In the City: The fantastical details of Gaudí’s architectural works generally intrigue youngsters. Parents who want to see La Sagrada Familia can reward the youngsters with the tower tour, while at La Pedrera, Gaudí’s mosaic-covered rooftop chimneys may remind kids of the hooded Darth Vader of Star Wars. The smartphone tour of Casa Batlló will astound everyone, but for a price. Gaudí's whimsical Parc Güell, with its imagery from the animal kingdom and hidden grottoes, is a particular favorite.
Speaking of animals, the city's world-class Aquarium, with its giant ocean tank that wraps around an 80m (262-ft.) corridor with a moving walkway on one side, is also a good bet. The Parc Zoológic has a fantastic primate collection and is located in the Parc de la Ciutadella, which also boasts a lake with rowboats for hire, swings, and other assorted kiddies' attractions. Museum-wise, a trip to the Maritime Museum, with its 16th-century galley and early submarine, could be combined with a jaunt on Las Golondrinas — quaint, double-decker pleasure boats that take you from the port to the breakwater.
Older children will find the Museu de la Xocolata (Chocolate Museum) enticing, and the Museu de la Ciència (Science Museum) has excellent hands-on exhibits for all ages. If the kids accompany you to the Fundació Miró and the Museu d’Art Nacional de Catalunya on Montjuïc, treat them to the Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car ride to the Castell. Other thrilling journeys are the gondola between Montjuïc and the Barceloneta beach and the tiny elevator inside the Columbus Monument for a 360-degree view. Sports fans of all ages will appreciate the Olympic Museum. The innovative science museum Cosmo Caixa (Carrer d’Isaac Newton, 26; www.cosmocaixa.es), a favorite with school groups, is filled with lots of cool interactive installations, like a walk through a rainforest, a chance to leave your handprint in a block of ice, or a scan of your body that shows where all of the bacteria live. It’s open daily 10am to 8pm, and general admission is 2.50€.
Then, of course, there are the beaches — most with showers, toilets, bars, and recliners for hire. Happy Park in L'Eixample, just off the Passeig de Gràcia, is a vast indoor all-weather fun park where tots can enjoy twister slides, ball pools, and other fun activities. There's also a day-care center for tots.
- On the Outskirts: The most popular family excursion is the trip up Tibidabo Mountain to Parc d'Atraccions Tibidabo, a century-old amusement park. The ride on the Funicular de Tibidabo (7.50€, or 4€ with amusement park entries) costs more than the public bus, but it’s more fun. To reach the funicular, take Metro Line 7 to Avinguda Tibidabo, exit onto Plaça Kennedy, and take Bus 196 (2.20€) to the funicular. This veteran amusement park, perched on top of the city's highest peak, provides death-defying attractions and a few gentler ones from bygone days. The Parc del Laberint d'Horta, meanwhile, is a neoclassical park on the outskirts of the city; and up in the Zona Alta above Pedralbes, the Parc del Castell de l'Oreneta has miniature train rides, weekend pony canters, and playgrounds with games for kids.
- Farther Afield: Montserrat, Catalonia's "spiritual heart," offers plenty of walking tracks amid its phantasmagoric terrain of huge rocks and outcrops, caves, and, of course, the monumental monastery.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.