Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What to Do with Kids in Osaka

This year, our family made a couple trips to Osaka, Japan with our preschooler and toddler in tow. We really enjoyed all the family activities and attractions in and around this city. We are a mostly vegan family, so we try to avoid all the animal attractions like zoos and aquariums, but luckily if you are looking for things to do with kids in Osaka without paying to see sad animals in small cages or fish, there is still plenty to do!

Here's our List of What to do with Kids in Osaka:

Kids Plaza

Kids Plaza is an indoor learning through play children's museum. There are four floors of hands on educational and exciting activities for kids with an enormous centrally located playground space that vertically spans all floors.

There is so much to play with, do, and learn here, that you can easily spend the entire day. You can bring lunch and eat it in their multi-purpose room or have lunch at one of the nearby restaurants because there is no food sold here. There was a Mos Burger across the street which has a vegan rice burger (the "bun" is two rice patties and it is filled with veggies).

One of the greatest things about Kids Plaza was that it was open during the New Year's holiday when everything else is closed.

Omigachi Park

Right outside the Kids Plaza is a playground with a couple very fast and long slides. We decided to play here for an hour or so first, grab lunch across the street, then go inside Kids Plaza but it was certainly difficult to get the kids to leave. As an American mom, Japanese playgrounds always put me a little on edge. This place was no different. I actually went down the slide a couple times with my son and I'm not ashamed to admit that it was a little fast and scary with a big drop!

Look closely and you will see one kid on the ground under the kid at the end of the slide.

I cringed watching the kids shooting off the faster metal slides to the right of the long tunnel slide and multiple kids sliding down the tunnel together resulting in a few minor injuries and plenty of tears. Luckily, my youngest was happy to explore the grounds on foot with me after a mishap on a slide a while back. My husband kept an eye on our 5 year old daredevil to keep my anxiety at bay.

There are huge rock climbing walls which were not in service while we were there (darnit! I wanted a full on heart attack experience today!) but the kids had a blast anyway.

Universal Studios Japan

Known for its large crowds, Universal Studios is a 20 minute train ride outside the city. It is probably better suited for older kids, especially if you want to enjoy the thrill rides and Harry Potter theme land but there are things for younger kids to do.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Osaka

We have visited the Discovery Center in Osaka twice now and if you've ever been to one of these attractions it is the usual setup with a factory tour, Miniland display, Build and Test race car building, 4D movie, play spaces, 2 rides, LEGO everywhere and more. LEGOLAND Discovery Centers are basically a very scaled down version of the popular LEGOLAND theme parks and scaled up version of a LEGO store.

You will not be allowed back in once you exit the facility. You will, however, be exiting through a LEGO store with a very large selection of the somewhat expensive toys while your kids are on the downward spiral from their LEGO high. You have 2 options here. Empty your wallet at the register or make a mad dash for the door while carrying a kid under each arm. We blow a paycheck on LEGO every time...

Check out our full post on LEGOLAND Discovery Center Osaka.

Santa Maria and other Boat Tours

The Santa Maria is a replica of Christopher Columbus' ship built about twice the size and does tours of the bay that last about an hour. There are other boat tours you can book to tour the city via waterways. There is a small ticket booth right at the water's edge behind the aquarium to make your reservations.

Umeda Sky Building

If you like a bird's eye view of the city, the Umeda Sky Building has a "Floating Garden Observatory" on the 39th floor offering spectacular views.

Tempozan Ferris Wheel

This giant ferris wheel is located near the port and right next door to both the LEGOLAND Discovery Center and the Aquarium. It takes about 20 minutes to make it all the way around.

Spa World

Although this place has baths meant for grown-ups to enjoy the Japanese bathing culture, there is an indoor water park for elementary school age kids with water slides, pool, and lazy river. At the time of writing this post, the kid's water park area was under construction but slated to reopen again on 4/21.

Expo park

This park used to be the site of the 1970 World's Expo and currently features Japanese gardens, the National Museum of Ethnology, The Japanese Folk Crafts Museum, and other activities and attractions.

Big Bang Child Center

This is another hands-on learning through play space with a vertical obstacle course, treehouse, and various science and educational activities and exhibits throughout the facility.

Hattori Ryokuchi Park

Best known for the open-air museum of historic Japanese farm houses, this park also has lakes, ponds, an arboretum, playgrounds, a botanical garden, and plenty of open space for picnics and play. There is a water park called "Waterland" with a wave pool, lazy river, and water slides open from July to September.

Have any ideas of what to do with kids in Osaka that aren't on this list? Please feel free to share them in the comments!

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