Our time navigating Rome with a baby has pretty much expired when our son became two and changed his attitude towards
the city the stroller. Just to make things a little harder for us, our baby started jumping off the stroller as soon as he began walking. He got immediately tired of sitting for a long time and he also got quickly tired of too much walking.
So for us, it meant that we still needed to carry the stroller but one of us also needed to walk with baby D. because he’s pretty reckless! Nevertheless, we are still managing to do some exploring and discover some great things to do in Rome with a toddler.
Two is a tricky age because, as I mentioned, he’s not as tiny anymore to stay in the stroller the whole time and let us free of doing what we want, but he’s not mature enough to actually understand and enjoy things, which leads him to get bored pretty quickly. We drive in Rome, so I admit this makes things easier unless we are going to the city center. And even so, we park just before the beginning of the ZTL and then walk.
I’m sure that when you have the chance to travel to Rome, you will want to have all the experiences Rome is famous for, from visiting its archaeological sites to tasting the local foods. But if you are traveling with your young family, chances are you are wondering what are things a toddler can enjoy in Rome. How can you keep a two-year-old busy and happy in Rome? Here are some of our suggestions stemming from all our adventures around the city with our son.
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Go to a park
Our son literally adored Villa Pamphilj park. Right close to the entrance in Via Vitellia is a small playground with toys for children and he just couldn’t get enough of climbing, sliding, swinging, running, chasing pigeons and playing with other kids. For us, it was quite tiring because he needs to be closely watched the whole time, but he really had a blast.
In Villa Pamphilj you can also enjoy a delicious picnic from the Vivi Bistrot near the entrance of Via Vitellia: you can order it online or when you arrive and enjoy it in the park. There are different types of picnics, including a Deluxe one where they give you also a basket and a cloth to use on the grass and then give back (it’s rented, not for sale).
Also parks like Villa Borghese and Villa Ada have some playgrounds for kids and plenty of space to run. Villa Borghese also features the city’s zoo but we haven’t brought him there yet. He started enjoying stories and cartoons with animals as well as playing with animal toys so we took him to the zoo (called Bioparco in Rome) and he loved it. We could find all the animals he heard about in his night tales from the wolf to the lion to the giraffe, so he was pretty excited. I’m not the biggest fan of zoos, but if you are traveling with your family, this is definitely one of the things to do in Rome with a toddler.
Get a gelato
This never gets old. Our baby is not the biggest gelato fan but his parents are so when we head to our favorite gelaterias instead of making a little cup for him, we order large cones for us and he gets a taste and several spoons of everything.
We noticed that this way he enjoys it more rather than having his own as we noticed he had never finished one without getting bored. His favorite flavors? Chocolate, salty caramel, and pistachio (he’s half Afghan, after all).
Go for a pizza…
Even though an easy dish to taste, baby D. didn’t enjoy it from the beginning to our great despair. Lately, however, he’s been showing more appreciation for the Italian national gastronomic pride. He has fun tucking into it and it seems he also likes it.
I always order a small pizza for him with some light toppings, usually tomato, oregano, and olives that he adores, and he also tries some of ours when we don’t order heavy toppings such as sausage or gorgonzola blue cheese my husband can never miss. As of now, one of his favorite pizzas has been at Berberè in the Trieste quarter near Via Nomentana and Piazza Fiume.
… Or to your favorite restaurant
If you are lucky, your little one will also enjoy a meal at a nice Rome restaurant. We ate out altogether when our baby was smaller, but now that he’s two and running like a little leopard, we are kind of giving up going to a restaurant with him because he gets bored from sitting on his high chair from the starters without even letting us get to the first course.
We leave this to the big occasions but otherwise, for now, we go when he’s in daycare. I hope he will grow more patient soon so we can eat out with him too because he’s a little gourmand and always likes to try new flavors.
Make sure you have all the necessary toddler travel essentials in case you need to change his/her diaper or if he gets dirty during lunch and you need to change him!
Explora Children Museum
One of the very top things to do in Rome with a toddler is to visit the fantastic Explora children’s museum located in Flaminio, not far from Piazza del Popolo gate. They are organized into sections and they divide children by age.
The first one, where we went when D. was 1, had sensory experiences such as sounds, lights, colors and tactile, and obviously, the more they grow, the different the toys will be. My son enjoyed it the first time, so I’m positive we are going again soon now that he’s 2 so he can try different toys and make different experiences.
Yes, my baby likes to go shopping. Or better, he enjoys running around stores and shopping malls.
We He had great fun at the Porta Nuova shopping center in northern Rome because it’s packed with stores and there is also some amusement park for children, and while we always need to keep an eye on him, there is no risk he ends up on a road full of cars.
Another place we enjoyed all together with our toddler in Rome is McArthurGlen Outlet Designer in Castel Romano south of Rome. This is a sort of man-made village with virtually every single brand, especially clothing, shoes and accessories, even if you can find also some homeware. Here, too, even though it’s outdoor, there are no cars, so your toddler can run everywhere risk-free. However, the place is pretty big, so you always need to be careful you don’t lose him/her or that he doesn’t go out in the parking lot.
Baby D. even enjoys our weekly grocery shopping because we place him on the trolley and give him the terminal to scan all our products’ bar codes, but probably we won’t need to do this while in Rome.
Stroll Rome’s Botanical Garden
When we went to Rome’s Botanical Garden in Trastevere, we didn’t expect our baby to like it so much. I mean, in the end, it’s a large and scenic exhibition of different plant species and sculptures, so I thought more of visiting there as sightseeing but once there we actually so many families with children.
We didn’t stay long but we are definitely going back because dragging baby D. out of there was a disaster full of tears and screaming!