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Munich Is Our Magic Kingdom

Whenever I tell people Munich is our favorite family destination, I get some funny looks. They don't know what they're missing. We first went in 1999, when our son was two, and have been back twice. It's such a beautiful, walkable city. We spend most days in the Englischer Garten, former hunting grounds of the Bavarian kings (their 14th-century pad is at the entry). You can ride bikes there for hours, past beer gardens, oompah bands, lakes with paddleboats, a pagoda. It gets wilder as you go. We rent from Mike's Bike Tours (10 Bräuhausstrasse; 49-89/2554-3987; www.mikesbiketours.com), a combination bike shop, Internet café, and expat center. And we stay at the large, comfy Hotel Platzl (10 Sparkassenstrasse; 49-89/237-030; www.platzl.de; doubles from $195). When we tried a theme-park vacation, I found myself constantly saying "no." But in Munich, there aren't souvenirs and junk food every three steps, so the day is all about "yes"—yes, let's take out a boat; yes, let's go for a swim. Who needs Orlando?Munich is the happiest place on earth.

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