Since anticipation is half the joy of travel, build enthusiasm at home with stories and books about the magical water world. For younger children, pick up This is Venice, a classic picture book that introduces the major sites. Zoe Sophia’s Scrapbook: An Adventure in Venice follows a 9-year-old and her dachshund as they tour museums, shop for masks, and ride a gondola. Daughter of Venice is a historical novel set in 1592 for young adult readers.
Venice covers six neighborhoods, or sestieri, though visitors typically stick to three or four. In the center of Piazza San Marco, take the elevator to the top of Saint Mark’s bell tower, the Campanile, for a panoramic overview from the outdoor loggia. Dorsoduro, across the Accademia Bridge, is chic and entertaining, and home to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection of art in Mrs. Guggenheim’s former palazzo. Featuring colorful Calder mobiles and fantastical Dalí dreamscapes, the gallery is irresistible, even for short attention spans. Farther along the Grand Canal is the sixteenth-century Rialto Bridge, with its countless souvenir shops, pizza stands, and Instagram possibilities. In Cannaregio, stroll the narrow lanes of Il Ghetto, the storied Jewish precinct made famous by Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice (hey, extra credit!).