Doha’s Top Three Outdoor Playgrounds
Despite its location on the northeastern Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East, with which it shares a hot, dry desert climate, Qatar’s capital city Doha is surprisingly green. Dotted with parks across the city, the powers that be have obviously gone to a lot of trouble providing green areas where local residents can spend their leisure time. From hundreds of acres of rolling lawns in the city centre to smaller parcels of greenland in residential areas, people all over the city have access to outside spaces to exercise, relax, socialise, picnic, or let their kids burn off some energy. Indeed, the majority of parks are fitted out with walking, cycling and running paths, sports courts, exercise equipment, picnic areas (and in some cases BBQ facilities), cafes and kiosks, shaded seating areas, and for the many, many families residing in and around the city, and probably the most popular element of all, some excellent playparks.
Doha’s Perfectly Pleasing Playparks
As an exceedingly family-friendly state, Qatar has a multitude of activities for kids to enjoy with their families. And while there are an immense number of all singing and dancing theme parks, water parks, cinemas, soft plays, amusement parks and indoor playgrounds, sometimes (as many families will concur) the best things in life are for free, such as the innumerable parkland playgrounds provided in amongst Doha's bustling streets.
Doha's playparks range from simple swing and slide arrangements to large covered areas with elaborate climbing frames chock full of swings, slides, balance beams, climbers, wobble bridges, rock walls, ziplines, and even interactive elements. These free-to-use adventure zones are a lifesaver to many families. They provide easy-to-access entertainment, fresh air, and exercise, keep kids engaged and amused, and allow mums and dads time to relax and enjoy watching their brood at play. Plus, time in the park provides a fantastic sociable outlet and offers numerous health benefits, such as decreasing stress and improving wellbeing. It's no wonder the green lawns of the capital are always buzzing!
In fact, Doha's playgrounds are always busy, and not just during the balmy winter months. Though the summer temperatures may preclude fun in the sun during the day, the city's playgrounds are still perfect escapes for families in the summer evenings. After being relatively cooped up when the daytime temperatures are blistering, kids can run amok when the sun goes down in the evening, as all parks are fitted with night lighting to make sure they are accessible, whatever the weather and the time of year.
With so many popular, free playparks available in Doha, it's hard to know which ones are best to visit to entertain you and yours. So we’ve taken the liberty of listing our absolute favourites to give you somewhere to start:
Al Bidda Park
One of our favourite parks in Doha is Al Bidda Park, for the eight children’s playgrounds found across its green lawns but also for its vast, wide open spaces located alongside the beautiful Corniche with a stunning view of the ocean and West Bay’s towering skyscrapers and the plethora of additional activities for families aside from the kid’s play areas. Indeed, it is the largest park along the Corniche. Its green lawns span 174.5 hectares, intersected by two of the city's main roadways to create three distinct areas linked by garden bridges (Wadi Al Sail, Al Rumaila and Al Bidda). Walkways, running and cycling tracks, exercise equipment, sports courts and pitches, a skate park, camel tracks, water features, a green maze, cafes and restaurants, BBQ stations, monuments, heritage sites and an amphitheatre make this park a top destination for anyone and everyone. Even the family dog will be at home in Al Bidda - the park is pet-friendly. There is so much to do and so many different terrains and features to explore (hills, valleys, plains, rocky outcrops, etc.); one day isn't enough; this is the type of place you would visit again and again.
However, it’s the playgrounds we’re here to talk about. With eight available play areas to choose from across the park, kids are spoilt for choice. There are two playgrounds in Wadi Al Said to the north of the park, three in Al Rumaila in the middle and three in Al Bidda to the south. Each play area is distinct, with a range of equipment varying in style to the others and to suit varying age ranges and abilities. Playgrounds include many bright, colourful play structures, including traditional-style swings, modern bucket and nest swings, slides (from single straight slides to spiral slides, wave slides, tube slides and combo slides), see-saws and climbing frames - all in various sizes. There are merry-go-rounds, spinners, spring riders, balance beams, monkey bars, still bars and a host of other gymnastic-style apparatus, and while many pieces of equipment are free-standing, some are combination structures, with climbing frames incorporating climbing walls and ropes, slides, swings, wobble bridges and net walks, some in the shape of pirate ships and boats, some as castles and palaces. Some equipment includes interactive elements, such as activity panels with puzzles, mazes and games, sensory activities, sand pits or water features. There are even zip slides to be found.
The playparks are a kid's haven, and with shading over seven of the eight play areas, benches, and other seating dotted around each, mums and dads will be happy too. With so many play zones available, the playgrounds never feel too busy. However, the entire park is a giant area for kids to enjoy...so there’s never a need to be hemmed in. If your brood grows tired of the play equipment, try exploring the green maze, give freestyle sports, such as skateboarding and skating, a go, or wander along to the bike and go-cart hire shops and try something different. You can also find natural rock structures to clamber on, a green wadi, the amphitheatre, three garden bridges and a water plaza to investigate. Al Bidda Park has enough to keep everyone occupied all day!
Location: Al Corniche, Doha
(nearest Metro station – Al Bidda on the Green and Red Lines)
Parking: Numerous underground parking areas are available.
Parking is accessed via the main roads around the park - Al Aqsa Street, Al Corniche Street, Mohammed Bin Thani Street, Al Istiqlal Street and Al Rayyan Road.
Hours: Sunday to Saturday, 4 am – 12 am
Contact: +974 4428 7777
Email: [email protected]
Museum of Islamic Art Park
At 28 hectares, the Museum of Islamic Park is the second-largest green space on the Corniche, and it is a fabulous place to spend some downtime. The park, which takes its name from the museum that shares the site, is located on the waterfront of the Corniche and curls around the water's edge to two open-air cafes that look across the sea to West Bay - one of the city's nicest views. Palm tree-lined paths lead visitors through the grounds to picnic areas, water fountains, planted gardens, a large grassy mound (perfect for climbing…and rolling back down), several art installations, and three excellent children's playgrounds.
The enclosed kid’s play areas are designed for varying age groups (2 – 8 years, 5 – 10 years and 11 – 16 years), with age-appropriate equipment in each. Kids can find a host of huge and elaborate assault course-style climbing frames that incorporate ladders, climbing walls and scramble structures, monkey bars, slides, swings, gymnastic equipment, balance beams, spinners, rope bridges, swinging bridges, tunnels, and towers ascending several levels – the options for imaginative and competitive play are endless! Each park also offers free-standing swings, slides, merry-go-rounds, gym-style play equipment, climbing frames and mini-assault courses. While there is no shading over any of the three playgrounds, each playground is fitted with an astroturf, making a soft, safe play surface for kids of any age. Plus, plenty of benches and picnic tables ensure all family members are comfortable.
You could easily while away many hours at MIA Park’s playgrounds – kids never want to leave. But you can entice them into the other realms of the park to relax on the hill overlooking the ocean, grab refreshments at the cafes, admire the artworks and water features, and even visit the museum. It’s also worth noting that the park is also home to an array of festivals and events held during the winter months – the kite festival, the bazaar, pop-up markets, film screenings, art exhibitions and sporting events are all family-friendly and add an interesting element to a day spent at the park.
Location: Al Corniche, Doha
(nearest Metro station – Souq Waqif on the Red Line)
Parking: Shaded parking is available on-site
Hours: Sunday to Saturday, 24 hours
Contact: +974 4422 4444
National Museum of Qatar Children’s Playgrounds
Located in the grounds of the National Museum of Qatar, against the backdrop of the museum’s awe-inspiring facade, are three unique, themed playparks for kids to discover – an adventure ship rising from sandy shores, a cave nestled in the rocks, and a contemporary pod playground with fifteen elevated space-age capsules linked by a host of bridges and walkways. Each playpark is an extension of the themes found inside the museum galleries, the idea being to educate kids about the history and culture of Qatar while simultaneously entertaining through fun, physical play and exciting, interactive activities and games.
The adventure ship is modelled on traditional Dhow sailing vessels - significant to Qatar’s long history as pearl divers and traders. Split down the middle, the ship allows kids to explore the hull as well as clambering across the decks. They can climb up ladders and walls, through tunnels and over netting, traverse bridges and beams, spin in a rotating tunnel and splash about in running water features. Or they can pore over maps and cargo goods below deck or activate sensory games and other activities, such as exploring oyster shells and hoisting pearls in baskets from the sandy depths to the upper levels of the boat. They can even have imaginary battles using smoking cannons as props – cleverly designed to emit cold, dry mist as part of a cooling strategy to keep young sailors cool as they play.
The cave is a recreation of naturally occurring caves and sinkholes in Qatar, teaching kids about the country’s geology, its associated fauna and relevant Qatari heritage ( i.e. rock carvings). Once inside, kids can explore cave tunnels and rock mazes, follow the footprints of cave-dwelling animals and find their likeness carved in stone, discover glowing rocks, petroglyphs, bat roosts, and have fun playing various interactive games.
The Qatar Total Energies pods are fifteen capsules elevated on columns and linked by multiple bridges and tunnels, allowing visitors to explore sporadically as they discover the science and technology behind energy, from its discovery to the future of renewable energy as a greener alternative. While the capsules are closed during the Summer, for the rest of the year, kids can clamber from pod to pod via rope bridges, tunnels and nets or up and down levels via ladders, stairs and slides, pressing, pulling and twisting knobs, levers, pulleys, wheels and many other interactive features to explore Qatar’s history and future with energy. Outside, they can play in water features and fountains, jump on trampolines and explore the grounds via bridges, climbing equipment and slides.
These playparks are at the top of our ‘outdoor fun list’ for many reasons – the location, the distinctive themed designs, the educational aspects, and the physical play apparatus. However, it's the interactive, immersive and sensory features set this park apart and make it a super fun experience for all the family! Plus, you can combine a visit to the park with a wander around the very impressive museum while using the various cafes, restaurants and food kiosks available – it really is a full, fun day out for everyone.
(nearest Metro station – National Museum on the Gold Line)
Parking: Shaded above-ground parking and underground parking are available on-site. Parking is accessed via Museum Park Street.
Hours: Sunday to Saturday, 24 hours
Contact: +974 4452 5555
Main image: Transsolar
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