Even though Turks are notorious pushovers for their children, Istanbul isn't really a kid-friendly destination; even the most privileged and well-educated children will get bored trudging around the recesses of ancient Byzantium. Istanbul does have a series of kid-related cultural events, though, including the Rahmi M. Koç Museum, Hasköy Cad. 5 (tel. 0212/369-6600; www.rmk-museum.org.tr), a hands-on series of exhibitions a la the Smithsonian in the United States showcasing the history of human ingenuity in the areas of transportation, industry, and communications. The transparent washing machines, carburetors, decommissioned submarine bridge, trains, and aircraft will definitely push the buttons of any preteen boy (and then some) and are definitely worth a visit. The addition of the planetarium lets the viewer "live the experience of the cosmos in a virtual environment." (Advance reservation is required.) Admission is 10TL for adults (5TL for students) plus an additional 4TL (3TL students) for entry to the submarine exhibit (children 7 and under not allowed) and 5TL (3TL students) for the planetarium. The museum is open Tuesday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 7pm.
The Museum of Energy at SantralIstanbul is a real educational hoot. Set in the old Silahtaraga electric plant, kids can climb up the steel stairs to the control room, get a close-up look at some seriously huge turbines, and pedal an exercise bike rigged to generate power to a radio and a hair dryer. The museum has 21 other cool interactive hands-on displays that show you how power is generated. Admission to the Museum of Energy is included in the 7TL price of admission to the Main Galleries, or free on its own.
Miniaturk, Imrahor Cad., Sütlüce (on the eastern banks of the Golden Horn opposite Eyüp; tel. 0212/222-2882; www.miniaturk.com.tr), which opened in 2003, is an open-air mini-museum sprouting models of Turkey's most-loved monuments reconstructed here at 1/25th of their actual size. The park is open from 9am to 5pm in winter, later in summer. Admission is 10TL.
Kids will probably be excited to scale the ramparts of the fortresses at Rumeli Hisari or Yedikule.
If a day trip to the Princes' Islands was not on your to-do list, you may want to add Büyükada (preferably in warmer weather; the islands become dreary ghost towns in the fall and winter) so that your progeny can hoist themselves onto one of the horse-drawn carriages waiting for them at the other end of the ferry. As a pedestrian island, these carriages are the main mode of transport. You can also take a donkey ride up to the Aya Yorgi Church and views of the Marmara Sea that even teenagers can appreciate.
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.