If you’re a Riyadh-based mum with kiddies of different ages, you might be struggling to find fun family days out that tick all the boxes. The good news is, we’ve teamed up with mummy blogger Ya Mama, who lives in Riyadh with her four children, ranging in age from three-and-a-half to almost 13. Here she gives us the scoop on her top five picks for family fun in Riyadh. From scaling across the sand dunes to the excitement of entertainment hubs like Billy Beez, there’s something for everyone. Here’s what she had to say…
We all go through major dilemmas at different stages of our lives. It’s safe to say that as a mother of children ranging in age from three-and-a-half to almost 13 my biggest dilemma is finding activities in Riyadh that suit them all. This becomes more apparent when you are a family that doesn’t believe in using electronics during the week. I wanted to share with you my findings here in this little list of five entertaining things to do with your children.
Family fun in Riyadh: Billy Beez
This indoor play area is located in a few different malls. Great for tots the soft-play area at Billy Beez
has slides, trampolines, a climbing wall, while an area dedicated to toddlers is home to a variety of educational toys. Mothers have the option of signing their little ones in and leaving them under the watchful eyes of the staff, while they nip off for a coffee or to do a spot of shopping. One thing to note however: Avoid the crowds at around 4pm.
Family Fun in Riyadh: Mini Polis
This is Riyadh’s answer to KidZania
. Using the same concept of giving young children the opportunity to choose role-play at their would-be careers Mini Polis
is a fantastic day out for kids. This place even has little kiddie banks and the cute factor just keeps coming as the kiddie streets, which are names after areas of London. This was huge hit with my younger two, who are aged three-and-a-half and six, and while my nine-year-old was slightly disenchanted, often comparing it unfavourably to kidZania, had fun none the less.
Location: Hayat Mall
Family Fun in Riyadh: Skyzone (boys only)
trampoline park is great entertainment for older boys. A huge room with side-to-side trampolines and more on the walls to boot, I was torn between wanting to mention this because it’s incredible and between being annoyed it’s only for boys.
Location: Al Rabwa
Family Fun in Riyadh: Soft Play Area in Panorama Mall
I was not a huge fan of the Panorama Play Area in Panorama Mall
because it’s a money-guzzling monster of electronic entertainment and in the past my kids have burnt through 300 riyals collecting tickets that buys them a 30 riyal toy. However, when my sister insisted I take my youngest child to the soft play area, which is tucked in the back and around a corner, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s lovely, bright and airy with padded areas for climbing and sliding. One piece of advice though – as it’s necessary to walk through Panorma Play Area (the previously mentioned money-guzzling monster of electronic entertainment) to get to the soft play area, it’s wise to carry your toddler, and do it quickly. This way they won’t be distracted by the brightly coloured, electronic noise machines that fill the place. Result? You won’t have an overstimulated toddler having a meltdown before you’ve even got to your destination.
Location: Panorama Mall
Family Fun in Riyadh: The desert
If you haven’t been then go… Go quickly. Before it gets too hot. I know this is not your typical form of entertainment but what could be better then setting the kids loose in the wide open spaces of the desert? Have them look for bugs and roll down dunes. Camp out and play old fashioned games. Go electronic free for a whole day and show them what our childhoods looked like! You’ll know that you did it well if your children shed a mini sand dune from their clothes when they are finally home at night.
Disclaimer: Once your child passes the age of about eight your role shifts slightly, in that you are no longer the person finding things for them to do. Instead, you become the person having to decide if they can do what they want to do… Therefore the above suggestions are mostly targeted at children under the age of eight. Having said that the older kids do have fun in these places when they go…. as long as you don’t point it out to them, of course.
Ya Mama is a Riyadh-based mum of four. To read all about her adventures in the Kingdom, click here.