Let the tots run free in Singapore's lush patch of green, Botanic Gardens!
Let’s face it, there’s never been a better time to get outdoors than in the time of the corona(virus). It’s an easy peasy way to practise social distancing and squeeze in some quality time with the fambam. If cabin fever’s hitting you hard, we say head to our fave outdoor destination with the kids: UNESCO heritage site Singapore Botanic Gardens. It’s easy to get to, and most importantly, super kid- and social-distancing friendly. Wondering how to have the perfect day out at the Singapore Botanic Gardens with kids? Here’s our guide…
Pro tip: If you’ve lived in Singapore for a while, then you’ll know it gets super hot at around 10am. Since the Botanic Gardens has a lot of open spaces, we suggest heading there earlier (7.30am, if you can make it) rather than later. Don’t forget to pack hats for the little ones, sand toys, a football, mosquito repellent and LOTS of water and sunscreen!
How to get to the Botanic Gardens
We’re big fans of Singapore’s awesome public transportation and we love the fact there’s an MRT stop at the Cluny entrance of the Botanic Gardens, which is why this guide will start off here. It’s also close to Plain Vanilla at Cluny Court, one of our favourite breakfast spots.
Ah, the most important meal of the day. If you prefer to dine in and take it easy, we suggest heading to Cluny Court’s Plain Vanilla outlet. They’ve got a great selection of breakfast food and pastries, including our fave lemon chia slice. Our suggestion? Get some banana bread or lemon slices to go and some iced coffees so you can make the most of your morning at the gardens.
Planning the day
Let’s be real – if you’re bringing kids to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, you likely won’t get to explore all 52 hectares of it. In fact, your kids will probably get tired when hour two rolls along (also, that’s usually naptime for our tots). Our ideal Botanic Gardens trip involves: playing in the open fields in the Eco Gardens near the uber-picturesque Eco Lake and settling down for a picnic breakfast, looking at the turtles in the Eco Lake, walking over to the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden after and having lunch at the nearby Food for Tots.
The Eco Gardens
These grassy knolls are the best picnic spots near the Cluny Court entrance of the gardens. You’ll find lots of families settling down here with their mats and footballs. They also have a great view of the Eco Lake, the perfect ambience for a picnic. We suggest sitting near the bamboo trees for extra shade, or the hill in front of the Eco Lake. Also, watch out for cute jungle fowl babies and their parents!
The Eco Lake
Surprisingly, this man-made lake is home to what seems to be a gazillion turtles, tadpoles, swans and otters. Our kids never get tired of spotting their animal friends, even if they see them all the time. For the best view of the animals, head down to the pebbly shore. Please don’t feed the animals no matter how hungry they look – especially those greedy turtles!
Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden
In 2017, the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden got a major makeover with four new zones. Although the original garden and all its loveliness is still there (except for the water play area which is currently being revamped and will reopen in December 2020), the kids love exploring all the new zones, especially the Forest Zone. You’ll need to leave your stroller and scooters at the entrance though – they aren’t allowed in for safety reasons. Pets aren’t allowed inside either, so if you’re bringing your dog along, you might want to skip the children’s garden. If you’re bringing a wee one, we suggest taking a cab directly to the Children’s Garden itself. Here’s a kid-friendly guide you can print out for the little ones.
What to do at Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden
The Explore Zone
The original Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden was made up of the Play, Learn and Explore Zones and this is where the waterplay area, Food for Tots and the super-cool (and slippery) Tree House slide is. We suggest heading here first and doing lots of exploring the garden. We really love the suspension bridge and have even spotted a hornbill in the trees at the Explore Zone. If you’ve brought your sand toys, plop your fam down by the Tree House while the kids build mini-forts with the sand. When they’re done, they can enjoy the slides.
The Forest Zone
If you’ve got older kids, they’ll love the Forest Zone. It has treehouses they can explore and hide in, and best of all: a flying fox! The whole area will keep your kids busy – you’ll find a trampoline, a rope swing bridge, a swing, a sandpit and giant insect replicas, too.
The Learn, Orchard, Stream and Farm Zones
The Learn Zone has a pram-friendly treetop walk that wee ones can enjoy, especially as they point out trees and the odd squirrel. You can take it all the way to the Nature Play Pavilion where you can enjoy the shade and some quiet time. For a mini-lesson in farming, check out the display at the Orchard Zone where you can learn where every tired mum’s favourite drink, coffee, comes from. Don’t forget to check out the cute mini-banana trees! Beside the Orchard Zone is the Stream Zone which was unfortunately dry the last few times we visited – boo. If your bub needs to potty, the nearest toilet is the one at the Farm Zone!
Food for Tots at Jacob Ballas has a great selection of kid-friendly meals that come with your pick of orange or apple juice and Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream (but only if the kids have been good). Although the food isn’t exactly memorable, it’s enough to satisfy grumbling tummies, especially after a day of exploring. If you’re willing to walk (around 20 minutes), Casa Verde at the Nassim Gate entrance serves up delish pizzas from their wood-fired oven and pasta that’s sure to get a thumbs-up from everyone, parents included.
And there you have it, a perfect family day out with kids at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. And while the tots are napping in their stroller, head back to Cluny Court and treat yourself to a tiramisu and a glass of wine at Da Paolo Gastronomia. Enjoy!
Singapore Botanic Gardens, 1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569