Updated: 2 days ago
Upon arriving in Yokohama, I felt a very sneaky relation to Washington D.C.'s business-centric areas like Crystal City and Arlington. It didn't seem very tourist friendly. Tall office buildings with corner shop cafes towered over very organized streets, where commuters patiently crossed crosswalks and early to risers made their way up the stairs of metro stops.
The area seemed stark, and I was concerned that we had booked three nights at the Westin Yokohama. Where would we walk to eat? Was Yokohama even worth visiting? Luckily, with an abundance of great food and dining options, unique tourist attractions and great shopping we were pleasantly surprised and happy to spend a few days in Yokohama. More than being known just for business and Yokohama tires, this large and bustling city has a lot to offer families, too.
In this article you will find:
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Things to Do in Yokohama With Kids
Arrive a little before lunch time, and hungry, because Yokohama's Chinatown is full of great street food. From adorable little bao buns that look like pandas to candied strawberries on sticks, your kids will be screaming "kawaii!" at all the cuteness.
Stroll some shops before eventually sitting down to a big Peking Duck lunch to close out your visit.
Go back at night to see the town lit up with red lanterns and couples walking the pedestrian friendly streets for a late night snack.
Yokohama Sky Cabin
Adjacent to a mall and train station, this clever mode of transportation takes tired travelers across the water to the Cup of Noodles museum, shopping, and amusement rides. For a bit of a steep price you can get a round trip ticket, but it is worth every penny not to make the walk with kids.
Enjoy beautiful views from your sky cabin gondola and take in a relaxing moment before heading deeper into entertainment fun land!
Get tickets in advance here.
Cup of Noodles Museum
What a fun and stupid way to spend an hour or two. Upon arriving you will be attacked by choices that must be paid for in advance. For instance, if you want to 'create your own noodles', you can do that. There is a little factory area where you not only design your cup (with markers and such), but you can choose your type of noodles and type of toppings to include.
The whole thing is then vacuum sealed in a take home bag that kind of looks like when Nemo's friends jumped into the ocean in bags. It's big and absurd but a cool souvenir I guess!
If you choose not to purchase that at the door, there are also "make your own noodles" options that run at certain times and days.
Then there is the food court, called the bazaar, which is also confusing because it mentions admission being a half-size portion of noodles. What I found in the bazaar instead was a come and go as you please food court full of adorable options for your noodz.
No admission required, just walk up to the vending machine of your choice (it's always vending machines in Japan!) and wait for your noodles to be served up within a minute or two at the counter.
From Italian to Indonesian, the food court is meant to resemble the destinations that Mr. Cup of Noodles (founder Momofuku Ando) visited in search of the perfect noodle.
What he came up with became the foundation of the museum. The kids will love the animated film (all in Japanese) explaining Momofuku's story, and will be interested in seeing the replica home where he came up with the idea.
Different exhibits include a room of wall to wall ramen containers, a psychedelic photo op room, and an interactive touch and play room for kids to hear and see different things come to life on the wall. Kids even can play in a Cup of Noodles themed play area (for an added fee), when it is open.
All in all, come for the vibes but stay for the noodles.
The Yokohama Port Museum
This super cool museum offers two types of tickets: one just for the outside ship and one for the ship and the inside museum. Outside, the training ship can be boarded and explored.
Inside the Nippon Maru, Japan's 1930's sailing vessel, children will enjoy seeing the old bunk rooms, the kitchen where they made hoards of rice, miso soup and tempura for its crew, and how the captains lived and worked.
You'll see the two bridges, the training room where its crew learned on the sea, and learn about the history of the ship. This is a highly enjoyable tour for all, but beware there are steep climbs up and down narrow stairwells, so it is best to leave your strollers on the dock by the ship. Kids should be able to walk to visit this site, or prepare to carry them!
Yokohama World Porters Shopping Mall
It's kind of amazing how malls in Japan are seamless. Meaning, the stores are open like a market, with no walls or borders really separating spaces. This mall is a huge indoor treasure trove for unique clothing, souvenirs, and a Seria - one of my favorite 100 yen shops.
Located at the base of the sky cabin, you'll definitely find yourself there at some point. Kids will enjoy a McDonald's downstairs (also helpful for Dad's to keep them busy while mom shops), and its food court had some seriously good looking options as well, like a conveyor belt sushi joint!
The Cup of Noodles museum is just next door, so this pairs very well with all the attractions on this list.
Nerds rejoice! There is a lifesize Gundham to visit in Yokohama. Leave ample time to visit and be sure to look up the times for the "show" where he moves and speaks.
Nissan Global Showroom
Get ready to entertain Dad! This free showroom has vintage and futuristic cars and offers car loving kids a chance to see (and get into) some of the hottest Nissan cars on the line right now.
Directly connected to the Yokohama station area, this is a nice stop before a cafe break and a trip on the train line. There is also a Starbucks in the showroom if you are obsessed with Starbucks!
The free showroom takes about 45 minutes to an hour to explore and has a children's area with books and coloring tables to entertain them while you look around.
Kirin Distillery Tour
Take a brewery factory tour along with tastings at the Kirin Distillery. About 1.5 hrs, this tour must be reserved in advance online. Kids will enjoy seeing the interactive exhibits and parents will enjoy the tasting room treats!
Related: Yokohama Custom Full Day Tour
Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum
Unfortunately for this museum, the Cup of Noodles museum takes the spotlight due its fame and proximity to other tourist attractions. But frankly, this museum has the cuter food court and is dripping of charm. Great for photo ops and delicious noodz, this place should be on your list if you are near the Shin-Yokohama station. You can find more information about the museum at their website here.
Day Trip To Kamakura and Enoshima Island
Easily accessible by train, Kamakura and Enoshima are nearby coast towns full of great options for tourists and locals alike. Often overlooked by tourists, these two destinations have been favorite day trips from Yokohama for a long time for locals.
Most popular for its giant Buddha statue and many temples, Kamakura town is full of shops and pedestrian friendly lanes. Get there from Yokohama Station in under 40 minutes and take buses or taxis as needed once you arrive.
Enjoy the tea house at Houkokuji bamboo forest in Kamakura for 30 minutes at most before heading to lunch by taxi or bus.
At the forest, enjoy a short stroll around a small bamboo forest, and be sure to purchase the temple + tea ticket so that you may enjoy freshly whipped matcha tea with a treat in their tea house.
A worthwhile stop, parents will enjoy the tranquility and photo ops, but keep in mind it may take more effort to get there than you end up spending there.
Chayakado Restaurant for Nagashi Somen
A hit with parents and children alike, you will want to seek out and sample nagashi somen (if you missed it in Kyoto) at Chayakado restaurant.
Nagashi somen is a simple meal of prepared noodles that are sent down a water slide for diners to catch and eat by dipping the noodles into a bowl first.
Chayakado is one of the few restaurants that offers this unique style of Japanese dining, and it's a great treat on a hot day. Kids will love trying to grab the noodles from the bamboo slide and parents will also enjoy a set meal, which includes lovely tempura vegetables as well.
Although a little out of town, this restaurant with its interactive and fun feast has great service to match. Definitely a hidden gem to discover.
Kamakura Pig Park
Surely you have seen cat cafes, even hedgehog and owl cafes, but never a pig park, eh?
From Kamakura, it is only 15 minutes to Enoshima Station, taking the historic Enoden train along the waterfront route.
Once you get to Enoshima Island, tour around, see the Iwaya cave by candlelight, and then grab some black vanilla ice cream to finish the afternoon.
Note that we had the stroller (with a sleeping 3 year old in it), so we never made it to the caves, which requires traversing many steps. The climb up the hillside is a rough one, so my advice if your children are asleep or not willing to walk at this point in your day to simply visit the shops and take in some street food.
One popular snack was a flat and crispy wafer containing whole shrimp or squid. Honestly they looked pretty gross, but people were lining up like crazy!
We opted to try a "clam chowder croquette", which literally tasted like chowder - delicious! Just don't look down at your croquette, because about 30 little pairs of eyes from tiny fish will be staring back at you. I think I missed the "boiled shirasu" part of the sign.
All in all, about a one hour return trip, Enoshima Island is worth a visit if you are in Yokohama with kids. Take the convenient bus on the island before crossing back over the main overwater bridge. This will take you on to Fujisawa station, directly back to Yokohama.
Tours Around Kamakura and Enoshima
I am always an advocate for DIY, but sometimes (especially in the land of the rising sun) it is simply easier to take a packaged tour. Try one of these great full day options on for size:
Take this highly rated and customizable tour
Local guided walking tour of Yokohama
Where to Eat With Kids in Yokohama
This is a clear winner if you are into Chinese food. From street food to Peking Duck, there's something for everyone.
Yokohama Station Dining
With limited options for standalone restaurants, it is common to find the nearest transportation hub. Yokohama station offers a huge variety of options from pizza to cafes and even a "specialty pancake restaurant". Try a beef curry doughnut in any cafe you can find it in. Trust me!
Minatomirai Tokyu Square/Queens Square Dining
Part mall, part train station, this populous spot is great for seeking out an evening meal with family. Offering everything from "Garlic Jo's" to chain Ramen spot "Ippudo", there's plenty of options for dinner out.
The mall isn't much of a mall and offers just 2 or 3 stores on each level, so focus on dining with perhaps a stop at the Daiso afterwards. Gotta love those 100 yen shops.
Try Sukiyaki Yokohama Style at Araiya
This popular restaurant offers an intimate and upscale dining experience featuring the sukiyaki born in Yokohama called gyunabe. The hot pot is the main course, bubbling meat and vegetables on a tabletop grill in front of you, but the meal is a multi-course extravaganza best booked online in advance.
Bring entertainment for the kiddos, because you'll want them to be well behaved. The food is not really for kids unless you have an adventurous eater like we do, so bring snacks or ask politely for a bowl of rice as needed.
Kids will, however, enjoy the slippery and slurpy udon noodle course, which comes near the end if they can sit through the first several courses catering to adults.
Go To Motomachi For Omakase Sushi and Upscale Shopping
It's all in the title. Motomachi is a great pedestrian area for upscale shopping (or window shopping), and be sure to stop in to Saburo Sushi for their set course omakase dinner.
Run by the cutest couple, these two have been in business for most of their lives, and they are 80! Through Google translate we shared conversation about children, grandchildren, and their dreams. They fell in love with our daughter and we had the place to ourselves.
The menu was a set course - so only four prices were listed on a sheet of paper as the menu. Choosing the two highest prices for the highest grade sushi, we were treated to a wonderful meal. Cozy, it has only seven or eight counter seats and one table.
This is an intimate and lovely experience for the whole family, and they will be sure to find something like plum sushi for your children to eat.
Zauo Fishing Restaurant
With several locations across Tokyo, Zauo also holds a place in the Yokohama area as well. Their schtick is that you get to fish for your dinner! With a nautical theme, these restaurants offer nets and fishing poles to diners who want to feast on shrimp, shellfish and other fresh fish.
Once caught, your meal can be prepared to your choosing - grilled, sashimi, or other options. Pricing is based on what you catch.
Kids will absolutely love the atmosphere and excitement of catching their own dinner. It may not be the best meal ever, but the gimmick is worth the smiles from the whole family.
Where To Stay In Yokohama With Kids
The Westin Yokohama was not only beautiful, but offered the most amazing views I've ever seen at check-in before - on the 23rd floor!
With free ice cream for children each day (if you are a Marriott Bonvoy member) and delicious cocktails in the lounge for mom and dad, this was a great stop for us as a family of three.
The rooms were impeccable with a large tub, rain shower and fun interactive toilet (which seems to always entertain everyone from all ages). The views of the city from our room were spectacular, and we were able to leave our little one on the couch by the window so we could have the giant luxurious bed to ourselves.
With little touches like bathrobes and spa skin sets for the grown-ups, we were even more amazed to receive a spa kit for our daughter, which included adorable tiger slippers, a toothbrush, and a washcloth.
They also offer a pool (for a small fee), a rooftop garden for fresh air, a spa, and three restaurants.
Don't take my word for it, go find out for yourself!
We spent 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night on this - a stupid bargain for what we received, but you can also book online at Booking.com for a reasonable price around $200 per night.
How To Get Around Yokohama
Using Google maps as our guide, we actually used the public bus system quite frequently.
From the Westin Yokohama, there is a convenient bus stop right out front. It takes you directly to Yokohama Station where you can pick up another bus (that's the second stop) or catch a train (the first stop).
On the buses, have a pocket full of coins ready. It was around 200 to 400 yen per person per ride, depending where we were going. Sometimes you pay in advance, sometimes you pay when you depart. Look to the bus driver to assist you.
Once on board, leave the single seats for strollers and wheelchairs, or passengers traveling alone or needing assistance. Follow the same type of etiquette as on a train.
Using Google maps again plus some deep thought and intuition, you can navigate the subway lines pretty easily.
Find the map on the wall above the ticket kiosks for the line you want. If you are unsure (often the maps are only in Japanese), then go to the kiosk, choose English, and walk through the steps on screen to get you where you want to go.
Have your coins handy to drop in the machine, because if you spend too much time fishing them out of your pocket the screen will reset and you'll have to start over.
I am actually surprised how much was accessible by foot, even though the distance sounded much longer on Google maps. With tired legs, I'd see something reading '20 minute walk' and groan. The wind was really rough while we were there, so public transport sounded easier in a lot of instances.
As it turns out, Google really doesn't factor in the time for public transport for getting on a train going the wrong direction, or for navigating the sea of people and the ticket machine, or for waiting on the slow train station elevators. So, walking was pretty much always our best bet, but we found that out the hard way!
Taxis ended up being the most convenient option for short trips like out to dinner in nice clothes, or after a long day of navigating complicated public transport. Each ride around the area averaged about $10 at most, so it was very affordable.
Before heading back to the airport, book a taxi in advance if you are traveling with children. As already explained, navigating the stations and buses without luggage is tough enough.
Keep it easy on yourself and book online in advance. Haneda is a mere 15-20 minutes away by car, or Narita is a little over an hour.
This will cost about $100 or more, so be aware. But frankly, for me and my family of three (plus a million bags), we thought the value add of taking a taxi was hands down a no-brainer and it made our lives tremendously easier and more sane upon departure day.
Tips If You Go To Yokohama With Kids
Yokohama is worth 2-3 nights max
Try different things!
Buy souvenirs at Daiso or Seria (100 yen shops) - I found a Cup of Noodles knockoff toy perfect to give my daughter after visiting the Cup of Noodles Museum. Clever me, I saved myself a bunch of yen in their gift shop!
Although tempting, going into Tokyo would be a long day with kids. Expect about 2 hours each way including all the flubbers of getting around the station, pee breaks, snack stops and elevator hunts. Stick to Yokohama, Kamakura and Enoshima.
Yokohama In a Nutshell
We really enjoyed our time in Yokohama, and felt that although it wasn't the crazy, mind bending scene you would find in Tokyo, it was perfect for us. It was clean, safe, easily accessible and offered plenty of things to see and do with our three year old. I would happily stay there again!