#1 – Visit THE CHILDREN’S PARK!!!
YES! Not only is there an ENTIRE, MASSIVE AREA DEDICATED TO CHILDREN, but it was created in conjunction with the Reggio Children school in Reggio Emilia. If you haven’t heard of the Reggio Approach you can visit their website and I’ve written a bit about it a bit here. It is a completely innovative, dynamic approach to education that involves exploring nature by using technology as a tool.
The Children’s park is divided up into many different discovery zones, that you can explore with your children including a massive vegetable garden that your child can explore as though they were the size of a bug. If they have some energy to burn, here you’ll also find an arena with mini riding tractors or a cartoon if they need a bit of a rest.
#2 – Get Techy
The Children’s Park is a great way for your child to connect with nature through technology and their multimedia displays. We had the most fun in the video sensor room, that turns you and your loved ones into blossoming trees!
#3 – Connect with Nature
What better way to teach children about biodiversity then by using their senses in activities. In these large bells a mist was emitted with a certain smell, kids were then invited to guess what herb was being misted. I got every single one wrong, but it was fun for all of us.
#4 – Get Moving
The bicycle Symphony area of the Children’s Park will help your kids burn a few extra calories (especially if they exaggerated at the American “Food Truck Nation” Snack pit!) Every bike is connected to a generator with a musical instrument attached, when a bike is in movement it plays a tune! To create a “symphony” all bikes must be in movement. It was magical and brilliant!
#5 – Eat!
Speaking of calories…. This World EXPO’s theme is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, which literally means “let’s talk food!!”. There were so many great food options at every single Pavilion. In general, each country pavilion has a Café where you can grab a coffee, water and a traditional snack and also a restaurant. The restaurants can get pricey, so be aware of their prices and ask if they have a fixed price menu.
The different Italian regions are represented at the Italy Pavilion, and there was also the Slow Food area dedicated to all products that are recognized by the association. The Eataly grocery store is a great place to grab a bite to eat and check out the 20 Italian regions represented.
There are MANY kid appropriate snacks and meals and we really enjoyed letting our three year old try different things from around the world not easily found here.
# 6 – Follow the Marching Band!
Because you know, at the EX they are frequent! During the 6 month’s of the EXPO, many countries celebrate their national holidays right on premises and have special programming. Check out the official website if you want to plan your visit around an event. I’m sad that we missed tha largest Pizza ever made, that entered into the Guinness book of World Records!
#7 – Enjoy some Traditional Music
Throughout the EXPO many pavilions offer free concerts of local music. I really enjoyed the ones we managed to see, even though the little man is a bit more of a critic!
# 8 – Watch a Ceremony or Demonstration
We saw many traditional ceremonies from the preparation of meals, to tea and chocolate ceremonies. They sparked a few good conversations, especially with my three year old!
#9 – Enjoy the Architecture
The only reason I was dying to go to the EXPO was for the world-class, cutting edge architecture created by the 116+ counties and business involved.
You can totally enjoy this with your children, because so much of the architecture in engaging, interactive and breathtaking. My son personally loved the China Pavilion both from the ground level and the 1st story.
#10 – Cool off in Austria
They recreated a dense, cool forest, perfect for a break from the heat and a breath of fresh air. Also the snacks looked very yummy!
#11 – The Grocery Store of the Future at the Future Food District
I’ve written about this experience before here when we visited the Future Food District otherwise known as the grocery store of the future! Although I’m not too keen on a future with less human interaction, my son thought the robotic arms, plasma displays and automated checkout were all very cool. Plus, while you’re here you can pick up any provisions you need and have them delivered via courier to your hotel or home!
#12 – Go Swing in Estonia!
I’ve been really interested in visiting Estonia ever since I started reading the blog In Search Of! This pavilion sealed the deal! Swings line the walls of the whole pavilion, open to the elements day and night.
#13 – The Kid’s Parade!
I believe that every Sunday there is the children’s parade that goes through the entire EXPO site, you can find all of their special events here. We were lucky enough to see a famous tv character named Gippo! I’m pretty sure I was more excited than my son.
#14 – Visit the Pavilion Zero
The Pavilion Zero is one of the first buildings you will see when you enter the EXPO, please DO NOT SKIP IT! There were so many thought provoking displays that were very well done, and they set the context for the rest of the EXPO. My son actually LOVED this display which included a recreation of the stock market, a cool plaster animal farm (we visited this THREE times as per his request), an indoor windmill and a giant interactive apple.
Think of this as site specific art with a political vibe, that you can enjoy with your kids.
#15 – Visit the German Pavilion
My husband was convinced that the ENTIRE German Pavilion was created for kids. First you enter and get a very high tech explatation of your interactive “pad” that automatically starts individual exhibits when you hover it over a sensor!! Oh so high-tech, our son LOVED IT….possibly more than us.
When they get tired of tech there is a good old fashion coloring area and photo-op veggies!
#16 – Go Climbing in Brazil
The Brazil Pavilion was GREAT FOR FAMILIES. They had a whole philosophy around why they recreated a massive jungle surrounded bouncy cage. Be careful if you have really little kids, they will need to be safely held.
And don’t forget…no heels, loose change in your pockets or mini skirts. The people below the net also get a great view if they look up!
While you are in Brazil there is a great café serving up snacks, a restaurant with gourmet dishes, and a fantastic art installation and authentic craft gift store to visit!
#17 – Lounge Around
When you need a break head to the “water front” area beside the Italian Pavilion. There you will find many red lounge chairs that circle like dreidels. WE had fun. Dizzy – fun…but fun non the less. After you’re done, there is an artisan ice cream gelateria right beside it!
#18 – Go Inside a Beehive
I LOVED THIS!! The UK Pavilion recreated a beehive in a wild flower valley. The structure replicated a real hive and it was virtually connected to one in the UK. You MUST BOOK AN ENTRY TIME for this. There are ticket machines just outside the pavilion that let you choose your entry, so you don’t have to deal with a long line. My only regret is not visiting this again in the evening once it was lit for the night displays.
#19 – Plan to Enjoy Yourselves and Have Fun
My expectations of the EXPO were that there would be gross dirty washrooms, long wait times and stressful situations like the summer heat. But I WAS WRONG. There were many well planned out services for families that meant that we could really enjoy every minute of our visit:
- The entire EXPO area that connects the different pavilions was covered by large canopies that protected from the sun and rain. Our first evening at the EXPO, there was a major downpour and we still managed to see many things.
- Rental Strollers are available in case you are visiting without a stroller and your kid gets tired. Just be aware the if you stay until the evening and they FALL ASLEEP the stroller must be retured!
- There are baby changing areas and breast feeding areas
- There is a map of the EXPO specifically designed for families!! You can find it here.
- There is a full on-site grocery store (the FUTURE FOOD DISTRICT, which I’ve written before). Here you can find diapers, baby food, ointment, bandaids and anything else you may have forgotten.
- Every Pavilion we went to had clean real toilette facilities. We had our travel potty with us and it was very convenient even with a young potty-trained child.
AND the BEST PART OF ALL……
ALMOST EVERY SINGLE PAVILION LET US BYPASS THE LINE. I think this is because we had a young child in a stroller, and I felt very grateful that we didn’t have to endure the wait times to get into the pavilions. At first, I felt guilty, but I think it was best for us and them! It’s bad enough to wait in a line, but hearing a crying, whining, complaining kid makes it worse!
All of these extra services, especially for families, meant that we really did have a fantastic time over the three days we visited the EXPO.
#20 – The EXPO at Night!
The EXPO at night is a completely different experience, so do as the Italians do and stay out late as a family! When the sun has gone down, every Pavilion lights up with their evening displays.
A MUST SEE is at the Lake Arena where you’ll find the Tree of Life, with nightly water, music and light displays.
So there you have it, 20 ways to Enjoy the EXPO 2015 in Milan with young children! If you are visiting Italy this summer or fall don’t forget to make a visit the EXPO part of your itinerary. If you found this article at all helpful in your planning please feel free to share it with your friends!
And if you’d like me to add something that I missed please feel free to leave me a comment, or a message on facebook.
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