Travelling with kids is usually a compromise. Rarely are vacation destinations a win-win for food loving parents and kids alike, but with the help of Jennifer from Sugar, Spice and Glitter, we've rounded up some of the best cities around the world for foodies travelling with kids. We've included the foods you must eat to make the trip worth it, and the must-do's to keep the kids happy.
If you love culinary travel and have a list of dream food destinations as long as your arm but... you're worried it might not be a great idea for your young family, think again! We've put together a list of global kid friendly food destinations that will work for the whole family. You'll see the world, eat some delicious food and have some wonderful culinary experiences all while making precious family memories.
We've collected some great Canadian and international food destinations with kid friendly restaurants and lots of activities for the whole family. No golden arches unless that's what the whole family wants!
Why: Montreal is my favourite Canadian food city - I even went up a dress size during our last one-week stay. It has an impressive selection of foodie and family-friendly activities and they are not averse to the idea of kids in nice restaurants!
Must-eat: Smoked meat, croissants, crepes, poutine, foie gras. Click here to check out my top ten Montreal restaurants.
Why: A city obsessed with food and nature, Vancouver has an unmatched array of food heritages and some of the most gorgeous natural sights your children will ever take in.
Must-eat: Fresh fish (or fish and chips), some great sushi or hot pot, ice cream, and surprisngly, doughnuts (to go with some great pour-over coffee). Try Cartem’s Donuterie, Hapa Izakaya, Hons Wun Tun House, and keep your eyes out for the fusion food trucks (here are some of FBC's favourite Vancouver food trucks)!
Why: Boston is just dripping in American history… and butter sauce for all of their decadent seafood. It’s also notable for being incredibly kid-friendly.
Must-do: With older kids, the Freedom Trail and other historic sites are must-do’s, while younger children will also enjoy all of the harbour-front activities, from duck walks to whale watching cruises. The Boston Children’s Museum also has a $1 Friday admission!
Why: The quintessiential American foodie city, Chicago goes head to head with NYC for it’s food credentials, and some would say that it’s more down-to-earth roots give it a winning edge.
Must-eat: Check out my post on the Top Ten Chicago Restaurants for Foodies with Kids.
Why: Ok, so you might get rained on for half of your stay, but it’s still worth the gamble to visit Seattle, home of some of the best farmer’s markets in the country and some pretty amazing salmon.
Must-eat: You can’t visit Seattle without hitting up Pike Place market - the top farmer’s market and the birthplace of Starbucks. Seattle has a revolving list of best restaurants and food trucks are ubiquitous. Also be sure to check out Taste if you hit up the Seattle Arts Museum.
Why: While you can’t go wrong with San Franciso’s sister, San Diego, SF mildly beats out San Diego just based on its cultural diversity.
Must-eat: While SF is home to some amazing world-class restaurants, one should not overlook Chinatown, Ghiradelli Square, Clam Chowder served in a Sourdough bread bowl… and toast? Some places to visit include Arizmendi Bakery for pizza, Bi-rite Creamery for ice cream, Savor, and Town Hall for modern cuisine.
Why: Sydney has been on the world foodie map for almost a decade, but is still overlooked all too often because… well, 23 hour flights. Perth is also well worth checking out.
Must-eat: Tiger pie, Asian cafe cuisine (the best hybrid resto-concept ever – the Buddha Bowl is a safe bet), and lamb (thanks, NZ.). Here are some places to try: Umi delivers your sushi on a train and is located beside some great attractions, go to Harry’s Café de Wheels for the tiger pie, and you’re guaranteed a good view of the Harbourfront at Sean’s Panorama.
Why: The beaches, the food, and the affordable luxury (after the initial plane ticket), Thailand has long been one of my favourite family destinations and it’s lustre isn’t fading.
Must-eat: All the things. My favourites are Tom yam, laap, khao soi, and any phat (noodle) dish. Thailand’s best restaurants are little unnamed mom and pop operations along the side of the road – opt for the most crowded and delicious smelling venues.
Why: You cannot think European Food City without immediately thinking of Paris. No longer home to the most Michelin stars (Tokyo has won that crown), Paris still has a stellar food reputation and a rich culinary history.
Must-eat: All the breads, chocolates, cheese, and bistro meals you can handle. Don’t expect anywhere to be happy to see strollers, but Les 400 Coups has scheduled storytimes and kids’ art hours along with a traditional French bistro menu. Try Berthillon for ice cream , Le Relais de l’Entrecote for traditional steak frites and no decision fatigue.
Why: Everything note-worthy happening in world cuisine has some trace of Barcelona in it. A laid-back city with gorgeous architecture and a carefree attitude towards kids.
Must-eat: Tapas. Just tapas. Make sure you get some ham, salted cod, olives, and eggs somewhere in there, but you can’t go wrong with a million tiny plates. Mom and pop joints are a safe bet in most areas of Spain if travelling with kids, and you can ask the hotel staff if one of the many nearby Michelin star restaurants may cater to children. Txapela in Plaça Catalunya is wonderful!
Why: It’s the city of chocolate. Brussels has a sense of humour like no other European city, and as a result is incredibly laid-back and child-friendly.
Must-eat: While it may be stereotypical to say “chocolate, waffles, and frites” you won’t go wrong trying any of those here. Add to the list croquettes and pain a la Grecque (Greek bread). Some great places to go with kids include Capoue for ice cream, waffles stands around the city, and Canterbury. An excellent “chain” is Leon de Bruxelles for mussels and frites.
Why: Belfast and Dublin have been fast rising stars in Europe and now both are duking it out for culinary success. Dublin has it all, from pub grub to Michelin star dining (and an increasing amount of multicultural influences), and it’s a low-key setting for the kids.
Must-eat: A good Sunday roast, pub classics like the Scotch Egg, and some Irish lamb. Places you'll want to try include Butler’s Chocolate Café, Ely – real, Irish food and a welcoming staff, and Odessa – modern food and a grown-up setting that welcomes kids.
Why: Home to the most Michelin stars than any city on Earth, as well as some of the best street food you will ever experience, Tokyo also knows how to have fun and boasts an impressive amount of kids’ activities.
Must-eat: Sushi, ramen, hot pot, and anything you can find from a street vendor. Tokyo also has an impressive array of other Asian cuisines readily available. Sometaro (traditional Japanese food in a fun atmosphere), Gyoza Stadium (a mini-amusement park dedicated to dumplings), Sweets Forest (dessert emporium helmed by 8 world-class chefs), and Alice’s Fancy Dining (Alice in Wonderland-themed chain)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Why: Buenos Aires is a laid-back city with attractions for kids and food for the adults. Some would describe it as a bit of Europe with better weather – but it has a Latin vibe all of it’s own.
What to Eat: You can’t go wrong with steak in Buenos Aires – the city also is known for great empanadas, dulce de leche, and sticky croissants (medialunas). Places to try include Cumaná, Cabaña Las Lilas, and La Payuca.
São Paulo, Brazil
Why: A thriving cultural hotspot, São Paulo is laid-back enough for families, with beaches, museums, and some 12,500 restaurants! Even if it’s not your final destination, many South American trips involve a stop in São Paulo, so why not make the most of it?
Jennifer is the blogger behind Sugar, Spice and Glitter, a parenting inspiration, hands-on learning, and family foodie site. Trained as a psychologist, she currently runs Child’s Garden Montessori daycare and can’t wait until her next vacation.