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Travelling with the Whole Family – Kid-Friendly International Airports

Time for something a little different here at Plebs with Kids...
If you are one of our regular readers, you will know that we traditionally fill this page with reviews of kid-friendly venues in and around Johannesburg.

Thanks to Angie Picardo (a writer for TravelNerd - go check it out!), this post touches on something that parents often overlook.
When was the last time you went overseas, and you thought about just how kid-friendly your destination airport was?
Well this should give you a few ideas for that next overseas trip... :)

Travelling with the Whole Family – Kid-Friendly Airports

Travel can be tough on families, especially with children in tow. Long layovers and endless delays are frustrating enough, but entertaining the little ones presents a whole different challenge. Luckily, a number of airports have recognized this difficulty and begun to offer entertainment and amenities specifically for children.  
To help ease your travelling blues, here are some of the most kid-friendly airports around the globe.

Boston’s airport boasts two separate play areas for kids, called “Kidports.” 

The first, located in Terminal C, was designed by the children’s museum of Boston and includes a number of kid-sized replicas of airport features. 
There’s a baggage-claim slide, a climb-able airplane, and a number of educational, hands-on exhibits. Soft, spongy floors allow for safe playtime, and a separate play area for infants and toddlers keep them entertained as well. 
The second Kidport – near Gate 18 in Terminal A – is similarly designed, featuring a miniature air traffic control tower, a child-size replica of Terminal A, colorful slides, and climbing structures. 

Boston has also thoughtfully included several amenities for families travelling with babies, including rocking chairs placed throughout the airport, diaper changing stations, and private rooms for nursing mothers in Terminals A, C, and E. 

Chicago O’Hare is infamous for its crowds and delays. 

So to ease the stress on families, the airport has designed a number of kid-friendly amenities. 
While traditional play stations allow kids to relax and play with LEGOs, Chicago O’Hare’s main attraction for the kids include a number of educational, hands-on activities that reflect the strong presence of museums within the city. 
The Children’s Museum of Chicago designed an interactive exhibit called “Kids on the Fly” that features a helicopter’s cockpit, a cargo plane that needs refueling, and an air traffic control tower. 
These exhibits allow children to explore and discover, using their natural curiosity to learn more about the inner workings of an airport. 

In addition, a restored F3F-4 World War II fighter plane is on exhibition in Terminal 2, and a life-size Brachiosaurus skeleton looms over B concourse in Terminal 1. 

Paris has designed a lounge exclusively for kids, much like the first-class lounges elite business people enjoy.

This private area allows kids to play, chill out, or nap, and entertainment includes PlayStation 3s, flat-screen TVs, and board games. 
Complementary snacks are provided, but parents must wait outside while kiddos enjoy all of the amenities.

For parents with younger children, dozens of baby-changing stations are located around the airport, and loaner strollers are available for families needing to trek across a terminal.

Hong Kong’s airport has two extensive play spaces for kids, featuring the traditional slides and equipment as well as a six-seater helicopter and a large-scale model of an airplane.  

The airport has recently begun offering a four-hour city bus tour to travelers with lengthy layovers. 
The tour departs from Arrivals Hall B, where travelers board an air-conditioned bus and journey past a number of sites including Lantau Island, Man Mo Temple, the impressive Central skyline, and the Victoria Harbour.

In fact, a number of organizations have supplemented the attractions offered within the airport itself and instituted ways to get families with long layovers out and about. 
For example, the US Fish and Wildlife service has provided low-cost and easy excursions to National Wildlife Refuges for families stuck in airports in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Denver, or San Diego. Interested travelers can simply log on to the US Fish and Wildlife Service website to research options.

Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet, a personal finance site that helps people tackle the challenges of parenting, from flying with kids to college tuition planning.
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D' Ouwe Werf @ Broadacres Lifestyle Centre, Fourways

We have posted a review at Broadacres Lifestyle Centre before, when we reviewed Mugg & Bean - on that occasion we did not elaborate much on the other restaurant facilities nearby.

Lately though, D' Ouwe Werf @ Broadacres Lifestyle Centre has deservedly made its way onto our radar, and we felt it should get a mention here on Plebs with Kids...

Date last visited

December 2014

Update - December 2014:
De Ouwe Werf recently upgraded their kiddies play area, adding an awesome new jungle gym and slide, and a new kiddies bike track - we have added some new photos below.
In addition, they have paid more attention to security of the kids, by fencing off the entire outside eating area so that the little ones stay close by.

Location and Setting

D' Ouwe Werf is situated within Broadacres Lifestyle Centre, which can be found just off Cedar Road in Fourways.

The centre hosts a garden shop, nursery, a Spar, a Woolworths, a Mugg & Bean, a great toy / hobby shop and more.
Alongside you will also find the beautiful venue Buitengeluk.

You can view a map here.

For the kids...

Playtime is what it's all about here.
A large play area takes centre stage at D' Ouwe Werf, featuring several jungle gyms, slides, plastic bikes for the kids to ride on, a jumping castle, sandpit and even a mini maze for the kids to puzzle their way through.

The play area is fenced off to keep things safe, and there are even a few tables within the play area, in case you want to keep an extra close eye on the kids at play.

A special kiddies menu ensures that your little ones won't leave with grumbling tummies - fish fingers, chicken nuggets, pastas and more - enough to cater for even the most fussy appetite :)

Opposite the main outside area, you will also find Outrage R/C - a really cool model / toy shop, so be prepared to entertain a wish list from the little ones once they head inside... credit cards beware!

For the adults...

D' Ouwe Werf has a relaxing vibe - seating is either outside alongside the Cape Dutch style building, in the garden setting outside the restaurant, or if you are feeling brave, in the kiddies play area itself :)

You can keep a beady eye on the kids from wherever you are seated, and the menu offers a decent selection for breakfast (including all the classics - continental, full English and more).
If it's lunch you're after, D' Ouwe Werf offers a variety to suit any taste - from toasteds, to quiche, chicken dishes, fish, burgers and more.

Food quality and quantity has been consistently good on all of our visits to D' Ouwe Werf - something that is hard to come by nowadays in the world of fly-by-night franchises and fast food.

Anything else?

What more can be said - all in all D' Ouwe Werf scores high on our charts for a pleasant morning / afternoon out, offering decent food at a competitive price (can't forget about that one...!), while providing facilities that keep the kids well entertained.

Operating hours are 8am - 5pm, 7 days a week.

Final words

Next time you head north (or perhaps you are already out that way :), pop in at the Broadacres Lifestyle Centre.

You won't be disappointed by what you find - D' Ouwe Werf allows a peaceful respite from the mad city rush, and the garden setting is perfect for our characteristically obliging warm Jo'burg sunshine.

Bring the kids along for a treat - they will leave with their tummies full, having worn themselves out on the swings, slides and bikes, but keenly looking forward to their next visit.

Getting in touch

+27 (0)11 540 1538


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Rynfield Bunny Park review - Benoni (JHB)

If you are headed out to the east of Johannesburg, or the "East Rand", as it is fondly known among locals, why not stop in at the Bunny Park in Rynfield, Benoni.
The Bunny Park is a large farmyard where you can see a variety of animals, feed them by hand, and let the kids spend a good amount of time and energy on the playground equipment there.

Date last visited

May 2011

Location and Setting

The Bunny Park is situated on Pretoria Road, Rynfield, Benoni in Johannesburg.
Approaching on the N12 highway from JHB, take the Snake Road offramp (M44), turn left and continue on Pretoria Road for approximately 2.4km.
Look out for the Bunny Park on your left.

You can find a map here.

For the kids...

The name kinda gives it away - bunnies are just the cutest, fluffiest little creatures and kids love nothing less than to feed them carrots, or chase them about (not advised though - we don't want to traumatize the little guys now!).
At the park you will also see ducks, geese, chickens, sheep, goats, peacocks, pigs, donkeys and maybe a few others that I have forgotten about :)
All in all, kids love it when they get to see animals up close, and the Bunny Park delivers big time on this front.

You can buy a bag of carrots or bird seeds from the kiosk near the entrance to feed the animals by hand, or you can bring your own food to do the same. 
When the kids tire of all the animals, it is time to head over to the playground, where you will find swings, slides, an old tractor and a whole lot of other rides for the little ones to try their hand at.

For the adults...

A morning out to the Bunny Park is a great way to let the kids run around in a lovely park setting. Townhouse and complex living often mean that gardens are scarce, so this is a great alternative if you have kids who need something to do outdoors.

Now I can't speak for everybody, but personally I enjoy any opportunity to see animals, and the Bunny Park is a great way to do this.
I listed the variety of animals above, so you won't be stuck for choice here.

Onto the really important stuff - food :)
The Bunny Park is really more of a picnic venue, than somewhere that you can kick back with a cappuccino in your hand.
There is a tuck shop / kiosk near the entrance where you can buy snacks and drinks such as chips, chocolates and cold-drinks.
There is also a hot dog stand nearby, but that's about where it ends.

Not that I want to take business away from the kiosk, but it probably makes more sense to pack a decent picnic basket for the family, find a shady spot under a tree and enjoy your lunch that way.
Just watch out for the geese... they might just want a taste of your lunch as well :)

Anything else?

Entry is free - I have no idea how they keep it free, when the place is so clean and well maintained.

There are also pony rides near the entrance, a small train for the kids, and a mini fairground where they can get their adrenaline pumping :) (for a fee, per ride).
The toilets were fairly clean for a public place, but as always, bring along those wetwipes just in case!

Final words

For something cheap and fun to do on a sunny day, the Rynfield Bunny Park makes a great destination for the family.
The kids will love it, and there are plenty of great photo opportunities to be had when the bunnies start creeping up on them for carrots!

Getting in touch

The Bunny Park operates from 08:00 - 16:00, 7 days a week.
If you want to visit on a Public Holiday though, it might be a good idea to call first and confirm.

(+27) 11 422 3651

or contact Gideon on:
(+27) 83 391 8184

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About Plebs with Kids

Plebs with Kids visits mainly JHB-based venues, coffee shops, restaurants, play areas and other such establishments.

We rate their kid-friendliness (among other things :) for your convenience, and for the next time you need a place to go, while knowing that your little ones are well catered for.

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