If rushing around with small kids in tow doesn't sound like your idea of fun, you're in luck—this weeklong family vacation bases you in Quito so you can see the best of Ecuador's capital and its surroundings at a gentler pace. Little ones can sample tasty snacks on a street food tour, ride a cable car up volcanic slopes, and get their hands dirty with a family cooking class. When you feel like escaping the city, fun-filled day trips to the Mindo Cloud Forest, Cotopaxi, and the Papallacta hot springs await.


  • Take an adventure-filled day trip into the Mindo Cloud Forest
  • Participate in a fun, family-friendly cooking class to whip up Ecuadorian treats
  • Shop for Indigenous Kichwa crafts at Otavalo's bustling market
  • Ride the TelefériQo cable car high above Quito
  • Splash around in natural hot springs at the foot of the Antisana volcano

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito Quito
Day 2 Quito City Tour & Mitad del Mundo Quito
Day 3 Day Trip to Mindo Cloud Forest: Butterflies, Birds & Outdoor Adventure Quito
Day 4 Free Day in Quito, Optional Day Trip to Cotopaxi National Park Quito
Day 5 Otavalo Markets Tour & Family Cooking Class Quito
Day 6 Street Food Tour, TelefériQo Cable Car Quito
Day 7 Termas de Papallacta Hot Springs, Depart Quito  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito

Kids playing with kites on a hill above Quito

Welcome to Ecuador! Upon arrival at Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Tababela, you'll be driven to your hotel in Quito, about 45 minutes away. You and your kids can relax during the journey and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Andes and the lush green valleys as your driver provides you with some valuable insights into the city's culture and traditions.

Located at 9,350 feet (2,850 m) above sea level, Ecuador's capital is one of the highest in the world. Built on the ashes of the northern Inca capital following the 1533 Spanish conquest, Quito is surrounded by majestic Andean peaks, including the restless Pichincha volcano. Because of its altitude, you and the kids should take it easy after your arrival to adjust and avoid getting overtired. Take a gentle walk through the city's picturesque plazas and markets for an easy introduction to your base for the next week, then get an early night in preparation for tomorrow's adventures.

Day 2: Quito City Tour & Mitad del Mundo

Check out the "Middle of the World" at Mitad del Mundo

After a good night's sleep, you and the kids should be ready to start exploring Quito. Today's full-day city tour includes plenty of family-friendly sights and attractions among the historic landmarks. Start at Independence Square to see La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús, a 17th-century church built from volcanic rock and gilt-covered cedar. Next, visit La Basílica y Convento de San Francisco, considered Ecuador's most important church for its scale and history. Take a stroll along La Ronda, a pre-Columbian walking trail that's now brimming with cafés, live music, and boutiques.

 After lunch, head to the north of the city to see a monument marking the point where the Northern and Southern Hemispheres meet and divide, the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) monument. Sneak in a geography lesson as the little ones hop between hemispheres for a photo op, then visit the many appealing attractions nearby, which include a planetarium, a fun scale model of Quito, several museums, an old train station, and a small chapel. 

Day 3: Day Trip to Mindo Cloud Forest: Butterflies, Birds & Outdoor Adventure

Take a family trip to the Mindo Cloud Forest for a day of birds, butterflies, and outdoor adventure

Get out of the city today to explore the lush green Mindo Cloud Forest. 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).

On today's fun-filled day trip, you'll have the opportunity to visit a butterfly farm, trek to waterfalls, go river tubing, fly between the treetops on a zipline, and taste locally-made chocolate and coffee as you see more of this biodiverse wonderland. After a day of cloud forest fun, transfer back to Quito where the kids will be ready for dinner and an early night.

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Day 4: Free Day in Quito, Optional Day Trip to Cotopaxi National Park

Young quiteños flock to the skating area at Carolina Park

With a free day in Quito, you could rent bikes, go in search of street art, or make time to go souvenir shopping. A great way to get to know the city is through its many parks and green spaces, where kids can play alongside the locals. Central Carolina Park has an artificial lake with paddle boats, a running track, designated biking and skate areas, and a small children's museum and zoo. Farther afield, you'll find Guangüiltagua Metropolitan Park, one of the largest urban parks in the Americas and home to plenty of children's play areas and even a resident herd of llamas!

Curious kids might enjoy a trip to Quito's Vivarium, a center devoted to amphibians and reptiles that hosts over 40 species, including lizards, snakes, and turtles. Head to La Bodeguita de los Juegos for some fun family rivalry at this board game café with a cozy atmosphere and a wide variety of games to choose from. Older ages might prefer the gaming lounge at the JW Marriott Hotel, where they can explore the large selection of video games and more traditional pursuits. 

Families that want to venture farther afield and get out into nature can take a day trip to the spectacular Cotopaxi National Park. A two-hour drive south of Quito takes you into the sweeping landscapes of the Andean highlands, crowned by the snowcapped peak of the Cotopaxi volcano. Spot wild horses and fuzzy alpacas and stop for a hike around the beautiful Laguna de Limpiopungo before heading back to Quito for the evening.

Day 5: Otavalo Markets Tour & Family Cooking Class

Otavalo Market
Learn about Kichwa culture and stock up on cute souvenirs at the Otavalo Market

Get out of the city again today on a guided day trip to Otavalo. This laid-back town in Ecuador's northern highlands is the proud homeland of the Indigenous Kichwa culture (more commonly known outside Ecuador as Quechua people). Many residents still wear traditional clothing and maintain deep-rooted customs. Otavalo is home to one of South America's most important traditional markets, where locals from the surrounding areas gather to trade everything from animals and handicrafts to fresh fruit and flowers. Kids will enjoy the colors and activities as much as parents enjoy the range of goods for sale.

Later in the day, take part in a fun family-friendly cooking class led by a local chef. Kids will love getting active in the kitchen and learning more about local food, especially as they'll get to eat their creations after. Learn the traditional processes that go into preparing Ecuadorian meals, and be introduced to local ingredients, all 100% organic and harvested in local gardens. It's a fun opportunity for parents and kids to cook together without the stress and hustle of regular at-home mealtimes.

Day 6: Street Food Tour, TelefériQo Cable Car

Soar above the city on a cable car ride to Cruz Loma 

You've already seen some of Quito's main neighborhoods and big sights, so today you'll get to know the city more like a local. Start by visiting La Tola and La Floresta, traditional neighborhoods where a variety of typical flavors, smells, and colors are on display. Taste authentic local dishes such as humitas (similar to a tamale), quimbolitos (a sweet pastry steamed in plantain leaves), pinchos, (roasted meat skewers), chicha (a creamy corn-based drink), empanadas, and traditional sweets, which are sure to be a hit with the kids. 

Later on, get a bird's-eye view of the city with a dash of adrenaline thrown in as you board the TelefériQo cable car. The scenic ride takes about 18 minutes to reach the slopes of the towering Pichincha volcano, where you can enjoy spectacular views over the city and the surrounding mountains and volcanoes (the perfect spot for a final family photo op). You can take a short walk at the top to a number of panoramic viewpoints, and older kids and the daredevils in the family won't want to miss a ride on the mountainside swing.

Day 7: Termas de Papallacta Hot Springs, Depart Quito

Soak in the hot springs of Termas de Palallacta and let the kids have some fun before your flight

Today is your last day in Ecuador, so start early and make the most of it with a visit to the hot springs and spa of Termas de Papallacta, about an hour's drive east of the city. Made up of eight natural geothermal pools in a forest setting complete with a view of the Antisana volcano, this luxurious complex is the perfect treat to end your trip. With a shallower pool for kids, hot pools, steam baths, Jacuzzis, mud baths, and massages, there's an option to suit each member of the family. 

After a morning of splashing around, your driver will collect you and transfer you to the airport in plenty of time for your departing flight. Safe travels!

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Map of Easy Ecuador for Families: Quito & Surroundings - 7 Days
Map of Easy Ecuador for Families: Quito & Surroundings - 7 Days