Tiergarten & Kurfurstendamm
Tiergarten park - The Tiergarten park is a huge expanse of trees in the middle of Berlin, crisscrossed with small lakes and the Landwehrkanal. For centuries, the Tiergarten has been a popular place for Berlin kids. Rent bikes at Bike City near the western entrance to the zoo and go biking on miles of level paths amidst the trees. If you brought your roller blades, go skating. This is a spot to picnic or watch a soccer game.
Victory Column (Siegessaule) - This black and gold column topped with a heavily gilded "Winged Victory" commemorates Prussian military victories. To run off a little energy, kids can climb up the 285 stairs to the top for a view of the Tiergarten park and the Brandenburg Gate at the eastern end. Don't miss the heroic mosaics at the "mezzaine level."
Zoologischer Garten and Aquarium (southeast corner of the Tiergarten) - The Berlin Zoo is one of our favorite zoos, and a "must see." The fun starts at the ornate gates, the main gate in a Chinesey style, or the western entrance at the Elephant Gate. Inside, there are wide promenades, fountains and life-size sculptures of polar bears.
The animals are housed in open enclosures, making them easy to see. The hippo pool is amazing. Through the glass, you can watch the hippos underwater (they look like big overgrown pigs). We saw two young ones open their mouths wide, comparing which one could open his mouth wider. On other enclosures, the polar bears were swimming in a crawl stroke.
The Aquarium has fish native to Europe, as well as crocodiles and a Komodo dragon, exquisite jellyfish, and a truly amazing octopus. There's also a large playground (Spielplatz) with wonderful climbing structures.
LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Berlin (Potsdamer Platz) - All the Legos kids could want, Berlin landmarks in miniature at Miniland, take a factory tour to see how bricks are made, Duplo Village for toddlers, older kids can build Lego racing cars and models, plus rides and 4-D movies.
Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedachtniskirche (Kaiser Wilhem Memorial Church) - Like Coventry Cathedral in England, this church was damaged in World War II, but not totally rebuilt. Today the crumbling church tower, circular holes open to the sky, is a quiet testament to the losses of war, amidst the daily hustle and bustle of the Kurfurstendamm. Inside, there are two models of the church and surrounding plaza, before and after the water.
The Story of Berlin (207 Kurfurstendamm) - The Story of Berlin is an interactive exhibition, that takes you through 800 years of the city. Wander through rooms to experience industrialization or musical salons of the 19th century, the Third Reich and WWII. Best of all is the tour of a real nuclear fallout shelter. There are some explanations in English, though many are in German, and older kids (10+) will get the most out of it.
KaDeWe, a huge department store like Harrod's in London, is an experience in itself. The toy section has an excellent collection of Steiff bears and stuffed animals and a whole big electric train section. Don't miss the food floor - a huge selection of all kinds of food and sweets galore. A Berlin institution for nearly a century.
Steiff Bears (Kurfurstendamm 220) - Steiff has been making and selling teddy bears for 100 years. Created by Richard Steiff, he made sketches of bears in the Stuttggart Zoo and invented the plush animal with jointed arms and legs. In 1903, the Steiff bears were imported to America, where they became wildly popular. Stop into the Steiff shop on Kurfurstendamm to get your own Steiff bear (complete with the button in his ear).
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