Is Marrakesh Fun To Visit With A Toddler?
This is the first time since having Baby ISO that J and I chose a destination that we weren't sure about its kid-friendliness. Instead, we wanted to visit Marrakesh for ourselves, to experience a different culture, taste amazing cuisine, and dip our toes into northern Africa. So we booked our Ryan Air flights and then set out to do what we could to make Marrakesh work for a 2.5-year-old. And you know what, we didn't have a whole lot of work to do, as Marrakesh is a city full of vibrant colors, people who genuinely love kids, and TONS of green spaces.
Reasons Why Marrakesh Is Great With A Toddler:
1. The Parks:
Marrakesh, Morocco is a vibrant, hectic, beautiful city that of course has the amazing shopping and palaces that you hear about and crowds that go along with it. But it also had lush green spaces throughout the city, some even free to enter. The gardens scattered throughout the city are perfect for toddlers to let loose and burn energy. Many gardens have fountains with lounging turtles, roaming cats, and sticks and rocks to pick up. My favorite park was the free Cyber Park, but we also visited Jardin Secret and Jardin Marjorelle--both very beautiful too. I'll talk more about the specifics of these parks in a post next week.
2. The Souks:
If you do plan to go shopping in Marrakesh, don't worry about an active toddler getting bored, since the souks are so colorful and bright. Baby ISO definitely enjoyed looking around as much as we did. And shop owners were super friendly towards Baby ISO, which was wonderful.
3. Eating Out:
Those of you with a toddler will know what I mean when I say the struggle at mealtimes (dinnertime for us) gets real. Whether it's a fight about sitting in a chair or over the actual meal served, mealtime can often be a really exhausting, frustrating challenge with a toddler. But, with the gorgeous weather practically year-round in Marrakesh, many restaurants offer outdoor seating--a massive bonus when eating with a baby or toddler. Combine the outdoor seating with very tender meat cooked in a tajine and piles of bread and couscous, and it makes for an actually pleasant mealtime. Parents of fussy eaters, you're going to enjoy this!
4. Family-friendly Riads:
Perhaps my most favorite thing about Marrakesh was the family-friendly riad we stayed in: Dar El Qadi*. The staff were mainly composed of incredibly hard-working women (one who sometimes even came to work with a grandchild strapped to her back) who were so considerate of our toddler's needs. Dar El Qadi* also offered dinner upon request, so we ate at our hotel each night, making it even easier with a toddler. And because the menu was negotiated each day with Nadia, the owner (or maybe manager?) of the riad, I knew that we'd have something that Baby ISO would like to eat (all chicken tajines all the time). I'm going to be posting more about Dar El Qadi* on Wednesday because I have so many good things to say about this super family-friendly accommodation.
Safety Concerns To Consider With A Toddler:
1. Strollers vs. Carrying:
Something I read before our trip was that strollers can be challenging in the winding streets of Marrakesh. I can completely see that if your stroller is one with tiny wheels. However, I found that dodging the donkeys, motor bikes, and people to be completely fine with our stroller, the Baby Trend Expedition Jogger*. I couldn't imagine letting Baby ISO walk through the streets even if he was holding hands, as the streets were crowded and hectic--I'd be very nervous of him getting lost in the crowds or injured in the traffic. Another family we talked to during the trip suggested carrying (baby wearing), which is definitely a great option if your child likes to be carried and isn't too heavy.
2. Water and Food Sanitation
Another concern I had before our trip was water quality and safety of the food. To be honest, I probably veered to the overly cautious (slightly paranoid) side of things, but I wanted to ensure that my family would remain healthy and parasite/bacteria-free during our trip. If you're also traveling to a destination where you have concerns about water and food sanitation, I've written my practices for keeping myself and my family safe as well as interviewed a water chemist for his suggestions.
Have you been to Marrakesh with a baby or toddler before? How was your trip?