How to keep kids entertained on a Gran Canaria family holiday
Gran Canaria is the most family-friendly of destinations in Europe, let alone Spain. From kids' clubs and swimming pools at the likes of Thomas Cook's resorts, to beaches of vanilla-coloured sand filled with water sports and play areas, there's plenty to keep little ones entertained. If, however, your kids develop itchy feet, and you're looking for something all encompassing to do for the day, we have top tried and tested tips for keeping kids entertained in Gran Canaria.
The good news is that being roughly the same size as Greater London means nothing is ever that far away in Gran Canaria, although there's considerably less traffic than the metropolitan expanse of the British capital. Gran Canaria's two major motorways, the GC-1, which starts at Puerto de Mogán in the southwest of the island and passes the airport to end at capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the northeast, and the GC-2 (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Agaete) are rarely clogged.
Sunday night is the busiest time on the roads, as residents from the capital head back north from a day out on the beaches in the south of the island. The message here - Gran Canaria is generally easy to get around and a manageable size, so you shouldn't need to deal with too many cries of 'are we nearly there yet?'.
Museums in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
The capital has some museums that go big on edutainment. The cobbled streets of the oldest neighbourhood, Vegueta, lead to the Museo Canario. Find out about the canarii, the aborigines who lived on the island before the Spanish conquest in the 15th century, in a museum which contains a collection of skulls that will appeal to the ghoulish sensibilities of your children - horrible histories indeed.
Another arrival to Gran Canaria's shores in the 1400s was one Christopher Columbus. On the way to sailing the ocean blue in 1492, he stopped off for vital repairs to his fleet, and the Vegueta house, which belonged to the governor who welcomed him at the time, has been transformed into the Casa Museo Cólon.
On the other side of town, closer to Las Canteras beach (itself a great place to learn how to surf and a snorkelling hot spot), you'll find Parque Santa Catalina's Museo Elder. This is Las Palmas de Gran Canaria's version of London's famous Science Museum. Displays are interactive and you can easily while away an hour or two here.
If the Museo Canario has given you a taste to explore pre-Spanish Gran Canaria, head to Gáldar's Cueva Pintada (Painted Cave) archaeological park and museum. Here you can (literally) step inside the world of the canarii, admiring their colourful geometric cave paintings. The 3-D video allows you travel back into time, to discover more about the island of Gran Canaria.
Continue along the GC-2 to Agaete where the Máipes archaeological park is an open-air museum located in one of the burial grounds of the canarii. The fertile lands of the Valle de Agaete also house Finca la Laja. This San Pedro estate is one part coffee plantation to another part tropical fruit farm, and yet another vineyard, and they offer visitors goats' cheese, fruit, ham and wine (or fruit juice for children).
Water parks, zoos, and more
Gran Canaria's climate is mild all year round but your family can beat the heat on warmer-than-average days at one of the island's water parks. Lago Taurito is smaller and cheaper (yet still offers plenty of thrills and spills) than Aqualand Maspalomas but you can save money at the latter by buying a two-parks ticket, which enables you to also visit the Palmitos Park zoo.
There are plenty of animals to be seen at Agüimes' Cocodrilo Park in the southeast of the island too. These include rescued exotic creatures such as crocodiles. Be aware, however, that this park isn't open on Saturdays, although you can visit every other day of the week.
Enjoy all the fun of the fair at Maspalomas' Holiday World. Classic rides include a big wheel, bumper cars, and a roller coaster. Entrance is free in summer from 6:00pm to 12:00am (1:00am Fridays and Saturdays), and in winter from 5.00pm to 11:00pm (12:00am Fridays and Saturdays). You then pay for the ride with a rechargeable card you can add credit to.
Head to Puerto de Mogán in the southwest of the island where you can journey to Davey Jones' Locker without getting your feet (or indeed any other body part) wet. The (Yellow) Submarine Adventure allows you to see both marine life and an actual shipwreck.
For If you're looking for an adrenaline rush for you and family, how about you go karting? Racing Kart Maspalomas is located across the road from Aqualand. Then there's World Karting Center further north in Telde. But the most popular circuits for adults and children are located just above the southern resorts, in Tarajalillo's Gran Karting Club.
Nearby, you'll find Hangar 37, which enables you and your family to play at being toy soldiers. This is an airsoft theme park. The ammunition here hits the target more than paintball and hurts less, making it more suitable - and great fun - for children.
Al fresco flicks
Round off a busy day with a night outside at the movies with Moonlight Cinema in Meloneras. Here, American and British films are shown in their original language rather than dubbed, which is the norm in other cinemas. Popcorn is available to munch on, as is pizza as stars from screen and sky light up the night.
As you can see, Gran Canaria is jam-packed with fun things to do for all the family, ensuring there's no way your little ones will be bored or lacking entertainment. For the latest great value deals on family holidays to Gran Canaria, check out Thomas Cook, which offers breaks departing from airports across the UK. You can also keep an eye on the weather in Gran Canaria and see when we think is the best time to go for lovely holiday weather.
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