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Macau has a lot to offer in the way of ruins and historical buildings, which is usually the last thing kids want to see when traveling. But our Forbes Travel Guide editors have assembled some of the best Macau activities for the whole family that are livelier and more interactive (with a museum included that even kids will love included). Guia Fortress is surrounded by nature, Largo do Senado features cafes and shops and Lou Lim Ieoc Garden is quite peaceful. The exhibits at the Grand Prix Museum and the Maritime Museum showcase cars and boats for your kids' enjoyment.
1. Guia Fortress, which sits on top of Macau's highest hill (The Guia Hill), is a must see for families. It was built between 1622 and 1638 to defend the ancient city from mainland China. The working lighthouse dates to 1865 — surely as a lookout for invasions or mariners, still fulfilling the latter function to this day.
2. The public square Largo do Senado, or Senado Square, is the heart of Macau, and any visit to the city starts here. Macau's well-maintained iconic structures — including St. Dominic's Church and the Holy House of Mercy — eradiate from the plaza, along with outdoor cafés and restaurants. On any given day, the square's black-and-white patterned floors feel the patter of throngs of tourists and locals alike, the former to snap pictures, and the latter to eat a quick lunch.
3. Lou Lim Ieoc Garden is a traditional Chinese garden built in the late 1800s, a gift from wealthy Chinese merchant Lou Kau to his wife. It replicates the traditional gardens of Suzhou, where she was born. The lovely grounds feature zigzagging bridges, lotus ponds, small-scale bamboo groves and the family house, which is now a gallery that exhibits traditional Chinese paintings.
4. One of the only museums in Macau that's kid-friendly rather than merely historic is the Grand Prix Museum, which pays tribute to the successful racers in the Macau Grand Prix. Inside, there are exhibits including photos, videos, illustrations, cups and some of the cars themselves detailing the most exciting race in the world. There are even two racing car simulators, which allow you to pretend like you're racing a car in the Grand Prix. The Macau Grand Prix (mid-November) is the premiere event in Macau. Cars and motorcycles race on Guia Circuit, one of the most demanding street races on the planet, while spectators get to see some of the top young drivers in the world in action as they compete in the headline Formula 3 race, often seen as a stepping stone to the glamorous world of Formula 1.
5. The destiny of Macau was inextricably tied to the sea, so you know Maritime Museum is going to house some interesting pieces. Besides boasting a number of replicas of ships, plus real artifacts used by sailors and fisherman, it also has an aquarium that showcases the fish communities in the region.
Macau’s sea water quality is muddy due to the Pearl River influence, so the favorite pastime for the local youth is not to hang around the beach but instead to visit one of the recreational pools operated by the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau. Every year they are visited by over 200,000 persons. These pools are safe for children, since each of them has at least four lifeguards. They include small pools adapted to the little ones. The scenic Cheoc Van pool, located close to the sea and the beach, is perhaps the best option. Nearby, at the Hac Sa beach, there’s a park with recreational sport facilities. It’s the best place in Macau to do a barbeque with all the family.
Regarding educational activities, the Macau Science Center (designed by the famous architect I.M. Pei) includes a Planetarium and Space Theatre that generates impressing high definition 3D effects. The museum has activities specially tailored for children. For the kids fascinated with the car racing world, the best option is the Grand Prix Museum, which displays a collection of machines that were raced on the Guia circuit. The museum also includes a BD presentation and two racing car simulators.