If you’re traveling with kids or just want to expand your horizons beyond the typical tourist destinations, theme parks are a great way to add depth to your European experience. And I’m not just talking about “Euro Disney!” Think aquariums, botanical gardens, zoos, and water parks!

Most travelers might not think about going to, say, a local zoo, since the assumption is that you can visit the zoo when you’re at home. Parks are generally the same everywhere, right? Wrong! Well, sort of…

– In addition to having displays from around the world, most zoos, botanical parks, and aquariums have special exhibits and/or tanks to educate visitors about native species. You’ll get an in-depth look at local flora and fauna you couldn’t find at home. Your travel experience will be much richer when you know what trees you’re looking at, or what birds are in the branches!

– Parks are also a great place for practicing the local language. The familiar setting provides the context you need to feel comfortable, while also providing endless opportunities for learning new words. You can prepare and practice the most common questions ahead of time, and then add in new vocabulary as you learn! For example, at the zoo, you could learn all the names of the animals, plus lots of great adjectives like tall, short, brown, soft, scaly, etc.

– Theme parks are also just a great place to relax and slow down the pace. Remember you don’t need to see everything! Just relax and have fun. Water parks, in particular, are a fantastic way to escape the summer heat – and it’s a nice break for kids (or other family members!) who might be a little burnt out on museums!

For information on European parks, check out Infoparks.com!