Family Chill-out SpotsBishan-Ang Mo Kio Park
Balls, bubble guns, pails and a change of clothes – these are all you need to keep the kids happily occupied here.
     The park is divided by Marymount Road into two parts – River Plains and Pond Gardens. River Plains, flanked by Bishan Road, is usually busier, with eateries nearby. But it never feels crowded because the park is so big. Sit on designer-looking wooden chaise longues littered around the park and let the kids loose on the expansive green. You can linger on bridges to spot fishes and turtles in the river below, or catch a glimpse of the sunset.
     At Pond Gardens, flanked by Upper Thomson Road, the water playground is the highlight for kids. Over an area roughly the size of half a football field are mini sluice gates and ropes that let your little ones control the flow of water into small gullies, and low mounds to climb on and pretend they’re kings of the hills.
     Splashing around in ankle-high water will keep them entertained for hours. The playground surface is rough and non-slip, and safe for kids. So mums, spread out your picnic mats, sit back and relax.

OPENING HOURS The water playground is open only on weekends, 8-11am and 4-8pm. The rest of the park is open 24 hours.

Pasir Ris Beach Park
This expansive seaside park is a child’s haven – from the three-storey birdwatching tower to the cycling track, as well as a six-hectare mangrove forest to explore.
     But the park’s best feature is the huge playground with its play structures. It’s suitable for kids of all ages – your toddler can “get lost” in the baby maze or fly high on the baby swings while your four-year-old can attempt wobbling across a drawbridge or climbing into a little fire truck to play “pretend fireman”.
     For older children, there’s a flying fox, a rope-climbing wall and climbing nets which include a tall pyramid of ropes (they’re tightly woven so it’s relatively safe for children intent on skimming up high), a spinning disc (think a big satellite dish that twirls) and slides of all heights and sizes to keep them busy for hours.
     The playground is shaded by massive trees, so you don’t have to worry about it getting too sunny for your little ones. While they play, stretch your legs on the picnic benches around the play area. If your kids get sweaty from all that fun, go to the beach that borders the park for a quick dip. Better yet, bring small buckets and spades so they can build sandcastles.
     No time to pack a picnic lunch? Just buy food from alfresco cafes located within the park – choose from local or Western fare. Or head over to a van often parked near the playground to grab canned drinks and ice cream sandwiches.
     End the day with a leisurely pony ride at a nearby stable within the park – this privately-owned facility will give guided rides to your children (starting from preschoolers) for just $10. Want to feed the pony after? You can, for $1.

OPENING HOURS Open 24 hours daily. The stable is open Tue-Sun, 8am to noon and 2-7pm.

Note: The playground is being renovated until next year. A section that includes the climbing nets and obstacle courses is currently closed. But the play area with swings is open.

West Coast Park
Unlike East Coast Park, its west-side counterpart is less crowded and messy, with neat patches of open greens, cycling and jogging paths, and playgrounds. One length of the linear park looks out over the sea, and while there’s no sandy beach, the flat-rocked waterfront makes an ideal spot for fishing and watching the sunset. Instead of a bicycle rental shop, you’ll find a go-kart kiosk. These pedal carts come in one-seater and four-seater varieties, and make exploring the park easy, especially for tiny tots.
     Make a stop at the Adventure Playground – the grassy perimeter is well-shaded so you can unroll a mat and rest while your kids exhaust themselves on the two-storey-tall rope pyramid, flying fox and kiddy rides. Also check out the western end of the park, where children can run along rope-fenced boardwalks right next to the edge of a mini marshland reserve without fear of falling in.
     More adventurous families can apply for a camping permit from National Parks Board beforehand as there’s a field in the middle of the park for campers to pitch a tent – it’s quiet and breezy, but not so secluded that you’ll feel unsafe.

OPENING HOURS Open 24 hours daily.

This article was originally published in Simply Her November 2013.