Looking to explore? Be one of the first to check out these hidden kid-friendly activities, playgrounds and local eats in off the radar neighbourhoods. Discover something new and support local!
What a year it’s been! Small local businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic and many have closed. JalanJalan.me is a community project by the people behind the #savefnbsg movement, that spotlights hidden gems and small businesses in neighbourhoods that might not be on your radar, nor anyone else’s (probably). So that means less crowding hopefully and a chance to support small mom and pop shops that need every little purchase to keep going. So why not pick a new local café to eat at or a new playground to explore for a kid-friendly activity?
Read more: Weekend Planner Fun Activities for Kids
JalanJalan.Me’s top off the radar kid-friendly activities
1. Hansel & Gretel-themed Playground
The Hansel & Gretel-themed playground is one of the best looking HDB playgrounds we’ve seen. For the older kids, elements such as the rock-climbing ramp, crawl tunnel and rope bridges are built out of wood to mimic a treehouse at the block 445B playground. Over at block 445, younger kids will have their imaginations sparked at the Candy Trail play space. There are coloured spinners modelled after lollipops and toadstools that serve as jumping pads to test motor skills, but the main attraction point here is the gingerbread playhouse, covered in models of sweets, icing and candy.
Hansel & Gretel-themed Playground, 445 and 445B Clementi Avenue 3 Singapore 120445
Read more: Best Indoor Playgrounds
We grew up playing with an array of toy construction trucks and machinery, but Diggersite has taken this to the next level. Kids – and fun-loving adults – can now hop into mini hydraulic excavators and cranes to dig sand pits or shift building blocks. They’ll even get to put on a neon vest and hard hat to complete the look. The founder of Diggersite, Mr Edwin Lim, used to be an engineer himself so all the equipment here is legit. Do note that this edutainment centre is currently open only on weekends and public holidays, but it makes for a great place for field trips or small birthday party for little ones!
Diggersite, 91 Lorong Chencharu, Singapore 769201, www.diggersite.com
3. Dragon Playground
You’ve seen the dragon playground in Toa Payoh, but did you know that the dragon has a sibling in Ang Mo Kio? Designed by Mr Khor Ean Ghee from the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in 1979, this location sports a gentle brown beast that boasts a striking blue border and a yellow steel-ringed body that is situated closer to the ground. Even though the original sandpit was replaced by rubber padding in the 1990s to better cushion kids’ falls, the two slides remain in their original tiled form. There used to be five other dragon playgrounds all over Singapore, but this is one of the only two full-sized ones still standing today, so give this lesser-known hangout spot a visit!
Dragon Playground, 570 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, Singapore 560570
4. Mudrock Ceramics
Enjoy getting your hands dirty? Take JalanJalan.me’s recommendation and sign up for a class at Mudrock. Mudrock is beloved by cup-making hobbyists as well as the restaurateurs who work with owner-artists Ms Ng Seok Har and Ms Michelle Lim. Fun fact: they craft special tableware for F&B joints in Singapore, and have also been commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to craft gifts for the Vatican, and for Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday. They offer classes that can take a novice from zero to a teapot-making hero. Young ones aged between six and 12 years old can even enrol for their kid-friendly activity, the Little Mud Rock programme to spark a lifelong love for pottery. Great for weekend family bonding and school holiday treats!
Mudrock Ceramics, 85 Maude Road Singapore 208357, www.mudrockceramics.com
5. Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum
Ms Connie Tan has been collecting pet turtles since she was a little girl, and in 2001 she opened the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum with her late father Mr Danny Tan at Chinese Garden, in the hope of educating children about these intriguing reptiles. The museum relocated to ORTO in 2018 and is currently home to over 400 animals, which include rare species like the Indian Star Tortoise, Alligator Snapping Turtle, and Mata-Mata. Visitors can shell out a couple of dollars for lettuce bunches or pellets to feed their new friends, and even pet some of the gentle giants that roam on the grass patches.
Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum, 81 Lor Chencharu #01-16 ORTO, Singapore 769198, www.turtle-tortoise.com
One of the first sights to greet us when we turned into Lorong Chencharu is a large shed sitting behind a fence that’s lined with quirky contraptions – colourful birdhouses, some wooden robots, and a swing. Part of Ground-Up Initiative, TouchWood is a carpentry workshop unique in the fact that more than 90% of the wood used here is recycled from industrial pallets. Here, visitors can either commission furniture, or sign up for classes to learn all about woodworking. The space can also host birthday parties, where kids can try their hand at making wooden boats and other fun projects.
Touchwood, 91 Lorong Chencharu Singapore, Singapore 769201, www.groundupinitiative.org/craft
7. Longkang Fishing
Longkang (“drain”) fishing is no longer a common pastime for kids these days, but ORTO has recreated that experience by carving out a slice of concrete for little ones to splash around in and catch some new pets. They’ll be armed with a fishing net and a plastic tank, and they can spend as long as they want in the shallow pool to fill it with up to 10 fish. If you’re prepared to keep the fish, there is an aquarium shop called That Aquarium that is located at 618 Yishun Ring Road, where you can get supplies. Otherwise, the fish can also be released into the pond next to the Lakehouse at ORTO.
Longkang Fishing, 81 Lor Chencharu #01-09 ORTO, Singapore 769198, www.orto.sg/activities/longkang-fishing
8. AMK Town Garden West
We’re calling it – AMK Town Garden West is the most underrated green space in Singapore. Spread out over a 22-hectare hill, the park feels like a mini Botanic Gardens, minus the crowds. The most iconic feature here is the pair of 120-step staircases, which are majestically lined with palm trees and make for a great spot for Instagrammers and fitness aficionados alike. For something a bit more relaxing, spread out a picnic mat near the lotus pond, stroll through the forested area to admire flowering trees, or let the kids have a field day at the adventure playground.
AMK Town Garden West, Opposite Ang Mo Kio Town Library, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6, Singapore 567740
9. Bedok Jetty
One of Singapore’s longest jetties, Bedok Jetty is one of the most popular fishing spots in the country. That said, you’ll find all manner of people gathered here, from cyclists taking a break along their 42-km long Eastern Coastal Park Connector Network (ECPCN) Cycling Trail, to families looking for a scenic backdrop for the family portrait location shoot. This certainly is a special place: there have even been sightings of dolphins here, though it’s rare. The best time of the day to be here is the evening to watch the sunset and the horizon come alive with the lights from tankers that line our shores.
Bedok Jetty, East Coast Park Service Road Singapore 449876
10. Clementi Forest
This is the photography spot that has become a hot environmental conservation topic in Singapore. Clementi Forest off Clementi Road, used to be a random, if somewhat forgettable, patch of greenery you’d pass by on a bus ride between Clementi and Bukit Timah. Then in October 2020, the drone footage by Brice Li capturing it in its misty splendour went viral. Since then, the 85-hectare spot and its unique biodiversity has gained national attention. Those up for a tiny bit of “forest bathing” can take a walk south from the Old Bukit Timah Railway Station on the Rail Corridor. Or if you just want a shot for the gram and keep your Yeezys spotless, take the bus to stop 12109 (opposite Ngee Ann Polytechnic) for a view of that iconic tree-lined ‘valley’ featured on Li’s video from the sidewalk.
JalanJalan.Me’s top off the radar neighbourhood cafés
Anthony Yeoh, the former head chef of French casual bistro Cocotte, transplants his approachable cuisine to the heartlands. His kid-friendly Sunset Way restaurant, Summer Hill, is a cosy dining room with verdant jungle outside. If you are looking for comfort favourites with a luxe touch, such as stroganoff with stewed Tajima wagyu brisket, fries dunked in duck fat, hormone and antibiotic-free fried chicken, or foie gras-stuffed French ducks, this is the place to go.
Summer Hill, 106 Clementi Street 12, #01-62, Singapore 120106, www.summerhill.sg
Tan’s Tu Tu Coconut Cake
There are few places you’ll find tutu kueh outside of a pasar malam these days. Thank goodness for Tan’s – a West Side favourite worth crossing the country for. Mdm Tan Bee Hua’s father, Mr Tan Yong Fa, is said to be one of the early inventors of the steamed rice cakes after arriving in Singapore from Fujian in 1932. He shrank down a Hokkien snack, song gao, stuffed it with peanut or grated coconut and the name came from the sound the steamers would make when heated. Over the years, new flavours – such as a chocolate chip-infused tutu kuehs which is said to be a hit with children – have been introduced by the enterprising lady boss too.
Tan’s Tu Tu Coconut Cake, 449 Clementi Avenue 3, #01-211, Singapore 120449
One of the more enduring local cafes to still remain in the cafe hopper’s black book of favourites since its opening in 2014, W39 is set up by two twenty-something sisters, Ms Jasmine and Jamie Lu. The space is bright, sunny and retro-loving. A bonus: it is also one of Singapore’s pet-friendly cafes. So while your dog or cat hangs out under the table to check out their fellow tail-waggers, you can dine on a variety of the cafe’s staples, such as salmon ceviche, ebi cha soba, or charcoal chicken burger, while your kids take their pick from an all-day dedicated children’s menu. To complete the W39 experience, pair your food with one of their recommended craft beer or drink concoctions.
W39, 39 Jalan Mas Puteh Singapore 128637, www.w39bistro.com
Read more: Best Dog-friendly Cafes in Singapore
The Bedok Marketplace
Formerly the Kampung Bedok hawker centre, The Bedok Marketplace has been given a new coat of paint and slightly kitsch shophouse-themed decor. It’s like a throwback to old Singapore, but this feels more like you’re in a film set or a theme park. You’ll still find some hawker fare, but its appeal is in its “atas” foods catered to the younger generation craving for Japanese char grill to smoked prime pork rib with macaroni and cheese. They even have sourdough pizzas, acai bowls and smoothies. It promises all the mix-and-match fun of a hawker centre, but with international fare at a fraction of the cost.
The Bedok Marketplace, 348 Bedok Road, Level 2, Singapore 469560
There are hole-in-the-wall establishments, and then there is Gelato Labo. A minuscule room on Cavan Road, it has just enough space for you to select your ice-cream and perch on one of the rarely available outdoor seats, or continue on your merry way. While small on real estate, they are big on imagination. The cones, for example, are studded with tiny lavender blooms and made fresh on site. In the cold box, you’ll find a culinary bent in flavours such as the smoked sakura with artichoke and pear compote, as well as novel pairings the likes of Bronte pistachio and Himalayan pink salt, or naval orange with white chrysanthemum flower. Clearly, these intrepid flavours pairings have captured an audience too, as they’ve recently expanded into a fully kitted out cafe out west in Clementi.
Gelatolabo, 11 Cavan Road, Singapore 209848, www.gelatolabo.com