beergardens. Not all that great for little kids.
The Deutsches Museum as has been mentioned, is a great science museum - although it is actually the SECOND biggest in the world. (The Smithsonian is the largest) There are some great exhibits - especially the ships and submarines, and there is a planetarium as well. In the lower level, there is an interactive playground especially for kids. There is a firetruck, and lots of water-play areas. Its not a swimming pool, but you your kids WILL get soaked, if they are anything like mine - so take a change of clothes. Sadly - the museum itself suffers from a chronic lack of funding, and many of the exhibits show it. Its a shame, as the place should be a national treasure.
Another great thing for kids is the zoo! The Munich Zoo Hellabrunn is a nice zoo, with all the animals you'd expect, and its easy to get to. There is an U-Bahn (Subway) stop right next to it. Here too - there is a giant playgound for kids. Its one of the best in all of Munich, and it is reason enough to go to the zoo - even without the animals. Your kids will have a blast.
Botanischer Garten is a botanic garden out by Nymphenburg Palace - the Palace has tours - but they may be a bit boring for the kids. The Botanischer Garden, though, is gorgeous, and there is quite a lot to see. They breed butterflies of all sort there - so in the summer the place is full of them. Its a sight - and many are exotic. My kids love it.
Further afield there is Therme Erding - this is a bit further away, but is a massive indoor wellness facility. There is a naked-only (curb your shame, Americans) section which is mostly saunas and the like, but the front part, which is fully clothed, is basically a giant water park. Slides, pools, the whole thing. Its an especially good option if it rains, which happens often in a German summer! Adults can get pampered here as well. Its great.
Beer gardens are good for families too. (Note to above-mentioned college kids: they are NOT outdoor bars!) Most have a playground on the premises, which should be a clue to most tourists that they are considered family areas. (*SIGH*) The Chinesischer Turm is very easy to find - but it is also frequented by above-mentioned (and personally detested!) college kids in summer. But - over on one side, there is a nice playground, and everyone can play, eat and have a little to eat and drink in a nice atmosphere. If you care to walk from the Zoo - a more local, if less spectacular beergarden would be Zum Flaucher - Biergarten, situated near the river, and very much locals only.
If you take a train out to Garmisch-Partenkirchen - you can go hiking in the alps. Its a way to go, but there is rock climbing, hiking, all that. There are also numerous cable cars - notably the Zugspitze which can take you to Germany's highest mountain - but I think its pricey. Still - even the littlest can manage it and it takes you into the high alpine, where you can even go sledding in the summer. (although sadly - the glacier there is a shadow of its former self)
That's a lot! Don't forget that the English Garden is the worlds largest urban park, and between that, and the Isarauen, the greenway by the river, your kids will probably have a lot of fun just wandering around and chunking rocks, fueled by the occasional ice-cream. Its worth just taking a long stroll and exploring those areas. There are many, many beergardens, playgrounds, kiosks and sights in them both, most of them don't cost a thing, and I doubt your kids will be bored.
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Munich is a great walking city but with such small kids it might be easier to be taken round to all the sights. The Deutsches Museum is the largest museum of science and technology in the world and has many exhibits aimed at kids. The Englischer Garten is a big wide open park, your kids might enjoy the people surfing on the river there. The show at the Glockenspiel in the Marienplatz is charming and whimsical as well.
I wrote about my day in Munich here - hope it helps!
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