São Paulo, Brazil is one of the world’s largest cities, and because of its overwhelming size, it can be tricky for tourists to navigate. However, the city is also one of Brazil’s cultural hubs and therefore has several family-friendly activities to keep your family busy during your stay in this megalopolis.
Swings and culture in the park
The Parque Ibirapuera is home to some of the city’s finest architecture. Brazil’s most famous architect, Oscar Niemeyer, designed several buildings here, including the unusual Oca and Planetarium buildings. His buildings house museums such as the Modern Art Museum, Bienal (the world’s second oldest “Biennale” art exhibition after Venice), Museo Afro-Brasil with colorful exhibits of Brazil’s African heritage and special exhibitions in Oca.
Photo by Bruno Buccalon CC BY
After exploring the park and museums, the area behind Oca and the auditorium provides a nice place to relax with your family. There is a large playground and a reasonably priced outdoor restaurant, The Green, which serves pay-by-weight traditional Brazilian food.
For the future biologist in training
Photo by Sander van der Wel CC BY
Home to a variety of snakes and lizards, the Butantan Institute is one of the largest biomedical research facilities in the world. It was founded in 1901 and for decades has been an important center for the development of vaccines and anti-venom. Besides providing a nice place to walk and see the animals, Butantan gives your kids the opportunity to learn about the important role snakes play in biomedicine.
Learn about Brazil’s soccer history
Photo by Marina Silva CC BY
Located in Pacaembu Stadium, one of the city’s largest soccer stadiums, the Museu de Futebol is a fun place for kids and soccer fans alike to learn about the history of soccer in Brazil and around the world. There are displays of vintage soccer memorabilia, interactive exhibits and celebrations of World Cup history and Brazilian soccer stars.
Outdoor markets that are fun for all
Photo by Andrew Dubber CC BY
São Paulo has two excellent outdoor markets. On Saturdays, you can spend a couple of hours at the Benedito Calixto market. This market is where vendors sell an array of antiques, from small items like vintage toys to grand items like statues that remind visitors of São Paulo’s past wealth. The interior booths are dedicated to handicrafts, from beaded jewelry and leather sandals to ceramics and woven bags.
Photo by Gus Kasaoka CC BY
On Sundays, the area outside MASP (Art Museum of São Paulo) on Avenida Paulista holds two markets. Under MASP is a large antiques market, and across the street is an arts and crafts market with live music and a variety of street snacks.
Buckle up for a zoo safari
Photo by Deni Williams CC BY
The São Paulo Zoo is the largest zoo in Brazil. It is dedicated to conservation of endangered species from Brazil and educating the public about wildlife problems in Brazil. Visitors can visit the zoo on foot or can take a “zoo safari” by car to see the animals living in open spaces.
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