1 Choose your favourite water park
We’re blessed with not one, but two great water parks in Bahrain and, as every parent knows, you should give both a chance. Lost Paradise has 18 slides including a family raft ride, vertical drops and a pirate ship, rain fortress and lazy river for younger children. Wahooo! Water Park on the other hand is supremely convenient thanks to a Seef Mall location and is actually 70 percent indoors, meaning you can enjoy all year without fear of sunburn.
Lost Paradise of Dilmun Park, Zallaq (17 845 100). Wahoo! Water Park, City Centre Bahrain, Seef (17 173 000).
2 Go-karting at BIC
The Bahrain Grand Prix is the sporting highlight of the year and kids can get their own speed thrills on a specially constructed go-karting track at the world-class Bahrain International Circuit. Around 300 metres long, and designed to be safe for children as young as seven, it is the first step to a lifelong adrenalin addiction. Parents of mini petrolheads can get on the F1 track and try the new Ultimate Track Experiences, driving or being taken around in a variety of nippy sports cars.
Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir (17 451 745).
3 Picnic in the park
A day out with kids doesn’t need to mean splashing cash. A few homemade sandwiches, a rug to sit on and a ball to chase after is close to a child’s image of what bliss looks like. Especially if you throw in an ice cream. At Prince Khalifa bin Salman Park there are play areas, a small boating lake, cycle track and food kiosks to keep you entertained and away from malls and video games. Check out, also, the farmers’ markets in Budaiya Botanical Gardens for more outdoor simplicity and sunshine vibes.
Prince Khalifa bin Salman Park, off Prince Khalifa bin Salman causeway. Budaiya Botanical Gardens, Budaiya Highway (near the police station).
4 Make sandcastles on the beach
The Ritz-Kids programme at The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain comes with a premium price tag, but is also a world-class family option. Even without full family membership, day passes will give kids access to the fun, including a packed itinerary of activities including sports, arts, games and more. If all else fails, there is a private beach just perfect for sandcastle-making sessions while Mum and Dad enjoy a break.
The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, Seef (17 586 612).
5 Build your own teddy bear
If you’ve ever lost a child’s favourite toy you will understand the connection toddlers can make with their furry friends. When that is a teddy that they chose, made and named themselves the bond is even tighter. The genius of the Build-A-Bear Workshop chain is that it makes a trip to the toy store into a major event and, while parents stand on the sidelines looking baffled by the devotion, there is no denying the smiles on little faces.
Build-A-Bear Workshop, City Centre Bahrain, Seef (17 178 560).
6 Get creative at Studio Ceramics
A hub of creativity enjoyed by youngsters and arty adults alike, this Seef-based art studio offers ceramic painting, clay building, ornament decorating and more crafty projects than you can wave a paint brush at. Kids can join in lessons and creative sessions or just go wild and let their imagination spill out on a stock-cupboard full of ready-made ceramics and other materials.
Studio Ceramics, Seef Mall, Seef (17 002 911).
7 Take your first skydive (indoors)
Vertical wind tunnels may sound like some swish engineering equipment, but strap on a flight suit, pull on a crash helmet and for anybody over the age of four it becomes a thrill ride. Controlled and solo indoor skydives are still new to Bahrain and for anybody wanting to simulate a plane jump without, you know, actually jumping out of a plane. But it is an extreme sport with an excellent safety record, and has a home here in Zallaq.
Gravity Indoor Skydiving, Zallaq (13 100 000).
8 Fire lasers at your friends
There comes a time when every little kid grows out of a soft play area (somebody needs to tell a few “grown-up” Time Outers we know) and a new diversion needs to be found. Welcome to the Ozone entertainment centre. With laser tag, ten-pin bowling, gaming and billiards rooms, it is an interactive funland for older children. That’s right, there is laser tag in Bahrain!
Ozone Entertainment, Sitra Mall, Sitra (17 749 499).
9 Enjoy the rides at Adhari Park
There are a few zones and attractions at Bahrain’s theme park designed to elicit squeals of excitement from children. Circle around on a gentle carousel and play crazy golf in Groovy Town, get dizzy on a roller coaster in Discovery Village, splash down the log flume in Sports Camp and see much more besides. There are around 40 indoor and outdoor rides with each measured for thrill and speed rating, meaning you can select something suitable for the child you’re riding with (and make sure you don't get too scared as well).
Adhari Park, Ain Adhari Road (17 407 300).
10 Visit a Magic Island
The big picture says there are 4,300 square metres and more than 20 rides and play areas for kids, 150 arcade games and traditional games in Seef entertainment centre Magic Island. But the real story is the hordes of little children that buzz around with smiles on their faces as they pass between ball pools, flight simulators and other indoor fun. Did somebody say LED underwater theme bowling alley? It’s got one!
Magic Island, Seef Mall, Seef (77 911 211).
11 Find fun in fitness at My Gym
Like a gym, but for kids. That means far less Lycra, grunting and heavy lifting and a lot more running around playing ball games and quirky sports. My Gym’s classes operate from Tiny Tykeswaddlers (seven months) all the way through to Champions (eight-year-olds) and are designed to be age-specific for the physical, psychological and physical well-being and growth of each category. It’s popular with parents who can sit by and let kids exhaust themselves.
My Gym, Al Victory Suites, Seef (17 566 566).
12 Experience Chakazoolu
We’re not exactly sure what the name is all about, but we know we like chanting it as a family as we walk up to the Dana Mall entertainment centre. The 4,500 square metre play room has a roller coaster, ghost train, bumper cars and arcade games, plus cinematic experience simulators. Bingo.
Chakazoolu, Dana Mall, Sanabis (17 558 500).
13 Be cool with Pingu
A venue based on the quirky animated penguin might sound like one of the more bonkers ideas ever to be given the green light. However, strange as it may sound, this is an educational attraction aimed at building the confidence and ability of non-native English speakers. Consider it a fun after-school club with an interactive approach to learning. With added penguins. We love it.
Pingu’s English, Seef Mall, Seef (17 002 877).
14 Book a hut at Al Dar Island
To get away from the island, just visit another island. Al Dar is a ten-minute boat ride away from the fishermen’s port in Sitra and is one of the best days (and nights) out in Bahrain. Beach huts are ideal for barbecues and can be rented by the day at a modest cost (BD15). When set up, families can try watersports or make use of the kids’ zone with play area, shaded paddling pool and more. Ask kids if they want to visit and you won’t need to go beyond the boat ride before they agree it is one of your finest ideas yet.
Al Dar Islands, Sitra Fisherman Port (17 704 600).
15 Become a Padi bubblemaker
Living on an island means thoughts of the sea are never far away. So why not let children’s thoughts take on a fantastical edge by introducing them to an underwater world through scuba diving lessons. Dive schools around Bahrain such as Scuba Life have certified courses for children like the PADI bubblemaker, seal team, snorkelling or junior master diver awards.
Scuba Life Diving Centre, Seef (17 003 636).
16 Get creative at Artzania
This is a play centre with, as you can imagine, an arty aspect. There is a large castle, but it is more for artistic inspiration at the Ramli Mall play area which operates on the philosophy that learning is fun. Children here are more likely to get stuck in an arts and crafts project than they are a ball pool and it is a change of pace we’re sure parents will appreciate.
Artzania, Ramli Mall, A’Ali (17 640 663).
17 All aboard the Yellow Submarine
There is an underwater theme to Saar Mall’s soft play area that kids seem to enjoy. They are also rather partial to the ball pools, ball canons, slides, building blocks and assault courses as well. Parent and child mornings throughout the week are great for meeting new families, plus a large party room is a popular option for birthdays on the toddler society circuit.
Yellow Submarine, Saar Mall, Saar (17 000 037).
18 Pamper little ones at Lalapaloza
Glitter tattoos, mini-manis, dolls, hair, make-up and sweet-inspired décor – certain kids will view this junior spa and beauty parlour as something close to paradise. Whether you’re stopping in for parent and child pamper sessions or junior make-up parties, the Al A’ali-based shop, spa and party venue is a bright and cheerful location which offers an intriguing alternative to the usual boisterous play centres. You can also drop them off and shop while they play.
Lalapaloza, second floor, Al A’ali Shopping Complex, Seef District (1610 1612).
19 Ready, get set, cook at Saar Mall
Proudly calling itself the first kids’ cooking school in Bahrain, Ready Get Set Cook is more about inspiring junior masterchefs to pick up a rolling pin and whisk than being a centre for culinary arts. Recipes can be themed around movies, globetrotting adventures or dress-up games (like last month’s Halloween party) and give a fun introduction to basic recipes. Cakes and no washing up – can adults come along too?
Ready Get Set Cook, Saar Mall, Saar (17 000 260).
20 Play a round at the Wee Monty course
Tiger Woods was swinging a golf club before he was two years old. Consider that for a moment while you watch your child eating crayons. You might not need to follow the devotion to the game of golf of young Tiger, but a visit to the Royal Golf Club’s Wee Monty pitch and putt course is a way for sporty youngsters to develop their swing on quality greens. Designed by pro Colin Montgomerie, the nine holes are between 60 and 140 yards and it’s a walking course with some challenges. Various junior lessons and programmes are available.
Royal Golf Club, Riffa (17 750 777).
21 Dance in every style
“Never miss a chance to dance.” “If you hear the music, dance.” “Dance like no-one is watching.” Sometimes the Internet memes are right and you need to let the rhythm get you. Introduce children to a lifetime of happiness by introducing them to music and dance. Lessons in many styles such as Bollywood, ballet and street are available in the dance schools across Bahrain and you’ll be able to see your little twinkle toes in action when they get their chance to perform.
Bollywood Steps, Ramli Mall, A’ali, www.facebook.com/thebollywoodsteps/ (3932 3453). Bahrain Ballet Centre, Barbar, www.bahrainballetcentre.com, (1769 3232). Harmony Music Centre, Abu Saiba, www.bahrainharmony.com (1362 2002).
22 Eat out at Bahrain’s best family restaurant
Next month sees the winners of the Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards 2016 announced. Before we reveal our favourites in the family category, eat your way through a shortlist including burger joints (Fuddruckers, Johnny Rockets), Italians (Luigi’s, PizzaExpress, Prego, Rosso), diners (Chili’s, TGI Fridays) and all-round international favourites (Bahrain Bay Kitchen).
See www.timeoutbahrain.com for listings and reviews of shortlisted restaurants.
23 Experience the madness of science
Sparking imagination with scientific experiments is the aim of Mad Science, an edutainment centre that visits schools and also runs creative holiday camps and workshops. The idea is that by doing highly visual and interactive stunts, children will be wowed by the marvels of modern science. The learning can be sneaked in without a child noticing, as they are too busy watching mini-explosions and other chemical reactions designed to make kids gasp.
Mad Science, Abu Saiba (17 591 136).
24 Just Play at Seef Mall
The many different zones and themed rooms are what make Play stand out among the many entertainment centres here. Tiny Tots Room is ideal for young children taking their first steps, while The Town is a mock play area with a fire station, doctor’s office and supermarket. A creative water room, art pod and auditorium are also present in an attraction where imagination and creative role-playing are actively encouraged.
Play, Seef Mall, Seef (17 564 900).
25 Say hello to kitty
Sugar and spice and all things nice are what children who come out of the Hello Kitty Spa will smell of. Even if they go covered in felt tip, blended food and pre-teen angst, they will emerge glowing and relaxed. Not that we’re sure what toddlers have to be so stressed about, but there is no denying a trip to the simple cartoon-inspired spa and café gives a glow to little kids that, if we’re honest, they never really grow out of.
Hello Kitty Beauty Spa, City Centre Bahrain, Seef (17 211 896).