Riga's Old Quarter may look like it's been transported directly from a fairy-tale, but families with children will know that little ones on holiday are looking for something more than a charming view. Fortunately, Latvia's capital also has a great selection of activities for the kids – including some that are every bit as magical as the scenery.
1. Riga Zoo
Open year round, this zoo has a staggering 3,000 animals. Favorites include the playful lemurs, 'Owls of Latvia' exhibit, and giraffe house. There are daily feedings in the summer from June-August, while the tropical house provides a bit of warmth on a cold winter's day – if you don't mind the snakes, that is.
2. Latvian Puppet Theater
Tear them away from their tablets and introduce your children to some Latvian culture with a trip to this national theater. The performers bring fairy tales, Latvian literature and nursery rhymes to life with enchanting, colorful shows. The performances are in Latvian or Russian, but rely primarily on visual storytelling, making them easy to follow.
Watch Riga roll past from the inside of a transparent inflatable ball as you hurtle downhill from the city's zorbing base in Dzegužkalns. Located about two miles from the Old Town and our Radisson Blu Daugava Hotel, Riga, this wacky activity is certain to be a hit with the kids.
4. Natural History Museum
Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! You'll see them all at the city's sprawling Natural History Museum, along with woolly mammoth bones, sparkling gemstones, and every type of moss imaginable.
When your little ones have energy to spare, take them to the LIDO Recreation Centre, where they can run wild at an inline skating rink, ball pit, inflatable maze, and play park.
6. Galleria Riga Children's Centre
Give tiny feet a break from a day of shopping by popping up to the fifth floor of the Galleria Riga. There's an extensive Children's Centre tucked away in this shopping complex, which hosts interactive science exhibits and workshops, as well as a cheerful play room for toddlers.
7. Tērvete Nature Park
Disappear into a fairy tale at this beautifully designed park, where fantastical wooden sculptures, charming bridges, winding staircases, and witches' huts lurk in the deep pine forest. Don't be alarmed if you stumble across the witch herself – she's more likely to offer you tea than cast any evil spells.
8. Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia
Breathe in the fresh air at this village made up of buildings exemplifying the different Latvian architectural styles, where you can watch performers in period costume demonstrate traditional crafts like woodworking. Annual highlights include a Folk Art Fair in June and the Winter Solstice celebrations in December.
9. Riga Circus
Built in 1888, the Riga Circus has a grand tradition of entertaining families. It's the only permanent circus you'll find in the Baltics, featuring talented jugglers, clowns, acrobats and more. Animal antics are also on the schedule, with unusual stars including pelicans, porcupines, crocodiles and monkeys.
10. Jurmala Beach
While these pristine shores may not technically be in Riga, they're worth the train ride it takes to reach them. Golden sands stretch out for miles, and if you visit in the off-season, you'll have almost the whole place to yourself.