Wander and wonder, preferably without a buggy – most streets are cobbled and bridges tend to have steps. While you gaze in awe at the churches and palaces, the kids can have fun spotting winged lions (the symbol of Venice) or grotesque faces everywhere.
Stop at Caffè Florian on the righthand side of St Mark's Square for an (expensive) hot chocolate served in painted splendour. Then see the gold mosaics in St Mark's Basilica, which are lit up weekdays 11.30–12.30.
Head for the Doges’ Palace – kids love the giant’s steps and the lion's head with a hole in its mouth (it bites if you tell a lie).
Visit one of the many mask shops to watch the craftsmen and -women at work and perhaps pick up a souvenir.
Take to the water. Vaporetto no. 82 or no. 1 goes the length of the Grand Canal. Gondolas are very pricey but you can take the traghetto (a sort of public gondola) across the Grand Canal for a few pence.
Hop aboard one of the boats that leave the riva (bank) beyond St Mark's for the islands. Torcello has an ancient church and lots of outdoor space. Murano offers chance to watch its glass-blowers at work and perhaps have a go yourselves, plus good seafood. Burano is the lace-makers' island, with houses in rainbow colours.
If the weather is warm enough, take a boat to the Lido (Byron swam there from the Grand Canal) and have a day’s beach fun before coming home.
Take in European and African art from the first half of the 20th century at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Try to time your visit with one of the regular events, which including drawing days for all ages and Kids Creative Lab with performances by contemporary artists, sometimes in a piazza.
Sign up for a family walk with award-winning Context Travel: choose from a Lion Hunt Family Tour, Daily Life in Venice for Families or a Venice Art Tour for Kids.