24/05/2016 8:08 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

25 Places To Visit In Mumbai Before Your Kid Turns 12 (Part 1)

If you're a true-blue, born-and-brought-up-in-Mumbaikar, chances are that your folks or school made sure you paid homage to every typical sightseeing spot in the city. Our kids, though, tend to turn up their noses at the very places we loved exploring with our family. Many of us just throw up our hands in despair and say, "There's nothing exciting for kids here!" Well, that's just wrong. Here's a "hat ke" list of Mumbai places and experiences that we think every kid below the age of 12 will enjoy.

PYMCA via Getty Images
Crowds at Water Kingdom part of Essel world amusement park in Gorai, Mumbai, Water Kingdom is said to be Asias largest theme water park. (Photo by: PYMCA/UIG via Getty Images)

By Priya Fonseca

If you're a true-blue, born-and-brought-up-in-Mumbaikar, chances are that your folks or school made sure you paid homage to every typical sightseeing spot in the city. Our kids, though, tend to turn up their noses at the very places we loved exploring with our family. Many of us just throw up our hands in despair and say, "There's nothing exciting for kids here!" Well, that's just wrong. Here's a "hat ke" list of 25 Mumbai places and experiences that we think every kid below the age of 12 will enjoy. Happy exploring!

1. Chasing butterflies

Ovalekar Wadi Butterfly Garden was created by Mr. Rajendra Ovalekar and his brother on a 2-acre family plot. The garden is home to over 200 types of flowering and fruit-bearing plants that attract insects and butterflies. More than 130 species of butterflies call this garden home. You can visit to see the butterflies in their natural surroundings every Sunday from 8am to noon. Do check out the section where the life cycle of different species of butterflies is exhibited.

You could plan a trip yourself or team up with a planned tour conducted by organizations like Bombay Natural History Society. The garden even has a small play area for kids. Take along caps, water and cameras. Ideally, your young child should carry a magnifying glass to make all the little things even more exciting.

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2. Show them how money is made

Take your child to the RBI Monetary Museum where it's all about money. Take an historical tour of India through the evolution of money from early cash concepts to the first coins of 600 BC right up to the current notes and coins that line our wallets. India's history of dynasties, rulers and princely states are all numismatically mapped with information about money, coins, notes, currency and the RBI through the ages, all on display along with a vast collection of coins. You can also see defunct money notes recycled into other material.

After this tour, walk down to the India Government Mint which is opposite the Reserve Bank of India in Fort and let your child select a commemorative coin from the store. This mint's main activity is the production of commemorative and development-oriented coins.

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3. Cycle through a National Park

Sometime between June and September, plan a trip to Borivali National Park. Get to the gate early morning, ideally on a weekday; hire the no-frills cycles from the stall near the ticket counter and cycle on the path that leads to Kanheri Caves. You may need to wheel the cycles up the last section, but don't turn back before you head all the way up. Secure the cycles and then walk up the steps past the caves and stop to look around. Show your child the waterfalls, rivulets, wild flowers and definitely take in the view of the city skyline beyond the thicket of the forest valley. Play, "Who can spot the Gorai Pagoda's golden dome first?"

Also head over to the Garden of Fragrance that features 68+ wild and garden species of aromatic plants, well laid out walk ways and pretty landscaping. These plants are a magnet for butterflies too so look out for the winged beauties.

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4. Watch the sunset in style

Hire a yacht or dhow to give your child an experience of fresh air, ocean swells and a multitude of seagulls vying for attention. Plan your trip in time for sunset -- pack a picnic basket with refreshments (if the boat-hire company does not provide them), take a pair of binoculars and you are ready to go. Children enjoy the sights of the Mumbai skyline; the coastguard helicopters; the Naval and other huge ships and maybe a few dolphins if you are lucky. Companies like Sirius, Yacht Tours Mumbai, Oyster Sailing, West Coast Marine, and Aqua Sail all offer sailing experiences.

5. Stop and smell the flowers

The Mahabaleshwar Flower Festival organized by Dr. Swati Piramal has been such a huge draw for the last few years that she decided to bring flower festivals to Mumbai too. There were two flower festivals last year, one in Thane and one in central Mumbai. The Vaikunth Flower Show in Thane, inspired by the Chelsea Flower Show UK, showcased over 140 species of flowers from India and around the globe. There were 30 types of trees, 18 theme gardens and a sculpture garden too.

The next flower festival was the Aranya Festival that celebrated the rich history of South Mumbai with flowers, art, music and culture. The event featured 32 theme gardens, installations, dance performances and art displays. While the events are primarily held to showcase Piramal Realty's new and upcoming projects, this is one kind of advertising that our concrete jungle can do with.

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6. Explore the original handheld device -- visit a bookstore

Book-buying seems to have become an online activity. Gift your child the experience of browsing through books at a bookshop. Head a physical bookshop and give yourselves ample time to browse, take in the aroma of books, read and just chill. Many bookstores even have in-house cafes where you can go to swap "check out this book" moments with your child. Stores worth checking out include Bargain Book Hut, Wayword & Wise, Crossword, Granth, Kitab Khana, Oxford Bookstore, Strand Book Stall, Trilogy and Title Waves.

7. A boat trip to feed the birds

Anytime in the year (but for June to October), ideally on a weekday 6am to 5pm, head to the Gateway of India. Buy a return ticket on any of the ferry boats or catamarans to Mandwa jetty or Elephanta caves and enjoy the sea breeze and views of Mumbai harbour. During the winter months the migratory seagulls follow the boats in the hope of getting fed by passengers. These birds, as "adaptable opportunists", come really close to the boat rails and catch projectile pieces of biscuits and bread mid air. They are a treat to watch. While these birds swallow anything that is thrown their way, you could take them some delicious healthy options like fish, or even seeds and bits of fruit.

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8. Get a ringside view of flamingos

Every year huge flocks of flamingos migrate from Gujarat to various parts of Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai. Sewri holds the record for the maximum number of pink beauties and so the jetty and mudflats there are a must visit anytime from November to May to take in the expanse of pink birds.

You must do at least one Flamingo Festival organized by Bombay Natural History Society or Sprouts Environment Trust. If you are doing your own personal trip and you see that the birds have moved into the mangroves and are not clearly visible from the jetty, then head over to the lane just near the entrance of the old Fort. This is the lane near the now defunct Colgate factory building. The mangroves touch the path here and if you tell the security guards the kids would like to see the birds up close they usually allow you to do so. Everyone should be really quiet as any disturbance will make the flocks move away.

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9. Try the classic foodie trail

Mumbai has several iconic restaurants, food stalls and dessert places just waiting to be explored. Every family has their own personal favourites based on their preferences. However there are some places that every child should go to at least once.

For South Indian delights, head over to any of the following establishments in Matunga: Mysore Café, Café Madras, Mani's Lunch Home, Idli House. For snacks and treats, Bandra is brimming with old favourites. Try Café Andora for the rolls, Hearsch Bakery for their lemon tarts and mutton rolls, A1 Bakery for dinner rolls and gootlis, Candies for lasagne, roast chicken and salads, Karachi and Elco for pani puri, Natural Ice Cream for their fresh fruit ice creams in waffle cones. at Chowpatty does excellent strawberry shakes, Haji Ali Juice Centre is legendary for its fruit juices and faluda, offering as a bonus a free view of the dargah lit up and 's baida roti is famous for a reason. This list is just to get you started.

10. Look at the ceiling of Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum

This museum is a very popular destination for families as the education department has worked hard towards making it interesting and accessible to all, with many events for children held indoors as well as in the courtyard. The architecture of the building is incredible and the works inside it are amazing too; kids love the dioramas. When you're here, do look up at the ceiling. Draw your child's attention to the six-pointed Star of David, a Jewish religious symbol that was used to honour the city's Jewish community as well as David Sassoon's contribution to the museum.

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11. Sightsee from the top of a tall waterslide

If you live in Mumbai and your child has not yet been to Asia's largest theme based water park then you need to plan a trip soon. While at the park, sometimes even Water Kingdom regulars miss out on a special treat in the midst of all the thrills. When waiting for your turn at the top of the tallest water slides look around and check out the view of the salt pans, sea, and mangroves. Wide, open, green spaces are few and far between in our city!

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12. Explore otherwise inaccessible spaces at the Kala Ghoda Festival

A must-do every year for all Mumbaikars and visitors in February is the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, touted as the country's largest multicultural festival. Every year, the fascinating Kala Ghoda area witnesses loads of interesting events, activities, workshops, installations, performances and more for everyone. This is one time when you and your kids are welcome onto the lawns of the CSMVS Museum and into delightful spaces like the courtyard garden of the David Sassoon Library.

Watch this space for 13 other unmissable destinations and experiences for kids

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