Frankfurt-Rhein-Main has a lot to offer the younger set – parks, zoos and other day excursions that will delight children of all ages. Here is a selection of children's activities – including a few weekend excursions – throughout the region.
Thanks to Deutsche Bahn's discount weekend passes (Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket), train travel has become a popular pastime again. Kids love trains, so why not take them on an excursion. The more stops, the merrier. The Kinzigtalbahn (Frankfurt-Hanau-Fulda) takes about 80 minutes as it lumbers through the beautiful countryside. The Main-Weser-Bahn (Frankfurt-Gießen-Marburg-Kassel) slowly winds its way toward north Hessen. The Vogelsbergbahn (Fulda-Alsfeld-Grünberg-Gießen) traverses the northern side of the Vogelsberg mountain range, while the Lahn-Kinzig-Bahn (Gießen-Nidda-Gelnhausen) travels the western portions of the Vogelsberg.
You can also take your bicycles on some of the trains, but check for details before buying tickets. In addition, you can get on a historical steam train (Eisenbahn), built in the first half of the 20th century, and travel from Frankfurt/Römer to Griesheim or Mainkur. The train only operates one weekend per month and doesn't operate in May, July or August.
The Kinder-Akademie Fulda is the country's only independent children's museums and is also one of the most creative. Children can touch, play and experiment with numerous artistic, technical and scientific objects. The "heart" of the museum is the walk-through heart, the only one in Europe, designed to teach kids - and adults - the anatomy of this vital organ. The Academy offers workshops in which children, under the instruction of KAF staff, can create their own works. Closed on Saturday.
Tel: 0661-902 730 www.kaf.de
Built at the turn of the 20th century, this Neo-Classical mansion cultivates the art of perception. Located near Wiesbaden, the manor provides the perfect setting for a unique experience - and not only for children. More than 80 interactive "experience" stations awaken your senses: It is all about touching, smelling, thinking and discovering. One of the highlights is undoubtedly the Dark Bar, where drinks and food are served in complete darkness by blind waiters. This unique concept has inspired other similar venues in Germany and worldwide. Outdoors, the enchantment continues with an Aeolian harp, played by the winds, a stone labyrinth and numerous playgrounds. Closed on Monday, except between June and August.
Freudenbergstraße 220-226, 65201 Wiesbaden-Dotzheim
Tel: 0611-41 101 41
Grimms Fairy Tale on Stage
What better place to watch the theatrical performance of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale than in Hanau, the birthplace of Wilhelm and Jakob? Performed on an elaborate outdoor stage in the park of the Philippsruhe Castle in Hanau, the fairy tales are actually high drama with complex plots that may be missed by small children. But the staging is first rate. These German-language shows traditionally sell out very quickly, so make sure that you reserve tickets early.
Ticket Hotline: 06181-2950
The Opel Zoo, which was founded by the same family of car-building fame, is a favorite among the families living in the Taunus. Thanks to reasonably-priced annual family passes, many parents have visited the zoo more times than they care to remember. The zoo, which is located between Königstein and Kronberg, offers spacious habitats for elephants, giraffes, zebras and monkeys. In addition, there is a petting zoo and a play area, which the kids may find more strongerting than the animals. A great place to spend the day, but remember to dress warmly: the Zoo sits in a valley and temperatures can be chilly. Open daily.
Königsteiner Straße 35, 61476 Kronberg im Taunus
Wildpark Alte Fasanerie
This wildlife park in Hanau offers countless thematic activities for families. The huge complex accommodates several outstanding features, such as a forest museum, a theatre stage in the wilderness, a Celtic tree horoscope and Hessen's largest high-rope course, not to mention countless mammals, birds and domestic animals.
Rodenbacher Chaussee 10a, 63457 Frankfurt
At the Freizeitpark Lochmühle, a vast array of rides spin about, fly through the air and otherwise give kids a thrill. This is a large family-owned amusement park with countless playgrounds, petting zoos and water games. Pony rides and some of the attractions are at an additional price to the general admission price. There are also large picnic and grill areas, which have to be reserved in advance. Open daily from March to October and located in Wehrheim (off the B 456).
The Zwermann family also owns a similar leisure park in Steinau, which is East Hessen's largest amusement park. Both parks are open daily from March to October..
One of the most popular amusement parks in Hessen is Taunuswunderland in Schlangenbad. This privately-owned park, spread over 40,000 sqm, has all the activities that guarantee a good time for the little ones. The park offers a white-water roller coaster, a fairy-tale forest, a petting zoo (with kangaroos!) and plenty of other attractions for the entire family. There are several restaurants on site, but you can also bring your own lunch and enjoy it in the picnic area. The park is open daily from March to October.
Tel: 06124-40 81
Vacation on a Working Farm
Small children love barnyard animals, so why not try a bed and breakfast on a working farm for a family vacation? Many of these family-owned hotels offer a wide range of outdoor activities - including horse riding, swimming, hiking, tennis and bicycle tours. But for the small children, the greatest thrill is getting up close and personal with goats, cows and chickens. Most farms offer reasonably-priced weekly rates. To order a current brochure, call the Hessen Tourism Association at 0611 - 774 80 91 or consult:
Despite their imposing stature, horses are beloved by children. Whether your youngest wants to ride a horse for the first time or your teenager wishes to gallop for hours in the wilderness, Hessen is perfect for equestrian activities. Several horse farms across the region offer opportunities for adults and whole families, ranging from a long weekend to an entire week. There are countless possibilities for beginners and experts alike: in the Vogeslberg, along the Rhön river, in the picturesque town of Bad Hersfeld during the theatrical festival ... the choice is yours! For more information and a tailor-made holiday, visit www.reiterland-hessen.de