The Ruhr Area for families
The Ruhr Metropolis has a huge choice of attractions for the whole family
Our tips for family days out in the Ruhr Area: This is where families are spoilt for choice with all-weather activities for children of all ages!
For young nature lovers
In fine weather, kids just want to get outdoors, run around and be close to nature. You might think that this would be tricky in such a densely populated region. In actual fact, there are many opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors in the Ruhr Area. As well as numerous parks, nature reserves and forest areas, many of the region’s former industrial sites have been transformed into family-friendly attractions. One outstanding example is North Duisburg Landscape Park. Here, the extensive grounds provide opportunities for cycling, walking, climbing the old blast furnaces, traversing the high-wire course or diving in the disused gasometer.
Visitors can get an overview of the many nature reserves to be found in the Ruhr Area at the historical Haus Ripshorst estate in Oberhausen. The information centre describes the attractions of the Emscher Landscape Park and provides the starting point for the “From Wild Forest to Cultured Forest” nature discovery trail.
Less wild but just as green is the Gruga Park in Essen. Here children can learn lots of interesting facts about plants and animals, ride on the Gruga train, have fun in one of the many playgrounds or enjoy ball games on the expansive lawns.
Getting close to animals in the Ruhr Area
At the Gruga Park, children can see native animal species like owls and eagles in the aviaries and roe-deer in the game enclosure. A much wider selection of animal friends can be visited in the Ruhr Area’s large number of zoos – with each one having their own unique attractions.
In the 1990s, Duisburg Zoo became the first zoo in Germany to show koalas to the public. The Australian marsupials are just as popular today, especially among young visitors. Dortmund Zoo’s South America section has some tricky-to-recognise animals such as a tamandua and an anteater. ZOOM Erlebniswelt in Gelsenkirchen has four themed areas to explore, including animals from Africa and Alaska.
At Sea Life in Oberhausen, children can get a close-up view of fascinating sea creatures, from native species like trout to exotic piranhas or turtles. As well as seeing live animals, the Tierpark Bochum attraction allows budding archaeologists to learn about fossils and the evolution of animals and humans.
Museums with a hands-on approach
At the LWL Museum for Archaeology in Herne, children from the age of seven can actually become archaeologists on the first Sunday of every month, using real excavation tools to uncover artefacts from the Stone Age, the Roman Iron Age or the Middle Ages.
The region’s many industrial heritage museums are also full of exciting discoveries for kids. The LWL Henrichshütte Ironworks Industrial Museum in Hattingen uses its mascot of a blue rat to guide curious young steelworkers around the various sections of the museum where they can try things out and join in. At Dortmund’s Hansa Coking Plant, the cute little mascot Karlchen leads young visitors on guided tours designed just for them. Meanwhile, at Zollern Colliery in Dortmund, the apprentice miner Franz provides the explanations on a special tour for kids. After visiting the museum, parents can let the kids loose on a play tower.
Essen and Duisburg have museums where children can join in and try experiments. The Explorado in Duisburg is Germany’s largest children’s museum. Here, children aged between four and twelve can explore fascinating everyday phenomena over three floors. Phänomania Erfahrungsfeld on the grounds of Zollverein Coal Mine in Essen is an indoor and outdoor attraction with plenty of activities and experimental fun for youngsters.
www.explorado-duisburg.de | www.erfahrungsfeld.de
Amusement parks: Fun and thrills
While parents of a delicate disposition may not always be so enthusiastic, there is no escaping the fact that children of all ages love amusement parks! So they will be delighted to learn that there are several to choose from in the Ruhr Area! A visit to Schloss Beck Amusement Park will be a treat for younger children in particular. The attractions include a ladybird ride, a mini-Ferris wheel and giant slides. The Abenteuer Park adventure park at the CentrO complex in Oberhausen is aimed especially at young kids, while mums and dads will also love the Legoland Discovery Centre, as they remember the fun they used to have building things with the colourful bricks.
Movie Park in Bottrop has thrilling rides for older children and grown-ups, but there is also plenty here for the little ones. In 2015, an exciting new attraction for families with kids from the age of eight was opened in Bottrop. Thrill-seekers young and old are guaranteed to jump out of their skins in Germany’s largest horror labyrinth.
Ferris wheel and candy-floss
The popular fun-fairs of the Ruhr Area are another big draw for children. The Cranger Kirmes in Herne is the largest folk festival in NRW with so much to see and do in addition to the obligatory Ferris wheel and candy-floss. Another large street fair is the annual Sterkrade Corpus Christi fair in Oberhausen.
Valuable tips for rainy days
When the rain won’t stop and the children are starting to get cabin fever, it is time to look for some interesting indoor activities! Hours of fun are guaranteed at AQUApark in Oberhausen, with its huge activity pool and three slides. Planetarium Bochum is also a great place to bring the kids, with special programmes explaining the wonders of space to a young audience.
www.aquapark-oberhausen.com | www.planetarium-bochum.de