Despite being world-renowned as a hub of high finance, fashion, and design, Milan is after all an Italian city—and all Italians dote on children. The city’s rather formal facade belies its many family-friendly attractions, museums, gelaterie, and play parks, and everywhere you go, your bambini will be worshipped, hugged, and multilaterally adored.
Where to start? Chief among attractions that all kids will love is the ride up to the Duomo rooftop for views across the red rooftops of the city and the new skyscraper district, all the way to the Alps. The Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologica Leonardo da Vinci is stuffed full of fun, interactive activities for kids. Children ages 4 to 11 can enjoy workshops (usually in Italian) at the Sforzinda children’s area in Castello Sforzesco’s 14th-century dungeons while parents explore the decorative arts upstairs. A picnic lunch and a run in the adjoining Parco Sempione is a welcome respite from cultural overload.
The Museo dei Bambini (Via Enrico Besana 12; www.muba.it; tel. 02/4398-0402) doesn’t have a permanent collection, but offers creative and educational workshops for children ages 2 and up. Opening times and cost of workshops vary, but tend to run around 10€.
Another great green public space is the Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli. Here there are playgrounds, roundabouts, and a little electric train that chugs around the park. The Corso Venezia side of the park is home to the Museo di Storia Naturale (www.comune.milano.it/museostorianaturale; tel. 02/8846-3337; Tues–Sun 9am–5:30pm; admission 5€, children under 18 enter free), where you can take the kids to see dinosaur skeletons and the carcasses of massive bugs. Parco Solari (www.milanosport.it/impianto/28/solari/110; tel. 02/469-5278; Via Montevideo 20) has an indoor pool.
The newly restored Darsena, the historic port of the canal network in the Navigli area, offers plenty of stimulation for the little ones. It’s a great place to sit down with a picnic or gelato and watch the boats go by, either in one of the seating areas or at the cafes along the water.
Near the Linate airport, just east of the city center, the Idroscalo park (Via Circonvallazione Idroscalo 29, Segrate; www.idroscalo.info; no phone) features a manmade lake that was originally created for seaplanes to land. This area has now been turned into a park and is open daily (summer 7am–9pm; winter 7am–5pm).
Most restaurants will happily rustle up a child’s portion of pasta and tomato sauce, and if all else fails, it’s usually easy to bribe any child with a visit to one of Milan’s delicious ice cream shops; try Biancolatte (Via Turati 30; tel. 02/6208-6177) for baked goods and ice-cream cakes, and Rinomata Gelateria (Ripa di Porta Ticinese 1; tel. 02/5811-3877) in the Navigli area for one of the most traditional ice-cream cones in town.
Italy’s version of Disneyland, Gardaland, is located a couple of hours from Milan in Castlenuovo del Garda, but plenty of other options lie closer to the city. If you are looking to beat the heat in the summertime, the Acquatica waterpark (Via Gaetano Airaghi 61; www.acquaticapark.it; tel. 02/4820-0134) on the far western outskirts of town has splashy water slides, rides, and picnic areas. It opens at the end of May and closes the end of August. To get there, take the subway’s lilac line (also called MM5) to the San Siro stop, then either bus 80 (toward Quinto Romano) or the 423 bus (toward Settimo Milanese), both of which stop directly in front of the water park. The park is open daily 10am to 7pm. An all-day ticket costs 19€ adults and 13€ for children under 12 (on Sunday, adult tickets are 20€). Children under 100cm tall enter for free. Enter after 2:30pm for slightly reduced tickets. Pools are 8€ on the weekend, and parking is 2€.
About 30 minutes northeast of Milan in the direction of Bergamo, the Leolandia amusement park (Via Vittorio Veneto 52, Capriate San Gervasio; www.leolandia.it) has rides and games for kids of all ages, as well as the delightful Minitalia, a replica of the major cities and monuments in Italy. More compact and manageable than Gardaland, it may be better suited to smaller children, with features such as Peppa Pig World and Thomas the Tank Engine. Tickets purchased at the park cost 39.50€, but can be half that online. Children up to 89cm (about 3 ft.) enter free. Leolandia opens in late March and stays open through Halloween. In early spring and fall, it’s open only weekends; in June and July it’s open Wednesday to Sunday; and in August it’s open daily. The Z301 bus from Milan to Bergamo, managed by Nord Est Trasporti (www.nordesttrasporti.it; tel. 800/905-150), stops near Leolandia, at Capriate San Gervasio.
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.