What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Iñaquito, a huge indoor food market; Nayon, endless plants to buy; Guapalo and La Floresta, bohemian neighborhoods with street art and interesting architecture; Nono, a little town with a little hike to waterfalls; hummingbird and butterly reserves, any number of rustic haciendas in Otavalo or Machachi province, helado de paila - a local ice cream, chocolate tastings, more hikes to waterfalls, and so on. - Jul 2019

See above; you can also visit local indigenous communities and be as on the grid of off it as you want. For us, the parks have been great for kids. Big city park downtown, probably about a mile long. Sports fields, botanic gardens, dirt bike racing, track, skate park, paddle boats, lots of playgrounds - Quito's Central Park. - Jul 2018

Papallacta, hot springs right outside Quito. Climb a volcano or two. - Mar 2017

We love hitting very small local food establishments as they are much cheaper and you seem to see the "real Ecuador" as opposed to Quito. Of course this is the home to the Galapagos so save your money as its not cheap (cheaper if you are a diplomat as you can get Ecuadorian prices). Many also plan to hike a portion of the Incan trail to Machu Pichu in Peru while living here. Otherwise hacienda stays, volcano climbing, white water rafting, hot springs, etc. can more than fill your time. - Sep 2016

*Jardin Botanico is a great way to experience different microclimates of Ecuador, and it’s located in the middle of Parque Carolina. Plan on 1.5 hours for your visit. Minicity, located between Cumbaya and Tumbaco, is a kids' museum with a bunch of miniature playhouses (doctor’s office, bank, etc.). *Museo Interactivo de las Ciencias – S0° 14.192' W78° 31.034' this is the best children’s museum in Quito. It was converted from a textile factory and has many hands-on exhibits, including a physics experiment room. In many ways it rivals any major natural history museum in the States. You could easily spend 4 or more hours here. *Vertigo – We stumbled across this climbing area in Cumbaya, which is just west of Scala mall. It’s open until 10:00 p.m., in case you want to exercise after work. You can pay $7 to have two climbs on their large walls (equipment included) or pay a fee to get in and use your own gear. It’s a fun place for kids' parties. *Day trips from Quito: *Boliche – S0° 37.187' W78° 34.429' This ecological reserve is about 1.5 hours from Quito. It has lots of playground equipment and some large spaces to explore. They have two loop trails: one lasts just over an hour, and the other takes about 30 minutes. Their camping areas are surprisingly nice – they have a very large open area with pavilions covering picnic tables and grills. The foliage is unlike any other place we've seen in Ecuador, and it felt like we were in the Pacific Northwest with the large pine trees. Just make sure to arrive before 5:00 p.m., when the gates close. Cascada San Rafael – S0° 06.222' W77° 35.320' is the largest waterfall in Ecuador and is located about 3 hours from Quito. Drive towards Tena but don't take the turnoff to Baeza. It’s another 60 kilometers up the road from the turnoff. While it’s a long drive on a very windy road, the view is quite pretty. The trail has gravel and takes about 45 minutes. You can also see the Cascada Magica, which lets you get right to the water’s edge (prepare to get soaked) and costs $2 per person. It’s only 5-10 minutes to get to the falls. You can see a collection of orchids nearby (call Edgar Guerrero, the owner, at 0984079953 to confirm a tour, which lasts 30-45 minutes as he explains about different species). *Cayambe/Coca – this large national park has two main entrances: one from the Papallacta parking lot, and another about 10 kilometers before Papallacta. It’s similar to Parque Nacional Las Cajas in that it’s a very wet high tundra region. You can hike between the two entrances, although it would be very long for one day. Camping is possible, but make sure to bring warm gear. The trails are quite beautiful. Condor Machay – 17 km from Sangolqui, you’ll find a large waterfall after a 4.1 km hike. It takes about 2 hours and is pretty easy walking. You can camp too. *Cotopaxi – S0° 40.731' W78° 33.187' there are two principal entrances to the park: one on the northern end, and another more towards the middle. The northern entrance takes you by a number of haciendas where you can overnight (San Agustin has lots of good reviews), horseback ride, etc. It is very bumpy, as it is all cobblestones. The middle entrance is the primary one, and it takes you to a check-in point where you'll have to register before proceeding further. About 20 minutes from the gate you'll get to the parking lot, from where you can start your climb. Cotopaxi has two trails to the Refugio (a restaurant/small house just below the glacier level), one straight up, and another with switchbacks. While the straight trail looks easier, it’s tough going because of the loose rock. With little kids it’s easier using the switchbacks and coming down the straight route. It gets very cold and rainy on the mountain, so be sure to bring weatherproof gear. It takes about 1.25 hours to climb to the refugio and another 45 minutes to reach the glacier. You’ll find a few lakes in the park, and can hike around the largest one (about 1.5 hours) if the weather is poor on the mountain. You can camp in a few spots, but make sure to bring warm gear as it’s windy and cold at night. Places to eat: Inside the park you'll find an hacienda, Tambopaxi S0° 35.244' W78° 26.934', which is a nice place to eat with great views. Café de la Vaca – S0° 32.389' W78° 35.000', in between Cotopaxi’s two entrances, this restaurant is very popular with locals. Try one of their varieties of locro – it’s one of the best we've tried. Guallabamba Bosque Protector Jerusalém – this unique dry forest is about 45 minutes from Quito. They have several trails, a large swimming pool, a nice playground, and areas for camping. It’s an easy place to camp with families because it hardly ever rains here. Zoo – S0° 04.296' W78° 21.353' This is one of our favorite zoos ever. While there’s not a huge variety of animals, there’s lots of shade, and some creatures like tapirs and peccaries you won't see outside the Amazon. Plan on 1.5 hours for the tour. It’s about 45 minutes north of Quito. Machachi – some friends of ours stayed at a place they highly recommend: Hacienda Alegria. Maquipucuna – http://www.maqui.org/ is an ecological preserve similar to Mindo. While we have not visited, we hear good things about the hiking trails and birding opportunities. *Molinuco – S0° 25.296' W78° 24.321' this entertainment complex is about 45 minutes from Quito, south of Sangolqui. It has a few zip lines, several climbing towers, trout fishing, and three hiking trails. It’s easy walking, and the kids especially liked the loop tour that took us by a series of waterfalls. Pasochoa – N0° 50.572' W79° 55.216' is another hiking/reserve area. It’s about 40 minutes from Quito and has quite a few pretty trails. *Papallacta – S0° 21.718' W78° 08.998' these thermal hot springs are about 1.5 hours from Quito. They have three areas: general pools, a spa, and hotel rooms/cabañas that have their own pools. Temperatures range from ice cold to scalding hot, and our kids loved hopping between areas. Make sure to use sunscreen, even if it’s overcast. UV rays come through the clouds and will burn if you're not careful. It’s very beautiful at night, but be careful driving back in the evening. It almost always fogs over, and visibility is very poor. There’s a decent restaurant inside, or you can bring a picnic lunch. Pululahua – you can visit this volcanic crater preserve just north of town as a day trip or overnight experience. To access the main area, turn right just after the large Tia warehouse. You’ll follow a dirt road for about 10 minutes to get to the main entrance. It’s another 30 minutes to the crater floor (high clearance recommended). Near the main entrance, you'll see a brick path leading to a camping/picnic area (a 10-15 minute hike). Behind one of the pavilions you'll find a 1 km trail that leads through a bamboo forest. It’s a pretty hike and easy for kids. At the crater floor you can camp next to the Pululahua Hostel, http://www.pululahuahostal.com/, (although it gets crowded and there are cars passing at all hours during the night). The Hostel can arrange for horseback rides at reasonable rates and even takes PayPal. You can go on several hikes in the crater, even to a small hot spring. *Yanacocha – S0° 06.509' W78° 34.949' an ecological reserve west of Quito, this cloud forest gives you a sample of visiting Mindo but closer to Quito. They have lots of birds in the area, and the side trails are beautiful. It takes about 45 minutes to hike to the hummingbird feeders (there are three main feeding areas, all fairly close to each other). - Aug 2015

If you enjoy the outdoors, this is your post. If you enjoy the beach, this is your post. If you're a skier/snowboarder, this is NOT your post. But that's about all it's missing... Plenty to do and see here, from the coast to the Amazon rainforest. The mountains, the culture is incredible. The views in the historic center, from adjacent hills, or on hikes up the mountains are astounding. Mountain biking is big, as is soccer. If you're active, Quito is great. If you're not, probably look elsewhere. - Aug 2014

The old colonial part of Quito is one of the best-maintained in Latin America (still not much to do down there other than sight-see, but it's pretty). Great place for day trips. Volcanic spas nearby in Papallacta. Ziplining, ATVs, butterflies, and tubing in Mindo. Large indigenous market in Otavalo and leather-goods in Cotocachi. Many nice haciendas have been converted into hotels in the countryside. Cotopaxi national park is beautiful. It's possible to hike to the top of Pichincha volcano on the edge of town (the peak's over 15,000'). Baños is a nice weekend get-away. And most beaches are 5-6 hours drive from Quito. Cuenca is a bit further, but it and Cajas National Park are extraordinary. Great place for excursions. Of course, there's the Galapagos islands, which are a must-see. - Jul 2012

Mariscal for bars and nightlife. Walks around Centro Historico. Walks to Parque la Carolina and Parque Metropolitano. Karaoke bars along Eloy Alfaro. Take the teleferico and hike up Rucu Pichincha. Really, Quito only has moderate attractions for me. I like getting out of Quito best. - Jan 2011

Teleferico, historic district, theatre, music (Santana will be here next Spring!), day trips to Cotopaxi volcano, shopping in Otavalo and Cotacachi. Longer weekends can be spent on the beach whale watching or going on a cruise around the Galapagos islands. - Oct 2009

A long list of in-country trips could be made. The Galapagos islands head the list, although due to the expense it's probably a one-time thing; also try to plan ahead at least several months if you can't be flexible on timing. The coast is a short flight away, with several good beaches. The Amazon is also highly recommended, with overnight stays in jungle lodges. Meanwhile, a number of nature-oriented day trips (hot springs, cloud forests, butterfly reservations) are available from Quito. Quito has several decent museums (the Guayasamin museum and Banco Central especially) and a rejuvenated Old Town with a number of churches and other historic locations. - Jan 2009

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