Coolest Olympic Stadiums to Visit with the Kids
Olympics with kids By James Holland
Bird's Nest in Beijing (Flickr: Marc Dalmulder)
The Olympics in Rio are less than a week away and though every Olympic enthusiast (and Olympic athlete) will want to make their way down to Brazil, not everyone may be able to visit. Luckily, there’s a bit of Olympic history in quite a few family-friendly destinations across the globe.
There are quite a few sites that are surprisingly in use and worth visiting. See new wonders left behind from the Beijing Olympics. Or visit old world charms like the Estadi Olímpic Lluis Companys in Barcelona and the various sites in Greece where you can even visit places that housed the Olympics in ancient times. Here are some wonderful sites to take the kids.
Original Modern Olympic Stadium in Athens (Flickr: Robert Pittman)
Not only was Greece the originator of the Olympics, but it was also the site of the first modern Olympic games. One of the only stadiums built entirely of marble, the Panathenaic Stadium is a must see. It was originally constructed as a racecourse during Greece’s ancient heyday (330 BC) but reconstructed by the Romans in marble almost 500 years later. This piece of history was home to the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1896 Olympics, the first of the modern Olympic era, and used again for the 2004 games for archery. Though the site might be light on activities, it will surely spark the imagination of your young ones, especially young archaeologists in the family.
Utah Olympic Park
Utah Olympic Park in Salt Lake City (Courtesy Utah Olympic Park Foundation)
One of the most successful post-Olympic legacies exist in the humble state of Utah. Home of the 2002 Winter Olympics, the various sites represent what will most likely be the most active visit to any Olympic site. At the Utah Olympic Park in Salt Lake City, you can hike, go zip-lining, and experience the alpine slide, the extreme summer tubing and the adventure courses as well as climbing walls. For more relaxed activities, you can take guided tours and visit the museums celebrating the SLC Olympics and the history of skiing. And that’s all at the Olympic Park. You can skate at the Oval and hike at the Soldiers Hollow (and check out their winter activities if you plan on visiting during colder months).
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles (Courtesy Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena)
In Exposition Park in Los Angeles sits the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Home to two different Olympic Games, in 1932 and 1984, it stands as the first stadium to have hosted more than once. It still offers plenty for families traveling to LA. Sports fans can go see the Trojans, the storied football team for University of Southern California, or the Los Angeles Rams, albeit temporarily. Once you’ve visited this landmark, you can explore the rest of Exposition Park including the Natural History Museum and the California Science Center where you can get up and close with the space shuttle Endeavour.
Estadi Olímpic Lluis Companys
Estadi Olímpic Lluis Companys in Barcelona (Flickr: Oh Barcelona)
The 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, is far from forgotten. The Estadi Olímpic Lluis Companys, which housed the opening and closing ceremonies, has a much older history. Originally built in 1927 for the 1929 International Exposition, the façade will bring to mind an old world charm you might not expect in an Olympic stadium. This site is still in use where you can see sports and music events (Beyoncé will be there in two days, for example) so check the schedule while you’re in town. For something a little more relaxing and hands on, visit the Piscina Municipal de Montjuïc, originally used for the diving and water polo events. The pools are open to the public in the summer so this might be the perfect place for you and your family to cool off.
The Beijing National Stadium
When the Beijing Olympics kicked off, people were amazed. The bar had been raised through the wonderful structures that had been built specifically for the 2008 Summer Olympics. Luckily, you can still visit structures like the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube (officially The Beijing National Stadium and The Beijing National Aquatics Center, respectively). You can still visit both. For the price of admission, you can tour The Bird’s Nest and see what wowed the world in 2008 in person. You can also see sports events such as special soccer matches here. The Water Cube might be where you spend more time once you head over. The Water Cube has been renovated since the 2008 Olympics to be even more family-friendly by adding a water park. Swim in their wave pool, take advantage of the added water slides and water rides as well as spa areas.