San Croce & San Polo
Play in the campos - San Polo and Santa Croce have two really great campos (campos are like piazzas, wide-open paved squares) - Campo San Polo and Campo San Giacomo dell' Orio. The streets in Venice are quite narrow and constricted, and it's a breath of fresh air when you reach the campo. In the campo you'll find children playing in all seasons, jumping rope, kicking around a soccer ball, riding their scooters, playing with radio controlled cars, and just running around. Your kids will have a great time stretching their legs and sampling a gelato or snack from the cafes around the campo. For parents, the campo is a perfect place to sit down and relax while the kids play.
Rialto fish, fruits and vegetable market - Right by the Rialto bridge, along with all the souvenir shops, is a wonderful open air fruits and vegetables market (and you can pick up fruits, nut, cheese, and salami, bread, sweets, other items for your picnics). A little further on is the fish market (Pescaria), where kids can see tons of different fish and seafood, including the seppie, (cuttlefish, looks like a small squid) that are so much a part of Venetian cuisine. The fish market is closed on Mon.
Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo - Ca' Mocenigo houses the Center of the History of Costume (Centro Studi di Storia del Tessuto e del Costume). This museum is a hidden gem, your chance to see how an upper class Venetian family lived in the 18th century. In the palazzo, there's the portego, reception room, red living room, green living room, pink dining room, and a bedroom, all furnished with gilded mirrors and furniture, curly cue glass chandeliers, and painted ceilings. You'll see what mother and daughter dresses looked like, or what a well dressed boy would wear (a long red house coat with sleeves and embroidery), plus samples of shoes, hats and flowered waistcoats. More than anywhere else, this palazzo seemed a wonderful peephole into the unique and wonderful style of life in Venice from centuries past.
Natural History Museum (Museo di Storia Naturale di Venezia) – The Natural History Museum is an oasis in crowded Venice. Located in a residential Santa Croce neighborhood, the museum has exhibits of dinosaurs and fossils, natural history collections brought back by Venetian explorers, and a marine aquarium and exhibit where kids can find out what lives in the waters of the Venetian lagoon (crabs, mollusks, scallops, shrimp, sea stars, octopus, cuttlefish, anemones).
Exhibits are in Italian, but there's a detailed English booklet for all the galleries. Relax in the cafe and outdoor garden with foamy benches for kids. Museum is also a good rainy day activity.
Giardini Papadopoli (Piazzale Roma) - If you have toddlers in tow, and just need a place to play, the Giardini Papadopoli, next to the Piazzale Roma car park and bus, has a small garden with playground, climbing structures and swings, plus benches. (Not worth a special trip, only if you're in the neighborhood.)
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