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Though most think of Venice as a locale for romantic escapes, the Italian city can also be child-friendly — you just have to know which activities to look for. Here are five of Forbes Travel Guide’s favorite things to do with children in Venice.
1. Take a boat ride. One of the things that both children and adults find fascinating about Venice is that the island doesn't have any cars — its canals are actually its streets. Ambulances, fire "trucks" and police "cars" are all actually boats. You don't have to take a gondola ride to join in the fun. Instead, try taking a water bus (vaporetto). Our Forbes Guide Travel editors especially like the #1, which cruises from Piazzale Roma to the Lido along the Grand Canal, and stops at the Rialto Bridge, St. Mark's Square and Giudecca.
2. Head to the Lido. All of that water is tempting, especially for children, and it can be frustrating if they can't take a dip. Resolve the problem and have some fun in the sun at Venice's Lido Beach (you can get there on the #1 or #2 vaporetto). The water here is shallow and warm, and the beach gets packed in the summer with both visiting and Italian families. It’s a great opportunity for your kids to make some local friends.
3. Watch glass-blowers at work in Murano. The island of Murano has been home to all of Venice's glass factories since 1291, and its glass is world-famous even today. Watching the craftsmen at work is entrancing for both adults and kids. Some of the glass factories produce higher quality work than others, so do your homework before you pick one. We like the New Murano Gallery, where the work is exquisite (Picasso used to partner with the factory for his creations) and no one pressures you to make a purchase.
4. Make your own Venetian mask. Watch Venetian artists handcraft beautiful masks or even make one with your kids. Many of Venice's mask shops have mask-making classes, including Ca' Macana, Il Canovaccio and Benor Maschere.
5. Climb a tower. For kids with lots of energy to burn, a climb up one of Venice's towers might be the best way to pass an hour. The Campanile in St. Mark's Basilica has great views but often has long lines. Across the water from St. Mark’s, the church of San Giorgio Maggiore also has a tower with breathtaking views.