I recently got asked by one of my mommy friends for recommendations on kid-friendly activities to do in the South. As you may know, my family and I live in a city called Muntinlupa, the last city, geographically speaking, that is included in the jungle that is called Metro Manila, Philippines. Going beyond our city would lead you directly to the more interesting parts of the island of Luzon, and is basically where most people from the metro would go during holidays to get breathers and quick getaways from the hustle of the city.
To help my mommy friend and maybe others who may be wondering, I listed some of the activities any family could do over the weekend, one sunny afternoon, or even during long weekends, that are certified kid-friendly and are not too far from the city. We have been in a fair amount of places down south, and I consider most of them to be great experiences. If you haven’t already, feel free to try these out and let me know what you think.
Home to the second most active volcano in the Philippines, Tagaytay has been gathering attraction over tourists for as far back as I can remember. With about 2-3-hour drive from the city, it becomes the perfect go-to during long weekends and hot summer days since the weather is always a bit chillier in that area than in the metro. Having an aunt who lives there, we have been back and forth Tagaytay in the past years and have tried a number of activities, mostly with my parents and my son because of my husband’s ever unpredictable work schedule. This list could give you lots of other options on what to do in Tagaytay, depending on your company, hobbies, budget, and what have you.
As for me and my parents who are not so much into adventurous stuff, we found that trying out Bulalo in every restaurant is what we enjoyed doing, especially during the rainy season. If your prime purpose is to hunt the best Bulalo during your next Tagaytay visit, remember to bring this list with you! We also tried visiting famous tourist places like Palace in the Sky and Picnic Grove but those were years ago. I don’t know how good (or bad) these places look now.
Some years back, trying to be adventurous, my husband and I tried camping in Nature Discovery Camp and it was a chilly experience! Good thing our son was not with us when we went. If you want to go camping in Tagaytay, I recommend you do it during summer and not during the “Ber” months as the weather could get really cold.
We have also tried visiting Sonya’s Garden, which I think is now getting more and more famous among tourists. It’s basically a beautiful garden with rows of souvenir shops, restaurants, and rooms for accommodation and SPA. When we visited last year, what we did was just to take good photos of their plants and buy some really good pastries.
When planning your next visit to Tagaytay, though, you may want to consider the number one reason that keeps us from coming out there now – bad traffic! Especially during long weekends. We’ve had horrible experiences about being stuck in the road for 3-4 hours! The road literally looked like a parking lot. It may have been just bad timing on our part, but like I said it was horrible. If possible, have a local contact that would tell you when it is best to go.
We’ve only been to one resort in Nasugbu called Canyon Cove but I’ve got two or three more beaches pending on our bucket list. I see from a lot of reviews that the Fortune Island and Masasa Beach might be really good and I hope to be able to explore them with the family soon. Due to its distance from our place, about 3-4-hour drive, it’s a little hard for us to get to the good places and plan a trip. Hopefully next year, we’ll be strong enough to embark on another long motorcycle ride!
Our Canyon Cove experience, by the way, was superb! We went there with the extended family, and booked two rooms shared by all. My son Omer and his cousin Natalie enjoyed the pool as much as they did the beach. The food was good and the staff were nice too! When planning a trip to this resort, it’d be good that you make a reservation beforehand. When we were there, we had to wait for some time to check-in even though we made the reservation. It’s just that a lot of people were also checking in and out at the same time. To be safe, make an early reservation, which you can do by clicking here.
If you’re not into long driving and just wanted a dip with your kids, you may also try some Hot Spring Resorts in Pansol, Laguna, which are about an hour or two away from the city. There are lots of good hot spring resorts in the province of Laguna because of the waters coming down straight from Mount Makiling. We found that hot spring is best for overnight swimming because it keeps kids from catching coughs and colds.
We welcomed 2017 in Agua Caliente Resort with my cousin and her husband and spent the night watching fireworks under the pool–super fun! Agua Caliente is a relatively cheap resort with good rooms and an Olympic-sized pool. It also has a kiddie pool of good size. And the best news is it wasn’t packed with people when we came! It was like the pool was just to ourselves. How cool is that?
Oh and while you’re in Laguna, please take note and don’t forget to try my favorite cake in the whole wide universe, Mer-Nel’s, and my favorite chocolate drink fresh from the College of Animal Husbandry at the University of the Philippines Los Banos. Buy nowhere else! Trust me you won’t regret it.
Laguna is actually close to my heart because this is where I spent four years of my young life studying in college. Having a taste of Mer-nel’s and Choco Milk is like remembering home and some crazy college memories. But besides that special connection, I promise they are really good so go try them!
If you’re still feeling like meh over the travel to Pansol, you can go for even a shorter ride to Santa Rosa, Laguna and do some fun stuff in Nuvali instead. I’ve only been there once in 2015, and because we arrived so late in the afternoon, all the boat and bike rentals were closed. We were left to feed the Koi fish, which Omer seemed to enjoy very much. So if you’re feeling lazy and just want to chill out while watching the kids enjoy, this is the right place to be.
But of course, if the holidays make you feel lazier than lazy (like what it usually does to me) and feel like ditching the driving altogether, or if you feel like you are short on time or budget, there are lots of new things that you could try to do locally. Discover a nearby park and go on a picnic or fly a kite. Our very own Sunken Garden in Muntinlupa would be a perfect example. We recently went up there one sunny afternoon and Omer was running all over! He also enjoyed eating street food while viewing the sunset. Frugal dating at its best.
What other kid-friendly activities have you done in your place (or in the South) that you totally enjoy? Share them on the comments below.