There are several activities in the city that kids can involve themselves in. Besides being safe and fun, parents would feel satisfied their money has been well-spent

Amusement park. Check. Mall. Check. Beach. Too many checks. Are you tired of taking your kids to humdrum hang-outs? If you are, then imagine the kids’ plight! But, don’t fret. Chennai has a lot to offer in terms of safety, time and money well-spent and, most important, fun! Here are a few not-so-mundane hangouts in the city where your child and you can have a great time.

Vanilla

Mike walks in confidently. He’s not foraying into unfamiliar territory. He gets on his toy horse and swings…once...twice and thud! He’s on the floor. No bawling. No sobbing. Not even a tear. His mother is right next to him but there’s not an inkling of worry on her face. Mike’s playing in the soft padded indoor play area at Vanilla. Vanilla is a centre that caters to the needs of parents, parents-to-be, and children aged 6 months to 6 years. Started in 2007 by Yifat Agam and Awtar Kaur Karraa, Vanilla offers a melange of services comprising Vanilla Beans — a soft padded indoor play area and outdoor play area, Magic Corner — a clay workstation for children, Vanilla Tree — workshops for children and parents, Vanilla Creations — a retail boutique, besides room designing and making furniture, and Cafe Vanilla. “We wanted to provide a quality place for parents and children to grow up together,” says Shrilekha Venkateswar, General Manager, Vanilla. Thanks to brainstorming sessions, what was intended to be an exclusive children’s room design and furniture retail outlet, was launched as a hub providing an assortment of services. What sets Vanilla apart from other places is the attention given to babies and children who are deprived of their share of fun at amusement parks despite paying for a ticket!

Vanilla is open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on weekends from 9.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.

Address: No.89, Bishop Garden, Greenways Road, R.A. Puram, Chennai 600 028.

Ph: 044 4206 6660 / 4210 4104/ 91 99400 12785

My Pony Club

So you watched that sitcom and your 6-year-old went, “I wish I could go horse riding. The places you take me to are so boring”. If you can ‘so’ relate to this feeling, My Pony Club (MPC) is your respite. MPC was started by Chandana Reddy to encourage her daughter’s interest in horses. “We came up with this idea not only to give our daughter an opportunity for quality training but also to introduce other kids to horses and ponies,” says Chandana. The basic concept of My Pony Club is, “safety and improving the understanding of horses/ ponies and the way they benefit children,” she adds. Would a riding area of only 20 sq metres be too limited? “This space is solely planned for riding lessons and related safety concerns,” says Michelle Wellman, Manager at MPC. At MPC, children don’t just ride ponies; they also learn how to look after them. They are taught how to brush, walk, bathe, feed and saddle them. “They learn why they are doing what they are doing which helps their minds grow. They also learn to treat the grooms/workers with respect,” adds Chandana. MPC is now open for riding lessons, for kids (aged eight to 14 years).

My Pony Club is open Tuesday to Sunday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Address: 15th Avenue, Chetpet, Chennai- 600031

Ph: 8939547773

Chokhi Dhani

‘Rangeelo maro dholnaaa...dholnaa...’ don’t wrack your brain about what this song has to do with children’s places. You’ll be amazed when you find yourself and your kids singing this song, having soaked in the spirit at Chokhi Dhani. Chokhi Dhani is a village theme entertainment concept which brings to Chennai a taste of Rajasthan. According to Rahul, Head of Reservations, at Chokhi Dhani, “The prime purpose of opening Chokhi Dhani in Chennai was to help this generation of children to understand what the country was like a century ago.” He means the Rajasthani scenario? No. He reiterates, “I mean the Indian scenario because in India we cannot separate the culture of one state from another. They are similar on various fronts.” Chokhi Dhani aims at providing a venue for people of all age groups to relax and be entertained in a traditional village atmosphere. Hence, no room for modern amenities here, except for the air-conditioning in the dining hall and mobile phones guests are allowed to carry. Some of the activities included in the package are camel, tonga and bullock cart rides, potters’ dance, kalbeliya, nat ro kartab (acrobatics on a bamboo), kathputli ro naach (puppet show), jaadu ro khel (magic show), mehendi, and a sumptuous snack and dinner. What makes Chokhi Dhani special is that it’s like a village in a city.

Chokhi Dhani is open from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., 365 days of the year.

Address: Chokhi Dhani is located at NH-4, Near Queensland Theme Park, Kevlur Road, Thandalam, Sriperambudur, Chennai - 602 105

Ph: +91-900 322 3695

The Farm

Make a visit to The Farm and you’d agree that there couldn’t be a more apt name for the place. Sans the frills of most places for kids, The Farm does a pretty good job just by staying true to its name. The farm is a farm. There’s no better way to describe it. It offers authentic experience with its sights, sounds and smells. “We began as a dairy farm decades ago and later included hospitality in an attempt to sustain the farm. Hence, everything we do has the farm as the focus. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the space as it is,” says Shalini Philip of The Farm. The farm has poultry, cattle and horses, and grows organic vegetables. The kids can feed the animals, pet them, and depending on the time of day, even participate in the milking process. Older children are welcome to pluck vegetables. After the farm walk, they can try their hand at making pizza, right from rolling the dough till topping it with cheese. After a long day the tired lil’ farmers have had, they can relax in the splash pool, followed by a sumptuous meal. Apart from these activities, they enjoy a horse ride, play board games, or use the equipment for outdoor sports. The Farm also provides rooms for stay. And the big surprise...yes, visitors can bring their pets!

The Farm is open from 7.30 a.m. till 6 p.m. on all days, except Mondays. The best time for a walk is around 4 pm. Farm Walks close by 5 p.m. (Weekends can be busy so, it’s advisable to call before visiting).

Address: The Farm is located at 1/277, Semmancherry Village, Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR),

Ph: 9176050562

The Wild Tribe Ranch

While the name may not appear like an appropriate place to take children to, every inch of it is. The Wild Tribe Ranch is an adventure sports zone, and a breath of fresh air compared to the usual entertainment Chennai has to offer. “G. B. Sathish Kumar (founder) began the ranch to offer the cityfolk unique entertainment. It was also begun with the aim of introducing activities that ensure team building,” says Karthikeyan, Head, The Wild Tribe Ranch. Complicated yet doable obstacle courses not only prove fun for your child but also help build their motor skills. ATVs, geronimos, air football, sumo wrestling, paint ball… give visitors an adrenaline rush. Lighter activities such as mechanical surfing, mechanical bull, and target paint ball are also offered. Every activity is conducted under the guidance of trained staff who explain these and do demos. Children, aged 7 and above, could have a blast here. Younger kids are offered an easier version of the obstacle course along with a play area.

The Wild Tribe Ranch is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on all days, except Tuesdays.

Address: Plot no. 21/22, Singapore Estate Andarkuppam Village, Ponneri Taluk, Chennai 601204 (Off Calcutta National Highway)

Ph: 9677067706 / 9944446736 / 9787842416