Situated in the upper middle of Spain, you may have heard Valladolid mentioned as somewhere to pass through on a train on your way from Madrid to the smaller beach towns along the northern coast. Stop. Take a day or two to explore this centrally-located hidden gem. Madrid and Barcelona can wait. The physical majority of Spain, as well as an essential facet to its culture, exists in these little breaths of land.
If you’re looking to stay within the city, there are plenty of options for the family to share some quality time in a completely foreign, yet comfortable, environment. There are two bowling alleys perfect for game night: Bowling Zoo and Bowling Sport Line. A fantastic arcade called Pasaje Gutiérrez can entertain your older gamers; and Campo Grande, the city’s central park and family hub, can provide a breath of fresh air. For an all-out adventure outside the city limits, rent some bikes or trek the El Sendero Verde del Esgueva, a 19 km path between Valladolid and Villanueva.
As is the traditional per usual in quaint Spanish towns, the construction of the city is completely centered on a grand plaza in the centre: Plaza Mayor. Stop here for a bit to people watch, soak in the pace of life, and take a coffee at a small shop with locals on break.
It is absolutely necessary to pay a visit to Imaginarium, the most popular and visited toy store and play-place in Spain. Although this location in the store’s chain will most likely be smaller than its brothers in a larger cities, your kids will still be happy for the excursion. For bookstores, we recommend Libreria Oletum and El Lobo Feroz, both with extensive children’s sections. El Lobo Feroz, or “the Fierce Wolf”, will have your children devouring pages upon pages; while Librereia Oletum’s wide adult selection will have you wishing there was more time to read on the airplane.
Why not eat under a Millenium Dome? The chefs of Valladolid couldn’t think of a reason either. Head over to Ríoluz Gastronomia, a centrally-located restaurant with an incredible view of the water. In the evening, watch the dome come to life with lights. Afterwards, the tried-and-true candy and gelato shop of more than a hundred years, Helados Iborra, is only a short walk away through the park. For a typical Spanish meal of tapas (and wine, for those above the line), Villa Parmesana is the place to go. It has won several awards, including the Golden Award in the Provincial Competition for Pinchos (or tapas) in 2014. Situated in an old railroad car, the aptly titled Estacio Gourmet focuses on the culinary treasures of the region and the city specifically, creating gastronomic delicacies for special events.
Take a moment and experience Spain as locals in small towns too. Feel the energy in the park and the main plaza in the evenings and after school has just been released. Surrounded by families speaking in a language you may not understand, you will feel right at home and your kids will love the comfort of family time spent doing normal activities in an exciting new place.