Talon Windwalker is the single adoptive parent of a special needs child. ...Find out more!
Cuba is one of the safest countries to travel as a family. The Cuban culture is extremely friendly towards kids who are allowed to run around, make noise, climb things, imagine, play, etc. They will tousle your children’s hair, kiss, hug, and generally faun over them wherever you go. In the restaurants they are likely to even offer to cut their meat for them. People on the street may say nothing to you, but they will chat up your kids and may offer them treats you aren’t expected to pay for. Where you may be informed there is no public bathroom, if your child asks, or you ask for your child, they’ll walk you to another street if they need to in order to help out.
We have had a better chance to get to know people and typical life in Cuba because I traveled with my young son. At one of the peso shops, where we stopped for breakfast, they couldn’t bear to watch my son trying to balance his plate (you eat standing up) while eating his sandwich, so we were invited into their home so we could seat and eat. And when they offered him some pineapple juice to wash it all down, they adamantly refused my money while telling us if we ever needed anything, there was trouble, whatever, we should come to their home.
The streets of the large cities and small towns alike are extremely safe. Violent crime is almost unheard of, especially against children. In the residential areas your children are welcome to join a vigorous game of soccer occurring in the middle of the street. Car traffic in these areas is generally light, and people sound their horn long before your kids need to worry about getting out of the way.
Kids may find the Museum of the Revolution to be the most interesting in Havana, but it’s really easy to get tired of museums here. The general consensus is to avoid the zoo. The Acuario Nacional (aquarium) is a big hit and has reasonable prices. They have some great dolphin shows. Another big attraction for kids and their parents alike is Coppelia, the national ice cream chain. The main store is quite the attraction, so if you want to go inside be prepared to wait in line for a couple of hours. Usually getting an ice cream cone is enough, and you can find a small trailer selling them on the corner of Calle 23 and L with little to no wait. A scoop costs about 40 cents and is extremely tasty. Keep in mind that most kid-type attractions are closed on Mondays.
Besides the Malecón and beaches of Playa del Este in Havana, children will most likely love the tourist-filled town of Varadero where locals pronounce the beaches “divine.” There is also a large selection of all-inclusive resorts that may make things a bit easier on your budget. Many of Cuba’s provinces have outstanding outdoors activities and areas to see, as well as camping areas. Top recommendations would be the areas around Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and Viñales. For scuba and related activities, also consider a trip to Isla de la Juventud. The reefs around Cuba are relatively untouched, and thus the diving and snorkeling can often be world class. But let’s keep that our little secret.