Boy sitting at Community Center in Granada, Nicaragua

You’ve arrived in Granada, Nicaragua with your young children.  You’ve checked out the fancy outdoor dinning of La Calzada, you’ve wandered through the trinket tables and done an exhaustive walk about the town.  It’s time for something cheap, easy and fun to do with the family.

Here are a few options:

1.  Art Class at Café de Arte, $4 for a 2 hour class.  9-11am on Sats for kids 3+.

Amy is a lovely expat and encouraging art instructor.  She welcomes the children into an open-air room opposite of a small café.  (Where we may or may not sit and spy on our 3 year old).  The kids quietly paint under her guidance for two beautiful hours.

Directions to Café de Arte: From the Central Park (looking at the church), walk down La Calzada and make the first left.  The café is on the left.  If you’ve reached The Garden Café, you’ve gone too far.   Phone 2552 6461.

Boy painting in art class at Café de Arte.

 2.  Cooking class at Pan de Vida, $3 for 1-2 hours.  3pm on Sats for kids 3+.  

Let your kids have fun in the kitchen with Andrea and Julio, owners of Granada’s brand new Pan de Vida.  Be sure to check their Facebook page to confirm if the “Tiny Baker” classes will be held on a particular weekend.  Maybe you can get a unique batch of cookies out of the deal.

Directions to Pan de Vida:  Located at 305 Calle El Arsenal, just half a block from Kathy’s Waffle House (going towards the lake) and across the street from the San Francisco Church.  Phone 8186 0719.

3.  Carriage Ride from Central Park, $10-15 for 45 min.

If you walk along the central park, you’ll be sure to see horses lined up and waiting to take your family on a carriage ride.  If you go anywhere near these horses, someone will approach you and offer you a “special price” for a tour.  Do not pay more than $15 for 45 minutes (the going rate).  If you can haggle in Spanish, you might be able to knock it down to $10.

There are two tour options–through the town to the old railroad station, or to the lake.  We chose the breezy ride along the lake, and asked our driver to take us into the gated park area (at no additional cost).  It was refreshing on a hot morning, but a little hazardous for little ones.  We almost lost our little guy when we went over a speed hump!

Horse-drawn carriage in Granada, Nicaragua

4.  Taekwondo Classes at Community Center, $20 per child/month, Mon/Wed/Fri 4-5:30pm. 

For the longer-term visit in Granada, you might want to find a way to burn off some kiddo energy.  For $20 per month, you can send your child to every class, once per week, or just randomly.  It’s a fun activity and a great way for them to make friends.

The Community Center is located right in front of the central park, across from the church.  

5.  Bell Tower lookout from La Merced Church, $1 each for adults, no charge for kids 3 and under.

This is a great place to get a panoramic view of the colorful city of Granada.  The spiral staircase to the bell tower is very narrow and and not for the claustrophobic.  You are not allowed to ring the bells, so be prepared to be severely tempted.

Bonus–Turn the corner around the La Merced Church and you’ll find Xalteva Church in two or so blocks (heading away from the central park).  There is a pretty, shady stone park in front of Xalteva Church.  I recommend stopping here to recover from your claustrophobia while your kids mingle with local children and explore the area.

Lookout from La Merced Bell Tower in Granada

6.  Pool in Spa Granada, $5 per person, free for children under 2.

Mombacho Beach Club is tucked inside Hotel Spa Granada.  It’s the biggest public pool in the area, and a fantastic way to cool off in the late morning or afternoon.

Located at Calle Atravesada (the street behind the Community Center) across from Bancentro.  Phone 2552 4678.

Update!

I found a much more private pool just a short taxi ride away from the central park.  (10 cordobas/person).  Visit “La suegra del Gordo” for swimming and pool-side dining.

Admission is 80 cordobas/people over age 9, and 50 cordobas for younger kids.  ($3.15 & $2).  Located on Calle La Islita.  2552-1913.

 7.  Playgrounds by the lake (sometimes charge $1 entrance fee).

While this “gated” area is a nice place to take the kids during the day, we hear it is dangerous at night.  Our son enjoyed the playgrounds along the lake, even though some slides were broken.  Sounds terrific, right?  I still think it’s worth a visit.  There is a pre-schooler-sized playground that is in excellent condition.

To get there, take a taxi.  You might say, “Vamos al parque de juegos en el lago.”  It is about a 2 minute drive from La Calzada’s restaurant area.

 8.  Tip Top’s Indoor Playground.

If you’re dying for some relief from the midday heat, you can always go to Tip Top.  It is basically a MacDonald’s.  You can walk right into the playground area, crash on a plastic bench and watch your kids tumble through the tunnels and down the slide.  A waiter will come and take your order.  You can simply order a drink if you are not interested in happy meals.  The air-conditioning is constant and strong.  Do consider it, especially if you need to kill some time in town.

Tip Top is in Plaza Independencia.  If you are in the park on the church side, and looking at the church, make a left.  Tip top is at the end of this short cobblestone street on the right farthest corner.

 9.  Tour the Isletas, $10 per adult, small kids free.

Would you enjoy a 1.5 hour river boat ride right off the mainland of Granada?  If so, book yourself a tour of the Isletas.  They were formed 20,000 years ago by the towering Mombacho Volcano, and are currently inhabited by a wide range of occupants–from a solo Snow Egret to the ex-president of Nicaragua.  Some islands are home to fisherman families, who scrub their laundry next door to islands with heli-pads.  There are even a few restaurants on the water.  It’s an interesting break from town life.

We found a tour company right next to Pan de Vida, called Sol-Tur, across from San Francisco Church.  We took the next morning’s 9am boat tour, and were lucky enough to be the only people scheduled!  If you want to try to get a private boat tour like us, book last minute (see, my disorganized ways do pay off sometimes).  Call Indra at 7885-7675 or email her at indra.soltur@gmail.com.

Tour of Las Isletas in Granada, Nicarauga

10.  Visit the Puedo Leer Library. 

If your kids would like to give back to the community, or simply socialize with other children, visit Puedo Leer.  It is Granada’s first free lending library, created by an organization committed to providing books to the local children.  I stopped in with my one year old daughter for an hour, and she instantly fell in love with the librarian, Ivania.  The library has books for people of all ages, and is a quiet and peaceful place to hang out.  You can arrange to volunteer through story reading, teaching English or leading arts and crafts classes as well.

Located at Calle Santa Lucía, 30 meters west of the Clasa La Flor Panamenia.  

My directions:  From the San Francisco Church, head away from the central park (if you’re looking at the church, go left one block).  Pass Il Padrino Hotel and make a right at a Pulperia across the street and on a corner.  Puedo Leer is a half block down Calle Lucía, just after Casa Granada Boutique Hotel.

Contact Helen Korengold to volunteer at 8457-8423 or helenkay2003@yahoo.com or just drop by and peruse some books.  

Hopefully, this list of fun and cheap things to do with kids in Granada will make your time here more enjoyable.  If I stumble across some more simple and sweet activities for young ones, I’ll be sure to add them here!

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