We have since moved back to Texas from Switzerland. I first drafted this post before we left.
One of our favorite places to visit in Switzerland is the tiny medieval town of Stein am Rhein. We can take a train (the S29) from the tiny depot near our flat in Oberwinterthur to Stein am Rhein in about 30 minutes. The s29 is a Thurbo, which is a commuter train with very tall windows, and each car has a bike area that easily holds the stroller. The views on the train ride through the rolling country side are lovely, full of farms and vineyards. To get to the altstadt from the train station, follow the signs heading northeast from the station. Go over the bridge over the Rhine, and you’re there in about a 10 minute walk.
Stein am Rhein is located close to the German border, and is at the point where the Rhine River connects with Lake Konstanz. It first was put on the map in 1007 AD when Emperor Henry the II of the Holy Roman Empire (which included Germany at the time) moved the Abbey of Saint George to this strategic location (a side note – all of the man-hole covers in Stein am Rhein are graced with Saint George lancing the dragon). Most of the town has hardly changed since the 15th century, and is full of gorgeous painted buildings and the loveliest altstadt (old town) area in Switzerland (at least in our opinion). It has remained a very small village and the most recent historical note was the accidental bombing by Allied forces in February of 1945 (they got the wrong town).
Most of the exteriors of old buildings in Stein am Rhein have been fully restored, and the town’s main walk is easily explored in an hour or less. On the other side of the altstadt, there are paths running along the river alongside parks and restaurants. You can even catch a boat up river to Schaffhausen or along the lake to Konstanz. For children, there’s a really big fun playground on the river front, nearly entirely all in the shade – just take the river path northwest from the town.