Rescuing animals, looking for stars or just getting lost: The Thuringian Rhön has many exciting offers that are fun for big and small people together. Here are five travel ideas.

The children can't be stopped - they have discovered the stork's nest and climb up immediately. Of course, the nest is not located at a dizzying height on a church spire. You can reach the station on the new discovery trail "Hohe Rhön" via a small ladder. Hello, what can you see from up there? "Black and white cows," the little ones call out. The family hiking trail between Unterweid and Birx is 18 kilometers long and hardly serious with younger children. So you walk a bit - and make an extra stop at one or the other of the 21 points of interest. There is a lot to experience: With the help of a giant Archimedean screw, children can draw water from a stream. The viewing platform "Noah's Sail" on Mount Ellenbogen near Oberweid offers wonderful distant views - and an adventure tube slide. Little visitors learn to hop like a squirrel and are allowed to stuff the mouths of little black sheep with bread and lots of child love at the "Thüringer Rhönhaus" inn.

And this is how you get to Unterweid by bus and train to the start of the discovery trail: Plan arrival.

For animal lovers

A ship is stranded at one of the most beautiful vantage points in the Rhön. It is gray and has large portholes. Quite frankly, it looks a bit avant-garde in this part of Thuringia that is characterized by tradition and rurality. At the front, at the railing, visitors can enjoy a wonderful view - into the "Land of Open Distances," as the Thuringians call their Rhön region. Because the eye can look here until the landscape blurs into pastel at the horizon line. And because you can see villages shimmering in the summer light many, many kilometers away. The very young crew on deck has no eye for that: Little sailors buzz around like wild bumblebees, trying to figure out which of the animals needs help. It's well thought out: the people of the Rhön tell their own story at the "Rhön Ark" visitor center in Kaltenwestheim with the help of a modern Ark Noah story. Riddles have to be solved, mice rescued, bird calls recognized - and along the way the children learn a lot about the Rhön, the largest part of which is a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Outside, there's also the Rhön Forest Adventure World, including a forest school, bat cave and barefoot trail. If you want to spend the night close to nature, you don't have far to go: Angela Abe's Weidberg Camping is within sight - a pleasant place with a great view.

And this is how you get to Kaltenwestheim by bus and train: Plan arrival.

For nature lovers

Like the Rhön, the Rhön Biosphere Reserve, which is recognized by UNESCO, is transnational - because it is located in Bavaria, Hesse and Thuringia. Today, the Rhön sheep, which also work as landscape gardeners, is once again the region's favorite animal. For it is only through the sheep that the typical limestone grasslands of the Rhön are preserved. The Probstei in the idyllic village of Zella houses a visitor center about the biosphere reserve. On the doorstep there is a unique herb garden and a huge orchard. The aim of the biosphere reserve, which is divided into different protection zones, is to preserve the natural and cultural landscape of the Rhön and to develop viable concepts for sustainable use of the region. A good example: The country hotel "Zur Grünen Kutte" of the Heidinger family in Bernshausen. Not only does it include a star caravan where you can spend the night, but also the Stockborn Ranch - an equestrian farm with offers for adults and young people. "The special thing here," junior manager Mandy Heidinger tells us the next morning, "is that with us even beginners can take rides in the beautiful countryside." And there is much more to discover, not only during the day.

And this is how you get to Zella by bus and train: Plan arrival.

For stargazers

"What fascinates me most," Sabine Frank tells us, "is that the universe is so transparent." Excuse me? "Well, that we can see it all so easily!" Makes sense. The cultural scientist has turned her passion - the stars, space, black holes - into a profession. She offers public and private star walks. Sabine was also instrumental in getting the Rhön recognized as a star park - there are only three in Germany. What is a star park? A region where efforts are made to preserve natural darkness. Sabine is on top form: An impromptu role play is performed, and the children become planets and astronauts! A hula-hoop is in play and a flashlight - the sun. As a climax, Sabine circles as the moon, wanting to know why we never see its back side. On it goes: Sabine Frank shows us the Milky Way, which arches over the entire horizon here, which is quite unique. And she asks us to hold our hand up to the sky for once. "There are always half a billion galaxies behind it." Speaks it, delighting in the incredulous faces. How good, we think, that there is only this one, small Rhön.

For those with foresight

The sun bathes the sky in shades of orange, the fruit trees become a silhouette. Night falls on the Hohe Geba. In a good 15 kilometers, the Gebaweg premium hiking trail leads around the 750-meter-high mountain peak - easily manageable with older children. You can enjoy wonderful panoramic views, hike through cornfields and across barren grassy mats. Like a satellite, the impressive path circles the planet Hohe Geba. But, the image fits. Because up here there has recently been a star platform. And the night is clear. With a full moon face. Why we never see its backside? You'd best let Sabine explain that to you ... We don't care (about stars) for today.

And this is how you get to the start of the Gebaweg by bus and train: Plan arrival.

Cover photo: Little ones feel at home in the stork's nest, a station on the Hohe Rhön discovery trail © Samuel Zuder

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