Beaches like Ipanema, pictured above, are just the beginning of kid-friendly fun in Rio. (Photo: Alamy)
Rio de Janeiro is mainly considered an adult playground thanks to its Carnival-like atmosphere and epic nightlife. Often forgotten is that the Marvelous City has a lot to offer children, too. Sun-kissed days building sandcastles and splashing around at Rio’s sprawling beaches are often more than enough to entertain your little ones; however, dig a little deeper and you’ll find a host of other kid-friendly activities across the city.
Culturally, Brazilians love children and welcome youngsters into restaurants, shows and stores. Grab the family and check out our favorite kid-friendly activities in Rio de Janeiro.
Swan Around the Lake in a Paddle Boat
Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas is undeniably one of Rio de Janeiro’s most picturesque waterfront spots. The lake’s walking and biking path have made it a favorite recreational hub for locals and visitors alike. In addition to bike rentals, it’s also possible to rent kitschy plastic swan-shaped paddle boats and float around the lake while enjoying the epic scenery. Pack a picnic and plan for an afternoon lounging around Lagoa.
Sunday Pedal on Copacabana’s Avenida Atlantica
Every Sunday the Avenida Atlantica closes its 2.5 miles of car lanes stretching along Copacabana Beach’s iconic black-and-white tiled promenade to allow pedestrians to run, skate, cycle or just meander at a relaxed local pace along the coast. Watch street performances, listen to music or grab a bite from street-food vendors. Along the route you’ll find toddler ride-on toys, push and peddle cars, and bikes available to rent for kids’ use, as well as multi-person surrey bikes the whole family can ride.
Play All Day at the Rio Water Planet in Barra
Rio’s Barra de Tijuca neighborhood is popular with local families thanks to its quieter beaches, shopping malls and fantastic water park, Rio Water Planet. With 42 water-based attractions, multiple restaurants and daily performances, it’s the largest water park in Latin America. A trip to the park will keep everyone from infants to teenagers entertained, especially on Rio’s hottest days — just remember to use water-resistant sunscreen!
Spot Monkeys and Toucans in the Botanical Garden
Founded in 1808 by the Portuguese King John VI, Rio’s Botanical Garden features more than 6,000 different species of tropical and subtropical plants and trees, including 900 varieties of palm. The garden is home to 140 species of birds; many have become used to humans, making it much easier to spot the endangered endemic white-necked hawk here than in the wild. The beautiful gardens are lovely to wander with the kids in tow; you’ll encounter amusing surprises like capuchin monkeys, tufted-ear marmosets and capybaras who roam around and delight younger animal lovers.
Dive Into Rio’s Aquarium
Like every city, Rio has its share of rainy days. Luckily there are many museums and galleries to visit, but the one that will leave kids with the sensation of being outdoors while inside is AquaRio, the largest aquarium in South America. Opened in 2016 in the city’s Port Zone, the immense five-story structure is home to more than 350 different species of marine animal. A 66-foot glass-enclosed tunnel winds it way underwater, giving visitors a truly immersive experience. Have an evening to spare? Children six and up, along with their parents, can even spend the night as part of the aquarium’s “Sleep with the Sharks” program.
Parks and Playgrounds
There are many neighborhood squares and parks with playgrounds for children in Rio de Janeiro. One of the most charming kid-friendly squares is Praça Nossa Senhora da Paz in Ipanema. The park is popular with many local families, and its proximity to a Line 4 metro means it’s easy to reach. Kids can explore a playground area with swings and slides, plus there’s ample space for kids to run around, ride bikes or play soccer.