Part of the West Kowloon Cultural District – the eventual home of the M+ visual culture museum – Art Park’s inviting greenery offers those in Hong Kong with kids the space to breathe and spread out. Bring a picnic lunch and hire a SmartBike for a leisurely ride along the harbourfront, with its distractingly beautiful views of the skyline.
Tucked among the sloping roads and skyscrapers of Mid-Levels is this meandering, 5.6-hectare menagerie – one of the most enchanting and accessible things to do with kids. It houses orangutans, gibbons, tortoises, meerkats and all sorts of birds. Entry is free.
Credit: Mike Pickles
During Chinese New Year, 19-hectare Victoria Park transforms into a flower market, while March brings the annual Flower Show and Mid-Autumn Festival inspires a vivid lantern display. Impromptu tai chi sessions take place most mornings, and the park’s tree-lined paths and benches are a welcome treat from the bustle of Causeway Bay. Best of all for those in Hong Kong with kids, there are four playgrounds, designed for various ages, plus a pool for floating model boats.
Credit: Hong Kong Tourism Board
At the southern end of Hong Kong Island, these beaches appeal for the changing rooms for rinsing sandy toes, rock pools that teem with sealife and proximity to Stanley Plaza for family-friendly dining. A table near the ship-themed playground means parents can enjoy drinks while kids run wild.
For a hassle-free beach outing further afield, consider Lamma Island – easily reached via ferry from Central and then a scenic walk along a paved pathway. Lifeguard stands, ice cream stalls, restaurants and picnic tables await.
Right by the Star Ferry sits this museum devoted to 2,000 years of local maritime history. Pirates feature extensively, as do treasures from shipwrecks, navigational and nautical instruments and ancient ceramics. A Ship Bridge Simulator lets you channel your inner captain and try your hand at steering a ship.
Credit: Leisure and Cultural Services Department
At the Science Museum, visitors are encouraged to explore more than 500 exhibits across robotics, simulation, light, sound, motion and electronics. The 22-meter-high twin tower Energy Machine converts mechanical into kinetic energy to spectacular interactive effect, while aviation fans will ooh-and-aah at Betsy, a DC3 liner suspended from the ceiling that was a gift from Cathay Pacific and the airline’s first plane.
The Hong Kong Space Museum’s dome-shaped planetarium has been a harbourfront landmark since 1980. Inside you’ll find interactive exhibits on astronomy and space science as well as a theatre that screens Omnimax sky show and 3D Dome films (note that the theatre is closed for renovations until summer 2021). One of the coolest things to do with kids in Hong Kong? Try out the virtual space station that simulates the weightlessness felt in space.
Credit: Mike Pickles
Tai Kwun, the site of the colonial-era Central Police Station, was reinvented as a cultural hub in 2019. It’s a mix of exhibition spaces, performance venues, wide public squares, restaurants and shops, with plenty to entertain younger visitors. Relevant programming includes weekly outdoor film screenings and Family Day’s arts workshops and gallery tours held on the first Sunday of each month.
The Peak lures visitors with its green spaces, hiking trails, show-stopping views of Hong Kong Island and the Peak Galleria, a dining and shopping mall renovated in 2019. New attractions include Candylicious for a sugar rush; and Monopoly Dreams, themed around the classic board game. The historic Peak Tram is a thrill ride in itself.
Credit: Moses Ng
This heritage building complex in SoHo was once a dormitory – hence its acronym, the Police Married Quarters – and now makes a fun destination for kids to romp around among shops, cafes and galleries run by more than 100 local creatives. Some businesses cater specifically to the youngest visitors: ABC Cooking Studio offers hands-on lessons in whimsical creations like pizza with a lion’s face or hedgehog rolls, while Oscary Art hosts ‘art jam,’ an acrylic painting workshop.
Bite-sized dim sum are a local specialty, and one of the best places to enjoy them in Hong Kong with kids is Yum Cha, which has become Insta-famous for its emoji steamed custard buns, pig-faced barbecued pork buns and rainbow-hued dumplings. It’s not just gimmicks, though, the food at its two locations in Central and Tsim Sha Tsui tastes as good as it looks.
Adults and kids alike can enjoy the classic Hong Kong afternoon tea experience. Many hotels give it their own twist; one of the newest offerings is at the Rosewood Hong Kong’s Butterfly Room, a cheerful, modern lounge decorated with Damien Hirst butterfly artwork. The hotel takes its pastries seriously, with its own branded chocolates sold at its Butterfly Patisserie, so you know the tea sets will be scrumptious and creatively presented.
Credit: Tommy Tang
When your brood needs a quick pick-me-up, give the treats sold roadside or from tiny shopfront a try. Gai daan zai, or egg waffles, come plain or with flavours like chocolate chips or matcha. Egg tarts, inspired by the British custard tart, feature a rich, eggy filling that’s as delicate as silken tofu. Another iconic Hong Kong food is the pineapple bun, so named for the crackly top that looks like pineapple skin. There’s no actual pineapple, but a thick slab of cold butter inside.
A local favourite since 1977, Ocean Park continues to entertain with thrill rides, shows, games, a giant panda enclosure, an aquarium and a penguin house. Cross over lush mountain peaks via the cable car (or funicular train) to reach the rollercoasters and more sea creatures. You can visit a few times and still not experience it all.
Credit: James Durston
This biblically-themed park on Ma Wan Island is a fun day out taking selfies with life-size animal statues, walking through gardens and gawping at reptiles and amphibians in the main exhibit, housed in what the park claims is a full-scale replica of Noah’s ark. There’s a hotel on site and attractions including a Solar Tower, where you can witness realtime activity on the sun.
Credit: Hong Kong Disneyland
The fun starts on the MTR ride, as a dedicated Disney-bound train is kitted out with regalia like mouse-shaped windows and hand holders. Not only is the park easily accessible, it’s also compact – with seven richly imagined lands across 126 hectares of Lantau Island. The Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars rollercoaster and 3D motion simulator Iron Man Experience are among the rides unique to Hong Kong Disneyland. Check the day’s schedule of live entertainment and buy tickets before you go.
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Visitors might be surprised to learn that Hong Kong has a nature site recognised by Unesco for its geological significance. Featuring interestingly patterned rock formations, the Global Geopark can be explored via an easy hike of about 2.8 kilometres along the High Island Geo Trail at the East Dam. Before setting out, pick up visitor information at the Volcano Discovery Centre by Sai Kung Waterfront Park.
Alternatively, for the more adventurous and athletic, see it by sea: some companies offer guided kayak tours, taking visitors to pristine beaches and uninhabited islands, such as Yim Tin Tsai (an evocative abandoned Hakka village) and Sharp Island (a crescent-shaped beach for barbecues and camping).
Credit: Mike Pickles
Just south of the Shenzhen boundary, the Hong Kong Wetland Park is a 60-hectare reserve for egrets and many migratory waterbirds. Keep an eye out for hawks, butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles and fish while exploring the stroller-friendly boardwalks over marshes and past gardens. Head indoors to check out themed exhibition galleries and the Swamp Adventure play area.
Travel back in time to Tai O, a quaint fishing village with stilt houses on the west coast of Lantau Island. Hop aboard a speedboat with Tai O Boat Excursion for an up-close tour of the village waterways. Afterwards the boat heads out into the harbour and if you’re very lucky, you’ll spot some of Hong Kong’s endangered pink dolphins.
This article was originally published in May 2019 and updated in July 2020
Hero image: Courtesy of West Kowloon Cultural District