If your kid is under the age where cultural activities like museums, theaters and sports come in play than you might find it difficult to travel to St-Petersburg.
Russians love kids and there are plenty of things to do with your little ones in St-P, but according to Western standards it is not exactly a child-friendly city. You will find high chairs, kids corners and playgrounds anywhere you go as well as kids stores and entertainment programms – there is no flaw here. But to my taste most of them are way to bright-busy-loud for kids. I’m also not a big friend of permanent entertainment and try to find balance between kids and parents activities.
With parks and green areas located mostly outside the city center and with playgrounds squeezed in between busy streets (let’s forget about crazy colors and the smell of rubber under the burning summer sun) it doesn’t make it easy for the parents, especially if you are a visitor.
With our 2,5 year old daughter Olivia coming along there is always a challenge to find child appropriate places. In this I want to share with you my Summer 2018 catch of favorite locations and things to do in St-Petersburg with a 2,5 years old kid.
Address: New Hollland Island
This is my favorite place for kids-parents activities within city premises. New Holland is an island located right next to the busy city center and a 30 min walk from Nevsky prospect. Half of it is still under construction, but each year something new is added to the islands grounds. At the moment the island comprises of a green area with comfortable sitting opportunities for yound ones and adults, a food court where your will find enough of tasty things for you and your little one (tasty coffee and great Israeli street food bar among them), small kiosks selling ice cram, a restaurant, 2 playgrounds – one for small kids and another one for elder ones, a beach area (adults only), a herb garden and some stages for lectures and performances.
Entrance is free and you are more than welcome to bring your own drinks and snacks.
New Holland is great if you want to escape the city noise and let your little one run barefoot across the lawn right in the middle of St-P. It gets very busy on the weekends, so it is better to come during the early hours or on the week days.
If you have time you can spend the whole day here picnicking and people watching.
TEPLO AND WÖD
Address: Большая Морская ул., 45
Another favorite of mine. I used to come to Teplo (in Russian ‘Warmth’) when I didn’t have a kid and now we come here all together to enjoy good homemade food, cozy atmosphere and a newly added coffee place tucked away inside a St-Petersburg courtyard next to the city center. A playgound and a sand box is a bonus.
Be sure to book a table in advance especially if you wish to seat outside – this place is a popular one and gets extremely busy during the lunh time.
If you and your kid need a break during your explorations of St-Petersburg you can come here and have a coffee in a lovely new combination sanctum for art lovers and bar WöD located right next to Teplo (in the same courtyard). You can sip on your coffee or tea while your little one climbs the playground or dig the sand. Or you simply built sand castles together. Win win!
Address: Гороховая ул., 22
Another old time favorite of mine and now family favorite place where comfort food and cozy atmosphere is mixed with a lovely choice of books and simple activities for small kids. Please note, that Zoom only has inside area without a possibility to sit outside, so I’d recommend you visit it on a rainy day.
Book ahead if you want to be sure you get a seat.
Address: парк Александровский, 7
One of St-Peterburg’s green areas is located between Kronverskaya naberezhnaya and Kronverskiy prospekt. You will most likely end up here if you plan to visit Peter and Paul fortress. It is a green stripe without any special charm, but there are 2 points of interest which you might find attractive planning your family route throught the city jungle – St-Petersburg Zoo and a coffee shop ‘Bolshe Coffee’.
‘Bolshe Coffee‘ is a lovely coffee place with an outside and insde areas located in the middle of the park in an old grotto – a rare venue in St-Petersburg.
Don’t expect much from St-Petersburg Zoo, but it is the only one the city has. It is quite compact, so you don’t need to spend days here like in San Diego. A couple of hours is usually enough. We figured out that most of the animals are sleepy in the morning and are more active during the midday and feeding hours. I’m not a huge fan of zoo’s in general and prefer watching wildlife in their natural habitat, but if your kids enjoy having a look at furry friends than you might want to give it a try.
Address: ул. Профессора Попова, 2
If you end up in Petrogradsky district of St-Petersburg, than I recommend you to stop at the Botanical Garden. It’s a lovely green area with old green houses and loads of shade. There is a playground far away from the street and there is plenty of green grass to lay or jump on. I like coming here in the morning when the Garden is almost empty.
There is a fee to pay and an extra fee if you want to explore the greenhouses. Have a look at this post to see more of the Botanical Garden.
IF YOU HAVE MORE TIME
If you are staying in St-Petersburg longer I highly recommend you leave the city and spend a day by the sea. Yes, St-Petersburg has sea! Finnish Gulf is mostly flat with no to little waves involved (stormy days occur though), so your kids will appreciate it:
- For those who don’t want to drive far the 300th anniversary park (one of the newest parks in St-P) is a good combination of beach life and green area.
- Zelenogorsk and Komarovo also have nice beaches, but they are further away (about an hour drive from the city). To get there check for train schedule or rtake a taxi.
Another good choice for a day trip are the suburbs of St-Petersburg – Tsarskoe Selo (Pushkin), Gatchina, Peterhof and Pavlovsk. They all involve parks and plenty of kids firendly green areas. My favorite ones are the Alexandrovskiy park in Tsarskoe Selo and Pavlovskiy Park in Pavlovsk.
To get there I would recommend you take a train – it’s fast, cheap and easy, especially if you go outside the rush hours. Our train experience showed that there was enough space to bring on board and store a stroller. I wouldn’t recommend taking mini buses called ‘marshrutka’ because apart from being highly uncomfortable they are known for bad driving skills and bad hot air.
The easiest was to move around the city is by above ground public transport (buses and trams). They have enough space for strollers and have separate lanes to avoid traffic. I wouldn’t suggest you taking the underground, becase there are no elevators. There is a help line you can call and ask for help going up and down, but it is 80% in Russian.
In case you are planning to take a taxi there are several options with Taxovichkov and Yandex Taxi being the most popular ones.