Planning a solo trip with kids—that is, with no other adults in tow—might sound like a recipe for tears, lots of them, especially if that journey involves leaving the country. But that’s exactly what I did last fall when I found an amazing flight deal to Sweden for my kids’ winter break.
Scandinavian Airlines was offering an enviable “kids fly free” deal from major U.S. airports that rivaled anything I could find domestically. I’m talking a round-trip direct flight from Los Angeles to Stockholm that totaled less than $600 for all three of us. Not. Even. Kidding.
So, while my husband had to work during their February break, I decided to go for it and take my 11-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son on a memorable (and snowy) journey that I don’t regret for a minute. And guess what? Not a tear in sight.
Although I love the Scandinavian minimalist aesthetic, Sweden at first seemed like a random destination. But with a little research I discovered that my daughter’s favorite app maker, Toca Boca, is headquartered in Stockholm. Not only were we able to tour the company’s offices but we also got a sneak peek of their latest app, "Toca Life: After School," before it hit the Apple Store on March 22.
I also found five super cool and kid-friendly things to do in Stockholm that you definitely wouldn’t mind tackling as a solo parent. (Thank goodness, most everyone speaks English, too.)
1. Skansen—Billed as the world's oldest outdoor museum and zoo, Skansen is a truly magical adventure for kids and grown-ups alike. In business since 1891, Skansen features buildings and other quaint structures that have been taken from all over Sweden and placed within the museum's 75 acres. There's even a replica 19th-century town! Kids will also love seeing live reindeer, goats, pigs and toads. If it's cold out, the ice skating rink is a perfect stop before Swedish meatballs, hot cocoa or coffee.
2. The Vasa Museum—This fantastic museum, built around a Swedish ship that sank in 1633, is a testament to the powers of preservation. The Vasa ship capsized in Stockholm on its maiden voyage and was lifted up from the waters in the 1960s to become the focal point for Scandinavia's most visited museum. Visitors can walk around the entire ship, see artifacts and weapons that were found aboard, and kids can also watch a movie and interact with exhibits that spotlight the formerly sunken (yet intact) ship.
3. Gamla Stan—Also known as the "old town," Gamla Stan is where it all started for Stockholm back in 1252. The buildings are tall, narrow and colorful, with cobblestone alleyways winding their way through the area. The medieval neighborhood is home to the Stockholm Cathedral and Nobel Museum, as well as a variety of gift shops that sell everything from kitschy viking hats to Pippi Longstocking paraphernalia.
4. Tekniska Museet or The Technology Museum—A technological wonderland for parents and kids, the Tekniska Museet has so many cool exhibits that will keep kids' minds and bodies active as they learn about everything from energy to movement to the brain. Visitors can use their eyes to draw shapes on a screen or don goggles to play virtual-reality games. Want to get the kiddos moving? Take them to the giant play space that offers a climbing wall, mazes and slides.
5. Fika—OK, so this is really more for parents when they need a break from all that sightseeing, but kids will enjoy fika, too. "Fika" is the Swedish word for "coffee break," but it's really about enjoying some time to relax and socialize. Not only that, but delicious pastries are encouraged. You'll have to try one of the country's famous kardemumma cinnamon rolls that are made with cardamom and topped with pearl sugar. Now what parent wouldn't enjoy that kind of break?