May 1st, 2014

Doing Singapore With Teens. Weekend Outing Ideas.

Get Out of the Malls and Movies: A Singapore Guide for Families with Teenagers

In January 2010 my husband and I sat across the table from our boys 13 and 17 who were trying unsuccessfully to keep from rolling their eyes that mom had another “plan.” I called it The Creasman Challenge 2010. And it’s what was the inspiration for this little list.

You two have grown out of Family Reading Night, and we’re all a little bored with taking turns picking which Hawker Centre to explore for Sunday lunch. I propose that we take turns each Sunday afternoon picking a family activity. 

Typical of teenagers, they acted like they didn’t want to go along with it. But we pressed on. And had a good run with it.


I hope it might be of some inspiration for those of you who feel your losing your kids to earbuds and indifference.

2008 Glossary of Grunts cartoon favourite

This was posted on our refrigerator for years! See how yellowed it is?


Below are some ideas to get you started on your Family Challenge!

Start off with a family date to brainstorm places you already know about and have enjoyed or have wanted to try.

Rotate through the family who is the member to choose and plan the activity. This way every few weeks you know will have a chance to do what you will enjoy. This will also get you through the tough weekend when your siblings choose karaoke or getting facials.

You can make it a friendly competition. Who can come up with the most fun yet inexpensive activity? Set a budget for how much they can spend per person, and let the kids start making choices for what you do together!

We used SUCCESS EXPRESS for TEENSfor discussion questions. It has loads of good ideas. NOTE: There will be more eye rolling. But they will still know you love them and be grateful later.


Rock Climbing. We went to Climber’s Laboratory (there are other locations) 

 Ski 360East Coast Park tow line for giving water skiing or wake boarding a try. There are also

Bike Rentals @ East Coast Park

Kayaking or stroll the path along the edge of Mac Ritchie Reservoir

Treetop Walk. Alexandra Road near Hort Park and Bedok Resevoir have these.

Water Parks Jurong East Swimming Complex 21 Jurong East Street 31 CHEAP! Operating Hours: 8.00am – 9.30pm (Tuesday to Sunday & Public Holidays), Closed on Monday

Another swimming pool with water slides is Sengkang Swimming Complex. Total 8 slides. 2 slides are for under 1.2m with a little playground.

Cerebral & Cultural

National Libraries.  Before you take  your next family trip, spend a day at the library finding books on the place you will visit. Learn as much as you all can in one afternoon. We spent an afternoon in the gorgeous and expansive National Library on Bras Basah near Bugis MRT. Each family member was assigned topics to become the family expert. We started reading about History, Major Religions & People Groups, Food, and the individual Cities we would visit

Changi War Memorial Museum It’s a trek all the way out to Changi, but it is a very special place to see where the POWs of the Allied Forces were kept during WWII. After the museum go check out Changi Village if there’s time. I mean, when’s the next time you’re going to get all the way out past the airport?

National Museum  93 Stamford Road in the Orchard area. History Gallery hours: 10am to 6pm, Daily. Last admission at 5.30pm and Singapore Living Galleries hours: 10am to 8pm, Daily from 6pm to 8pm, Last admission at 7.30pm. The museum has a $30 family package for foreigners and ifs free to Permanent Residents and Citizens.

Esplanade Arts Library – On the third level of the Esplanade Theatres on Marina Bay, check out this gorgeous library. Library card holders can rent 2 dvds at a time, and there are rooms available to rent (But, you’re not going to the Movie Theatres in this Family Challenge, so forget that). You can eat at one of the restaurants at Esplanade. We love Thai Express for a sunset dinner with view of skyline and on the weekends often has live music playing. The Library is closed on Public Holidays.

Shop in Little India and buy a whole bunch of stupid tourist trinkets. Spend time before dinner putting together care packages for your best family friends or family back home with an assortment of Singapore goodies, like an “I <3 Singapore” mug. Here’s CNN’s walking guide to Little India.

Arab Street & Turkish Restaurant. Try smoking a Sheesha Pipe together. Your kids won’t believe YOU suggested it. It’s safe, and has no nicotine. Guaranteed to make you laugh at each other. Take videos ’cause someone will deny you did it down the road.

Outdoors but not too Physical

Sentosa Luge and Skyway @Imbiah Lookout. The whole area is a good place to stroll and people watch on a Sunday. Sentosa 10am-9.30pm, 1800-SENTOSA (736-8672)

Botanic Gardens or Hort Park. Both have gorgeous greenery. Botanic has been around since the dawn of time, so it’s more…mature (and larger).

Marina Barrage go fly kites!

Marina Bay. Walk along the waterfront, stopping for family photos or rest stops. It’s a 3K walk.  Starting at One Fullerton or Marina Bay Sands. Most people think the only way to see the view from the top of MBS is to pay for the elevator. NO! Wait for a special occasion and go to Sky on 57 for the breakfast buffet. It’s not anymore expensive than other buffets in town, and it is a breathtaking view they won’t rush you away from.

Another good family walk is from Robertson Quay to Boat Quay. And of Course, under the Super Trees at Gardens by the Bay.

Skygarden at Orchard Central

Places to Stay Cool and Chill…

Changi Airport. You’ve always rushed through on your way to catch a flight or back home again. Take an afternoon to hang out and enjoy the terminals. Play truth or dare and dare one another to do crazy things in public.

Lobbies/Lobby Bars of Five Star Hotels. Take a tour of a few in an afternoon. Discuss the design of the lobby, and find out what each family member’s preferred styles are and why. My favourites are Goodwood Park Hotel Lobby and pools, The Fullerton (near the piano), and the Shangri La (both of them). As far as bars go, Asia One at the top level of the Swiss Hotel next to Equinox [City Hall MRT]. If you go in the afternoon before the nighttime clientele come, it has a great view and the staff won’t mind you having the kids along. They didn’t when we went. But my kids are well behaved [*cough*]

and then, of course there’s always…Karaoke and Bowling which will probably have some resistance, but you’ll end up having a great time!

Quick Get Away

St. John’s Island Discover more about our precious, wild seashores! Suitable for kids 8 years and above.

Riders Lodge, and hour north in Malaysia by car. Horseback riding and a nice ranch for an afternoon or evening meal.

Harris Ranch hotel on Batam has loads of fun things to do with families.


It’s hard to find places to serve here. I admit. But there are some. Volunteer Singapore has a blog.


Don’t miss these while you live here:

Chingay Parade, Singapore Street Festival! , Singapore Slingers Game (Basketball)

With a Dog (or enjoy someone else’s)

Dog ParksWest Coast Park, Bishan Park or K9 Campus at the entrance of Turf City.

What if it Rains?

Watch old home videos.

YouTube Favorites. Each family  member takes turns sharing a favourite YouTube video clip.

Go through Christmas cards to help them know and remember old family friends, or sort through the kids boxes of Primary School art and memorabilia together (they can help you purge!)

Fix-it day of homerepairs/improvement and then go somewhere to celebrate the hours of work you all put in on something that needed to be done. Pasar Bella at Turf City is a good place to try if you’ve not browsed the upmarket trendy cafes there. Check closing time.

Whatever You Do…

Take lots of PHOTOS: We have a Flickr album of the best of. We wish it all didn’t have to end, but the boys are both studying in USA now. They were back in Singapore for August 2013, and we revisited some favorite spots.

We have an empty nest now, and we have a heart full of many good memories. More of those than the frustrating memories of living with teenagers in those transition years.

I’m out of steam writing now, but here are a few more to search: Asian Civilizations Museum, Chinese Garden, Mini golf LilPut, take a CPR class, Board Game cafe (or take a board game to a fav cafe). What else am I missing? Check out:



Leave a Reply