Among Guatemala City’s museums, none is more kid friendly than the Museo del Niño (Children’s Museum), in Zona 13 near the airport. There are a number of interactive displays as well as opportunities for play.
Just across the street, you’ll find the city’s excellent La Aurora Zoo, harboring a good collection of animals from Guatemala and around the world. Cages are being gradually phased out.
If you want to see the city’s sights but have kids in tow who might not want to walk, opt for a trolley tour.
On the lake’s beautiful shores, there are plenty of places to stay for families traveling with children. Among the best are the family-size villas at San Buenaventura de Atitlán, equipped with a kitchen and several rooms.
Nearby, kids (and outdoor-loving parents) will enjoy the Reserva Natural Atitlán, where they can see monkeys and coatimundis along the nature trails leading to waterfalls. There are also a butterfly farm and private lake beach in addition to an excellent visitors center.
The Pacific Coast is extremely family friendly, primarily thanks to the presence of the twin theme parks of Xocomil and Xetulul, near Retalhuleu. Xocomil is a water park on par with the finest in the United States and Xetulul includes re-creations of famous Spanish, French, Italian, and Guatemalan landmarks along with an exhilarating roller-coaster and assorted other rides.
After the parks close, the fun continues across the street at the excellent accommodations of Hostales del IRTRA, with numerous swimming pools, restaurants, and activities.
For some seaside fun, head to Monterrico, where (in season) you can participate in a race involving newly hatched sea turtles making their maiden voyage across the sandy beach to their ocean home.
Kids will also get a kick out of the Auto Safari Chapín, in Taxisco about 90 minutes from Guatemala City. It’s a drive-through safari experience, in which you can see several of kids’ favorite animals, including lions, zebras, and parrots.
Children will certainly be impressed by the Mayan ruins at Tikal, along with the abundant wildlife found along the various nature trails criss-crossing the park or swinging from the trees.
At the entrance to Tikal, older kids and adults will enjoy the Tikal Canopy Tour, allowing them to zip across the forest canopy along metallic cables while strapped to a harness.
If you want to see more of the forest canopy on slightly less adrenaline-inducing conditions, head to Parque Natural Ixpanpajul, where there are plenty of outdoor activities, including walks along hanging bridges connecting forested jungle canyons.
Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Guatemala.