Milan With Toddlers
Disclaimer: The following is a drama-filled account of my very fun, week-long adventure in Milan where I tell you all about the top two attractions when traveling with kids in the most detail and include tips and tricks for your visit. If you want the short version that includes more things to see in Milan (in less detail) check out Top ten things to do in Milan with kids Keep reading to get the very best tips for your trip… or to get your drama fill.
The search for family-friendly Milan hotels
This was my first trip to Milan since having twins and my first trip where I would be alone with them on the weekdays while my hubby was at work. Our trip started off a bit rough. I called our hotel, the Westin Palace Milan 2 days before our flight to arrange for cribs for my twin toddlers. The hotel was centrally located and I would be able to easily get around alone with my two toddlers in tow. After being placed on hold several times, the very nice, but very worried customer service agent gave me the news that the hotel was overbooked and they had given our room away. I contacted the corporate customer service department and all they could say was essentially, “oops, these things happen.” After this experience, I always call a few days ahead of a trip to check on our reservation. With two days left before our arrival, it was difficult to find availability. We booked the Ramada Plaza Milan. The room itself was actually really nice, but I would not recommend this hotel because of its location and disastrous customer service.
Where to Eat in Milan with toddlers
The upside of our new hotel was I was in a residential neighborhood and ate at a few very delicious local restaurants including Mi Casa – an amazing toasteria! I swear, only Italians can make a ham and cheese sandwich taste that good. I loaded up our mini fridge with fresh fruits, veggies, and sandwich supplies. A few things to know before you head to the market in Italy: You have to pay a deposit to use the carts so bring change. There are usually smaller carts or baskets on wheels on the side that don’t require a deposit but those don’t leave the store. When buying produce, you are supposed to glove your hand using the provided food service gloves before touching the produce. I learned that after a local woman politely tried to hide her disgust when I picked up a peach with my bare hand. I looked around and was suddenly embarrassed when I saw everyone else had put the provided gloves on first. When traveling, we always stop at the grocery store so even if our kids eat a cheeseburger and fries for dinner, they will at least have healthy snacks. Eating some meals at home also helps with the cost of the trip. We were settled in our hotel and had our groceries in the mini fridge (I always have the hotel empty out the mini-fridge to make space), it was time to go sightseeing.
The top attraction for all ages in Milan is, of course, the Duomo Di Milano.
As an architecture lover, I could stare at it for hours. It has the most amount of statues of any church in the world. 3,400 in fact, including 135 Gargoyles. Do you think your kids can spot them all? Children 5 and under can explore the Duomo for free. On clear days you can see all the way to the Alps from the top. For a slightly higher fee, you can skip the stairs and take the elevator to the top instead. In addition to hosting the worlds 5th largest Christian church by mass, Piazza Del Duomo is a bustling shopping center. You will find everything from Prada to H&M. I personally enjoy window shopping. We spent the full day exploring the area. My toddler had the time of her life running around chasing pigeons. She also loved the attention from fellow tourists. At one point she had about 20 people form a circle around her – she relished every moment.
My son soaked up the view with me. We all ate delicious food. Be sure to stop at Luini Panzerotti for one of their famous savory Panzerottis. Think deep fried donuts with meat and cheese inside. – I had you at deep fried right? Remember to bring cash, they don’t accept cards. Right next to the Duomo, there is a large building called Il Mercado Del Duomo. The first floor is a coffee shop, the second floor is a Bistro with very reasonably priced grab-and-go items along with a small market. Like most restaurants in Milan, They only have 1 high chair so we didn’t dine in. The 3rd floor has a posh restaurant and clean restrooms. Remember to bring small bills/coins for restroom access. If you are traveling with a stroller they have an accessible restroom but no changing table. I run into this somewhat frequently so I’ve become skilled at changing my toddlers in their fully reclined stroller seats. Click here to see my top-ranked double travel stroller.
Getting around Milan alone with twin toddlers is exhausting!
It seriously took forever. I had to find the accessible metro stations with elevators – the closest one was a 30-minute walk. I thought of baby wearing one toddler on the front and one in back, but the thought of their weight plus carrying a diaper bag around all day made me cringe. The non-accessible metro near our hotel was about 3 flights down so carrying the bulky 45lb stroller plus both toddlers up and down was also out. Cabs were a no-go because I needed car seats and had no interest in lugging those around all day. So instead, I found a parking garage a short walk from Centrale Station. I got turned around inside the station for a bit because it was HUGE. Since I was lost anyway we stopped at a restaurant inside the station and grabbed a fresh juice and baked veggie chips – yum! To finally get to my train I needed to take 3 separate elevators. When booking a hotel, do yourself a favor and try to book a hotel along the M3 Yellow line. Every single stop has an accessible entrance and the line hits all of the major tourist spots. There are also trolleys you can take. Some of them are historical, making a fun experience for kids.
Parco Sempione is a great place to visit in Milan with toddlers
A couple of days later we explored Parco Sempione. It’s so much more than a public park. Situated on 116 acres, it’s also home to several top attractions. Castelo Sforzesco is free to explore and you can purchase entry to a number of museums inside for 5 euros. The courtyard often has displays set up inside for example during fashion week. Keep a close eye on little ones around the exterior the barrier to the moat area has really huge gaps.
Just outside the castle is a large fountain. My son was completely mesmerized by it – be sure to take a look.
Milan Aquarium and Arch of Peace
A short walk away, you’ll find Acquario Civico which is also free to enter. This aquarium is small but well appointed and you’ll appreciate the AC on a hot summer day. Ask the staff about the free area WiFi on your way out. Arco Deal Pace (Arch of Peace) is a must see beautiful arch modeled after the one in Paris. Since it’s in a park and not in the middle of a busy street its a lot easier to take your kids for a close look. We completed our day with dinner at a nearby pizzeria. A perfect day.
Weekend/Day trips from Milan with kids
After our adventure in Milan, we took a trip to Locarno, Switzerland and then Lake Lugano. We also took a day trip to Lucern the kids loved running around Chapel Bridge. Before heading back to Milan for our flight home we spent a day at Leolandia – I cannot recommend that place enough! It’s a theme park with learning opportunities like exploring all of Italy in Miniature. Note that it’s best for babies, toddlers, and younger kids. Other areas within a 3-hour drive or train ride from Milan are Lake Como, Venice, Lucern, and Cinque Terra.
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