- Stand in both hemispheres at the same time at the Mitad del Mundo monument
- Take a horseback ride through the Andean grasslands of Cotopaxi National Park
- Hike along the rim of a volcanic crater (and meet fuzzy alpacas) at Laguna Quilotoa
- Bike like a local through Quito's historic parks and colorful neighborhoods
|Day 1||Arrive in Quito, See the "Middle of the World" at Mitad del Mundo||Quito|
|Day 2||Family Horseback Ride Through Cotopaxi National Park||Quito|
|Day 3||Quito City Tour, Family Cooking Class||Quito|
|Day 4||Quito Vivarium Experience||Quito|
|Day 5||Mindo Cloud Forest Expedition||Quito|
|Day 6||Hiking Trip to Laguna Quilotoa||Quito|
|Day 7||Family Bicycle Tour of Quito||Quito|
|Day 8||Free Day in Quito: TelefériQo Cable Car & Chocolate Tasting||Quito|
|Day 9||Woodcarvers of Ecuador Tour||Quito|
|Day 10||Depart Quito|
Day 1: Arrive in Quito, See the "Middle of the World" at Mitad del Mundo
Welcome to Ecuador! Your flight lands in the capital city of Quito, located in the foothills of the Andes. Quito is home to a rich cultural history, with picturesque plazas, historic architecture, and an impressive culinary scene. Upon arrival, your driver will collect you from the airport, and after you and the kids have a chance to rest and regroup, it's time to start exploring this amazing city!
Start your immersion with a visit to Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World). In 1736, a French expedition determined that this spot was the location of the equator. While modern GPS technology has shown that the equator's actual location is around 787 feet (240 m) to the north, this remains a popular attraction despite the slightly "off" location. Take some photos of the kids standing with one foot in each hemisphere, and visit the exhibition halls, which include a planetarium, an ethnographic museum, a small-scale model of Quito city, an old train station, and chocolate exhibits.
Right next door to Mitad del Mundo, you'll find the Intiñan Museum, which actually sits closer to the real equator line. Learn about ancient Ecuadorian culture while the kids participate in fun activities such as walking the equatorial line with their eyes closed or balancing an egg on a nail. And later, you can stop by the Temple of the Sun Museum, located directly on the equator and founded by painter and sculptor Ortega Maila. The museum merges the reverence of spirituality alongside local culture, with exhibits and a gallery of Maila's work. This evening, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant before returning to your hotel.
Day 2: Family Horseback Ride Through Cotopaxi National Park
Meet your driver this morning and set off for the first-day trip of your vacation. Today's adventure introduces you to the life of a chagra (Ecuadorian cowboy) as you visit a traditional hacienda and explore the wilds of Cotopaxi National Park via horseback. Located two hours south of the capital, the park covers 128.9 square miles (333.9 sq km) and is known for its high páramo (Andean grasslands) landscape, glassy lakes, and the active Cotopaxi volcano.
Upon arrival, the kids will have a chance to get acquainted with the horses, and you'll receive a safety briefing, then, your local cowboy guides will take you into the park, recreating their daily experience of working in the high mountains of the Andes. After climbing more than 3,000 feet (900 m), you'll find yourselves in a different realm, passing by the vast waters of Laguna de Limpiopungo and the snow-covered Cotopaxi. Don't be surprised if you startle a rabbit or two, and the kids should also keep their eyes peeled for wild horses and deer along the way! Return to the hacienda in time for lunch, then head back to Quito.
Day 3: Quito City Tour, Family Cooking Class
Stick around and get to know Quito better today, starting with a guided walking tour through its atmospheric, UNESCO-listed historic center. Your guide will collect your family from your hotel, and you'll make your way to key landmarks like the Baroque cathedral of La Compañía de Jesús and the soaring La Basílica del Voto, the largest neo-Gothic church in the Americas.
Take a stroll down La Ronda, located just south of the historic district and one of the oldest streets in the city. Here, you'll find quaint, lantern-lit walkways, open courtyards, art galleries, shops, and restaurants. End your tour at Panecillo Hill, where the family can climb up to see skyline views of the city. Keep in mind that in addition to having plenty of culture and beauty, Quito also has quite the altitude, sitting 9,350 feet (2,850 m) above sea level, so make sure you and the kids take time to acclimate during your walk.
Later this afternoon, explore local traditions and the amazing gastronomy of the region with a family cooking class. Step into the kitchen of a local chef and learn to prepare some typical Ecuadorian dishes, including empanadas and guaguas de pan (sweet rolls filled with chocolate or jam). During the class, your instructors will also share stories about the history behind each recipe. There's a special menu for younger family members, and at the end of the class, you'll sit down together and enjoy the meal you created.
Day 4: Quito Vivarium Experience
Take a kid-friendly deep dive into the world of amphibians and reptiles with a visit to Quito's Vivarium. This nonprofit is the flagship project of the Gustavo Orcés Herpetological Foundation, a center specializing in the management of amphibians and reptiles under human care. Their program focuses on environmental awareness and education, with exhibits that include close to 40 different species.
See iguanas, marsupial frogs, snapping turtles, and Amazonian boa constrictors, all while learning more about these creatures and their natural habitats. You'll get to see how the technical and veterinary care takes place and watch the veterinarians do a physical examination of some of the animals. The Vivarium also offers various rotating child-themed events, which may include painting workshops, storytime, or educational talks on different reptiles.
Day 5: Mindo Cloud Forest Expedition
It's time for another day trip today as you head out for an exhilarating adventure in the cloud forests of the Mindo-Nambillo Ecological Reserve. Located two hours from Quito on the western slopes of the Andean highlands, this verdant region is blessed with mild temperatures and lots of rain. Stretching over 48,000 acres (19,200 ha) and reaching heights of 15,700 feet (4,778 m), this is one of the most biologically diverse forests in the world and is known for its remarkable birdlife (more than 500 bird species have been spotted here).
Enjoy a guided hike through the misty cloud forest, enjoying the rich greenery and catching glimpses of the wildlife that inhabit the area. Bird watchers in the family will also want to keep an eye out for some of the more than 400 species of birds here, which include hummingbirds, woodpeckers, and the brightly-colored cock of the rock. And if you've got adrenaline junkies in your group, you can up the pace with a tubing adventure down whitewater rapids or soar from one tree to another on a thrilling zipline ride.
Later, you'll visit the town of Mindo and tour Mindo Chocolate Makers, where small-batch chocolate is created from locally grown cacao. You'll get a chance to see how the operation works, and the kids can try making some of their own chocolate (with taste-testing to go along with it, of course). And before you return to your hotel, stop in at a nearby butterfly farm, where you'll see upward of 1,000 species of butterflies at all life cycles.
Day 6: Hiking Trip to Laguna Quilotoa
After breakfast at your hotel, your expert guide will meet up with your family and accompany you to Laguna Quilotoa Lagoon—a blue-green volcanic crater lake that sits in the rugged Andean countryside south of Quito. The drive takes around three hours, following the Panamericana Highway through picturesque scenery, villages, and local markets.
When you arrive at the lagoon, you'll have the option to hike around the rim of the crater or let the kids hike down to the lake's shore (just remember that the altitude here means the hike back up might be more challenging than the initial hike down). If the little ones get tired, there's always the option to rent a donkey for the ride uphill.
There are also several wooden lookout platforms and walkways that offer panoramic views of the lake and kayaks for rent if you're feeling extra adventurous! After a morning of hiking, you can put your feet up (and perhaps grab some naps) as your driver transports you back to Quito, where you can enjoy your evening however you choose.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 7: Family Bicycle Tour of Quito
Discover local life in Quito today with a bicycle tour around the city. This 8.5-mile (13.5 km) adventure is perfect for those travelers who like to see more than just the designated tourist areas. Meet with your guides, and after getting outfitted with the proper equipment and receiving a safety briefing, you'll head out. While this tour is for any families who have children old enough to bike, due to the elevation and a few hills during the ride, younger kids might find it more challenging.
See neighborhoods such as La Floresta, where the kids can enjoy colorful street art, or the vibrant La Mariscal, known for its historic Quiteño architecture and lively nightlife, then cruise through Parque La Alameda, the city's oldest park, where you'll find a small lake and plenty of shaded paths. Ride up a few blocks to Parque El Ejido, which sits right across from the Museo Nacional and is a great place to stop and relax for a bit, and end the tour at a local market, where you can grab a bite to eat from one of the food stalls or purchase artisan crafts from a local vendor.
Day 8: Free Day in Quito: TelefériQo Cable Car & Chocolate Tasting
See more of Quito on your own today, starting with a birds-eye view from the TelefériQo, a cable car that traverses the slopes of the Pichincha volcano. Ascending to more than 12,000 feet (3,600 m), this is one of the highest aerial lifts in the world and offers stunning views of the city. The cars run from the northwest side of the city center up the hillside, a ride that takes about 18 minutes. The large windows in each gondola make the incredible visuals accessible to kids of all ages and sizes, and at the top, you can stop in at the snack shop there for a bite to eat, or continue your ascent with a hike to the summit of Cruz Loma.
This afternoon, don't miss a stop at a place the kids are sure to love—a local chocolatier! Chocolate has long been a rich part of Ecuador's history, going back thousands of years to cacao plants in the Amazon. Take the opportunity to taste some of that history by visiting a local chocolatier and sampling various sweet treats as well as delicious cups of hot cocoa. End the day at the Parque Metropolitano, a gorgeous green space with walking paths, viewing decks, and room for the kids to run and play. The park is also home to urban wildlife such as hummingbirds and a roving herd of alpacas!
Day 9: Woodcarvers of Ecuador Tour
Make the most of your last day in Ecuador with a visit to the village of San Antonio de Ibarra and its woodcarving shops. Located about an hour from Quito, this quaint village sits at the foot of the Imbabura volcano, on the banks of the Río Tahuando. Known as a residence for artisans and craftspeople, with woodcarving being the primary focus, it is sometimes referred to as the "wood carving capital of Ecuador," producing stunning wooden décor and furniture.Your family will visit a local woodcarver shop, where you'll watch artists at work, carving beautiful wooden figures and statues. The kids will marvel at the intricate detail of horses, angels, and carved representations of religious saints—all created by hand! You'll also have a chance to do some shopping, and that special carved toy or piece of art will make for a memorable souvenir to display in your home. Return to Quito this afternoon and enjoy your last night in the city.
Day 10: Depart Quito
It's time for you and the family to say farewell to Ecuador. At the appointed hour, your driver will pick you up and transfer you to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!
More Great Ecuador Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Ecuador? Check out these other Ecuador itineraries, discover different ways to spend 10 days in Ecuador with your family, or explore the best time to visit Ecuador.