There is so much more to Germany than the wonderful churches and castles. Have you ever heard of farm golf or seen a Celtic house? Kids and adults alike will enjoy investigating German houses of the past and whizzing down a hillside in a toboggan. From swimming pools to steel factories, there are so many places to visit. Here’s some ideas for 7 great day trips that you can go on with or without the kids…
1. Potzberg Wild Animal Park
Every day from spring to fall there is a Birds of Prey Show at the Potzberg Wild Animal Park. Even visitors who don’t speak German get a thrill when the hawks swoop past. The spacious zoo has several animals and is a wonderful way to catch a glimpse of the wild boar that dominates the local forests. Admission costs €10.50 per adult, €7 per child ages 4-16, and €5 per child ages 2-4.
The Volklingen Steel Factory closed its doors in 1986 when its equipment and manufacturing processes became obsolete. It is the only preserved plant of its kind and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors are permitted to walk all around the plant for a fascinating self-guided tour. Blast furnaces that look like large canisters dominate the skyline. Cable cars run all over the plant like a chair lift runs up a mountain. Walking around, smelling the dust, noticing the weather feeling the immensity of the factory sparks the imagination into seeing what it would have been like to work there. A tour of the plant takes around 3 hours and is well worth the short drive to the Saarbrucken area.
If you haven’t seen storks in the Ramstein area, you are sure to see them at Luisenpark. This unique and large park in Mannheim contains playgrounds, restaurants, and animals. Pink pelicans and flamingos play in the water. A butterfly may land on you in the butterfly house. Hidden behind the Chinese Garden are two Terra Cotta Soldiers from an ancient Chinese burial site.
From relaxing in the shade, climbing in the playground and viewing snakes in the reptile house this park offers something for everyone. Admission costs €7.50 per adult and €5.50 for children.
This Celtic living history museum lets visitors experience life in Germany 2,000 years ago. Children may get the opportunity to cut and sew leather to construct their own coin purse, or pound copper to make a medallion. See how grain was ground and check out the construction of Celtic structures. Plan ahead. This small museum is only open on the weekends. Admission costs €4 per adult and €2 per child.
About 500 years ago, several years after the Celts, and several before modern times, the Freilichtmuseum gives visitors a more recent look into Germany’s past. It turns out that life wasn’t too much different from the American Pioneers. There wasn’t water or electricity inside the houses, cooking was done over open fires, and houses were swept with hand-made brooms.
A walking trip through all the buildings can easily last four hours as there are many open buildings. Rest at the restaurant or pack a picnic. Visit during a special event to see live demonstrations of what life was like. Admission costs €7 per adult. Children get in for free.
5. Landstuhl Natural Swimming Pool
The natural water filtration system gives this swimming pool its name. Hidden behind a building on the edge of Landstuhl its surprising to see a large grassy area, water slide and landscaped swimming pools. Little ones can toddle among the pebbles in the ankle deep water, while big kids enjoy the low platform diving board and inner tubes.
If all the play builds up the appetite, brats can be purchased or visitors can enjoy a picnic. A day can easily slip away as everyone enjoys the afternoon swimming, sunning and relaxing. Admission costs €3.50 per adult and €2 per child.
6. Alpine Summer Slide
Although the thought of sliding down a hill in a metal cart on a track may seem frightening, it’s actually quite fun. The cars are towed up and then released at the top for a curvy, fun-filled ride down the hill. Each car has breaks which are easy to use, and parents can ride with their small children. In the winter there is a single poma lift to bring skiers up the hill. It’s not too often we get the opportunity to spend an afternoon like this. One ride costs €3. Click here for more information.
Author’s profile: Julie Norkoli is a DOD Civilian spouse and a homeschooling mother of three living near the Ramstein AFB in Germany. She loves to travel and is actively involved in the German community through several organizations. Visit her blog for more information.