Travel spotlight: Madrid, Spain

Travel spotlight: Madrid, Spain

One of my favorite things about First Peak clothes is how easy they make it to travel. Because each item is odor resistant and keeps its shape so well, my son is able to wear outfits for longer, and often even over multiple days. That means fewer changes and lighter bags. 

Additionally, during the chilly Madrid winter (chilly for us Californians, at least), the extended sleeves and thumb holes allowed me to keep Emory’s hands warm without having to battle with gloves or mittens. 

Madrid was also a fantastic destination in its own right, particularly for a family traveling with a young child. Here are a few highlights that truly elevated our experience: 

First, some logistics

My husband and I took Emory to Madrid when he was about 13 months old. It was January, so a low travel season, and ranging between 30 and 60 degrees most days. Em had just started to walk, so was able to toddle around plazas and parks, and we otherwise heavily used our stroller. 

Highlight #1: Family-centric

It felt like families were everywhere in Madrid. You’d regularly see 3 or 4 generations out together, enjoying a plaza, eating a meal, or exploring a park. It’s common to eat dinner out at 9 or 10pm in Madrid, but that doesn’t slow parents down: you’d still see family groups out and about, with 1 or 2 snoozing toddlers in tow in their strollers. During our trip, we adjusted Emory’s 7-7 sleep schedule to 10-10. This definitely helped with the late dining culture, but we also fit right in on those nights where he’d doze off. 

sleeping baby

Additionally, it felt like bringing kids along was encouraged in places like museums, restaurants, and parks. Businesses were used to having kids running around, and while we aimed to be as respectful as possible, we were also so grateful for how forgiving patrons were when things went haywire. 

Highlight #2: Investment in public spaces

A quick Google search about Madrid will return tons of information about its plazas and fantastic large parks like El Retiro. Even on top of those, though, we were blown away by the quality of the playgrounds (our favorites were Plaza de España and Rio Parque), and just how much Madrileños leverage public spaces. 

We also regularly took advantage of the free museum offerings across Madrid. The Prado, Reina Sofia, and Thyssen are all world-class institutions, and all offer free hours nightly or weekly. This meant we could pop in for as long as Emory was up for, without feeling guilty if the visit was short. 

Highlight #3: Walkable with high-quality public transit

Within a 5-minute walk from our apartment, there were 4-5 grocery stores, 2 playgrounds, and countless restaurants. The streets felt safe and were so clearly pedestrian-first: while there were cars and scooters, they drove slowly down the tiny, narrow streets, and always yielded to those on foot. Walking was our primary mode of transport, and luckily Madrid is just small enough that we could reach each neighborhood in the city center within 45 minutes on foot.

And for those days where we weren’t up for a long walk, we were very impressed by the metro system. It was consistent, clean, and offered great coverage of the city.

baby at plaza

A few draw-backs

It’s worth calling out a couple challenges we experienced as well. First, since Madrid has such a multigenerational family culture, the market for short-term or ad hoc babysitting was much smaller than in the states. This made it harder to coordinate a night out without our son. Second, Madrid truly celebrates Spanish culinary traditions, which are exceptional, but lean heavily toward meats and cheeses. We got into a good routine of prepping fruit and veggie snacks at our Airbnb to pack with us each day.

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