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Top Four Things to Do in Venice With Kids

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For us, there is never enough time on vacation.  We always wish for “just one more day” in a location to do “just one more thing.”  Unfortunately, vacation always ends and we always have to head back home.  However, the question remains, How do you narrow down your list and pack in the best things to do on vacation?  We do a lot of research, and we try to talk to people who have been there before.  Here are our suggestions for the top four things to do in Venice with kids.

First things first: Where do I stay?

With a variety of hotel options in Venice, rooms are abundant.  There are many nice hotels that you will pass as you walk down the streets, but one stands out.  Located on the island of Giudecca, Hilton Molino Stucky Venice is just across the channel from Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Plaza).  Since almost all transportation in Venice is by boat, it is not an inconvenience to use the free hotel boat to cross the chance.  The boat ride takes five to 15 minutes depending on which of the two stops you make your departure.

A historic location, the hotel is an artful blend of Old World elegance and timely sophistication.  The rooms are comfortable and those at the front offer a beautiful view of Venice at morning, noon, or night.  Visit the award winning rooftop bar atop the hotel.  It offers beautiful views of the city and was a hit with our children!

Gorgeous view from the rooftop bar of Hilton Molino Stucky Venice.

Gorgeous view from the rooftop bar of Hilton Molino Stucky Venice.

Gondolas in Venice

I had heard mixed reviews of riding a gondola in Venice.  One group argued that it was overpriced, expensive, and a “touristy” thing to do.  The other faction simply asked, “Why go to Venice without riding the gondolas?”  Ultimately, we decided that we couldn’t leave Venice without taking a gondola ride.

Gondolas are regulated in Venice.  There is a posted fee and gondoliers are required to wear particular clothing.  We believed that the ride was absolutely worth every penny we spent.  It was a magical hour that we wouldn’t exchange for anything!

We do offer a few tips when hiring a gondola:

  • Don’t hire the first one you find.  We chose to wait until our last full day in Venice before taking our ride.  Learn a little about the city and canal before you jump on.
  • Be selective about where you begin and end.  After several days of watching and thinking, we started our ride from the Rialto Bridge.  It turned out to be a lovely trip.
  • Observe the gondoliers and choose one with characteristics you appreciate.  In walking through the city, we watched gondoliers for a few days.  Some sing or play musical instruments throughout the ride.  Unfortunately, we saw one who was constantly on his cell phone.  Our gondolier was very nice, interacted well with both of our children, and engaged us in conversation throughout the trip.  He taught us about the history of Venice as well as famous residents.
Gondolas and Gelato

Memories of gondolas and gelato.

Visit Murano

Hilton Molino Stucky offers a complimentary water taxi —  a wonderful experience in itself — to the island of Murano where you can tour a reputable glass factory.  We were able to watch two generations of glass artists craft figurines and a bowl as we watched.  After you leave the factory, you can tour miles of winding sidewalks as you discover the “real” Murano.  We found at least eight huge objets d’art made using various techniques.  The art glass gardens were our favorites!

Exploring Murano

Sisters exploring Murano.

Visit Burano

Travel from Murano to Burano on a vaporetto.  Burano, much less known than Murano, was the highlight of our time in Venice.  We bought our daughter a puzzle for Christmas as we were planning the trip.  The puzzle was titled “Venice,” but as we wandered upon this scene shortly after arriving in Burano, we immediately recognized it as our puzzle!

Burano is a tiny island located about an hour from Venice.  It is a quaint, but colorful, sleepy village famous for the handmade laces.  While some lace is imported from the mainland or from other countries, there are still a few local artisans who sit in their shops or on the sidewalks and make lace as you watch.

When planning our vacation, I decided that my one “splurge” on this trip would be buying handmade lace handkerchiefs for my daughters to use in their weddings (still a couple of decades away!).  Choosing handkerchiefs with my daughters as the artisan who made them explained the significance of the stitches and patterns is a memory I will cherish.

Neighborhood in Burano

A colorful neighborhood in Burano.

While you will never have enough time to do it all, these were the highlights from our trip that helped to make it unforgettable.  Whatever you decide to do, just get out there and travel!

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Heather and her family were born and raised in east Texas, where she is an assistant principal. Her husband teaches high school chemistry and her daughters are…

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