Photo: Rose Blyth
My secret ideas
for kids aged
from 1 to 17
Place du Châtelain
Your child can barely walk. The same goes for you. You haven't slept in months. So wrap up the little one, pop her in the pushchair, and head down to the Wednesday afternoon street market on Place du Châtelain. You can pretend you're shopping for vegetables, but you're really there to sit down with a little glass of white wine and a bowl of olives.
It doesn't get any easier once the little ones start walking. So the only thing to do is to head down to the Parc Tenbosch in Ixelles. Here the stressed parent will find a playground, sandpit and pond with turtles. This is a great place to meet other parents who are just as desperate as you.
Time to start looking around for the best ice cream in Brussels. First stop is Capoue, where they make traditional ice cream with an authentic rough texture. As well as vanilla and chocolate, they concoct original
flavours like champagne and mojito.
Avenue des Celtes 36
Calypso swimming pool
Time to start swimming lessons. So where do you go? Almost every commune has a pool. The most attractive is Boitsfort's Calypso pool.
Avenue Wiener 60
C.RAMIC art cafe
Here is friendly workshop filled with parents and noisy kids where everyone sits around big wooden benches decorating ceramic cups and bowls. Perfect for a birthday party or a rainy day.
Rue Lesbroussart 112
Here is the perfect park to take kids on a Sunday. It has excellent adventure playgrounds, a lake with boats to rent, a test track for cyclists, a skateboard park, running tracks, an open air swimming pool and two cafes.
The park is free but you pay a parking charge. Located outside Leuven.
Blistering barnacles! This is confusing. The Tintin Museum, for complicated reasons, is not located in Brussels, which is where Hergé worked all his life, but in the new university town of Louvain-la-Neuve, which didn't exist when Hergé wrote the comic books.
Not to worry. This is a must for every child who has read Tintin. The museum is located in a beautiful modern building in the centre of town. Here you can see Hergé's original artwork and plunge into the world of Captain Haddock, Blanche Castafiori and the Thomson twins.
Natural history museum
Here is the perfect place to take older kids on a rainy day. The main attraction is a spectacular gallery displaying more than 30 dinosaur skeletons found in a Belgian coal mine.
Rue Vautier 29
Musée du Jouet
This toy museum is located in a rambling Brussels town house. It is run by a man called André who cannot say no. People present him with old train sets, tin cars, sad dolls and hundreds of teddy bears. André does his best to sort it all out, but it’s an impossible task and boxes lie unopened by the door, while dolls lie on tables waiting to be repaired. It’s chaotic, but charming.
Rue de l’Association 24
This is the perfect age to take a child to Technopolis, the Flemish science park outside Mechelen. This is a place where children can touch just about everything. It's full of fun experiments that involve music, water and machines. The top attraction is a bicycle that they can ride across a tightrope high above the museum. How scary is that? Your kids can also fly a plane and launch a hot air balloon. The cafeteria is excellent and the staff are really friendly.
Eating out with kids can be a lot of fun in Brussels if you choose the right places. Almost everywhere welcomes children, but the more informal restaurants are probably best. How about a hamburger accompanied by a cone of frites? No, I'm not talking about a Big Mac. You get better burgers and much better frites if you go to Cool Bun in St Gilles.
Rue Berckmans 34
Bozar occasionally lays on lively Sunday programmes that offer films, music sessions and art activiites. It's busy, noisy and enormous fun for everyone involved, unless you are the parent of the little crying kid whose balloon has floated up to the ceiling.
Rue Ravenstein 15
Bois de la Cambre cycle trip
You've bought your child a bike, but you don't dare take them out on the streets, not with all the mad drivers around. Do not despair. Much of the Bois de la Cambre is closed to traffic on Sundays. So your child can safely cycle around the lake on a tarmac road. Once they have got the hang of their bike, you can take them along the cycle route that runs around the edge of Brussels, or even follow the trails that run through the Forêt de Soignes.
Here is a fun place to hunt for quirky clothes by brands like Pharmacy Industry and etnies. It’s also a good place to check posters and fliers for upcoming concerts.
Rue des Pierres 29
This is a city with some great venues for live music. The Botanique is one of the best places for music with several spaces to match different genres, including an intimate basement where you can get up close to the band.
Rue Royale 236
Oh, no. Your kids are old enough to drink beer in Belgium. No panic, parents. A Saturday night on the town is really quiet civilised. You can safely let them head off to Mappa Mundo on Place St Géry with instructions to catch the last metro home.
Rue du Pont de la Carpe 2