The gastronomic capital of France and a city that dates back to the Roman era, Lyon's history has made it a must-visit town for visitors to France. The city center, also known as Old Town or Vieux Lyon, is an excellent place to wander and soak up the atmosphere of one of France's most charismatic cities. You'll find excellent restaurants and fun things to do amid the ancient ruins, and all with far fewer crowds and far less expense than you would in Paris.
But as any trip planner knows, finding fun activities and things to do in Lyon with kids can be a challenge. Luckily, this city perched between two rivers, the Rhône and the Saône river, has a wealth of things to do to keep youngsters occupied. Whether you're looking to explore Lyon's history at the best museums in Lyon or would rather enjoy a round of mini golf with the family, you'll be able to do it here.
Unfortunately, traveling with the family often means traveling with everything but the kitchen sink, too. So you'll be glad to know you can lighten the load by dropping off your belongings at a Bounce luggage storage in Lyon. Traveling light will make it much easier to enjoy landmarks, points of interest, and the fascinating atmosphere of this unique city.
Often, kids and museums don't mix all that well. The vast span of history leaves a lot of youngsters cold. However, in a historic city like Lyon, it would be a shame to visit and not see some of the city's most stunning historic monuments such as Notre Dame de Fourvière and the ruins of the old Roman town on Fourvière hill. Luckily, the ruins can be a great place to explore with kids. Free to visit, the ancient theaters and preserved stretch of Roman road aren't trapped behind glass but are out in the open ready to be explored. This UNESCO World Heritage Site brings history to life and lets children's imaginations run wild. The on-site museum is one of the best museums in Lyon, but kids will get a lot more out of running around the ruins themselves. Plus, with no admission fee, this is also one of the best free things to do in Lyon.
Additionally, a short walk away from the Roman town, the stunning Church of Notre Dame de Fourvière is another of Lyon's most iconic historic buildings. Notre Dame de Fourvière is a functioning church, so the interior isn't a great place for noisy kids. However, a guided rooftop tour will get them out in the fresh air and give them incredible views of the city center.
Not far from the historic monuments of Fourvière hill, there's another attraction kids are likely to be even more impressed by. Aventures Fourviere is only a 10-minute walk from the imposing basilica of Notre Dame, but it offers a chance to really cut loose in the city. This amusement park features an outdoor jungle gym with suspended walkways and aerial trails that will make kids feel like they've stepped into a different world. If you prefer something more sedate, there are also some very pleasant walking paths that let you enjoy impressive views of the city while you relax.
Parc de la Tête d'Or
One of the most beloved parks in Lyon, Parc de la Tête d'Or is an excellent place to bring the family while you explore Lyon. With acres of open space to run around in, you can tire the kids out while you enjoy the serenity of the well-manicured grounds. This popular park is known for its rose gardens and botanical garden where you can enjoy hundreds of different species of plants. Throw a few coins in the elegant fountain and enjoy a picnic in this urban park, one of the largest in France. The park even contains a zoo and a boating lake, so you could very easily spend an afternoon here enjoying the great sunny weather of Lyon and getting to know the city a little better.
Families with younger children shouldn't miss this entertaining slice of Lyon history. This puppet theater depicts the lives of Lyon's historic silk workers, and the puppeteers do a great job of bringing some comic relief elements to keep kids entertained. There are also shows aimed at toddlers and other age groups, so it's easy to find something worth seeing here. However, be aware that without French language skills, you won't get as much out of the shows as you otherwise might.
Explore the Traboules
Lyon's Old Town is a great place to explore and take in the lively atmosphere of this southern French city. But there's another side to Vieux Lyon that many visitors remain unaware of. It's a side of the city you can only see by exploring the secret passageways known as traboules.
It's estimated that there may have been hundreds of these passages through the city. Beginning in the fourth century, the passages were intended to give access to the river without having to navigate the maze of crooked streets that make up the old town center. These passageways run through the courtyards and buildings of Lyon, and make up a fascinating secret world that kids will love to explore.
You can find some of these traboules yourself, but a better way to explore them and hear about the fascinating stories behind them is to take one of the many guided tours available in the city. A knowledgeable guide will take you to some of the best examples of these passageways and explain the interesting stories behind them, giving kids an unforgettable way to explore this old town.
Thanks to its long history, Lyon is a place blessed with many great museums. But for families, few compare with the Musée Miniature et Cinema. This quirky museum was founded by a man with a passion for miniatures and movie special effects, and so it's an excellent place to take the kids to see something they've never seen before. This is the only collection of movie special effects in Europe, and you'll be able to see how SFX artists go about their work and enjoy artifacts from some of the biggest blockbusters of all time. Plus, the effects and handcrafted miniatures offer some of the best photo opportunities in the entire city. It's not just the kids who will have a blast here. Anyone with a love of movies will get something out of this exciting museum.
Do we need to say any more? Kids and chocolate go together like – well, like kids and chocolate. Lyon's Chocolate Museum is located a little way out of the city center, but it's well worth the trip for any family with a sweet tooth. Based in a still-functioning chocolate factory, this museum teaches you all about the process of chocolate making, from the selection of cocoa beans up to the final packaging. And of course, you'll be able to taste some delicious chocolate along the way.
Outdoor markets are a quintessential part of French life. But as well as being places for Lyonnais to buy their vegetables, they are invariably lively and interesting areas to visit. Lyon is home to many ancient outdoor markets, with la Croix Rousse and St Antoine being two of the biggest and most celebrated. Lyon is known around the world for its food, and that emphasis on cuisine all begins at the lively markets which are unmissable places to visit during the summer. As well as learning more about the incredible produce of the region, you may be able to sample French cuisine at its freshest. The big markets often also have food trucks and street performers providing entertainment, making them great options on a family trip.
Lyon's weather is generally quite sunny, but that doesn't mean you'll never have a rainy day. Luckily, Lyon Aquarium steps up to the plate with some fascinating exhibits offering family fun in an indoor setting. The aquarium is located on the southern side of the city in the suburb of La Mulatière where the two rivers converge, and the state-of-the-art facility offers different areas devoted to temperate freshwater, tropical freshwater, and the sea. Don't miss the thrill of visiting the Shark Pit or the chance to go backstage and learn more about how the aquarium cares for and helps to conserve the animals it contains.
Close to the aquarium, this unusual museum is one of the best to visit in Lyon not just for families but for anyone curious about the world we live in. Divided into four different exhibition areas covering the origins of life, the diversity of species on the earth, and the meaning of life itself, visitors of any age will leave this museum with lots to think about. But for all the deep ideas raised by the exhibits, the museum manages to make scientific inquiry fun through the use of short films and interactive exhibits that add up to a true multimedia experience. If you're in Lyon with kids, you should definitely make your way to this modern and fascinating museum. And even if you're not traveling with children, it's still worth considering a visit to this one-of-a-kind institution.
Mini World Lyon
Younger children will get a kick out of this slightly out-of-town amusement park that brings them the world at a smaller scale. Mini World Lyon contains dozens of highly detailed models of famous buildings and events from around the world, so you can explore the whole globe without leaving the city itself. Kids will feel like giants as they loom over some of the most iconic locations on the planet, and there are also rides and entertainment aimed at a younger crowd. It's a great place to take young children when they can't stand the sight of another historic building, because seeing cities re-created in miniature will give them a whole new perspective on the world we live in.
Food and history are two of the biggest draws to Lyon for adults. And this city has both in abundance. But exploring old churches like the Cathédrale Saint Jean Baptiste or dining in Michelin-starred restaurants doesn't have the same appeal for kids that it may do for adults. That's why it's important to know what the city offers for children.
Luckily, once you start exploring, you'll find there are more than enough things to do in Lyon with kids to keep the whole family happy and occupied. Once you drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Lyon, you'll be ready to sample everything the city has to offer. Just remember to bring a camera to capture those unforgettable moments as you make the most of your time in one of France's most deservedly popular cities.