Let’s welcome Tiphanya from Avenue Reine Mathilde sharing her favorite reasons to visit Alsace with kids. Tiphanya is French and has a three and a half year old daughter. After traveling through Europe for a year, her family decided to stay for awhile in Alsace. They have spent three months in the north part of the region and now will stay 2 years in the Alsatian city of Mulhouse before they begin their travels anew.
We loved visiting Colmar and Strasbourg for the Christmas markets and can’t wait to return again. Hopefully you will find some new reasons to visit Alsace with kids as well.
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Best Things to do in Alsace with kids
When Europeans think of Christmas markets, they have in mind Germany, Austria, and Alsace. Not France, just Alsace, the small region located on the German border. What many fail to realize is that this region can be an amazing destination all year long, especially for families. Here are some of our favorite destinations to enjoy in the area.
1. Two fascinating living history museums
These are both a must-see on a trip to Alsace if you want to know more about the history of the area. The écomusée d’Alsace is an open-air museum with a mouthwatering bakery, 70 authentic old rural houses to explore, fresh milk to taste (just after the milking show) and storks everywhere. It’s very exciting to spend a day in the life of historical Alsace.
If you are more interested in actual history than everyday life, go to Wesserling. There is an industrial museum of textiles linked to gorgeous gardens. The property is enormous with a chateau, mansions, farm, and the Textile Museum.
One year, Peter Pan was the inspiration for the gardens, and they designed the site complete with a pirate boat and an Indian village. You can play or dress up in the museum, or you can run and walk barefoot in the gardens. This is my favorite place in Alsace!
2. Delicious food to eat in Alsace
Even if Paris and its gourmet restaurants are a dream for parents, many kids prefer basic and simple food, so they might prefer Alsace. The main local dish is the tarte flambée (called in the area Flammekueche) which is a type of pizza with bacon, onions and cream. If you wish to try a more complex dish, you’ll want to find potatoes and sausages called choucroute.
For street food, you’ll want to try the bretzel (a kind of salty bread) or the Mauricette (a sandwich in a small salty and soft bread).
Be sure to head inside any bakery or pastry shop to try one of the numerous tasty desserts: le kouglof (a kind of brioche), the fruits tarts (like the rhubarb with the meringue on the top of it), or the pomme de terre (a funny pastry that looks like a potato).
3. A safe place for cycling
Several European cycle routes cross Alsace and visitors will find over 2,000 km of cycling roads. It’s easier than the rest of France to take a train with a bike, to find a repair shop, and even to pedal.
You can find good maps for free in the tourist boards and feel safe on roads closed to cars. My favorite area is around Sélestat as you can really make the most of the area just with your bikes.
4. Special experiences for everyone
My daughter’s favorite place is La Volerie des Aigles. In an old castle overlooking a nice small village, you can learn everything about birds of prey. The best part of the experience is during the show, when kids and adults can volunteer to have a bird on their arm.
In Mulhouse, the zoo hosts three polar bears in a huge area, with a pool. It is fun to watch them while they swim or try to catch their snacks thrown by the zookeepers. Another fun site in Mulhouse is the Cité du Train, the largest train museum in Europe.
In nearby Colmar visitors will find the House of Bartholdi (sculptor of the Statue of Liberty) where you can tour his childhood home and see models of his monuments.
Children might also enjoy a visit to the Reintroduction Center in Hunawihr which takes care of the local otters and storks.
5. Enjoy the Christmas Markets in Alsace
Strasbourg and Colmar are often nominated as the best Christmas markets in France and some of the best Christmas markets in Europe, but don’t miss the ones in Eguisheim or Ribeauvillé (with a medieval Christmas market). I prefer small villages, as the market is the opportunity to enjoy a new place, small streets, and old houses.
During Advent, you can also taste special food. Don’t miss the manele (a soft and sweet bread looking like a boy), the hot wine (there is hot wine without alcohol for kids) and the bredele (Christmas cookies).
Just keep in mind that Alsace is not always the best for tourism in November, January, February and March. During the winter, when Christmas is over, most of the museums and parks close, and everybody stays at home or goes skiing, waiting for spring to return. Easter is like an alarm clock, waking up cities and people with brilliant colors everywhere and once again, great food just for this special day !
P.S.: If you think Alsace is just for kids, think again. Alsace is world renowned for its white wines: Riesling, Muscat d’Alsace, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. Whatever your reason for visiting, you will not be disappointed!
About the author: Tiphanya writes about her family’s travels and shares printables she does with her daughter as she is homeschooled. Ursula’s website is in French, but her English is very good. If you are interested in following along, you can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.
If you are planning a trip, don’t miss our Alsace road trip itinerary!