Top 10 things to do in Mumbai with Kids this Summer!
Disclaimer: I hate malls. I would much rather tramp around busy crowded market places or sit at home than walk around the sanitized, sterile interiors of a mall. So, you will not find a mall listing here!!
It’s a little exasperating when I hear mothers lament over the woes of summer holidays. Oh no holidays! What are we going to do with the kids? It always takes me back to my childhood when summer holidays were blissful. Long lethargic summer afternoons, holidays with grandparents, writing letters to friends who were travelling, eating copious amount of mangoes and well… just ‘being’. I don’t think our parents ever ‘planned’ an activity for us, we kind of did it ourselves, and that was okay. But in today’s super structured life of children – each minute has to be planned and accounted for. Parents put this tremendous pressure on themselves to ensure that their child has the best of everything and doesn’t miss out. And that’s okay. The trick is in maintaining the right balance. So here is a list of things you can do with your child in Mumbai that hopefully gives you that perfect balance.
# Sanjay Gandhi National Park: You can’t have enough of this place! They organise regular tours which include information on the beautiful flora and fauna and plant spotting. You can take the Tiger or Lion (currently closed) Safari and spot these magaficant cats. And you can also take a ride aroud the park in the mini train or give your child a lesson in history at the Kanheri caves. You can even carry your own hamper and enjoy a lovely picnic in the cool shade of the tress.
# Mahim Nature Park: A little gem tucked away in busy Mahim, this park was made on the old Mumbai Garbage dump in 1976. Carefully planted trees and plants thrive in this beautiful ecosystem. With over 200 species of trees it is sometimes very hard to believe that you are in the heart of Mumbai. You can take a guided tour where kids can learn about the various species of birds, butterflies and trees that inhabit this Eco-Park.
#Ride a double-decker bus. There are still a few left in the city. Find out if your nearest bus depot has any, hop on, climb straight to the top and pick the front seats, the very best! And sit back and take in the sights and sounds of the city. This is even better in the monsoon when you have the rain splash your face! ( don’t forget the raincoats though!)
#Mumbai from the top: Seeing the city from the top gives you such a different perspective! Not only is the view breathtaking, it’s a somewhat humbling experience seeing the mighty Mumbai from high above. You should check out the view from Malabar Hill, or the St Baptista garden in Mazgaon. Or the Sion fort hill or even Gilbert Hill in Andheri.
#Write a letter: Yes, actually ‘write’ a letter. Go through the entire process – go to your nearest post office, buy stamps, come back home and ask your child to write a letter to anyone she wishes to. Then seal it, stamp is and post it! This will give your child an entire new meaning of the word ‘mail’. You could also visit the majestic General Post Office in South Mumbai.
# Go to a Beach! Don’t balk just yet! Yes, I know Mumbai Beaches are a far cry from any other pristine beaches in the world but give them a chance! That’s the one thing Bombay has few other Indian cities don’t have, so make the most of it. You have a wide variety to choose from. You can visit Chowpatty, Shivaji Park, Juhu, Versova, Aksa, Madh, Marve, Uttan, Gorai, and so many more. So grab your sand toys, some slippers, an umbrella and you are set! Sip on some Nariyal Paani, munch on some bhel and corn on the cob and if you are a true Mumbaikar with a iron clad stomach – try the yum ice- golas too!!
#Try a Park: Some wise people in Mumbai have lobbied hard to keep some parks alive and thriving! There’s Bombay Port Trust, Colaba Woods and Horniman Circle gardens in South Bombay, Diamond Gardens in Chembur, Johnson and Johnson gardens and Kalidas Park in Mulund, Airport Garden in Santacruz (which has model planes such a delight even today to visit as an adult!), Kaifi Azmi Park in Juhu. Then there’s Rajesh Khanna garden in Santacruz that has a toy train. Patwardhan Park in Bandra and the Carter Road promenade (where, sometimes, you can catch a performance) or the Jogger’s Park.
# Take a ferry: If you or your child doesn’t get sea sick then taking a ferry is a wonderful experience! The entire process is thrilling, right from getting on to the boat ( where you sometimes have to jump through other boats!) to getting started, feeding the flocks of sea gulls that follow you or generally just seeing the city from the sea! You can take a ferry from Versova to Madh Island or Ferry Wharf to Uran or Gateway to Mandwa or Elephanta.
# Volunteer with the Welfare of Stray Dogs (WSD) kennel in Mahalaxmi! If you and your child are dog lovers like me then this pure therapy! You can walk or pet a dog, they are all darlings and just need some TLC.
# Let them get bored: Really. I’m serious. It’s okay for your kids to get bored. It’s okay for them to sit doing nothing at all. It’s an experience in itself. Let them learn to be with themselves, discover themselves. Each minute of their lives doesn’t have to be accounted for. Let them stare out of the window, look at the sky, doodle in their books. It’s the holidays!
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