May 24, 2024

I recently took a trip back to my parents’ homeland, South Korea, with my husband, three kids, two brothers and 83-year-old father. We stayed in bustling Seoul — a juxtaposition of modern architecture and historical palaces. Although I was initially worried it would be challenging to find enough attractions that appealed to kids, adults and seniors alike, it turned out that my fears were unfounded. Here is a guide to the best things to do with kids (and adults) in Seoul.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace is a national landmark that dates back to 1395, and it served as the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty. Kids can wander around the vast grounds, brimming with pavilions and ponds; take in historical re-enactments; or watch the changing of the guards. It’s especially gorgeous in the springtime, when the cherry blossom trees bloom. The palace is also home to the National Folk Museum of Korea, which has an engaging children’s museum inside that my kids loved. Visitors receive free admission if they show up dressed in Korean hanboks (traditional clothing), which are easily rentable at countless nearby shops.

The author’s family in traditional South Korean dress.
The author’s family in traditional South Korean dress.
Credit: 2024 Esther Carlstone

N. Seoul Tower

The 777-foot N. Seoul Tower is a major landmark in Seoul. At the top, families can spend hours perusing the restaurants and shops, and the panoramic views from one of three observation decks at sunset are especially great. It’s also the site of the famous Love Lock Bridge, where couples and families place locks (and throw away the key) to signify eternal love. My kids and their grandfather placed one together, and it’s a memory we won’t soon forget. You can purchase the locks beforehand on-site, or at any nearby convenience store. The cable car ride up and down the mountain alone is a highlight for kids.

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Minsok Village 

Spread across 245 acres, the preserved historical Minsok Village is a day trip worth taking. A short, 45-minute bus ride from Seoul transports families to a sea of thatched and tiled houses where kids and adults can see how Koreans lived hundreds of years ago. Visitors can interact with performers and artisans dressed in traditional hanboks while watching live shows, including a traditional wedding, musical performances and more. There’s even a small amusement park on the grounds for little ones.

Lotte World Adventure

Lotte World Adventure is one of the world’s largest indoor theme parks, and it’s ideal for both rainy days and unbearably hot days, with plenty of rides, entertainment and food. The vast theme park is basically South Korea’s version of Disneyland (albeit smaller). The park’s Magic Island area is an outdoor park that boasts state-of-the-art rides, parades and activities. The massive complex is also home to Korea’s largest ice-skating rink and a kid-friendly Korean cultural museum. Basically, the kids will never want to leave.

Seoul Children's Grand Park has everything a family would want.
Seoul Children’s Grand Park has everything a family would want.
Credit: 2024 Esther Carlstone

Seoul Children’s Grand Park 

Parents know that traveling with kids usually means a park will be part of the itinerary at some point. Luckily, the free Seoul Children’s Grand Park is a delight for both kids and adults. The park complex has it all: playgrounds, a zoo, a garden, water features and even an amusement park (for an extra fee). My kids especially enjoyed buying and making their own ramyeon (a ramen dish) at the on-site convenience store, and exploring all the famous Korean street food — the potato tornados sprinkled with cheese and candied strawberries on a stick are not to be missed. Locals often spend all day here with picnic setups and shade structures galore. It’s also home to the fantastic Seoul Children’s Museum. 

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