Family Friendly Brno – part 1
When we first moved to Brno almost ten years ago, starting a family was the last thing on our minds. We came for the beer and the parties, to liberate ourselves from our mundane existence in a provincial English town, and maybe use it as a backdoor to Prague. We also wanted to save up and go travelling before we could even consider the notion of “settling down” – we both wanted our own family one day, but until we’d scratched our mutual itches, that was a vague point in the distant future. Then in 2011, I had a long spell in hospital which changed our outlook on life. Photo for illustration purposes. Credit: Pixabay.
Brno, Aug 28 (BD) – Now seven years later we’re a family blessed with two beautiful children, and we think of Brno in completely different terms. It turns out that we really lucked out by landing in this city – it’s a great place to bring up kids, and there are loads of things to keep them entertained.
We like to get out with the kids at least one day each weekend, and our choices are mostly based around what our three and a half-year-old daughter, Gracie, loves doing. This usually involves playing, swimming, and ice cream – nothing earth-shattering, just what we like doing as an expat family in Brno.
Gracie loves water and would swim in a muddy puddle if we let her. With autumn closing in we’re planning to make the most of the remaining good weather and head out to the city’s many pools whenever we can. There’s plenty of choices, although we find the pools at Kravi Hora and Dobrak a bit too packed and full of posers showing off their tans. The latter has a large play area around the back of Butcher’s Grill, which of course she loves.
The Riviera reopened this summer after an extensive makeover, adding extra slides, water features and a non-slip bottom to the cascading pool area. It has plenty to keep children entertained, and its sheer size means it never feels overcrowded, although it is a relatively pricey option – 180kc for an adult.
More often than not we end up down at Koupaliste Zabrdovice. It’s a no frills old fashioned lido and feels more family oriented, with plenty of open grass spaces to set up camp for the day. It has a modest play area, a baby pool, wave machine and water slide for the older kids, all set to the soundtrack of Radio Krokodyl broadcast from the speaker system.
In the colder weather, we routinely make the trip across town to Aquapark Kohoutovice. It’s a nice modern indoor pool with a water slide, jacuzzi and whirlpool, although it sometimes feels a bit crowded because they have so many water features and fountains blasting water in your face that everyone tends to cluster around the edges.
Parks & play areas
Luzanky is the oldest municipal park in the Czech Republic, and it’s an absolute godsend with the kids. It’s spacious enough for you to always find a good spot, and in the good weather it has the laid-back vibe of an outdoor social club, with people sunbathing, drinking, doing yoga, smoking a shisha, practicing their slack rope, kung fu or sword fighting skills, or simply enjoying the sun with friends.
Luzanky park. Photo credit: @BrnoDaily.
Most importantly for Gracie, there is a play area with swings, sandpits, totally impractical wooden slides, and a fort (currently under reconstruction). In the summer there’s also a family tent with events, refreshments and a very welcome sprinkler. She also loves the hedge maze and getting ice cream, either regular lollies out of the fridge at the tennis clubs, or more exotically flavoured gluten-free options from the pastel coloured, retro-style wagons that park up.
Luzanky is also great for the traditional British autumn activity of “Conkering“, or collecting bucketfuls of horse chestnuts. There’s plenty of conker trees to pillage in Luzanky, although strangely there always seems to be a surfeit of decent sticks, the Conkerer’s weapon of choice for knocking the chestnuts down out of the branches.
Living near the children’s hospital, our quick fix is Schreberovy Zahradky, an unassuming little park on the number 11 line. It’s worth a visit because you’ve got the option of an outdoor play area, or the neighbouring Hradek plny Hratek if the weather’s no so great. Gracie also loves the small astroturf football pitch when the big kids aren’t hogging it. She loves scoring goals, and I’ve been teaching her how to dribble. She’s pretty good for a three-year-old – we had defenders playing for Ipswich Town FC back in the Nineties with worse ball control.
The play area on Obilni Trh is also a firm favourite. It’s nothing spectacular but has a really nice chilled atmosphere, and grown-ups can grab a cold Pilsner Urquell from U Capa while the kids are doing their thing. Ice cream is available from the nearby Patisserie Tutti Frutti, so that’s always an essential stop before we head home…
Stay tuned for part 2, when we’ll be looking for family options suited to the cooler autumn weather.
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