Toddler Things to do in Chennai
Finding places in a city to visit like a tourist is hard, especially when that city was where you have spent your entire lifetime in. Chennai never ceases to amaze me. The streets of Chennai keep my nostalgia on the rise, no matter how many times I have walked through the same streets I can never get bored of it. However, recently, after having children I keep looking out to find places where I can take my children so that they can have some fun.
So for all you mothers who spend quality time looking around for places to visit with your children, Here are some of the places that I have absolutely enjoyed along with my children.
1. EVP Marine Kingdom
Located along the stretch of East Coast Road, Marine Kingdom has been our most favourite place to visit until now. Toddlers have a strong inclination towards real live animals, and this place never ceased to excite them. From having ample space to run around to a huge variety of marine animals to see, it was a totally exhilarating experience for them.
The place was clean, the animals were well maintained, the water clean and fresh. From feeling star fishes, to watching an octopus breathe, it was a mix of all sensory experiences that a kid could ask for. A huge learning experience and a chance to see such rare animals upfront was a huge opportunity for children to understand how such beings coexist in our environment.
This was a chance to teach them about land and marine animals also. They were able to understand the concept easily. Also this happens to be India's first underwater tunnel aquarium. The variety of animals found here was huge, ranging from sharks and turtles to sting rays and lobsters, the colours and sizes was just a whole learning experience for my children.
The ticket costs rupees 500 for adults while infants below two go in for free. They have a well maintained food court that offers numerous variety of good quality food and beverages at a very nominal rate. A public holiday means a huge throng, but that should not stop you from visiting this beauty. Also, prams would be a good accessory to carry with you so that you can commute with your children easily.
2. Tower Park, Anna Nagar
Located in the heart of the city, with a breath taking view that is available from the tower situated in the centre of the park, this park is a complete scenic escape from the city life. Absolute peace and total greenery surrounding your for as far as your eyes can see, this is one of our all time favourite places. They have a pretty pond towards one end of the park and a well laid out jogging path around the park.
We can see middle-aged men hitting the jogging path with a determined look on their faces while senior citizens walking and talking along with their friends under the trees. Lots of love struck couples walking around hand in hand, love brimming over in their eyes. How can I forget children? So many children from varying age groups play and have fun around the park. Some engage in yoga classes while others skate along the jogging tracks. So many activities for varying age groups are available around the park.
Real light on the pocket, as there is no entrance fee and lots of street vendors are situated around the park selling various delicacies at real cheap rates. This place is a must visit if you live around the area.
3. Moosa Land, Anna Nagar
This is an indoor play area, which is super fun. They encourage children from 1 year onwards. They have a play area that is two storey's high. A huge ball pit filled with balls specifically made for the younger children. There are employees all around the play area to assist and take care of the children.
Children below two years of age can be accompanied by one parent. This is just to ensure that children are kept safe. I would personally suggest that you accompany your children because some older children tend to get excited and then become a danger to other smaller children around them.
There are role-based play sections around the play area. They can shop in the tiny supermarket, while visiting the duty doctor at the little clinic just around the corner. There is a library with lots and lots of books for the little bookworms to devour. So much fun happens while cooking around the kitchen with all its tiny utensils and makeshift washbasins. Also there is a huge carousel for all those little buddies while there is rock climbing for tiny adults.
It costs about Rs 220 per child for two hours. Parents have a waiting lounge and a small cafeteria to while away time. This is a perfect spot for mother's to catch up with their girlfriends while they get to keep an eye out on the children.
Worth every rupee I must say because the amount of fun these children have is just abundant. We took all our nieces and nephews to this place for a play date. At the end of the session we had to pull them out of the play arena literally.
They kept asking for more time in there. We ended up visiting this place several times to keep all our children engaged during holidays and vacations.
4. Besant Nagar Beach
Life in Chennai without the beach is a childhood I cannot really imagine myself to have lived in. When I was a little girl, it was mandatory that we made a trip to the beach at the end of every school term. Never have we waited more patiently for anything else.
Our parents, uncles, aunts and all my siblings used to eagerly wait for this day where we used to start in the early evening for our onward journey to the beach. We were close to 20 people, and cars were a rarity in those days. We used to board the electric local trains that took us to the nearest railway station to the beach.
Even today, thinking of the beach brings back all those memories in a flash. I have never loved anything more than the smell of the salt on the shore, the taste of sea water as it splashed onto the shore. The crabs running around my feet, the shells poking at my heels are all feelings that I can never forget nor get over with.
We used to play around, getting wet and dirty while throwing sand and shells at each other. I cannot imagine the chaos that we must have been causing, well because we were eight siblings in all.
Every trip to the beach was accompanied by piping hot Bajjis made in stale oil right at the heart of the beach. This was a delicacy back then but I really cannot imagine feeding those bajjis to my children now.
Life has now taken a toll on us and we do not visit the beach as often I would have liked. I really wish my children got an opportunity to grow up along the coast, making sandcastles and catching fish on the go. I wish life was serene for them where they got to see the sun setting in the bosom of the ocean while the watching the seagulls making love to the ocean.
Cheap means to pass time while having some time with your dear ones is the beach. Now there are so many restaurants around the beach, so many so that you find it difficult to make choices.
5. Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Vandalur
This was India's first zoo that was started in the year 1855. It is home to more than 2000 animals and birds. It is a great place to spend an entire day with your children and family. It costs Rs.75 for adults, Rs.35 for children between 5 to 12 years of age.
You can watch the elephants bathing, the giraffe having its dinner, the mighty lions waking up from sleep, while the Indian tiger and the great white tiger were both brisk and chasing behind butterflies.
It can get bustling on holidays. They have a simple lion and deer safari to keep you engaged. There are numerous animals to visit around the zoo itself. I would personally recommend that you visit the zoo in the winters. The sun can really drain you out if it is at its peak. Children can get easily dehydrated in the scorching heat of the sun.
They have a rent a cycle scheme which will allow you to rent cycles on an hourly basis. This is beneficial and will help you to complete the tour of the zoo in about two hours. They have electric cycles as well as normal cycles. It is also nominally priced and an adult with a kid can easily commute in these cycles. The layout of the zoo is arranged so that the cycles can be taken near to most of the animals on display. Electric cycles are priced at about Rs.90/hour, while the normal cycle costs about Rs.20/hour.
They have a litter free premises and it is our duty as good citizens to stick to those roles. Usually outside food is not allowed to avoid feeding animals. They have water refill booths every few meters around the zoo. There is a small canteen near the exit of the park in case you require some refreshments. Also they well maintained toilets all around the zoo. You cannot expect world class facilities but atleast something clean.
6. Chennai Rail Museum
A history about trains is something that would never cease us to get us excited. Watching the evolution of trains is a walk into the history of itself. Children would love this place because it is a beautiful combination of a park and a museum.
Numerous trains from the past are part of this display. Children need to be slightly older to grasp, appreciate and understand the beauty of these bits.
For smaller children there is a toy train ride that they enjoy endlessly. This happens every hour until closing and so there is no chance that you will miss out on this fun ride.
The models of trains kept there are all actual ones and so you can enter and see each coach from inside. Other than this there is an indoor museum sort of air-conditioned hall where you can actually see the model of an electric train. It is a good session to watch especially something that the younger children appear to enjoy a lot. There is a photograph museum which contains all the photos from the era of bygone days. Also an art gallery is there. While we visited this place, it was under renovation.
The ticket is priced at 50 rupees for adults while children below 3 go in for free. The ticket is inclusive of the train ride facility. Also a snack or beverage worth 10 rupees can be claimed from their food court for each ticket taken.
Overall it is a good place for children as there are parks too around the museum. They spend some time playing in the slides and swings.
Try avoiding the afternoon time because the train coaches on display tend to heat up and going inside becomes almost impossible.
Another attraction is the Train Hotel within the vicinity of this museum. Highlight is that this hotel is made from a converted train coach. It is fully air-conditioned and super cosy. We were not lucky enough to eat there because they are open only for a specific amount of time for lunch and dinner each day. I did hear a good review from friends who did try out their food. Non vegetarian food and north Indian cuisine is available along with all our local dishes.
7. Dakshina Chitra Museum
This is a park cum heritage museum located along the East coast Road. An amazing place to spend an entire day of quality time with your children.
Age based craft activities happen here all the time. Some of those activities are painting, pottery, craft making among other examples. It is a great place for children to learn numerous new activities.
Indise this place is the heritage of the entire Indian nation. All the kinds of houses from different parts of the country, are what is in focus here. Stilt Houses to thatched huts and huge bungalows, name it and you can see it here.
One day at this place will give you the feeling that you have travelled through all of India.
There are one or two restaurants within the premises which serve excellent food. Also, the shopping area is exclusively available where you can buy lots of art work, crafts and hand looms. You can also get custom-made articles from these shopping areas.
The entire experience is quite expensive but when it's once I would say give it a try. We do have an entry fee but I don't know what it is now because it has been a few years since I visited this place.
8. Chennai Marina Lighthouse
Marina beach happens to be one of the largest beaches with an extensive coast line of more than 2 kilometres. Spending time on the marina was an integral part of my childhood. Walking to the shore from the main road itself happened to be an exhausting task for us. However, as walking made us tired, the street shops along the beach was what kept us moving forward.
A few years ago, the lighthouse was opened for public. I have seen the queue on public holidays where parents and children wait patiently for their turn to have a look from the top of the light house. I can only imagine how exhilarating the view must appear from just there. The view is a perfect mix of the ocean to one side and bustling city lights to the other side. Had i seen it, I would have fallen deeper in love with this coastal city that smells of fried fish as we walk to the other end of the beach. I never managed to pay a visit to this spot and my eye just keeps yearning for this sight as I add it to my list of places to visit in this city.
9. Ecopark, Chetpet
A clean lake in the heart of the city seemed impossible a few years ago until our former CM decided to make it happen. Well it became a reality a few years ago when they opened the Chetpet Eco park. Here they have a clean lake around which one could go boating in. All you have to do is rent a boat and hit the lake.
They have an extensive jogging path around this lake where I see a lot of people utilising it for their morning walks. This park is well maintained and clean all the time. During peak summers when the entire city dried up, unfortunately this lake dried up and boating had ceased. Now that we have received a few rains, the water levels are back up but not as high as before.
There is a park with lots of swings and slides for little children to keep themselves engaged with. This place is perfect for fishing and you have a nice duck pond in the vicinity. The best part of this lake is that it uses recycled water. They allow water from drains and other places to collect into this lake.
Other than that, there is a multi-storey food court facility where you can taste a whole lot of flavoursome food. From Biryani to Chinese cuisine, you have all of it there. It has become one of the most favourite spots for parents with toddlers. Head over there on a Sunday, so you can mix leisure and good food together.
10. Guindy National Park
This is one of the smallest national parks in the country. However, it definitely is the perfect getaway if you are looking for a substantial amount of greens and oxygen to fill your brain. This park is located on Sardar Patel road, and long ago in the 17th century a part of this park was converted into a lodge. This lodge is the Raj Bhavan today, which happens to be the Governer's residence.
Numerous animals like deer and jackals with a huge variety of birds and insects are inhabitants of this park. They have a small snake park that has a few common species of snakes that are commonly found in south India.
Most of the animals are held in an enclosure which allows you to enjoy these animals without much fear.
Entrance fee of Rs 20 is charged for each adult. It is open on all days from 9 am to 5 pm except on Tuesdays. Here outside food is allowed which means you make it a picnic spot and have a fun outing.
There is a huge children's park inside this campus. This play area is huge with a substantial amount of accessories to play with and have some fun. Kids literally fall in love with nature's retreat and it becomes so hard to get them out.