We love some change of scenery every now and again, without doing something really pricey and where my son can have a great time, but also we as parents can enjoy ourselves. This is why I was very happy to discover a few things in the Ascona/Locarno area we all love. So on sunny days we drive up there for an afternoon or a day. The itinerary I put together below is perfect if your kids love driving their mini scooters or bikes or if your little one is still in a pram, but it is also a great opportunity if you live in Ticino and would like to show your parents or that one old aunt the stunning surrounding you live in.
Try to arrive in Ascona around 10ish. Now that the kids are still fresh and fruity, let them walk around and play at the playground a bit first. We found a gorgeous playground directly at Lago Maggiore in Ascona. The address mentioned on www.ticino.ch is Lungo Lago, but if you enter Via Albarella 1 in your GPS, you will end up at the parking lot next to the playground. If this parking is full (in warm sunny days, especially on the weekend), there is an underground parking close by at Via Muraccio 1, entrance on the corner of the street.
After parking your car you can walk to the boulevard and, facing Lago Maggiore, head right along the boulevard before heading to the playground. There are usually some puppeteers or musicians, which are always nice to see and hear while enjoying the view over Lago Maggiore. The little streets are cute and there are some lovey little stores hidden in this tiny maze. Note that some streets are relatively steep, so be prepared to work a tiny bit of sweat pushing the pram up or carrying your wee one.
The mainly car-free boulevard (only some destination traffic), though touristy, is very inviting to have a drink. Maybe not a bad idea seeing you will be at the playground for quite a while after this walk ;-).
After your morning refresher, head back to towards the playground, next tot the parking lot at the lake. The playground is partly shady, which is really nice on warm summer days, and has several wooden play constructions, some for younger kids and some for more adventures or older kids. Swings are also nicely represented: old tires, baby swing, a swing to lay down in and of course normal swings too. Toilets here are clean (well, in any case when I was there…) and there is a fountain to wash your hands or refill your water bottle.
When everybody is getting a bit hungry don’t waste your precious franks on the pizza’s at some of the places you just went to for a drink! I really recommend you get back in your car and drive to L’Archetto, Via Marcacci 11, Locarno. Parking might be a bit tricky, but if you follow the streets you will find some spots and a small parking lot. Waiting for space might be an option too as you can only park for a set time, so there is always somebody leaving soon.
This tiny little take-away is run by a lovely young couple and serves mouth watering pizzas made with Pinsa Romana dough. Pinsa Romana dough is made from an ancient Roman dough recipe, prior to the “invention” of pizza though. It contains less carbs, less fat and is digested better than standard pizza dough. It’s made of wheat, soy and rice flour and tastes really yummy.
You can choose a ready made pizza or compose your own with loads of fresh ingredients. If you are very hungry, you may need to order two as they are not huge, if your kid is not a big eater you can order a small size.
Now, you may think “it’s just a take-away place”. Yes, but this does not say a thing about the pizza quality! It says more about the lack of space for sitting down with your pizza. But not to worry! They have collaboration with a beautiful, French style, café: Al Borgo, which is no more then 20 meters away. My friend and fellow blogger Melanie has written a beautiful post, supported by her stunning photography, about this little gem only a few weeks ago in her blog La Porta Ticinese, a blog in which she writes about “Hidden gems & local secrets” in Ticino.
You can take your pizzas to Al Borgo and enjoy the large sunny terrace or one of the few cozy and classic decorated rooms with comfortable couches. The “catch” is that you will have to order a drink there. This is no punishment however as they serve “Cioccolato densa”, a type of chocolate milk that is so thick you can eat it with a spoon that comes in several flavors. And, best thing of all: while you enjoy your drink, the kids can play with the toys and board games that are provided (inside, but you can take them out if the owners haven’t done so already).
After your bellies are filled with densa and pinsa romana and when you are done enjoying the serene backyard and sun, you can drive up to Hotel/Restaurant Giardino Lago, Via alla Riva 83a, Minusio. Next to Giardino Lago is a paid parking (0,50 cent per hour) and from here you can choose to either walk left towards the small harbor if you don’t feel like a long walk, but if you walk right you can walk all the way to Locarno.
The entire road is paved, flat and therefore perfect for kids to walk, ride their mini scooters and bikes and for walking with a pram. There are many lovely spots for sitting down and looking at the boats, swans and the mountains and there is even a small beach about 500 meters right of Giardino Lago. A little further you find a swingset, but just keep on walking: after about 15 minutes of walking you will stumble upon a large and beautiful playground in Muralto where you’ll find a small trampoline, a pirate ship wreck and some other climbing devices. The whole playground floor is covered with really soft rubber material for safety. Directly across the playground is an ice cream shop. When we were there they had a few large trampolines set up, those where you have to wear a harness and can do saltos, for 10 CHF.
To end this wonderful day I can highly recommend having an aperitivo on the spacious terrace at Giardino Lago while sucking in the breathtaking view of the mountains and the lake. Not sure how their food is, I leave that for you to comment on below once you have tried it ;-).
Usually when we go we do only part of the above itinerary, depending on who we bring and how we feel, but if you have a full day to spend it can definitely make for one. It also would make a perfect combination with a visit to Falconeria Locarno
Lugo Lago Ascona – Playground and Boulevard
Via Albarella 1, 6612 Ascona
Take-Away L’Archetto – Pinsa Romana Pizza
Open till 14.30 for lunch, after that they only open in the late afternoon again!
Via Marcacci 11, 6600 Locarno
+41 (0)76 534 04 82
Al Borgo – Drinks
Via Borghese 2, 6600 Locarno
+41 (0)91 751 74 21
Giardino Lago – Walk and Aperitivo
Via alla Riva 83a, 6648 Minusio
+ 41 (0)91 786 95 95
Parco giochi Al Burbaglio, Muralto
Viale Verbano 41, 6600 Muralto
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