Keeping Kids of All Ages Happy on Vacation

We have traveled to Europe a lot. Enough that we lost count a long time ago how many times we have flown across the Atlantic.

Most of those trips had a specific purpose such as work, visiting family and friends, or seeing some bucket list item we just had to check off. In the process we have been to almost all of the countries and historic sites across the continent, but every now and then we love to explore some more off the beaten path attractions.

After all, how many castles and cathedrals can we see?

So, Where Should We Go?

That made us want to take a look at some just plain fun attractions that we, and maybe a lot of other travelers, might have overlooked. Especially ones that are entertaining for the whole family. By that we mean the extended family, as in us old folks, our kids, and their kids.

The desire to include everybody got us thinking about amusement parks as a destination. With that in mind our search led us to Belgium, which we feel has also been somewhat overlooked as a travel destination.

That’s how we found the theme park Bobbejaanland.

What Can We do at Bobbejaanland?

The first thing we noticed about the park was the huge selection of rides and attractions that can delight everyone from our little grandbaby to the wildest thrill seekers among us. (That would be our daughters.)

We all love rollercoasters, which is perfect because Bobbejaanland has eight of them. Several, like Fury and Typhoon in The Land of Legends, or Naga Bay and Revolution in Voodoo Bayou, offer adventurous rides. While others, such as Bob Express, Speedy Bob, and Oki Doki, provide a more laid-back experience.

Of course, rollercoasters aren’t the only heart-pounding excitement to be found, Sledge Hammer, Orbiter, and King Kong are guaranteed to get your blood pumping. Or, if you want a good scare, the zombie invasion Yummy, or the creepy clowns in Bazaar Bizarre should do the trick.

And while our young granddaughter won’t be big enough to get past the “You must be this tall to ride” signs on these for a few years, there are plenty of fun things for her to do too.

She will love Kinderland, with its indoor playground, Balloon Race, Boat trip, Convoy Trucks, and two carousels. She also loves trains, so we can all enjoy the Monorail together. Better yet, that will give us grandparents an excuse to relax and catch our breath for a while.

Who’s Hungry? Let’s Eat!

When hunger hits, we will be heading over to Cowboy Town to grab a beer and bratwurst or delicious pulled pork or chicken at the Desperado Grill. If some of us feel like having Italian, no problem, pasta and pizza await at Santa Fe.

At Kinderland, Dots & Wings severs up everyone’s favorite, chicken wings. In fact, as a teen our oldest once ate fifty wings! I don’t think she could match that now, or maybe she should stick with the fast food at The Lake House Express or a donut at Friet Wildwater.

Over in Adventure Valley McMonkey is the place for burgers, and Soft Republic has candy, ice cream, cotton candy, and other sweet treats. Then we can finish it all off with a coffee at Coffee Cave.

That ought to help us keep up with the kids.

Other Things to Do Nearby

As great as Bobbejaanland is, we still wouldn’t want to travel all the way to Belgium without seeing some other interesting landmarks.

The Keeses Molen windmill in Kasterlee is certainly worth a stop, and for train buffs like us the town of Turnhout has miles of miniature railroads at Stoomgroep Turnhout. The mini trains are sure to bring a smile to kids of all ages. While these models are pretty tiny, they are open to the public for rides.

Nearby Antwerp is home to one of the oldest zoos in the world, with over 4000 animals. The city also features a unique historic center with an impressive Renaissance-style City Hall and ornate guild houses surrounding the main square.

It is hard to miss the statue in front of the City Hall depicting Brabo standing on top of a giant, Antigoon, and holding a severed hand over his head, ready to fling. Everyone loves a legend, and this one says a young soldier saved the town by slaying the giant and tossing his hand into the river.

According to the tale, that was how Antwerp got its name, from the Dutch words for hand (hand) and to throw (werpen).

We aren’t sure if we believe the story, but we are sure that we love it.

David & Veronica,

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