In my last post I spoke about having kids here in Okinawa specifically regarding a question I received from a viewer. Because there is only so much that I can say in one video and in one blog post I thought that I would segment these posts and so here I go with part 2. In this post we're going to be talking about some places you can take your kids and others that you might want to avoid. Of course this all depends on your child but I am going with some general information so I hope that you find it useful and beneficial in your travels around the island.
Because the list will be significantly shorter let's start with places you might want to avoid with your little ones:
Okinawa is covered with historical sites which for history and culture buffs like myself can be fun and exciting to visit but for little kids is can be less so. More importantly these places can be dangerous. Castle ruins for example look relatively harmless with wide-open spaces covered in grass but with most of these castle ruins they are constructed from coral stone which can be slick, sharp and hard. They are also built on high ground meaning that there can be steep stairs, caverns near wells and cliffs. Even for some adults these places can be dangerous so my recommendation is that children taken to these areas are very well disciplined which will ensure that they don't find themselves in an area which could cause them any harm.
It is also important to keep in mind that some of these places are used as worship sites for local people and therefore it's important to consider this when visiting (even if you are an adult). Being considerate of those who are visiting to worship ancestors or what have you should be high priority for those visiting these sites.
I have always known the strip as streets and areas where there are various storefronts one right after the other. They are usually full of tourists and open air shopping usually right on a main road here in Okinawa. Two of the most popular are Kokasai Street and American Village. I think it's important to note again that it all depends on your child but it is important to note that these places can be dangerous for mostly children who are, as I described in my last post, runners. The others they are great loud places so someone who might be rambunctious might not have a problem here although as I said for the runner it's not very far between the sidewalks and where cars are driving.
See, I told you the list wasn't that long. Of course it's up to you to determine what you and your children are capable of, however, I am offering my suggestions based on my past experiences. With that said let's go into the fun and exciting places that are perfect for your little kiddles to have some fun . . . . and you too hopefully!
The one great thing Okinawa has going for the young ones in your family is that there is a place for them to play in almost every neighborhood. Not only this but they are usually clean, safe and have covered areas for parents to stay in the shade while your little ones burn all that energy before their midday nap. If you are living in one of Okinawa's cities there is bound to be some sort of part within walking distance. For me there are about 2 or 3 within about a 20 minutes walking distance max. Usual characteristics of these parks are slides, swings and large open areas. The slide are awesome! They are not like what you would see in in the US but sometimes they are shaped like large animals or have fun paintings on them. In some cases they have these things which I call rollie slides. They are huge slides with rollers on them which are online I have seen anywhere else. There is not much to say about swings, they are pretty standard but the slides are the things to get excited about (and who's to say that a grown up can't have a little fun too?). I can also honestly say that I have tested some of these slides and I give them my star of approval! 100% fun!
Shopping Center Play Areas
If you are wanting to avoid the sun there are places where you can take your littles ones at local shopping centers. Some of the centers have play areas which are there regularly like the one in Naval Kadena and the San A in Naha. For a small fee you can take your little ones to play in their play area and you can sit in the AC while you supervise them. There are others that go from shopping center to shopping center throughout the year. You can usually find the schedule at your favorite shopping center. They sometimes have trampolines, bounce castles and ball pits that you can have your child use for a small fee while others supervise and you enjoy the AC.
Although they are meant to be quiet places there are exhibits from time to time when child friendly exhibits are in town. There are areas where kids can have hands on exploration of fun and exciting things. Two that I remember were a dinosaur exhibit and a robot exhibit. Both were targeted towards kids as well as adults and although I did not do to the dinosaur exhibit but the robot one had a lot of fun hands on experiences for younger ones.
Although not all parks are 100% designated for children there are usually places where your little ones can run around safely and play in the grass. If there is a good place to kick around a ball parks will be the place. Now unfortunately they are not always as common as playgrounds that i mentioned above but they are usually within driving distance ad have parking areas so it's perfect for an afternoon out.
I hope that you find these suggestions useful. If you have any suggestions of particular places to visit please leave them in the comments below for those other readers. As always thanks for reading!