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Ecuador for Kids: Keeping the Kids Happy

Keeping the Kids Happy in Ecuador

Our daughter loves to be out and about, so I thought I’d share some of the things we’ve enjoyed doing together, and some of the things we would like to do in the near future.  These are just a few of the highlights from here in Cuenca, Guayaquil and Salinas.

Here in Cuenca there are a lot of parks with equipment for the kids to play on.  One of the largest is Paradise Park, it’s got lots of green space, a river running through it, a pond, playground equipment, a horse and buggy ride, little go-cart type cares to ride around in, and lots of other fun stuff.

Paradise Park

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Mall del Rio has a Fun Center with a bowling alley and video games.  There is also a Multi-Cine where you can watch the latest movies (some in English) and a food court with Burger King and KFC.  Our daughter enjoys the Play Go as well; there are lots of games there too.

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Banco Central Museum has some fun displays.  Our daughter likes walking through the mock indigenous homes (they don’t allow pictures to be taken inside) of the different cultural groups they have set up.  But her favorite part is outside; they have gardens and an aviary.  There are also Llamas grazing around the grounds.

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Amaru Zoo: (update March 2013) The zoo here in Cuenca is a great place to take the kids and enjoy a morning. Read the full review: Amaru Zoo in Cuenca.

Female Andean Bear Cuenca Ecuador

Craft stores and cafes are found all over the city.  It’s fun to stop in for something sweet, and pick up a cool craft.

There is a zip line about an hour or so outside of Cuenca that sounds like a lot of fun; we hope to go within the next couple of months.  And Ingapirca sounds very interesting as well; it’s about an hour and a half’s drive from Cuenca and is the largest site of Incan ruins in Ecuador.  And in Giron, about an hour away there is a beautiful waterfall; it’s an easy hike for children.

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In Guayaquil we really enjoyed Iguana Park.  The iguanas were so thick in the trees, they actually looked like iguana fruit trees, loaded with really ripe iguanas : ).  Watch out because they can slip and fall on you, one almost landed on my friends head!  So get close, but not too close.

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The Malecon was also nice.  There are playgrounds set up along the way and places to stop for treats.  A display of some sort was set up, it kind of looked like a little outside dinosaur museum, we didn’t have time to stop and check it out.  At the end of the Malecon there is a restaurant with some monkeys and ostriches, a movie theater and a museum.

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There is also a zoo in Guayaquil, but we haven’t gotten there yet.  Hopefully next time.

Salinas is a really nice little city right on the ocean.  The beach is beautiful and has all kinds of water sports to keep the kids happy.  The sand is great for sandcastles, and shell hunting.  It’s also fun to check out the beach jewelery sold along the malecon, and by the venders walking up and down the beach.

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A water slide park is just a few blocks off the beach.  And there are some nice craft stores as well.  Our daughter really enjoyed having some handmade jewelery engraved for all of us, you can’t lose at $1.00 a bracelet.

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There are also boat tours, and fishing excursions.

El Paseo Mall has a nice theater with the latest movies (some in English) a nice food court, and lots of fun little shops to snoop around in.

Please add to this list by commenting on this post.  Thanks!

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Meet the Author

Since moving to Ecuador in 2009, Dena and Bryan have made their living as bloggers. Dena is a partner at Storyteller Media, a content marketing company for Canadian travel brands. She is a contributor to Bryan Haines and is co-founder of Click Like This - a photo tutorial blog.

23 comments… add one
  • Eduardo Tapia Sep 21, 2015, 2:31 pm

    When we decided to relocate our family to Loja Ecuador in 2002, education for our young children was our main concern, together with other parents we decided to start a educational project based on active education using Montessori material, with a small student/teacher ratio, based on freedom and respect for children needs. It is how Amauta School started; today over 130 children enjoy this methodology.
    Currently we are back in the US and our children had not experience any adaptation problems at all, they socialize easily with their peers and had exceeded academic standards (my older one spent summer in Stanford attending a bioengineering program). I encourage you to visit the school, get to know their installations and talk to their teachers.
    Eduardo

  • chemfreemom Mar 17, 2015, 12:52 am

    …and. I forgot to ask, are all vaccinations mandatory for school, and how do the schools handle a kid with ADHD? And, are the Montessori schools expensive? Sorry for so many questions…

    • Eduardo Tapia Sep 21, 2015, 3:01 pm

      Pestalozzi was a pioneer in alternative education in Ecuador, other schools had continue with their legacy specially in Quito surroundings, here are some links you can check:
      http://map.reevo.org/reports/view/21
      http://www.pachamama.edu.ec/
      http://map.reevo.org/reports/view/5
      https://sites.google.com/site/amautaloja/
      In Amauta school use active education, which means the children are not expected to be sitting down all day, they explore and are allowed (encouraged) to move around, interact with peers and teachers. In the past we have received several misdiagnosed ADHD students, many of them just needed to play as any normal child does! For some students with real problems, some teacher/classrooms accommodations may be needed and the small student/teacher ratio (10 students per teacher) had help us dealing with special needs children.
      Vaccination certificate is request from parents but it is more flexible than in USA.
      Costs change from institution to institution. Amauta is under $150/month
      I hope this helps,
      Eduardo

  • chemfreemom Mar 17, 2015, 12:49 am

    I noticed that your two articles about kids and things to do in Ecuador were a few years old. I’ve been reading that crime has gone up, particularly in Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenta. I wondered whether, in your experience, these areas are still safe (and affordable) for a single mother and an 8-year-old to live. Also, is there anything that either doesn’t cost money, or is extremely cheap, for him to do? ( Besides parks, and Malls?). Do they have anything like Little League baseball or other sports or organized activities that are very affordable? And, where is a neighborhood that is safe for young kids to play outside in, while you just check out the window on them every so often? Thanks

  • Jennifer Jan 15, 2015, 2:19 pm

    Hola, familia! My husband and I are a young family (late 20’s) in Texas with a 2 year old daugher and we would like to have more children. Has your daughter gone to school in Cuenca? Have you met other younger Gringo families with young children that have found schools they enjoy? We have our daughter in a Montessori program now where she learns with freedom.

    What’s the best part of town to live with small children? Have you trusted anyone with childcare for date nights? How is healthcare for a young family?
    Any tips would be great!

    Muchas gracias

  • Jeff Stern Jan 22, 2014, 8:45 am

    Another great spot to take kids is just about a 30 minute drive outside of Quito to Nono. It’s a beautiful, quiet little town. Just about 15 minutes out of town there are gorgeous waterfalls that are only a short hike to get to. There are a few restaurants in town or you can bring a picnic and eat on the way to the waterfalls. It’s a great day trip and one of the unknown spots just outside of Quito

  • Shannon Zolar Apr 26, 2013, 7:13 pm

    Hey Guys,

    This is a ridiculous question but it is coming down to what to keep and what to get rid of — and we are at the kids play room – did you bring games from home/toys from home? Seems logical to bring like a box with some key games and toys and leave the rest behind.

    Thoughts? Comments?

    Thanks so much,
    Shannon

    • Bryan Haines Apr 29, 2013, 9:50 am

      Not a silly question at all. We wondered the same thing. We brought just her favorite toys. In fact, she sold almost all of her toys and used the money to buy a special doll and a few other special things. There are toy stores here and you can order online as well.

  • DeeDee Jan 24, 2013, 2:59 pm

    Our Girl Scout troop is doing a Ecuador for World Thinking Day and are trying to come up with a simple, fun craft to represent Ecuador. Time and money are the only concerns. The girls move from table to table so the craft can’t be too long. Since the troopis buying all the supplies we would like to keep it low cost. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks so much-DeeDee

  • Evangeline Sep 23, 2012, 10:32 am

    Also wanted to mention Parque Guantana, an awesome skatepark next to a lovely playground. The park is also set on a high hill allowing for a beautiful view of Cuenca. Kids in the skatepark use scooters, skateboards, rollerblades, and bikes. It’s a great place to go if you’ve got a mix of little ones and teens, as there something for everyone.

  • Evangeline Sep 23, 2012, 10:27 am

    Hey, guys! There’s also an awesome zoo on the autopista, about 10 minutes from El Centro by taxi. We bought plaintain chips from the zoo snack shop and ended up having an awesome time playing with adorable little monkies for well over an hour. There’s quite a bit of hiking involved as the zoo has tried to replicate the animals’ natural habitats on a mountain overlooking Cuenca. Definitely wear a hat!

    • Bryan Haines Sep 24, 2012, 7:11 am

      Thanks Evangeline – we are planning on going there but things keep coming up. Now we have to get there – you make it sound really nice. Once we get there we’ll cover it on the site. Thanks again!

  • Art Balis Jun 29, 2012, 10:21 am

    Dena and Brian,

    We are in Cuenca for the weekend. Give us a call 09 465 4583.

    We’d love to connect with fellow expats.

    Art Juli David and Paul

  • Cindy Jan 18, 2011, 12:30 am

    (Sorry if this is a duplicate posting.) Thanks for the "Ecuador for Kids" post. I'm planning to take my 8yo daughter to Cuenca for the month of August. We both speak only a tiny bit of Spanish. We will participate in the Simon Bolivar language school. Know anyone there who is good with kids? We're staying in an apt in the city (the colonial part, though that doesn't mean anything to me.) I would love to get your advice on reading suggestions before going, as well as any advice on what's interesting to do with kids, including restaurants, markets, side trips, walks, playgrounds, etc. Thanks!

  • Stephen Golding Jan 4, 2011, 5:55 am

    What about sports and other children activities in Cuenca to help with socialisation

    • Bryan Haines Jan 4, 2011, 10:04 am

      Good question. Aside from schooling, there are the standard things here: sports, volunteering, having friends over to play. There are organized and friendly games of soccer (of course), but also basketball, rugby, tennis, even swim teams. There are bike riding and art clubs. There really are just two options – develop relationships with foreigners or the locals. Most of our daughters friends are Ecuadorian – the families are not prejudice against us (as often is the case when foreigners visit/move to Canada or the States) and are extremely kind. If you don’t have contacts when you arrive, school will take care of things quite quickly.

      • Stephen Golding Jan 6, 2011, 6:00 pm

        Good to hear there is Rugby( the sport they play in heaven ) the idea of moving to Cuenca just gets better and better

        • Bryan Haines Jan 6, 2011, 7:14 pm

          Cuenca has a new team, for a newly organized national league. A friend of mine plays for Cuenca, although I haven't been to any games. . . Its supposed to be very good.

  • Susan Nov 25, 2010, 7:31 am

    Well, it sounds like we will have some things to keep our son busy!

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