A Great List of Costa del Sol Family Days Out from Marianne.
As parents, our children are the centre of our world. We love them unconditionally and there’s nothing we wouldn’t do for them. Living in Spain is one of the choices that most of us have made in order to give our children a happy, healthy lifestyle. We all know the advantages of living here; the climate, the opportunity to learn a new language, the value placed on family and so on.
In our family, we especially value the opportunity to spend time outdoors and in the Málaga area there is no shortage of fabulous activities and attractions aimed at families, but they often come at a cost. Some of these places are very expensive for the admission price alone, and then they frequently require additional payments once you are inside. Extras such as food, activities, souvenirs and photographs can quickly add up and a fun day out can end up being prohibitively expensive.
However, this doesn’t have to be the case. There are numerous places in the Málaga / Costa del Sol area where you can have a fun family day out for little or no cost which is one of the things that we appreciate most about living here. These are some of our favourite things to do and places to go.
1. Parque la Batería, Torremolinos.
This park is full of fun things to do, there is no admission charge and ample parking is provided inside. My boys love to climb to the top of the Torre Mirador, look at the cannons, splash each other at the fountains, run around on the many open, grassy areas and play in the fantastic, large playground. The park doesn’t have a cafe, but there are some vending machines next to the playground. Rather unusually a ‘dummy tree’ gives you a place where you can hang your child’s dummy to give them an incentive to stop using one when they are at an age to do so, which I have never seen before or since but I think it’s a great idea. There is a huge, old-fashioned carousel which you do have to pay for, but it is only 50c per ride. There is also a big boating lake where you can hire a rowing boat for only €1 for 30 minutes and you can have a pleasantly relaxing sail in the sunshine. Or, alternatively, you can do as we usually do and spend the whole time trying to avoid crashing into other boats, shouting “look out!” and “sorry!” rather a lot, embarrassing yourself by getting wedged in under the bridge in front of amused passers-by, before eventually being called in at the end of your allotted time and trying to reverse rather amateurishly into one of the numbered bays!
2. Paloma Park, Benalmadena.
This is another place full of big, open spaces for energy-filled children to run around in and if you stop and look under the hedges and bushes there is a good chance you will see some rabbits hiding underneath! There are also freely roaming chickens, geese and peacocks as well as various other animals housed in enclosures which are located just behind the big playground. This has equipment suitable for younger children as well as other more adventurous climbing apparatus for the older ones. The park has a few cafes and some other smaller playgrounds scattered about, along with a big fountain and some rather wonderful metal sculptures of heads lying around on the grass which are large enough for children to crawl into. The lake is home to lots of ducks, geese, swans and turtles and you can hire segways and pedal powered carriages if you fancy travelling around the lake at a slightly faster pace! We love it here! There is lots of parking around the outside of the park, but it can get a bit busy at the weekends and in the Summer.
3. Los Pedregales Park, Estepona
There are two parts to Los Pedregales. There are the more-developed bits with playgrounds, picnic tables and open-air barbecue facilities which are very popular with families and which can get quite busy at the weekend. It is a good place to hold a birthday party if you aren’t averse to carrying all your party paraphernalia through a bit of overgrown terrain. This bit is also due for further development in the future as there are plans to create a dinosaur-themed park there and a go-karting track too. Or there is our favourite bit which is the wilder, undeveloped side of the park. We go in through the smaller side gate with the Adana sign (the rescue home for dogs is also through this gate and further up the mountain track a short way) where there are lots of pine trees (great for pine cone collecting missions but not good for dogs in the Processionary Caterpillar season) and rocky tracks leading down to a stream that rushes over the pathway at the bottom in the rainy season. We take our dog up there and we all love to clamber over the rocks along the stream and climb up the tree covered slopes at the top of the hill. Great fun for bracing walks, rock climbing and for burning off your children’s energy in the fresh air!
4. San Pedro Boulevard, San Pedro
The fantastic new boulevard is an ideal place to go for a walk/scooter/skate with the children, stopping en route at one of the many playgrounds. There are a couple of cafes too if you fancy stopping for a drink while your children play. My boys especially love the big skating park at the far end where they can ride their scooters in the large, open space and also the undulating bridge which they love to run over.
5. Parque Tres Jardines, San Pedro
This park is relatively new and hidden away in the industrial estate of San Pedro. It has a lagoon with some hungry ducks always eager to be fed, lots of open spaces, two playgrounds (one aimed at older children and the other ideal for younger children) and a kiosk which admittedly I’ve never actually seen open but maybe I’ve just been unlucky. There is also an adjoining area set aside as a dog park so its a great place to go with your dog too! This is another popular venue for birthday parties and it can get quite full with party goers at the weekends and competition to reserve the picnic tables can get quite fierce!
6. Paseo Walks
Our favourites are the San Pedro and Estepona paseos, both of which have playgrounds on the beach and on the paseo itself along the course of them, as well as chiringuitos and cafes if you want to stop for a drink along the way. Paseos are a great way to spend a few hours on foot or on bikes and scooters.
7. Benahavis Parks
Benahavis has two excellent parks for children. The first one you will come to, which is on the left just as you drive into the town has a lovely little playground, a lake, a waterfall, open spaces to play on the grass and even an amphitheatre where children can put on a ‘show’ on the big stage area. There are pathways that you can walk or ride along, beautifully tended gardens and picnic tables too. In the lake we have often seen turtles and even a water snake. The second park is further into the town, right opposite the school and this has a nice little kiosk. There are lots of play facilities for all ages and it is also a popular location for birthday parties.
8. Duquesa Castle and Park
My boys love visiting this castle. They like to climb up to the top to see the great views and enjoy going into the little exhibition rooms. There is one room where you can have a try at fencing and others that offer historical information and displays of relics. Next door to the castle is a park with a playground and a wishing well. It is all nearby to the beach as well so there are lots of opportunities for playing here. And if you happen to find an orange frisbee somewhere in the trees at the back then it is ours!
9. San Pedro Golf Club Driving Range
This is located opposite the Bárcelo hotel and for just 1€ you can get a bucket of 25 golf balls to use on the driving range. It is suitable for adults and children and there are golf clubs that you can borrow if you don’t have any of your own. There are a couple of putting greens where your little one can practise their finer golf skills and a big grassy bunker where they can whack the balls with a little less finesse! Golf lessons are available if you discover that your child could possibly be a golfing genius and there is a cafe where you can enjoy a drink while watching all of the golfing action.
10. Fuengirola Castle and River
The castle grounds are a great place to run around and there is the added opportunity to have fun on the water for the more energetic types. There are pedal boats that you can hire for a few euros for 30 minutes (30 minutes has never seemed longer than when I was pedalling a swan full of excitable children with my rapidly tiring legs, to the shouts of “faster, go faster mummy!” coming from the smaller passengers in the back!). There is also a zip line going over the water and a cafe on the water front. We have never actually seen the castle open so I can’t comment on what is inside those elusive walls as that remains a mystery to our family!
NOTE: Here’s a video we made at the end of last year by the river at Fuengirola … (Lisa)
11. Benahavis River Walks
Just before you get into Benahavis town you can park up on the right hand side and explore the river walks. There are places you can swim as well as more adventurous routes that you can follow through rocky terrain and water. In the Summer it gets very busy and it can be difficult to park but it is a fun way to spend a few hours and get some exercise too, all for free!
So keeping your little ones entertained needn’t cost the earth. These are just some of our favourite things to do and chances are you have your own family favourites. I would love to hear about them as we are always looking for new, fun and more importantly, inexpensive things to do!
NOTE From Lisa: Click on the Google map below to get directions to these places and many more. Where else should we add to our @FamilyInSpain Costa del Sol Family Days Out That Don’t Cost The Earth map?
Don’t forget about a trip to the Lakes
Send us your suggestions 😉
Thanks Marianne! Why not pop over and have a look at Marianne’s website and join in her Facebook page 😉
Marianne Hill is a primary school teacher who, in those rare, quiet moments when she is not surrounded by children at work or at home, can usually be found either writing articles or blog posts, reading, listening to music or posting on Facebook. Alternatively she could be out running or cycling around the Estepona area of the Costa del Sol of Spain, where she lives with her partner Neil and their children Sam, 6 and Henry, 4.
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