Argentina seems tailor-made for family travel. Not only is the culture welcoming to children, but there's plenty for kids to see and do. Explore the urban parks and ice cream shops of Buenos Aires, watch whales off the Atlantic coast, or hike past some of the most magnificent waterfalls in the world in Argentina's north with this guide.

Argentina for Families

From food to urban design and everyday lifestyle, Argentina is a place that often feels tailor-made for children. During the day, plazas and parks are packed with families, and it's not uncommon to see parents strolling around the streets with children in tow well after midnight.

Argentina's outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking can be enjoyed at all levels, and natural attractions like giant Iguazú Falls and Patagonia's whale watching are also great for kids. Thanks to the country's Italian heritage—thousands of Italian immigrants settled here in the 18th and 19th centuries—pizza is an everyday staple in the local diet. The beloved tradition of merienda (afternoon tea with cakes) is particularly kid-friendly, and restaurants are generally welcoming to children and babies.

Read on for tips and advice for family travel. For more, learn about the Best Time to Visit Argentina and Top Regions of Argentina.

Ice Cream, Museums, and Parks in Buenos Aires

Birds on the lake's edge at Bosques de Palermo

Start the day in San Telmo, a historic neighborhood with narrow cobblestone streets and sunny plazas. Plaza Dorrego has regular tango performances and Parque Lezama offers green space where children can run and play. Another fascinating attraction here is El Zanjón, an archaeological site and museum that encloses historic subterranean passageways.

Catch a taxi to nearby Recoleta for a sweet treat at one of the heladerías (ice cream parlors) near Recoleta Cemetery, an interesting wander for the whole family. Right next door, the Museo Participativo de Ciencias (Participatory Science Museum) is filled with hands-on science exhibits.

In adjacent Palermo, the sprawling park known as Bosques de Palermo has landscaped gardens, lakes with rowboats, bike rental kiosks, and a planetarium with afternoon shows on weekdays. Then head to one of the many classic pizzerias on Avenida Corrientes.

A little further away, a couple of theme parks are popular kids' attractions. In Belgrano, north of Palermo, find Tierra Santa, a theme park with a kitschy religious theme. For more classic amusement park rides, including a big Ferris wheel, families can make the day trip (by train) to Parque de la Costa. It's located in Tigre, on the coast of the Río de la Plata (where you can catch a boat for a guided tour of the river delta—another family-friendly activity).

Keep planning your day in Buenos Aires with this guide to 24 hours in the city.

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Waterfall Thrills, Train Rides, and Horseback Riding in the North

Tourists having fun at Iguazú Falls

Northern Argentina has some of the best family-friendly attractions in Argentina. Iguazú Falls are some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world, set in a national park filled with hiking trails. Fun activities include boat rides (suitable for children 12 and over) that take you close to the base of the falls (be prepared to get wet!).

Smaller children (and tired parents) will enjoy riding the train running through the park to the main viewing platform for Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat), the most dramatic portion of the waterfalls. There's also mountain biking and wildlife viewing within the park: watch out for the many monkeys and coatis (creatures similar to raccoons) which are easily seen from visitor trails. For more on this, see our Ultimate Guide to Iguazú National Park.

The north is also where you'll find Argentina's famous ranches, or estancias. Once at the heart of the country's agricultural industry, they're now mostly country retreats, usually open to the public. Far from any city, they're wonderful, quiet places for kids to let off steam—and for adults to relax. You're likely to encounter a gaucho (Argentine cowboy) who can take the whole family horseback riding around the estate. 

Learn more about estancias in Beyond Hotels: Unique Lodging Options in Argentina.

Chocolate Tours & Lake Adventures in Bariloche

Family kayaking in Bariloche

Bariloche, in the far west of the country in the shadow of the Andes, was largely settled by Swiss immigrants in the 19th and early-20th centuries. The Swiss are renowned for their chocolates and superb mountain scenery, and the same is true of Bariloche. There are lots of chocolate shops and chocolate factories in the city center such as Rapanui, featuring a café with excellent hot chocolate and its own ice-skating rink.

The striking mountain setting of the city, overlooking the vast lake of Lago Nahuel Huapi, tempts travelers of all ages to get outdoors. Skiing, snow-tubing, and snow-shoeing are on offer at the resort of Cerro Catedral. In warmer weather, the region has plenty of water-based adventures too, including whitewater rafting and kayaking. The Lower Manso river, in particular, is a brilliant spot for beginner kayaking.

Wildlife, Dinosaurs, and Glaciers in Patagonia

Whale-watching at Peninsula Valdes will mesmerize kids

Patagonia is synonymous with adventure; a couple of destinations in this enormous mountain- and glacier-studded landscape are particularly enjoyable for families. Península Valdes, a peninsula near Puerto Madryn, is a wonderful place to start exploring. You can spend a day out whale-watching on a boat trip—one of the best opportunities for sightings of whales anywhere in South America—and spot thousands of Magellanic penguins on rocky shores of the peninsula. See more here. 

Patagonia is also famous for its extinct creatures. This is one of the world's richest sites of dinosaur remains, with many major paleontological finds unearthed in the region. Kids can learn all about this history at the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio in Trelew.  Find out more about this and other off-the-beaten-path spots in this article.

One of the most otherworldly aspects of the landscape in Patagonia is the ice, and you'll want to visit Perito Moreno, one of the world's last still-advancing glaciers. This immense field of towering ice is best visited from El Calafate. The town also has a unique glacier interpretation center, the Glacarium, with many interactive exhibits.

Check out Ultimate Guide to El Calafate.  And consider this 12-day itinerary for an overview of the country's best attractions.

Practical Tips

Kids playing soccer on the beach in Mar del Plata, Argentina
Kids playing soccer on the beach in Mar del Plata, Argentina

Traffic in cities is hectic and sometimes chaotic: keep kids close at busy intersections. Due to the state of sidewalks in many urban areas, you're better off leaving the stroller at home and using a baby carrier or backpack for babies and small children.

At museums and theaters, be on the lookout for discounts or free admission for children.

While making travel plans in Argentina, remember that the country is huge and key attractions are spread out. Long-haul bus journeys (which can often be 12 hours or more) usually test the patience of small children. Consider flying instead, and keep your expectations realistic, selecting just one or two regions to explore. 

Most Argentinians love kids: don't be surprised if strangers engage with your children. It's a good conversation starter, especially in parks, plazas, and other spaces where families congregate.

Ready to plan your trip? These Argentina FAQs are a good place to start.