Just a few metro stops from Red Square in central Moscow is one of the oldest zoos in Europe. Once a favorite place for Muscovites to stroll in blooming meadows, the park is now home to a great variety of animals - from penguins to gorilla's, elephants, and giraffes. Established in 1864, it's a well-kept place and feels like a nature park with many ponds and flowering trees.
It even has a special area that's best described as a "contact zoo", where children can get up close to and even touch familiar farm animals like sheep, goats and cows. After a long walk in the zoo, the snack stand offers freshly made donuts with powdered sugar.
|Metro station||Barrikaddnaya station, Moscow|
|Entrance adults||500 RUB|
|Entrance under 17||Free|
If you want to take the children to a museum, the Moscow Planetarium is right next to the zoo. It has an observatory as well as several astronomy halls and even a 4D movie theater to tickle all the senses. The planetarium keeps its youngest visitors in mind, showing them how the solar system works and letting them take part in various experiments.
The interactive Lunarium museum has more than 80 exhibits explaining the laws of nature, astronomy, and physics in an easy understood way. Visitors can see how the Earth rotates around its own axes and how the seasons change. The Large Star Hall lets you stand under the stars even when it's a clear, bright day outside.
Gorky Central Park of Leisure
Gorky Park stretches along the banks of the Moskva River. In winter in turns into a giant skating rink, while in spring and summer it offers bicycle, scooter and skateboard rentals. The park serves as a refuge in the sweltering summer, which can be quite unbearable in the big city, as well as an inspiration in the spring, when one can just lie back and gaze at the tulips in bloom.
Gorky Park has many children’s playgrounds as well as catamaran rides on the water and trucks selling ice cream and corn on the cob. In summer, children can make their own clay sculptures and then wash off in the nearby fountain.
Plan to spend a long time here, because it’s hard to pull the children away from the park. The park is also the home of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, a current cult site in the art world. It sometimes has very nice exhibitions for children but is just as interesting for adults.
Across from the park entrance is the Muzeon Art Park (a resting place for sculptural remnants of the Soviet era) as well as the Tretyakov Gallery.
Boat tour on the Moskva River
The Moskva River meanders through Moscow, and when the weather is warm, it’s worth taking a boat trip to see Russia’s capital from a different vantage point. Boats of various size stop along the Moskva River promenade in Gorky Park, advertising trips in several different price categories.
Some even offer audio tours and lunch. Most of the tours last about two and a half hours. A nighttime boat tour against the backdrop of Moscow’s glittering lights might just be the perfect way to end a day in the big city.
Underwater world at Moskvarium
One of the largest aquariums in the world, named Moskvarium, can be found in the Exhibition of National Economic Achievements (VDNH) exhibition complex in the north of Moscow. It opened in 2015 and lets visitors enter an underwater world that’s home to more than 12,000 aquatic beings.
It’s supposedly the only place of its kind in all of Russia and Europe. The Moskvarium even has a center with seven specially made pools where you can swim with the dolphins and get to know these intelligent animals, although at RUB 15,000 (about EUR 200 per person to swim with one dolphin) the experience is quite expensive.
The underwater world is open every day from 10.00 to 22.00 except at last Monday of every month.
Stolovaya No 57 Moscow
Anyone who comes to Moscow will want to see Red Square, and it’s worth it. Once you’re there, you’ll also want to go to the famous GUM department store (“the home department store of the country”) and its top floor, where you’ll find Stolovaya No 57, a favorite lunch spot in Moscow.
If you’re a child of the Soviet era, the food there will bring back fond memories of frankfurters, mashed potatoes, and kefir or fruit compote, meat patties, meatballs, and dressed herring as well as a rice pudding and cranberry kissel.
This eatery is included in the world’s top tourist guidebooks and ther’s always a queue, but it moves quickly. Stolovaya No 57 lets you eat in the heart of Moscow for a very friendly price – you’ll never pay more than EUR 10 for a lunch for one adult and a child.
Detsky Mir on Lubyanka Square
Many of us have dreamed of visiting the New York toy store in the movie Home Alone 2. In Moscow you can boast that you've been to the Central Children's Store, which was formally called Detsky Mir or Children's World. The shopping center opened in the 1950's and was extensively renovated just a couple of years ago. it's in the Lubyanka district of Central Moscow, just a short walk from Red Square, and boasts almost a hundred separate stores, each of which has done its best to make children feel like they've arrived in paradise.
Children run from store to store, climb in carriages and slide down the slides in the middle of the hallways. The glass-enclosed rooftop atrium features characters from Russian folk tales. Climb out on to the roof for a grand view over central Moscow.