Bored? Olivia Lai finds fun activities for winter weekends.
1. What the dino saw
Tangle with a Tyrannosaurus, browse with a brachiosaurus or play tag with a velociraptor at the “Legends of the Giant Dinosaurs” exhibition at the Hong Kong Science Museum. Interact with animatronic dinosaurs – our favourite is feeding the farting triceratops (yes, really) – go on a virtual paleontological dig, and discover a whole world of fossils, including the Lufengosaurus magnus, the first dinosaur skeleton ever displayed in China. $20 ($10 for students). Open weekends and public holidays 10am-9pm, weekdays 10am-7pm, closed Thursdays and January 31-February 1 for Lunar New Year. 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, 2732 3232.
Hong Kong’s cool, crisp winters are perfect cycling weather. The New Territories boasts miles of family-friendly cycle track, from Ma On Shan through Sha Tin and all the way to Plover Cove, but for little legs we love the Tai Po Waterfront Park. Spectacularly located on Tolo Harbour, 22-hectare park is the largest managed by LCSD. Head for the Good Luck Bike Shop, near the tower, which rents bicycles for $30 an hour ($80 for a day), plus tandems and “family bikes” – a three wheeler with a seat for two at the back – and get the kids to drive for a change. Cycle along the water’s edge, through Chinese gardens and past pavilions, or take a picnic and let the kids run wild on the acres of lawn. Dai Fat Street, Tai Po, 6605 9978.
3. Ice skating
It’s cold outside anyway, so go the whole hog and wrap up for a spin on the ice. The Rink at Elements has introduced a “pay as you skate” system for peak periods, instead of fixed-time sessions (it charges $1 a minute to your Octopus card). Novice skaters can scoot across the ice with cute model penguin guides to keep them upright. Parents can access the changing rooms to help their children strap on their skates, then retreat to the adjacent coffee shop, with a 180-degree view of Victoria Harbour. Off peak, children and students pay $40 (adults $60) for a whole day of skating. Open daily from 10am, please check the website for special events and ice-resurfacing breaks. 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2196 8016.
4. Rainy days
Rainy days are made for indoor activities, such as ten-pin bowling. Dragon Bowling in Ho Man Tin is modern and spacious, with 30 lanes, bumpers and light balls for children, and even funky disco bowling. Bring your own bowling shoes or borrow them for free. At weekends, it’s open 10am-11pm, and charges $24 per person per game (children $15) until 2pm, then $28/game (children $22). 2/F, Oi Man Shopping Centre, 60 Chung Hau Street, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, 2116 1536.
5. Shows for kids
Kidsfest, APA Productions’ annual festival of children’s shows, runs through January and February. This year, it brings nine theatre productions to Hong Kong based on favourite children’s books. Fun and often irreverent, just like the original stories, this year’s shows include The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, plus The Snow Dragon and What the Ladybird Heard. Older children can choose from two Horrible Histories (Awful Egyptians and Terrible Tudors) or Michael Morpurgo’s tearjerker Private Peaceful. Book two or more shows for a 10 per cent discount. HKAPA, 1 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, 3128 8288.
Enjoy Victoria Harbour in all its glory with a family picnic (and perhaps a sneaky afternoon kip) on the lawns of the Tamar Promenade, a rare stretch of green space along the harbour front from Central Pier 10 to Tamar Park. Host to events such as the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival and last month’s Very HK, it’s open to the public year-round. Make a day of it with a visit to the Maritime Museum in Pier 8. Tamar Promenade, Admiralty.
Few things keep children as happy as playing in water. In winter, transfer your affections to Hong Kong’s many indoor public swimming pools. These include Hin Tin Swimming Pool in Sha Tin, Kowloon Park Swimming Pool in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hammer Hill Swimming Pool in Wong Tai Sin, Kwun Tong Swimming Pool and Ho Man Tin Swimming Pool. A few outdoor heated pools are also open for the hardy, including the main pools at Tseung Kwan O and Sha Tin.