Spain with kids

by Lee Rose Emery

With Spring break around the corner, if you can swing it, why not consider a European family vacation! Here’s a link to a piece I wrote about our recent trip to Spain for family travel site,, which I hope will inspire you. We have found that our family’s European holidays have created so many incredible memories. I hope you have the chance to create some European adventures of your own.

“Barcelona and Madrid are two very different cities, but both offer wonderful cultural opportunities for families to explore while in Spain. I’m so glad we had a chance to visit both destinations with our kids recently. Here are some highlights of our fun-filled Spanish cultural extravaganza.


Madrid with Kids Itinerary Highlights

Hotel Ritz

We kicked off our trip at Hotel Ritz by Belmond. Staying at this landmark hotel with my 20th-century kids made us all reflect upon a bit of European history. The hotel was commissioned by King Alfonso XIII in 1910 and is one of the grand luxury hotels of Europe. The lavish interiors and the scale of its grand salon, where we sipped tea upon our arrival, gave us a glimpse of a bygone era. Breakfast in the elegant dining room in the mornings was a treat as well, and of course the world-class “ritzy” service for which the Ritz is famous certainly allowed us to experience the royal treatment firsthand. We stayed in two beautiful adjoining rooms, ideal for a family of four.

The Prado Museum

The Prado Museum is next door to the Ritz Madrid, and its vast painting and sculpture collections — among the most extensive in the world — are impressive. Although the kids did not have a huge amount of patience for classical painting (or “old-fashioned art,” as they call it), a wide range of kids’ art books and toys in the museum gift shop piqued their interest.

Picasso’s anti-war icon, “Guernica,” which hangs at the nearby Museo Reina Sofia, did wow them, however. I think they will always remember the powerful and expressive black and white images.

Palacio Real de Madrid

Palacio Real de Madrid

Palacio Real de Madrid, the city’s royal palace, is mind-boggling in size and extravagance. Standing in the Spanish royal halls and touring the enormous private chambers brought the power of the monarchy to life. The elaborate interiors, decorated with floor-to-ceiling fabrics, mammoth crystal chandeliers and intricate antique furnishings, are incredibly grand and a must-see.

Retiro Park

Retiro Park, also a short walk from the Ritz, provides endless opportunities for family fun. The park is abuzz with rowboats, places to run and play, and bustling cafés to enjoy lunch or a hot chocolate. We brought a soccer ball and spent a day weaving in and out of the well-manicured maze-like paths.


Barcelona with Kids Itinerary Highlights

Barcelona a little over an hour from Madrid by plane, was the next stop on our Spanish holiday. The city feels quite urban but is perched on the Mediterranean Sea. The fact that we could go to the beach in February was a real treat. It wasn’t balmy, but it was warm enough to kick a soccer ball around and feel a light sea breeze. Barcelona is also a great city for walking, with many vast pedestrian areas. We loved strolling up the famous Las Ramblas boulevard, people-watching and snacking on churros dipped in chocolate along the way.

Splendom Suites

Staying at Splendom Suites, an aparthotel in the Eixample district, really made us feel like locals. The neighborhood was residential and quiet, yet near enough to many impressive sights, including Gaudi’s eccentric masterpieces a short walk away. We had a two-room apartment, which was well designed and tastefully decorated. It had a complete kitchen (with a Nespresso machine for Mom) and even a washing machine. When traveling with kids like mine, whose churros dipped in chocolate wind up dripping on shirts, that can be a lifesaver.

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La Sagrada Família

La Sagrada Família, Gaudi’s magnificent cathedral, is a sight to behold. Construction on the building started in 1882 and is not yet finished. It has a contemporary design, which especially appeals to kids. Standing inside the white stone structure, flooded with colorful reflections from vibrant stained glass windows, really is otherworldly. The artistry made a powerful impression on all of us.

Park Guell

Another Gaudi masterpiece is Park Guell. There are many lovely paths for walking, benches for picnicking and even some little cafes where you can dine with a panoramic view of the city.

Picasso Museum

Wandering through Old Town’s narrow streets, window shopping and ducking in and out of tapas spots, was also great fun for the family. The Picasso Museum is tucked in the Born (Old Town). It’s small, so you can see the whole museum in less than an hour, making it an easy family-friendly cultural stop. My kids loved seeing his early sketches.

Palau de la Música Catalana

One of our favorite sights was the music center, Palau de la Música Catalana, which has to be the most fanciful modernist building in Europe. Its elaborate mosaic pillars and a stunning stained-glass dome window inside make it a spectacular place to visit, or better yet, see a concert.

barcelona football with kids

FC Barcelona Football (Soccer) Match

Deluxe accommodations, museums and palaces aside, if you asked my kids which cultural experience in Spain was their favorite, they’d vote hands down for the FC Barcelona football (soccer) match at Camp Nou, Barcelona’s impressive outdoor stadium. Team star Leo Messi made a hat trick, and though we were in a crowd of nearly 100,000 people, of course the kids like to believe it was just for them, in honor of our family’s visit to Spain.

TIP: Purchasing tickets to La Sagrada Familia, the Picasso Museum and FC Barcelona matches/Camp Nou will help to ensure access and save time standing in line.

Want Help Planning a Family Vacation to Spain?

Need more comprehensive guidance? CB! Vacation Consultants specialize in helping families book travel to top destinations around the world. Our expert consultants do everything from recommending and booking accommodations (including a qualified options not featured on Ciao Bambino) to developing comprehensive multi-stop itineraries, including activities and vetted guides. For more information and to request assistance, go to the CB! Vacation Consultants page.

Relevant Links:

Best family hotels and things to do in Spain with kids

Best family hotels and things to do in Madrid with kids 

Best family hotels and things to do in Barcelona with kids

Tips from a local: Best things to do in Madrid with kids 

Introduction to Barcelona with kids

A guide to Barcelona’s beaches

Editor’s Note: The Ritz Madrid and Splendom Suites provided Ciao Bambino with a media package to facilitate our review. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Lee Rose Emery. 


{ Comments on this entry are closed } in TurkeyWe have been incredibly lucky with our fantastic travel opportunities over the past two years. I wanted to share our latest adventure a trip to Istanbul Turkey. It’s a long haul from LA, but if you have the chance to visit Turkey, the city is fascinating. Here’s a link to a piece that I wrote for the Four Seasons Istanbul, and you can click on this video that links to LACityMom’s new you tube LACityMom Travel channel.

From the Four Seasons Family Holidays Website: 

“Your family will love Istanbul, Turkey. And the good news is: there are two Four Seasons in this exotic, historic, friendly city: Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus, a gorgeous luxurious property perched right on the banks of the Bosphorus River, and Sultanahmet. Visiting both is a great way to experience different areas of this fascinating place.”  Click here to read full article. 





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Teaching Kids about money

by Lee Rose Emery

Kids and Money I wanted to share a piece I just wrote for Momsgonnafindout, a great web site which offers moms ideas on ways to make money, save money and have fun too!

“Teaching kids about money is not easy. Watching parents plunk down a credit card time and again is an incredibly abstract idea for a kid, and makes them think the card itself has value, with no connection to the idea of having a bill ever come. So how does one try to help them understand about saving and spending wisely? Here are a few tips I’ve found to be incredibly helpful with my own kids, who have very different styles and personalities in life and in terms of money. I’m no financial expert, but I have seen how my kids are starting to develop an awareness of money and its value”


Click here to read the full piece, on

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Skinny & Co. Coconut Oil Products

October 30, 2017 Uncategorized

If you frequent health food stores you may have seen a lot of coconut products lately: cooking oils, body butter, lip balm and more. It seems like there are a million and one uses for coconut oil. It’s touted as kind of the miracle nut/fruit/palm. But not all the products you see on the market […]

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Summer Sounds at the Hollywood Bowl for kids

May 26, 2016 Play

If you’re looking for something fun but also cultural to do with your little ones in LA this summer,  The Hollywood Bowl has weekday music performances as well as Art Workshops for kids from  July 11th – August 5th.  This is such a great program and a wonderful way to introduce your children to the […]

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Screenagers Documentary Review

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Holiday Cheer

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September 29, 2015 Play

If you have any horse lovers in the family, there’s a wonderful event coming up October 1-4 at the LA Convention Center. The Longines Masters of Los Angeles will showcase the thrill of Olympic-level show jumping, meet and greets with the world’s top-ranked riders, and of course a chance to see all the beautiful horses! […]

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Spain with kids – Barcelona and Madrid

May 16, 2015 Family Travel

With the dollar catching up to the Euro for the first time in many years, it’s a great time to think about a European family vacation! Here’s a link to a piece I wrote about our recent trip to Spain for family travel site, CiaoBambino. We have found that our family’s European holidays have created so many […]

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Whale of a Weekend at Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

February 6, 2015 Play

I love any excuse to go the Santa Monica Pier and Aquarium. They are hosting a fantastic whale themed event Valentine’s Day weekend which will be great for families. Here’s the info below. Sounds like a whale of a time for sure! “Santa Monica, CA (Jan. 27, 2015) – Sightings of whales along the Southern […]

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