Okay.. This is the question I get asked most often, even before I started blogging.. It’s the reason I started blogging, because my friends kept asking me to recommend them indoor playgrounds and I got bored of repeating myself. So I decided to blog about my visits and just ask them to refer to my blog. Plus, motherhood does terrible things to my memory, if I didn’t blog about them, I will forget all the details within a day.
So anyway, when people ask me which playground I would recommend for their kids, there is really no short answer for it. It really depends on the interest and age of your kids, as well as your location and budget. So here, I am going to list the things I consider when trying to decide which playground to bring MF to.
(NOTE: All these information are to the best of my current knowledge. I haven’t been to some of the playgrounds for years, so some things may have changed.)
After visiting so many playgrounds, after a while, I find that they pretty much offer the same things. So most of the time, I go for convenience. Depending on where I am headed, I will go to a playground nearby. If I am going from home (in the North), I just go to eXplorer Kid at Ang Mo Kio Hub. If I am going to City Hall area, I will go to Cool De Sac at Suntec City. If I am going East, I will go to eXplorer Kid at Downtown East. You get the drift.
2) Pretend play vs Active play
There are generally two kinds of playgrounds available, those that offer Pretend Play (i.e. lots of stimulative toys, train sets, kitchen sets etc. for kids to play with) and Active Play (i.e. big structures for kids to climb up, slide down, bridges, tunnels, obstacles etc.) I have friends whose kids (usually girls) are totally NOT into Active Play. They prefer to sit around and play with toys. If your kid is like that, I recommend playgrounds that specialize in Pretend Play such as Hokey Pokey and Tickle Tickle. But if you have a kid who is hyperactive and cannot sit still, then I would recommend playgrounds with large active play areas, my favourites being eXplorer Kids, Polliwogs and Kidz Amaze .
Examples of Pretend Play:
Examples of Active Play:
Some playgrounds offer both Pretend Play and Active Play sections, but generally, I find that a jack of all trades is a master of none – you end up with a playground with not many toys in the Pretend Play section and not much space to run around in the Active Play section. But if you just want to try out both to see what your kids prefer, such playgrounds include The Petite Park and LOL Playland.
Note that for young toddlers, adults are required to follow the kids around Active Play areas for safety reasons. Hence, if you are looking to relax at the side while your young toddler plays, playgrounds with Pretend Play may be a better option.
3) Babies under 1
If you have a baby under 1 and you’re bringing him/her to try out playgrounds for the first time, I recommend visiting somewhere with a dedicated toddler area and free entry for babies under 1. The following playgrounds have toddler zone and offer free entry for babies under 1:
Do note that even at toddler play areas, you can expect older kids to disregard rules and run and jump into the toddler play areas, which is quite dangerous for babies below 1, so please keep a close eye on your babies.
Alternatively, if you do not mind spending a bit of money, I actually recommend playgrounds that specialize in Pretend Play, particularly Hokey Pokey, for babies. Babies are generally more interested in toys than in Active Play, and you will find many toys that are great for babies at these places.
4) Visiting with more than 1 kid
If you have more than 1 kid, then you probably want to consider the ages and interest of all your kids when choosing the playground, particularly if the age gap between your kids is quite large. Playgrounds that specialize in Pretend Play are great for babies and young toddlers, but probably too boring (and expensive) for your older kids. On the other hand, playgrounds with large Active Play areas are great for older kids, but there is probably nothing much for your young baby or toddler to do. Playgrounds I would recommend that have sections to keep both young toddlers and older kids entertained include:
Also note that if you have an older kid and a baby below 1, you can take advantage of free tagging (i.e. a baby under 1 enters for free with an older paying child):
Being a SAHM who usually brings my kids to playgrounds alone, accessibility via MRT is important to me, especially when I am using the stroller. The following playgrounds are easily accessible (i.e. you can walk there without even having to go into the rain or sun) from MRT stations:
- Cool de Sac – Suntec City Mall (Promenade / Esplanade MRT)
- eXplorer Kid – Ang Mo Kio branch (Ang Mo Kio MRT)
- Fun N Laughter – City Square Mall (Farrer Park MRT)
- My Little Giant – Big Box (Jurong East MRT)
- Polliwogs – Suntec City branch (Promenade / Esplanade MRT)
- Polliwogs – Vivocity branch (Habourfront MRT)
- SingKids – Airport Terminal 3 branch (Changi Airport MRT)
- SingKids – Vivocity branch (Habourfront MRT)
- The Petite Park – Changi City Point branch (Expo MRT)
- The Petite Park – City Square Mall branch (Farrer Park MRT)
But on occasions when I drive, I prefer going to places that have free parking, because MF can spend all day at a playground and that can chalk up a pretty hefty parking fees. The following playgrounds have free parking:
6) Availability of cafe
If you are intending to spend quite some time at the playground while having breakfast, lunch or tea, I recommend going to one of the playgrounds with cafes that serve a variety of drinks as well as piping hot food. Some of my favourite playgrounds with cafe are:
Examples of cafes inside playgrounds:
Indoor playgrounds are not cheap. Currently, most playgrounds charge around $10-$20 per kid and offer unlimited playtime on weekdays. You can expect to pay more and have limited playtime on weekends. On the lower end, eXplorer Kid charges only $4 for unlimited play on Member’s Days (non-peak Mondays) while on the higher end, Amazonia charges $22 (1-3 years old) / $33 (3-12 years old) for 2 hours of playtime.
On top of paying for your kids, some playgrounds also charge for adults to enter. Most playgrounds allow one or two adults to enter per paying child, and impose a charge for each additional adult. It is something you may want to consider if you are planning to visit with extended family members or helpers. If I am on a family outing with the extended family, I usually end up at Fidgets World or Go Go Bambini where any number of adults can enter freely and free parking is available for everyone.
If I have to give a short answer for the question of which playground I would recommend, here are some of my favourites:
When MF was below 1 and was still unable to walk, I camped regularly at Fidgets World because it was totally free of charge. The cafe was just next to the toddler play area, so MF could crawl around and play while I sat down and drank a milkshake. There was also a nursing room within the playground which made it very convenient.
When MF was able to walk and climb, the toddler play area at Fidgets World was no longer able to contain him. I started going to Amazonia instead because the toddler play area there was more challenging and entertaining for him. It was free for babies under 1 with a minimum spending of $10 at the cafe, so I would have my lunch there. MF was also adventurous enough to venture into the Active Play zone for older kids, just that I had to climb around with him. The 4-storey high play zone with the huge wavy slide (which MF loved) made the trip well worth it. There was no nursing room within Amazonia, but Great World City had an awesome nursing room at Basement 1.
As MF got older and started running and climbing faster than me, it got a bit tiring to bring MF for Active Play on my own. So Hokey Pokey at Suntec City (Update: Hokey Pokey has subsequently moved to Millenia Walk but that branch also closed down. It now has only 1 branch at Seletar Mall.) became my favourite hangout instead. It was easily accessible via MRT and there was a seating area from which I could view the whole playground so I could sit back and relax and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee (which the playground sold) while MF played.
Then when I became pregnant with my second child, long MRT rides became a bit of a chore and I decided to just go to the playground nearest to my home – eXplorer Kid at Ang Mo Kio Hub. Although the playground only offered Active Play, MF was a seasoned playground visitor by then and he was able to play there on his own. Their playzone was not very tall / big and I could see MF clearly from the perimeters (versus some other playgrounds where once your kids enter the playzone, they basically disappear out of sight and you won’t even know if they get into an accident, unless you crawl inside with them).
When my second child grew older and I had to cater to the needs of both kids (aged 2 years apart), my favourite playground became Cool De Sac. They had a toddler’s area to keep the young one busy and a wide range of activities (Lego, art and craft, dressing up, face painting and active play) for the older one.
Hope this blog post helps you in deciding which playground to bring your kiddos to! I haven’t been to all indoor playgrounds in Singapore, so maybe there are some better ones out there that I do not know of or have yet to visit.. If you know of any to recommend, feel free to leave a comment.