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Active recreation with children
Families with children can enjoy various activities in Latvia – from a leisured walk on a nature trail to a nerve-tingling ride down a roller-cart track.
A truly fascinating adventure for the whole family is the “Mežakaķis” (Wild Cat) adventure track, passing hurdles suspended between the trees at 1-17m height. One adventure track is located in Sigulda, another one - in Mežaparks in Riga. The latter consists of 65 hurdles divided according to the levels of difficulty into five separate tracks. A special delight is to roll on a wheel down the rope at the end of each track.
Children who either due to their height or age are too small to take the challenge of all the tracks have another alternative – a 0,5-1m high hurdle track equipped with safety carabiners. Parents can accompany their little brave-hearts walking by their side along the hurdle track and speaking words of encouragement.
After the “Mežakaķis” in Mežaparks families can proceed to the Riga Zoo located nearby, which is home to lots of different animals — Amur tigers, lions, giraffes, ostriches etc. Particularly fascinating is the Tropical House inhabited by crocodiles, pythons and other animals of the jungle.
Many tourist families are already familiar with the “Līvu aquapark” located in Jūrmala by the Lielupe Bridge. It is the largest indoor aquapark in the Baltic States, worth a visit even in winter when beaches are covered in snow. More daring parents will surely gain admiration by riding down the 83m long Red Pipe where the speed can reach up to 60km/h. Afterwards a great many of the remaining attractions will seem way too easy... For example, three people leisurely sliding on an air-filled bag down the 211m yellow pipe called “Cheese House”. In between swimming and pipe-sliding you can drink ice-cream cocktails at the bar where water splashes over the seats. Four saunas are available, for instance, the Turkish steam sauna with lemon and menthol aromas.
Travelling around in Latvia can offer some truly thrilling activities. For example, “Rāmkalni” not far from Sigulda has the longest roller-sled track in the Baltics — 400 metres, seven curves, through the forest and crossing the meadow, ending right at the river. It is a miniature bobsleigh track with a mini-sled on small wheels supplied with brakes. Even very small children can ride the roller-sled - it has two seats, which means that one of the parents can be a fellow-passenger.
Those who prefer more extreme activities will like the Crazy Ball, elsewhere known as the “zorba ball”. This kind of amusement was devised in New Zealand, now “rolling” into Latvia. A person rolls down a hilly slope in a see-through ball which is 3m high. Younger generation (weight below 50kg) can enjoy a somewhat calmer ride – driving in electric cars on actual roads with all the street-signs and traffic-lights. Should anything go wrong, dad may come to the rescue.
Roller-sled tracks can be found in other Latvian cities as well. For example, on a hill called Swedish Hat in the vicinity of Sabile, which is sometimes referred to as the “Switzerland of Kurzeme”. There you can go on a horse-ride or take the whole family to a nature trail for a walk. A family-friendly city is Ventspils. It has a free play-town for children with entertainment facilities for different ages. At 12 o’clock every Sunday all year round the play-town becomes a venue for various events arranged specifically for children. Other places of entertainment in Ventspils are the aquapark, the ship „Duke Jēkabs” and a mini-wagon riding through the Open-air Seaside Museum.
In Riga a popular place of family outings is the leisure centre “Lido”. It offers not only the delicacies of Latvian cuisine but also invites both young and old on a skating rink — with roller-blades in summer and ice-skates in winter. Various other attractions are available too.