Kids in Estonia and probably everywhere else love hands-on experiences. They want to touch, hear, smell, run, and jump. That is why all places offering interactivity are widely popular in Estonia, and there are plenty of them.
The theme park Lotte Village near the seaside close to Pärnu is among the most adored places. Lotte is a naughty puppy girl from Estonian books and animated films. She lives in Gadgetville, full of all imaginative inventions. The creators of Lotte envisaged Gadgetville as an exciting coastal community with colorful houses, home to warm-hearted and eccentric inventors: rabbits, dogs, cats, and weasels. The characters, enacted by schoolchildren, show kids around Gadgetville and entertain them.
The Seaplane Harbour in the capital of Estonia accommodates one of Europe’s grandest maritime museums. Here kids can explore an authentic submarine from the 1930s, the century-old steam-powered icebreaker, a Short 184 seaplane replica, mines, cannons, and many other life-sized exhibits.
Another attraction for kids and their parents alike is the PROTO Invention Factory. The factory is located in the foundry of the former top-secret submarine factory. Children can try out technology prototypes more than 100 years old. With the help of virtual reality, they can drive the world’s first car and steam locomotive, walk on the bottom of the ocean and fly over the clouds in the world’s first hot air balloon.
Visiting the AHHAA Science Centre is a must if you go to Tartu in South Estonia. Here kids can watch the life of wood ants and chickens, check out the tropical fish and seahorses, create patterns with the water printer, and spin the fog swirls. In addition, young ones love to ride a bike high above the hall, take a selfie with an exploding balloon, and see what’s inside the washing machine. Walking through the mirror maze and solving puzzles are other popular attractions.
The Upside-Down House in Tartu is just what it sounds like: the house itself and everything within it is upside down. This place is great for photos ― if you turn them around later, everything in the pictures will seem perfectly right and normal except yourself ― you will appear upside down.
Dusty museums, usually deadly boring to kids, have turned child-friendly. For example, the University of Tartu Museum has opened a Crazy Scientist’s Office where you can get your hands on many scientists’ gadgets, like the perpetual motion machine and the automaton.
Even a supposedly gloomy institution, the Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom, surprises with a carefully crafted audio guide for children. The guide tells the story of Estonia’s recent past in terms conceivable for young visitors and encourages them to stand for freedom and justice.