The best cities for sport-mad kids
My son, aged 10, wants to go to Manchester.
“Manchester or Madrid,” he says when asked where in the world he would go, if he could go anywhere.
He’s saving up his birthday and Christmas money to buy a plane ticket, forgetting about accommodation at the other end.
Why would he want to go to a cold and wet English city with not much to recommend it to tourists?
His favourite teams are Manchester United and Real Madrid.
His desire to see Old Trafford reminds me that it is always worth keeping the kids in mind when planning holidays. Kids see things differently. They pick completely different destinations, for completely different reasons to adults.
If your kids are as sport mad as mine, take a look at this list of the world’s best cities for little sports fans.
London has hosted the Olympics three times, in 1908, 1948 and 2012. Love tennis? Head to Wimbledon in the summer. Love cricket? Lordes and The Oval. Rugby? Twickenham. Soccer - where do you start? London is home to five premiership sides - Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, West Ham and Fulham.
I’ve told my son I would compromise and take him to see Manchester play Chelsea in London - one day.
A little drive out of London and you can even watch the Oxford Versus Cambridge boat race. Plus there’s plenty of great rowing on the Thames.
What can kids do? Apart from watching a match, you can also do tours of each of the famous sport stadiums.
Soccer fans are spoilt for choice. Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham and Wembly all offer stadium tours. The fully-guided tours takes you behind-the-scenes and into the dressing rooms, dug outs, press rooms and the Player’s Tunnel.
Love Rugby? Twickenham stadium offers tours through the most exclusive parts of the stadium with a rugby expert. Climb to the top of the stand, run through the players tunnel or delve into history in the museum.
Wimbledon’s award-winning tour takes tennis-loving families through the interactive museum with a virtual reality experience. You can get up close to the Championship Trophies and feel the fabrics from tennis fashions of the past before testing your own skills on the Batak wall.
During the tournament, which runs from 2 to 15 July 2018, the museum is open only to tournament ticket holders at an extra charge.
No passport needed. This city is the Aussie sport capital. Melbourne has motorsport - the Formula One Grand Prix and Phillip Island motorbikes. It has the Australian Open tennis. It’s the heart and soul of AFL. And let’s not forget, the MCG is arguably the oldest and grandest cricket venue in the world.
What can kids do?
The MCG offers tours of the inner sanctum between 10am and 3pm daily. Highlights include a peek inside the famous MCG Long Room, the MCG library, the player changing rooms and a walk out onto the hallowed turf.
The National Sport Museum, also at the MCG, houses Australia’s largest collection of sporting memorabilia. It has fantastic interactive zones, 3D holograms, and collectors items from the Olympics, AFL, cricket and horse racing.
At Rod Laver Areana, kids can actually play on the same tennis courts graced by the world’s best. Daily tours take you through the building and into the players areas.
Love your American sports? Boston is the place for your family. It’s the home of the famous Red Sox baseball team, the Celtics basketball team, the New England Patriots American football team and the Bruins ice hockey squad. Boston is also the birthplace of the United States (hello tea party) so it’s a pretty cool city to visit.
What can kids do?
TD Garden stadium is home to Boston’s National Hockey League team Boston Bruins and the National Basketball Association team Boston Celtics. But it has also hosted everything from Olympic gymnastics trials to figure skating and even Wrestlemania. A one hour tour takes you past the championship banners and through the museum. In the off-season families can go through the locker rooms and onto the stadium floor. It costs $15 for adults and $10 for kids age 6 and above. Children under 6 are free.
If you want to see the Red Sox play, you will need to book in advance. This team won the world championship in 2013, 2007 and 2004. Their home games at Fenway Park sell out almost every time. Plenty of companies offer tours of the famous Fenway Park, including access to the field and locker areas.
The New England Patriots play at Gillette stadium. Interestingly fans traditionally eat lobsters and chow down on chilli before the games. The stadium is actually 40 minutes outside of Boston, but once there you will find plenty to do. Patriot Place is filled with restaurants, stores, bars, a hotel, and of course Gillette Stadium.
Daily tours take you through the players tunnel and into the the New England Patriots Hall of Fame with exhibits based on football history and current team traditions. Kids will love the field goal kicking simulator and they can relax in the 150 seat theatre to watch the film Patriots Way.
Want more sport? Check out the 5 weirdest sports around the world.
Here's 14 tips for surviving early morning winter sport from Out & About With Kids