Fun Activities for the Whole Family

Stuttgart: There are a lot of big and lesser-known activities in Stuttgart itself that are great for kids and the whole family.  

Wilhelma - It's called a "zoo" but it's really a king's romantic fantasy of a middle-eastern garden, but the zoo aspect is delightful as well.  There's a petting zoo, an amazing primate village, and much more.  Admission isn't cheap, so go once the flowers are in bloom, April at the earliest.

Freibaden - The name simply refers to outdoor pools, but there are some special ones in Stuttgart with waterslides, jets, and other fun things for kids.  Even the "mineral spas" have kids areas, the best being at "Das Leuze".  The mineral spas have indoor areas as well so you can swim year round.

Killesberg Park - Probably the most fun park for kids in Stuttgart!  On a hill with great views, kids can ride the train around the park, feed and pet all sorts of animals at the petting zoo, and hike up to the viewing tower for an amazing panorama over Stuttgart.

Playgrounds - Playgrounds (spielplatz) in Germany are amazing, and simply wouldn't be allowed in the U.S. as they would be seen as "too dangerous" and a legal liability.  The absolute best one is in the "untere Schlossgarten" in downtown Stuttgart, which itself is a beautiful park for strolling or having a BBQ at one of the many "grillplatz".  You can easily make a day of playground fun plus swimming at Das Leuze as they are a short walk inbetween.  For more info and ratings on wonderful local playgrounds,

Stuttgarter Geister: This excellent "Ghost Tour" has two upcoming dates, including one on Halloween, so if you have older kids who are into the scary and macabre, this would be lots of fun!

Regional: 

Kid-Friendly Festivals: Not all festivals in Germany are about binge-drinking.  Mittlealtermarkts are the German version of Renaissance Faires and are lots of fun, particularly when held at ancient castles. There are also unique festivals like the Historical Shepherd's Race and many more.  A great resource for family-friendly local festivals can be found at the all-around great website Military in Germany.  Not to mention the great Christmas markets - keep an eye at the blog at Stuttgart Steps for an upcoming post about smaller, unique Christmas markets in the region!

Just for Mom and Dad

Besenwirtschaften: "Broom taverns" are seasonal wine pubs and restaurants hosted by winemaking families, usually at their vineyard or even in their private home!  The quality of food is usually excellent with very reasonable prices.  At some "Besen" the wine is more about quantity over quality, but other Besens offer high quality wine as well.  

Besen Kalender: My go-to website for seeing which Besen is open when.  Choose the city you want to find a Besen in on the drop-down menu, then chose the day you'd like to go.

Here is a list of my favorite Besen in Stuttgart:

  • Bei de'r Elsbeth - The best fleichkuchle (meat patties) I've ever had, in a real living room!  Outdoor seating possible in nice weather.  Very popular.  Reservations for larger groups (6+) are possible.  Go early or expect to wait a bit, and to share a table with friendly Swabians at this traditional, lovely Besen!

  • Der Besen - Another traditional Besen in Degerloch.

  • Sonnenbesen - Perhaps hands-down my favorite Besen, although it feels more like a restaurant, at the wine production facilities of Weingut Zaiss (not to be confused with other wineries with Zaiss in the name in the area!).  Top-notch food, and in addition to the "wine on tap" you can also buy smaller glasses or bottles of their higher-end wines.  The wine shop next door is open year-round.  

  • Weinhof Zaiss - Technically this besen has two different locations, one at the Kelterplatz in Unterturkheim, but my favorite is an outdoor terrace in the vineyards above the village, which can be reached by a moderate uphill walk 15-20 minutes from the Unterturkheim train station, or easily by bus as well.  Excellent food and some truly unique wines, which you can also purchase to take home.

  • Zum Dreimaedelhaus - The Besen of the Currle winery, which produces sekt (sparkling wine) as well.  Excellent daily specials, located in the charming village of Ulhbach in the vineyards above Oberturkheim, accessible by bus or moderate 35 minute walk from the Oberturkheim train station.

SI-Centrum:

An entertainment complex focused around two musical theaters (all musicals in German), a movie theater (movies in English on Mondays as well as special events), a huge, amazing spa complex (Schwabenquellen), and a casino (Spielbank) along with many restaurants and bars.  An easy one-stop location for a night out, easily accessible on the U3 from Vaihingen train station.

Schwabenquellen guide:

  • If you decide to visit on a normal day, you are not allowed to wear a swimsuit.  This doesn't mean you have to walk around in the nude the whole time!  Here's what to bring: flip-flops or other "bathing" shoes, your own towel, and a bathrobe. You'll be given a bracelet that records your time in the spa, gives you locker access, and you can even order drinks and food at the cafe in the spa with it!  Then you pay upon leaving. 
  • The changing areas are separate for men and women.  When you enter the changing room, hold your bracelet to one of the monitors at the lockers, you will be "assigned" a locker in that row that will then unlock.  To access your locker later, hold your bracelet up to the monitor again.  You are expected to shower (but not necessarily use shampoo or soap) before you enter the spa area.
  • Before entering a sauna, disrobe and hang your robe on a hook provided.  Bring your towel in with you.  Lay the towel down on any surface your body will be touching (this includes feet if you're sitting at a higher level and your feet are on a sitting area).  If you don't want to be "exposed" sit on the lowest level and keep your towel wrapped around you.  You'll want to be in the sauna for at least 15 - 20 minutes at a time for maximum benefit, but if you feel dizzy or light headed, leave.  
  • Before entering a steam room, hang up your robe and towel on a hook provided.  When you enter, use one of the hoses to rinse off a sitting area for yourself.  

Restaurants:

Germany has the third highest number of Michelin stars in the world, he state of Baden-Wurttemberg has the most Michelin-starred restaurants of any state in Germany, so it's a perfect opportunity for a great meal.  Particularly the town of Baiersbronn in the Black Forest, which despite being a tiny village has as many Michelin stars as London!  It's only an hour drive from Stuttgart.  This must-read article from the New York Times explains how a small village in the middle of nowhere became a culinary powerhouse.  If you wanted to make a romantic day of it, there are many mineral spas in the Black Forest as well, particularly in any town named "Bad" (Bath).  Use this website to check out other Michelin-recommended restaurants in the area.

Date Night Ideas: Now I'm really letting the cat out of the bag.  I'm including options here that I highlight in some of my various tours, but I see no reason to keep great secrets.  Follow any of these links for a night or day of romantic fun!

A Night On The Town in Stuttgart

Exploring Esslingen

Wine Tasting and Hiking in the Vineyards in Unterturkheim