Hokkaido's best summer activities for kids
Hokkaido is well-known for producing the freshest seafood in Japan. From fresh uni (sea urchins) to kai-sen-don (raw seafood rice bowl), you will never feel disappointed by the freshness, variety and quality of seafood offered on this island. In summer, the colorful flower fields are also amazing sights for travelers. However, all these adult-oriented activities might not be fully appreciated by kids.
Don’t fret - Hokkaido is actually the perfect destination for your little ones. Your children can enjoy a wide range of activities and make their travel a memorable one!
Read on to find out what activities can be included in your family’s Hokkaido trip!
Visit a farm with your children
Hokkaido is home to numerous high quality farms and many of which are children friendly. Kids can usually get firsthand experience with the animals and it is thus an ideal place for education as well as building emotional connections. One of my favorite is Heidi Farm.
Access to Heidi Farm is easy as it is just a short 30-minute drive from New Chitose Airport. It is perfect to be included as a small excursion on your first day, especially for families landing early in the morning. In contrast to commercial farms, Heidi Farm offers a laidback atmosphere as well as an authentic experience. It raises a range of big and small animals where children can interact with them closely.
|Entrance of Heidi Farm|
|Heidi Farm raises a range of animals and children can interact with them easily.|
|It is possible for young children to have close interaction with the animals. In addition, a cow milking experience is available at Heidi Farm too. It is organized twice a day (11:00 & 15:00) and free of charge.|
Enjoy the playgrounds and parks in Hokkaido
Hokkaido’s children-friendliness is reflected in its numerous playgrounds. In addition to the small ones found in every neighbourhoods, there are also many well-maintained beautiful playgrounds which are worthy to spend a few hours to let the children release their energy. Below are just a few samples of those excellent parks available on this island.
My personal favorite is Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park. This state-owned facility is located in Sapporo's suburb, which is about a 30-minute drive from downtown. This is probably a place that answers the needs of the whole family - adults can enjoy the dazzling flower fields while the young ones can run and jump in the kids’ corner.
|Tulip festival is held at Takino Suzuran Park in May every year. Adults can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the flower fields, while the children can run and play in the spacious park. |
|Takino Suzuran Park is equipped with various play facilities for the young ones. |
|It is a popular place for locals to spend their weekends with the family. |
For those heading towards Furano and Biei during summer, don’t miss Asahikawa Kamui Park. This park was built to provide the children a place to play, relax and enjoy the nature. It has both indoor and outdoor playgrounds, so you can enjoy it regardless of the weather!
|Entrance of Kamui Park |
|The play facilities at Kamui Park are designed in a creative way for the children.|
|Spacious indoor playground at Kamui Park.|
|Play facilities are not just limited on the ground; there is one high up on the roof too!|
Mori Mori Park (もりもりパーク) is another awesome facility for children to spend their inexhaustible energy. Located inside Feeal shopping mall (3 minutes walk from Asahikawa JR station), this playground comes in handy when parents want to do some shopping in the city.
Asahikawa is home to lots of wooden hand crafts, ranging from utensils, to decorations and also furniture. Most of the facilities and toys inside Mori Mori Park are made from wood. Children can run, slide, play and even roll in this spacious 1,000 sqm playground!
|Most of the facilities inside Mori Mori Park are made of wood.|
|Children of different ages can enjoy themselves inside Mori Mori Park.|
|Mori Mori Park |
Visit Asahiyama Zoo (旭山動物園)
Located about 30-minute by car from Asahikawa City, Asahiyama Zoo is a very popular zoological garden in the middle of Hokkaido. The enclosures are designed in a way that enables visitors to observe the animals from different perspectives. The glass tunnel through the penguin pool is one of the highlights, which allows visitors to see the penguins’ underwater flight. The penguin walk is also a big draw of guests in winter. Other animals on display include polar bears, seals, hippos, apes and many more.
In addition, you can add more fun to the trip by taking the Asahiyama Zoo Train. The round-trip service runs once a day. The train cars are decorated with various animal drawings and filled with stuffed animal soft toys!
|Asahiyama Zoo hosts a range of different animals. It is possible to observe them from a close angle.|
|Visitor can see the penguins' underwater flight through the glass tunnel. |
Cycling around Hokkaido
Open roads, clean air and scenic routes - Hokkaido has many towns and villages that are ideal for cycling. Exploring this beautiful island on two wheels is a perfect way to enjoy your holiday with children. My personal pick is to cycle in Niseko, because of its laidback and relaxing vibe.
The region surrounding Niseko is a cyclist's paradise: minimal traffic, freshly-paved roads, roadside vegetable and fruit stands, and of course, amazing landscape. Niseko's summer climate, with comfortably warm, sunny days and low humidity, is a huge draw for cyclists.
|Cycling under the charming Mount Yotei should definitely be included in your travel itinerary.|
Try rafting in Niseko
Children love rafting and it is undeniably one of the most popular activities in summer. Jump into a rubber boat with your family and enjoy a trip down the beautiful Shiribetsu River. Along with your fellow crew and experienced guide, you can enjoy the thrills and excitement of rafting on white water. Based on the season, Hokkaido Rivers offer rafting trips suited to adventure seekers with the large snow melt in spring time, through to quiet tours that the whole family can enjoy in summer. Rafting is an incredibly fun activity suitable for all ages!
Niseko Hanazono organizes rafting daily in summer. The rates start from 3,040 JPY per person. Joining the rafting tour in the morning and trying outdoor BBQ in the afternoon is an impeccable way to enjoy the splendors of Hokkaido!
|Rafting is one of the most beloved summer activities for children.|
|Rafting guides will stop along the river and organize different activities for the guests.|
Spend a night outdoor
Travel like a local and try camping in Hokkaido, the outdoors capital of Japan! Japanese love camping and it is common to see the camping ground filled with tents or caravans during weekends. Hokkaido has numerous well-equipped camping grounds for use. Spending a night outdoor to revel in the starry night coupled with self-serviced BBQ will definitely bring endless laughter for your children! Search for your next camp site here (in Japanese)!
Hokkaido has the perfect conditions for camping.
Mild weather, family-friendly activities and healthy local produce are among the highlights of a trip to the northern Japan. Hokkaido is truly the perfect destination for families with young children looking for a rejuvenating getaway. Plan your next summer adventures now by contacting Vacation Niseko helpful travel specialists!