Germany’s Theme Parks, Museums, Family Hotels and Farm Stays

Like folks the world over, most German parents like to spend their holidays with their children. Over the past three decades, the German tourism industry has steadily been developing attractions to charm both the little ones and the grown-ups that take them there. As elsewhere, theme parks rank high on the list of family destinations, and Germany has some with their very own, special focus. Take Autostadt, for example, an entertainment and learning complex for kids and adults alike, created by Germany’s largest car manufacturer, Volkswagen, on the site of its corporate headquarters in Wolfsburg. A short hour’s drive east of Hanover, Autostadt tempts with ‘Kids’ World’ and a highly popular kids’ traffic school, in which boys and girls get to drive brightly painted mini VW Beetle convertibles on a scaled-down outdoor course. With their charges happily occupied, parents can join a factory tour that includes the Volkswagen lab, visit the company’s museum and its displays on the history of the automobile, or take part in a driving course themselves, an all-terrain training programme on safe and economic car handling. Of course, the manufacturer’s latest models are on display as well.

For more information, visit www.autostadt-wolfsburg.de

At Germany’s three Center Parcs, located farther west but still in northern Germany, children are VIPs. The parks offer pony rides, farms for kids, indoor and outdoor play areas, Kids Klubs, restaurants with play areas and special entertainment programmes. See www.centerparcs.com

Located in the south of Germany near the Black Forest city of Freiburg, Europa-Park Rust, the country’s largest leisure park, stages some of its attractions in settings representing various EC countries – a section for Germany, naturally, but also one for England, France, Scandinavia, and others. There is also Children’s World, with pint-size rides, but theattraction most likely topping the under-age visitors’ lists has to be
Chocoland, where, aside from learning all about chocolate, you can create your own chocolate treat and then eat it. For more details, visit www.europapark.de

Once in Germany’s southern regions, you’ll find plenty of other attractions. The province of Baden-Württemberg, home to the Black Forest, dedicates a separate, detailed section on its tourism Web page to family holidays (see www.tmbw.de )Bavaria has developed a special tourism brand dedicated to
children called KinderLand, complete with its own trademark logo and a teddy bear rating system – “five bears” is tops! For more details, visit www.bayern.by

These sites take you to information about special events, family-friendly accommodations, fun activities and, naturally, more leisure and theme parks. In Bavaria, for example, near the town of Ulm and approximately 90 minutes by car northwest of Munich, you’ll find Legoland, Germany’s kingdom of primary-colour building blocks, with more than 40 rides and attractions, science shows and other presentations playing with the minds of the young and the young-at-heart. One could get stuck here for days! Anticipating just that possibility, the Legoland Web site offers a variety of package deals, ranging from one to four nights, including hotel accommodations with breakfast, admission and parking fees, some packages offering additional
excursions outside the park — to Neuschwanstein, for example, or the Zeppelin Museum on Lake Constance. For more details, visit www.lego.com/legoland/deutschland

GNTO’s own Web site, www.cometogermany.com,.gives access to a panoply of additional family-friendly information, most including Internet links. Click What to Do on the home page menu and select Family Vacations. Here and in additional submenus you’ll find more theme parks – Babelsberg Film Park in
Potsdam, outside Berlin, Bavaria Film Town, near Munich, and Movie World, near Dusseldorf. Information on hands-on and open-air museums include links to the toy museum in Nuremberg, the Kiste puppet museum in Augsburg, the KL!CK (sic) children’s museum in Hamburg, the chocolate museum in Cologne, and more. Parents can find details on zoos in Germany, farm holidays, hotels with special services for children, and of course on sports, leisure and adventure activities.

For more information on family holidays and for general information on Germany, please contact the German National Tourist Office’s toll-free number, 1-877-315-6237, send an e-mail to gntonyc@d-z-t.com or visit GNTO’s Web site www.cometogermany.com

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