So what’s a staycation? To me it means either doing a small vacation like trip (either day trip or multi-day trip) that is super close to home.
And that is exactly what we did! Our chosen location, one least thought of for people who live in Antigua, Guatemala, Guatemala City.
With my husband working a lot lately and the kids being on break from school, I wanted to do something special with just the three of us. I’ve heard of INGUAT, Instituto Guatemalteco de Turismo (Guatemala’s Tourism Board and Institue), and decided to do something we never done before as a family – hire a private guide for the whole trip. Normally, if we ever did private guides it would be for one particular tour, so this was something new and exciting for us by far.
INGUAT provides many amazing services from helping people plan their trip by working with accredited tour guides, to having police escorts if necessary, to working hard with different locations in Guatemala to provide the best and safest tourism services possible.
During our back-and-forth INGUAT sent over many different itineraries until we decided on the one that would work best for us. And they connected me with Norman, from Turismo Chapin, our bilingual guide.
Traveling as a single parent with two kids can be daunting, especially in a city I don’t know very well. Norman was a blessing on so many levels.
Things to Do In Guatemala City With Kids
Here is what we came up with for our two day stayaction:
Kids museum – Museo de los Ninos – We’ve been to a ton of kids museums all over the world, so what I’m about to say is full of impact – this is the best kids museum ever. Plus, it’s not only for super young kids my ten year old had as much fun as my four year old.
1. Service – every single exhibit has someone working it. They give you their full attention walking you through the process and explaining everything.
2. Exhibits – there are all sorts of hands-on and interactive exhibits for kids of all ages. Everything from earthquakes, to electricity, to dentistry, to supermarket shopping, to a huge ball fun park.
3. Size – the museum isn’t large, but you can easily spend over three hours there without realizing the time.
4. Story time – Check the daily schedule for theater times. The stories are fun and keep the kids really entertained.
Divercity Guatemala – This is such a new concept to me and apparently to Guatemala City as well. The chain was started in Bogota, Colombia and there are three other locations in South America, with the first one coming to Guatemala City.
This is definitely a full-on city for kids. Basically the idea behind Divercity is for kids to act like adults. They get to choose over 50 different careers, earn money and also get to spend money on things like attractions, sports and learning to drive.
When inside you will find buses, an airplane, fire station, vet clinic, banks, and so much more.
Your kids will feel like grown ups and can easily spend 5-6 hours here.
In the meantime, parents get to stay in the Parents daycare. Here you will find free internet, TV area and a cafe.
IRTRA Petapa – IRTRA is considered to be the best amusement park system in all of Central America. The main one which is an amusement park and water park is about two hours outside of the city. However, inside Guatemala City you can find one that is a perfect day trip with the kids.
The park has everything you can imagine for kids of all ages. There are kiddie rides that were perfect for my four year old. And plenty of roller coaster action.
This is where the private guide was the most helpful of all. Since my four year old couldn’t do the big boy rides, Norman accompanied my ten year old and had a blast going on the roller coasters and other crazy rides, that even if I was alone wouldn’t do with him.
Fun Restaurants for the Family in Guatemala City
Guatemala City has tons of great places to eat. However, only one that is truly a different type of experience. Nais restaurants are a main staple to Guatemala City, but their best one to visit is the Nais Aquarium Restaurant.
As the name promises, the entire restaurant is decorated with huge salt water fish tanks. And the main one you can stick your head inside (in glass) and find anything from moray eels to sharks.
The kids truly got a kick out of this and the food is great. You can find everything for every taste.
Imagine having a fish tank like an aquarium in your own house?
Where to Stay With the Family in Guatemala City
INGUAT chose the hotel for us – Grand Tikal Futura.
I’ve heard of this hotel before since it is part of the Tikal Futura Commercial Center which has a lot of stores, restaurants and even fun (smaller) activities for kids. However, I never thought of it as anything luxurious or remotely as beautiful as it was.
Needless to say, it was a great surprise. Since we got dropped off around 5 pm, we had time to fully enjoy the hotel.
First my kids hit the pool area. It looked like an indoor tropical island and we were the only ones there.
The hotel has several different restaurants and for dinner time we headed to Asia Grill & Wok and were in for an even bigger surprise. You get to make your own dishes. You chose the ingredients and watch them cook it for you. This in itself was a super fun attraction for both me and the kids.
The room was spacious, free internet and I have to say it was one of the best hotels we’ve stayed in throughout our Guatemala travels.
I would really recommend taking some time to enjoy Guatemala City’s kid activities. And for people staying longer in Guatemala, this is a must visit location especially if you want to do family fun time. Here is my full review of it.