Moscow, Russia :
Moscow, Russia: The Ultimate Guide with Kids
Momaboard's Moscow guide was created by Daria Utkina, Moscow native and mother of 4-year old Mila and our MomAboard Mombassador to Moscow. After the birth of her daughter Daria was looking for a way to integrate her love for kids, traveling and clothes. And found it! Now she owns a shop for little girls and boys where her own clothing line Tres Bebe is sold (check it out in the Shopping section of the guide). She is also part of a child-birth educators team and a contributor for Home Child Magazine about natural birth and parenting. If you have questions about traveling to Moscow, leave a comment and Daria will be thrilled to respond!
Getting to Moscow:
Moscow's 2 main international airports are Sheremetyevo International Airport, (IATA: SVO) and Domodedovo International Airport (IATA: DME) will the latter being more serviced by international carriers like British Airways and Lufthansa. You can fly into Moscow direct from many parts of Europe and non-stop from the continental US (anywhere from 10 to 13 hours).
Getting Around Moscow (on the web):
All the details about modern Russia are available in this tourist guide for Moscow, created by two young Russian guys while studying in Britain. For those who plan a long trip to the country these two resources would be very useful: Expat.Ru with contacts for English-speaking communities and Children in Moscow for foreigners with kids.
Where to Stay in Moscow with Kids:
For a slightly more local flavor, check out the famous Metropol Hotel with the font mosaic panel made by Vrybel’s “Princess of Dreams” drawing and decadent ambiance. But expect it to be overpriced.
The best place to experience the big contrasts of modern Russia is Hotel Leningradskaya-Hilton in one of seven famous skyscrapers. Carefully renovated it keeps all the opulence of Stalin’s empire with the luxury of Hilton services. Located near the three main train stations with all
its crowd it allows curious tourists authentic views of Moscow's people. If you don't stay there, drop by to take a look at the lobby which is worth seeing. And a cautionary note if you are staying there: beware of noisy rooms facing the railways.
Finally, for the budget-conscious, the best option is to rent a flat in Moscow. You’ll be able to make some baby food and you’ll have a wide range of locations to choose from. The best are the areas near Patriarshie Ponds, Boulevard and Garden Rings, the beginning of Prospekt Mira (near Botanical garden). There are a lot of agencies and private real estate owners that can offer a different price range. But still expect to spend $100-200 per night. You can find discounts for those traveling for a month or more, usually in winter.
Things to do in Moscow with Kids:
Moscow is full of history and culture and as a tourist, you will never get to see all its splendour, but here are good places start:
Red Square and St.Basil’s Cathedral and GUM
This is one of the oldest churches but now mostly a tourist spot so don’t expect to feel much sacred spirituality. Head to the GUM department store (the pretty building in front of the Kremlin walls). Built in 19th century in then popular pseudo Russian style GUM is famous for its glass roof engineered by famous Shukhov. In Soviet era it was the main pilgrimage place for all the goods from food to tights! For a chic Soviet experience, meet near the fountain and have some tea with mini cakes or even better, milk ice cream in a waffle. Or head straight to the Stolovaya №57, the remake of a dining place for workers and customers with its marble decoration and a small merry-go-round. The supermarket on the first floor has a lot of Soviet symbols as towers of canned food.
2. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and Red October area
The best museum in Moscow is famous for its collection of impressionist paintings.Thanks to director Irina Antonova (now 89), the museum keeps its opulent but simple look. The supervisors (usually old women) are very child friendly and can tell you a lot about the art. For lunch head to Red October area, just cross the river by the bridge behind The Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
Only 5 years ago there was the chocolate smell everywhere near the confectionery plant. Now the plant has moved and the area has become a fashion district. There are at least 2 restaurants with kid’s menus and weekend programme: Boho Art Academy and Liberal Dome. Stroll around and enjoy Russian designer’s shops, galleries of modern art and night clubs.
The best terrace is in Strelka bar, founded as a dining option for the Strelka Art Institute, the international project of Alexander Mamut.
3. Tretyakov Gallery
The Tretyakov Gallery is not as well maintained as the Pushkin Museum but it's very Russian inside. You’ll find there all the famous paintings by Russian artists from Repine to Vrubel. It’s worth it to read some fairy tales about magic horse, princes frog and baba yaga before visit so the kids can familiarize themselves with some of personages they will meet inside.
The best place for dinner around there is a brand new vegetarian cafe Sok ("juice", Lavroushinky pereulok, 15,+7 (495) 953-79-63). All non-smoking.
4. Vasnetsov Museum - Aptekarsky ogorod
Hidden among the ugly panel buildings, the Vasnetsov Museum looks as a daydream: a wooden house with a garden behind a wooden fence made by the sketches of the artist. The interiors of the house stayed almost intact since the beginning of the 20th century what is very rare for Moscow. There are a lot of excursions starting from 11am but if you’ll come alone solicitous museum keepers will show you the exposition. Kids will love all the cracky monsters on the paintings.
Aptekarsky ogorod is the first botanical garden in Moscow founded as a herb garden for medicine studies of Moscow State University students. Now it’s the most well-groomed park in the city. There is a playground, a pond with big Japanese carps and small water turtles and a beautiful greenhouse. One part is till a herb garden filled with butterflies that will delight the little ones. Entrance fee $5
Have a nice dinner in Georgian restaurant Madame Galife facing the garden. In summer choose the terrace awash with divinely fresh forest air. Try their lobio (beans in tomato sauce), satsivi (chicken in cream) and pkhali (haricot with nuts). There is a smoking area and it can be crowded in the evenings so better reserve a table and avoid it in cold time.
If you have more energy, take a walk further by Prospekt Mira to Olympiysky sport center. Built for Olympic games in 1984 it’s one of the 1970s architecture monuments.
5. Garage Center of Contemporary Art, Ekaterininsky Park, Central Museum of Armed Forces
Bakhmetiv’s Garage is the unique monument of soviet avantgarde architecture now turned into the biggest art pot in Moscow. With the help of founder Dasha Zhukova, Garage is the standard for other contemporary art places. They make exhibitions which attract a very eclectic crowd, have a very nice art shop and kids studio. On weekends, studio classes are free for kids from 4 years (but younger kids with their parents are welcome). Also there’s a light cafe (try their pumpkin-ginger soup).
Ekaterininsky park is the biggest green place in the center of Moscow. With at least three playgrounds, many kids, and a soviet baby bike rental, it's a popular choice for families. Take some food to feed the ducks in the pond, rent a boat for an hour ($10-20) or float in a transparent bubble.
Near the park is the Central museum of Armed Forces with all its tanks and cars which of course, the little ones love to climb. Just make sure you keep your eye on them!
Nearest place to eat is U Juseppe Italian restaurant (see below).
Where to Eat with Kids
There are a lot of child friendly cafes with special kid's menus because being out with the kids is the "thing to do" in Moscow. If there is no kids' menu, you can improvise with the options on the menu such as porridge or buckwheat with milk or mushrooms, just don't forget to ask for less salt and sugar.
Try Russian soups like borscht (beetroot) or schi (cabbage). In summer, try okroshka (fresh cucumbers, potatoes, boiled eggs with kvass). Kids usually love Russian pelmeni (meat dumplings) and vareniki (fruit dumplings) with sourcream. And of course, kotleti (cutlet) with mashed potatoes.
One of Moscow's most loved places is Kofemania, it's pricy but ideal for tourists due to its more international flavors. Try the Russian pelmeni (meat dumplings) for kids and pan-asian cuisine for adults. There is a smoking area for grown ups. Try their smoothies and cakes - some of the best in Moscow. And coffee too!
Mari Vanna is a small soviet dacha style restaurant near Patriarshie Ponds. Try their ‘olivie’ (russian New Year and all holidays salad) and borsch (beetroot soup), drink birch juice or homemade kvass.
As a dessert choose a memory from a soviet childhood - milk ice cream in a waffle cup. At Mari Vanna it's better to reserve a table, especially for weekend brunch. Kids will love the real cat and dog who live in the restaurant. (But keep in mind that some children refuse to leave the place without the pet.)
Less pricey but not any less delectable is Wolkonsky bakeries. For a comfortable dinner with the family choose the one on Sretenka street. And try the small and cozy cafe near Patriarshie Ponds for a cup of tea. Kids will love ‘zemlyanika’ (wild strawberry) marmalade and ‘beze’ (meringues). All the places are non-smoking.
All-american confectionery cafe Friends Forever (Bolhoi Kozikhinsky pereulok, 18 +7 (495) 699-43-02) has a special kids room and a menu full of cup cakes for those who get homesick. On weekends they offer special cooking class for kids.
Correa’s (Gasheka st., 7, bldg. 1, Dukat Place II, +7 (495) 789-96-54) is another option with so called "American" cuisine. On weekends they bring toys to a special area but it's not match for the big dessert table in the center of the room.
Also for casual dining is the popular European chain Le Pain Quotidien (multiple locations) with its all wooden interiors, terraces and non smoking area makes it a nice place for summer dinners in the open air. Great sandwiches and soups and our favorite tea is camomile-apricot mix with honey.
For traditional Russian pies (pirogi), hop over to Saint Petersburg chain Stolle (Bolshaya Sadovaya, 8 bldg. 1 +7 (495) 650-9352, 650-9353). But get there early or risk their being sold out by 4pm.
U Juseppe (at Juseppe’s) (Samotechnaya str., 13, +7 (495) 681-13-26)is a small Italian restaurant near Olimpiysky sport center and Durov animal theatre boasting arguably the best pizza in the city! They have a tiny area with toys and black walls where anyone interested can leave a chalk drawing. Great entertainment for event the most active kid. Try to reserve a table on the glass terrace.
Lyudi kak Lyudi ("Common People", Solyansky proezd, 4/1, +7 (495) 621-1201) is well known for its cheap and tasty lunches in the form of sandwiches. It was one of the first places in Moscow to offer smoothies. They don’t have any facilities for kids (so it’s not appropriate for babies) but the atmosphere is warm and friendly and the barmen usually chat with the little ones (and occasionally feed them free fruit!). Plus it's non-smoking upto 9pm.
Also for sandwiches and quick lunch head to to Prime Star, the Russian copy of Pret-a-Manger, particularly if you are craving healthy food like porridge or veg soup. They also offer salads like beetroot-feta or classic Ceasar salads and are non-smoking.
Finally, you can find all the common fast foods from Starbucks to McDonalds in Moscow, including Russian
Kroshka kartoshka (“baby potato”) and Teremok (“tower room”). Also try pan-Asian Wokker with fast delivery (or at least as fast as it can be in Moscow).
Where to Shop with Kids in Moscow
Just 10 years ago the most chic option for baby wear was UK brand Mothercare (still loved pretty much by Moscovites). But now you can spend a lot of time and money looking for the best choice here and there. Just don't be surprised by Boogaboos for $2000 - that’s how it usually happens thanks to customs and taxes. But still there are options in the several emerging Russian designer and toy shops that won't break the bank:
Kids' Clothes in Moscow:
- For best Russian design dresses, vintage wear and organic cosmetics for kids visit Tres Bebe, known as "local Bonpoint".
-Small, cozy Garderobchik (+7(495) 691 39 45, 695 94 65, Malaya Bronnaya, 13) has a range of US and British labels.
- All-natural clothing and slavic accessories you can find in Ovechka ("little ship") shop. It's a bit over-priced but with interesting bits about child care culture.
- And yes, there's a Bonpoint store ( +7 (499) 240-35-41, +7 (499) 240-35-41 Bolshaya Dorogomilovskaya, 11) in the city.
- In Tsvetnoy Central Market you will find the prettiest collection of JNBY kids (hip Chinese designer brand along with Melissa shoes for young hipsters and their mums!)
Toys in Moscow:
As often happens with historical commercial buildings in Moscow, the large department store Detsky Mir (“Kid's World”) has been under construction for years. The closest shop in the same place is Skazka (“Fairy Tale”) with 5 floors of toys, mostly on the traditional side. (Tverskaya, 9, +7 (495) 9842253). Still, the kids will enjoy a nice stay in a fairy tale while you're making a promenade in the city centre.
For natural kids products, Waldorf drawing accessories and authentic Russian wooden toys visit Izbooka located in a nice loft among small shops with designer clothing for adults. Further, a wide range of early development toys and games like Scrabble and Monopoly are available in Little Genius and Dai Pyat (Gimme5) shops.
Kid's Books in Moscow:
The best kid’s bookstore is Lavochka with a carefully chosen selection of books by intelligent owners and showcasing the best in Russia now. You will also find a great selection at Jabberwocky and Respublika (book stores launched 5 years ago by hip sausage magnate Vadim Dymovwith). The latter's marvelous souvenirs and cd’s are well known in the city.
Food in Moscow:
- You will always find child food and milk in these supermarkets: Azbuka Vkusa, Perekrestok, Sedmoy Kontinent. Most popular options are Beech Nut, Samper, Hipp, Heinz, Semper.
- For fresh fruits and veggies head to Tsvetnoy Central Market, to the pleasant market under the roof of the shopping centre.
- For raw food such as nuts, dried fruits, greens, cereals visit I-mne (“me too”) shop
- Best fresh milk is sold by farmer's brand Izbenka. For more farmer’s products all in one store head to Lavka.
- The best local ice cream is Chistaya Liniya (“pure line”) and as a souvenir make sure to buy some Russian chocolate sweets with Russian paintings covers!
Medical Care in Moscow
In the event of a medical care requirement in Moscow, there are two main options - state and private clinics. Anyway in serious cases (i.e. severe traumas/unknown infections/etc.) everybody heads to the state clinics. Unfortunately, there’s no free medical care for foreign people in Russia.
In case you need to consult a pediatrician it’s much more comfortable to use private centers. Expats usually use the American Medical Center though the prices there are mostly much higher then average.
Those interested in non-traditional therapies will appreciate the Sadovoy Center (Armyansky pereulok, 3/5 bldg 1
+7 (495) 988-52-52)- a clinic for moms-to-be and kids with its own baby care service and opportunities to give birth naturally in several of Moscow's state clinics.
You can also try Semashko Center (2nd Frunzenskaya str, 9 (8-499) 242-00-05 or 242-01-98 or 242-02-81 or (8-495) 974-23-31), a state clinic with developed paid services. It not only survived from the Soviet epoque but is still loved by many parents who can afford many of the newer clinics.
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