FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Major Must-Sees for the Family in Memorable Madrid

by Irvina Lew

Mar 2, 2020

Photo: Alkan2011 | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / Europe

Madrid, with its old squares, broad boulevards, pristine palaces and magnificent monuments shows off dazzling architecture dating back to the shaded arcades of the 16th century, to shimmering white, early 20th-century buildings. The Spanish capital is family friendly, a city for strollers, with paths where children can run and enclosed playgrounds for toddlers.

 

The place to start is in the old city at Puerto del Sol, the grand central square, Spain’s kilometro zero, from which all locations are measured. The meeting places include the clock, the statue of the bear eating berries (the symbol of the city), the King’s statue and the front of the Apple store. From here, start a tapeando to various tapas bars for fun finger foods: patatas bravas (square Spanish fries with spicy garlic sauce), tortillas (potato-filled egg pie) and jamon ibérico, (thinly-sliced ham) or a churro (an elongated, sugared donut).

 

Nearby, Plaza Mayor, the main plaza in Old Madrid, built 1580–1619, is just a short walk. So is Botin’s, one of the world’s oldest restaurants, where pigs roast on an ancient spit and the incredible Mercado de San Miguel, where you can eat at food stands or buy take-away foods and gifts. El Rastro, the only-on-Sunday-morning market, is an enormous flea market through the old streets from Puerta del Sol through La Latina — great if you love shopping and don’t mind crowds; it’s not for kids who easily disappear. Also nearby, the Royal Palace illustrates the 18th-century Baroque style. Some might wow at its opulence; others at the royal armory, off the main entrance; youngsters might just be happy in the playground in the Campo del Moro park, behind the palace.

 

The historic Paseo del Prado is a beautiful, tree-lined boulevard, with a shaded, kid-friendly path down the middle from Atocha train station to the ornate, wedding-cake like Palacio de Cibeles, where the elevator leads to fabulous vistas from the rooftop terrace or restaurant. A half-mile section of the Paseo del Prado has been dubbed Paseo del Arte, because it connects the three museums in the Golden Triangle: Reina Sofia, next to Atocha, El Prado and Thyssen-Bornemizza; and, it passes two early 20th-century palace hotels — the regally restored Westin Palace Madrid, c. 1912 and Mandarin Oriental Ritz Hotel, c. 1910 (undergoing renovation for a summer 2020 launch).

 

Paseo del Prado. Photo: Karol Kozlowski | Dreamstime.com

 

Behind the Prado, you’ll find El Retiro Park, the former royal gardens and the largest public gardens in Madrid. You can walk or cycle on pathways to the iron-and-glass Crystal Palace pavilion (c. 1887), row in the lake or explore botanical gardens here.

 

As for the three major museums, Reina Sofia is home to “Guernica,” Picasso’s powerful anti-war painting created for the Spanish pavilion of the World’s Fair in Paris, 1937, just after Franco bombed the sleepy Basque village. The museum’s new entry on Ronda de Atocha leads inside to street-level elevators that ascend to a fabulous outdoor terrace with great views. The massive Prado Museum houses extraordinary works by Goya, El Greco and Velazquez, plus Titian, Rubens and Van Dyck. I recommend doing the kid’s tour with the children’s audio guide, checking out only the masterworks on the first floor, or waiting if you think they may be overwhelmed. Thyssen-Bornemisza is a small, private museum with art by Chagall, Klee, Renoir and Van Gogh, American art from the Hudson River School to Pop Art and selections from Italian, German and Dutch masters.

 

Here are some other places to consider: Corral de la Morería to see Flamenco; Plaza Santa Ana, a popular square where toddlers play in the enclosed playground, tweens and teens sit on benches; attend theater at Teatro Español; and eat and drink at tapas bars in El Barrio de las Letras, where street names honor Spanish literary giants (Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Echegaray).

 

This February, I finally visited the multistoried Mercado San Anton in Chueca where there’s an international food court with Greek, Asian, Spanish specialties and even hamburgers. The rooftop restaurant will sometimes cook meat or fish that you buy. I’ve never been, but for families fond of amusement parks, a zoo or aquarium, get to Casa de Campo, the biggest park in Madrid.

#WhereverFamily

Insta Feed
Travel Tips
Apr 6, 2020

United Airlines Extends MileagePlus Status Through 2022

United Airlines is making its MileagePlus program more flexible for its frequent-flyer customers in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and global travel restrictions.

Host Your Next Event in Urban Wine Country

While urban wine country might sound like an oxymoron, it’s actually a reality at the stunning City Vineyard in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood. The water-side venue is the perfect host for your next event — whatever that may be, from 20 to 200 guests and from cocktail party to plated dinner.

Listicles
Apr 6, 2020

San Francisco Cultural Institutions Offer Virtual Experiences

Much like cities around the world, San Francisco closed its museums and performing arts venues temporarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to technology, those sheltering in place can experience many of these cultural institutions from the comfort of their own homes. Here are the places opening their doors remotely.

Travel Tips
Apr 6, 2020

Delta Air Lines Extends SkyMiles Status

In an effort to encourage future travel and continued brand loyalty, Delta Air Lines extends Medallion Status, Club Memberships and more to support SkyMiles members’ future travel plans.

Wherever Awards 2019

By Whereverfamily.com, the trusted travel source for the modern family, announces the winners of the Wherever Awards.