At first glance its hard to figure out what to do with your kids in Karen and Langata once you’ve done the tourist trail of Elephants and Giraffes, but scratch the surface and you may be pleasantly surprised. Remember though that this is Africa and therefore is less about organised play and more about encouraging children to roam free and roam wild. Soft plays are far and few between, and at weekends people will BBQ at each other’s houses, take a walk, a bike ride or a game drive in the park.
The Purdy Arms – Marula Lane – Karen
It may seem incongruous to mention a pub as the first point of call for a kid friendly place, but that’s the wonder and magic of Africa… the MOST child friendly place is indeed a pub, one where parents sip pimms whilst the children go feral in the enormous garden. The Purdy Arms is certainly a national treasure, or at least a national past time amongst the expat lot. The massive garden, I believe it covers 5 acres, is a wonderland of childish delight. 4 or 5 separate jungle gyms, a toddler area, sandpit, shallow ponds to fish tadpoles in, paths and groves of bamboo to explore. On weekends there is usually a bouncy castle and often an entertainer and face painter. Bigger kids who venture further afield will find a climbing wall, archery and quad bikes. Purdy’s constantly puts on events and always bears kids in mind. Since I’ve been here we’ve done Halloween, Fireworks night, Christmas carols, Frozen cinema night. If there is an event that is adult oriented like a wine show or a market the kids are always catered for. It is typical to arrive at Purdy’s for lunch at 12 and not leave until dusk… kids are happy, parents are happy. It’s the bomb.
Matbronze – Kifaru lane – Hardy
Matbronze is actually an art gallery specialising in gorgeous and very reasonably priced
bronzes. It’s worth a visit for its art alone and is a quiet nook for coffee and a catch up with friends. The large garden holds various bronze statues and is the ideal place to let the kids run about; life sized cheetahs, crocodiles, elephants and even a skeleton allow for fantastical games and many healthy larks. Food is simple but tasty and kids are catered for within the menu.
Tin Roof Café – Langata Link shops
This sweet café is nestled at the centre of a honeycomb of gift shops. If you can make your way past the irresistible lure of shops filled with Kitenge, soft Indian cotton clothing, candles, local jewellery and embroidered handbags then you’ll find the Tin Roof Cafe. This is a place to relax and let your kids wander; couches to recline on, books to read, good coffee to sup, cakes to munch and fresh produce making up an excellent menu. The children’s playground hosts a little tipi as well as swings, slides and little playhouses. Many peaceful hours can be whiled away in this chilled out haven.
Marula Mercantile – Marula lane – Karen
Marula Mercantile is a restaurant/café/bar in a quiet corner of Karen, a rustic feel and small kids playground make it a child friendly option. It also has a great kids menu where the children feel properly catered for rather than a second thought. More of a foodie option, this is a place that you can take kids for lunch rather than a place that you would go to hang out all afternoon.
Funscapes – The Hub – Karen
Kids heaven, adult hell, this warehouse like space on the top floor of The Hub basically an indoors fair complete with rides; octopus, bumper cars, small train and an assortment of computer games, It also has a very large soft play where you can leave kids for a bit to whizz around the shops. My children adore it, 10 minutes in the deafening racket and I’m just about done, but this is a list for kids not for adult’s right? You buy coupons on entering that you use to pay for the rides. It gives me a headache just thinking about it.
Spur Restaurant– The Hub – Karen
Aaah the South African favorite. Spur, is a burger/pizza / rib joint that is ADORED by both South Africans and my kids. A child focussed menu with pizza, sausages, nuggets, and the hero of the trip, the ice cream dessert with sweets for decorating your own ice cream. It has a small playroom where kid can jump about and PlayStations for letting your kids stare zombie-like for half an hour.
Asmara Restaurant– Ngong road – Karen
Asmara is an Eritrean restaurant offers an awesome range of African foods, and whilst I’d whole-heartedly encourage your kids to try some of these dishes there is also the obligatory kids menu with fish/nuggets/pizza etc. Outside there is a large jungle gym, a bouncy castle and even a pool (though at the time of visiting this was in some disrepair).
Talisman – Ngong Road – Karen
Talisman is a high-end restaurant, which turns boozier as the night progresses. Much loved by all the grown up residents of Karen and Nairobi it isn’t the first place you would think of to bring kids, but should you choose to sit out in the garden, there is a children playground towards the back of the venue. The food and atmosphere are is so good that its definitely worth taking the kids along; they can safely wander off to play and you can enjoy the surrounds.
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust – Magadi Road – Langata
If you live in Nairobi then its worth taking a trip to the DSWT and adopting one of many animals that are cared for there. Adopting, opposed to just visiting once with all the other tourists allows you unlimited access to visit your animal, and therefore all the other animals in the orphanage every day at 5pm. It’s experience of a lifetime and cannot be undertaken too many times. This is the chance for your children to see the elephants come back from play time in the National Park; experiencing the awe inspiring sight of 30 elephants stampeding back to their stables in a cloud of dust. You will then get the chance to visit all the elephants as well as the baby Giraffe and the Rhino that live there and to help feed them (the babies from huge milky bottles), stroke them and then tuck them up in their blankets and put them to bed. And for just 50 dollars a year you can do this every day if you choose.
Karen Country Club – Karen Road – Karen
You have to be a member of Karen Country Club or at least guest of a member but if you can get a pass this is great option for kids. Miss out the main building which is just for adults and head to the pool area; a 25 metre pool, a smaller, shallower children’s pool and a great jungle gym sit alongside a bar & restaurant, nestled under shady palms. Lounge on sunbeds sipping cocktails whilst the kids paly in the pool and slurp ice creams – its Karen’s Oasis.
In summary Karen doesn’t do playgrounds English style. If there is a playground or a jungle gym its usually in a pub or restaurant, while this may seem odd at first you will soon see that it is in fact the very best of circumstances !!