Today I’m thrilled to host a guest post written by the lovely Janice, a brand new expat in Brussels. Janice’s post covers a topic I have very little experience with but I get asked about frequently – How the heck do you entertain kids in Belgium? Luckily Janice offers some great ideas for teen-friendly activities in Brussels.
What’s a mother to do when her family is new to Brussels and her teenage son is clearly not enamoured with Belgian comic strips, the Atomium or anything resembling yet another museum? And although he enjoys living abroad, being seen with me in public is enough to send him back home (as long as I stay here)! Under these circumstances and to retain my sanity, I’ve made a list of activities that are proven winners for most eye-rolling and pleasing-challenged teens.
With approximately 200 days of rainfall annually, having fun indoors is not only practical, but when the lights go down for “cosmic bowl”, at Waterloo’s Bowl Factory, teenagers literally don’t have to be seen with their parents in public! We chose this particular bowling alley, among several in greater Brussels, for its ample parking, modern factory-inspired interior, 26 lanes, arcade, bar and tasty on-site Mexican restaurant Chi-Chi’s.
I didn’t tell my son this was an auto “museum” but rather a “place” to see an enormous collection of impressive cars. He learned that Bugattis existed long before current A-list celebrities owned them. It’s a win-win outing as Autoworld is housed in the south wing of Cinquantenaire Palace in beautiful Parc du Cinquantenaire/Jubelpark. Time & patience permitting, there are other interesting “places” to visit in the park: The Royal Art & History Museums and Royal Military Museum.
My son spent his 13th year carefully studying every single roller coaster in the world (height, length, top speed, number of inversions, fear factor, steel vs. wooden, inverted vs. floorless). I knew Walibi passed with flying colors when we turned green after riding Vampire, Cobra and Werewolf! Walibi is a well-run and easily navigated theme park in Wavre that rivals Six Flags back home. If that isn’t enough, there’s Aqualibi, the adjacent indoor water park for year-round fun & excitement.
As long as there’s food nearby and room to roam around, my son enjoys visiting ancient ruins. Once the family’s appetite was satisfied at a nearby brasserie, we spent a quiet Sunday wandering around this beautiful open air treasure. Founded in the 12th Century, under the aegis of Saint Bernard, the majestic ruins of Villers Abbey, give an idea of the life monks of the Cistercian Order led. I also welcome any opportunity that reminds my son how people lived before the internet & video games! (Editor’s Note – Visit our full post on Villers Abbey)
Musical Instruments Museum
Yes, this is a certified museum but I had my avid guitar-playing son’s interest at the words “musical instruments”. We were captivated by the sounds, via headphones, of a wide variety of instruments in this gorgeous Arts Nouveau building. Afterward, we headed straight to a delicious rooftop lunch at Restauration Nouvelle’s well-regarded MIM cafe, yet another win-win. On a clear day you can see forever and, if you’re lucky, spot a few new places to take a teenager to visit!
When she’s not searching the ins & outs of Brussels for interesting teen activities, Janice enjoys spending time on her blog, Colors of Brussels. Be sure to check it out!
Editor’s Note: Photos supplied by the author unless otherwise noted.