El Salvador has incredible beaches, volcanoes, lakes, and Mayan ruins, all guaranteed to keep kids and adults alike for the duration of a typical family vacation. However, if you find yourself in the heart of the capital city of San Salvador, there are several family-friendly options sure to keep the kids in your life entertained and happy.
1) Tín Marín Children's Museum: This is, in my opinion, one of the best places to take children in El Salvador. Located on the edge of a large park, Tín Marín offers hands on learning experiences for kids aged two to twelve. The museum contains themed activities, from a well-stocked grocery store, a dental office, a volcano, simulation rooms with earthquakes, tornados, and more. The outdoor area includes an actual airplane that kids can explore, to a gigantic bubble station. There's even a planetarium on site. The snack shop sells drinks and some gluten free chips, but bring your own food if you're planning to spend more than a few hours. Price: $3.00 for the museum, and $1.00 for the Planetarium.
2) El Parque Bicentenario: The park was opened in 2011 as a way to commemorate the first cry of independence from the founding fathers 200 years ago. Built on the site of a former coffee plantation, the park offers a wide range of biking trails & hiking trails, picnic and children's playing areas that are likely to please the whole family. The park offers a good break for the whole family from the hustle and bustle of the city, and it is where you will see locals walking their dogs, going for a jog, or playing soccer on the large field. For families with older children or teens, it may be worthwhile to pay a visit to the Coffee Museum within the park, detailing some of the country’s historical relationship with the bean and more. Entrance to the park is free, although there is a small fee for parking.
3) Jardín Botanico La Laguna: It is hard to imagine that you are still San Salvador when you find yourself in this calm oasis of lush greenery, ancient Conacaste and Ceiba trees, and meandering paths full of lush greenery. San Salvador’s botanical gardens are a sprawling natural reserve in the western suburb of Antiguo Cuscatlán. They include an extensive and well-tended array of nature trails that display trees and vegetation from across the world and are a relatively easy walk with kids or even with strollers. The park has ponds with fish, turtles and iguanas that entertain children of all ages. The playground located just to the right of the entrance has swings, monkey bars, see-saws, and a gigantic slide at the top of a play structure. The small cafeteria in the park offers snacks, but bring along food if planning on a meal. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 9:00 am - 5:30pm. Price: Adults $1.25, Children $0.75
4) Dreamland: There are several children's play places scattered around San Salvador, but the newest, Dreamland, is the biggest and the best. Unlike many of the other indoor play places, Dreamland appeals to children, teens, and adults. It opened its doors in 2013, so everything is new. Dreamland has small children's rides, arcade games, sports, and more. It's a good option for families with kids of different ages, since there are activities that will appeal to everyone. Open late, it's also a safe place for older kids or teens to hang out. There is no information about gluten free food options. At the time of writing, the website is still under construction, but the Facebook page offers up to date information about their hours, location, etc. Prices vary based on activities, but they are higher than average for most activities in El Salvador due to the size and scope of activities available.
5) El Mundo Feliz: If you have very young children, el Mundo Feliz may offer enough entertainment for little ones, at a fraction of the price of Dreamland. Located along the busy Boulevard de los Heroes and a short walk from the Intercontinental Hotel and the sprawling Metro Centro mall, you will find this play-place packed with Go-Karts, small children's rides for the little ones and simple arcade games. There is a cafeteria on site, but few if any gluten free options outside of drinks and snacks. Prices vary depending on the activity (tickets are required), but are inexpensive. Open daily.