Travel With Children
Chile is a top family destination where bringing children offers up some distinct advantages. Little ones are welcomed and treasured, and empathy for parents is usually keen. Even strangers will offer help, and hotels and services tend to accommodate. There are lots of active adventures and family-oriented resorts and lodgings.
Best Regions for Kids
Brimming with children's museums, parks and winter resorts with easy terrain, fun events and kids' classes. Eco-adventure parks, horseback riding and ziplines offer excitement in nearby Cajón del Maipo.
- Sur Chico
For horseback riding, lake dips, farm visits, water sports and volcano thrills. Lake towns Pucón or Puerto Varas provide the best bases to explore the region, with kid-centered events in summer.
- Norte Chico
Seaside resorts provide beach fun, swimming and surf lessons. Kids love playing in the tide pools of La Piscina in Bahía Inglesa. The gentle, sunny climate here helps keep your plans on target.
Children love plenty of adult sports such as hiking or cycling, as long as they can go at their own pace. Scale activities down, bring snacks and have a plan B for when bad weather or exhaustion hits. Routine travel, like crossing fjords on a ferry or riding the subway, can amount to adventure. Activities like guided horseback rides (usually for ages eight and up), rafting and canyoning usually have age limits but are invariably fine for teenagers.
In rural areas, agritourism can be a great option, which can involve farm chores or just hiking with packhorses taking all the load. Some rivers may be suitable for children to float or raft; make sure outfitters have life vests and wet suits in appropriate sizes.
Chile is as kid-friendly as a destination gets, though it's best to take all the same travel precautions you would at home. Free or reduced admission rates are often given at events and performances. In Chile, people are helpful on public transportation; often someone will give up a seat for parent and child. Expecting mothers enjoy a boon of designated parking spaces and grocery-store checkout lines.
Though upper-middle-class families usually employ a nana (live-in or daily childcare), finding last-minute help is not easy. Babysitting services or children's activity clubs tend to be limited to upmarket hotels and ski resorts. If you're comfortable with an informal approach, trusted acquaintances can recommend sitters.
Formula, baby food and disposable diapers are easy to find. In general, public toilets are poorly maintained; always carry toilet paper, which tends to run out in bathrooms, and hand sanitizer, as there's rarely soap and towels. While a woman may take a young boy into the ladies' room, it is socially unacceptable for a man to take a girl into the men's room.
There are no special food and health concerns, but bottled water is a good idea for delicate stomachs.
While restaurants don't offer special kids' meals, most offer a variety of dishes suitable for children; none are spicy. It is perfectly acceptable to order a meal to split between two children or an adult and a child; most portions are abundant. High chairs are rarely available. The only challenge to dining families is the Latin hours. Restaurants open for dinner no earlier than 7pm, sometimes 8pm, and service can be quite slow. Bring a journal or scribble book and crayons for the kids to pass the time.
Bring a first-aid kit. There are no special food and health concerns, but bottled water is a good idea for delicate stomachs. Street dogs are common but usually mild-mannered and after food scraps.
- Patagonia asados Bring barbecues, best sampled outdoors at an estancia (grazing ranch) or a specialty restaurant like Asador Patagónico.
- Soda fountain fun in cities Try Punta Arenas, where you can eat burgers on stools in retro restaurants like Fuente Hamburg.
- Teahouses, Lakes District Serve fresh berry küchen (sweet German-style cakes) on rural roads throughout the region.
If renting a car, communicate ahead if you will need a child's seat; you might have to bring one. If you don't want to be tied town to a schedule while traveling, plenty of activities can be booked last minute.
When to Go
- Summer (December to February) for good weather and outdoor fun.
- The desert north can be visited year-round.
- Avoid the south during the rainiest months (May to July).
- Winter (June to August) is fun as kids can try out skis.
- Hotels often give discounts for families and some can provide cribs.
- Aparthotels in cities are convenient and offer good value.
- Cabins are widely available in summer and often have self-catering options.
- Campgrounds in the south may have quinchos (barbecue huts) for some shelter from the rain.
What to Pack
- Bathing suit, sunhat and warm clothing
- Nontoxic bug spray
- Good, broken-in walking shoes
- Baby backpack – strollers aren't always convenient