You would think, being that there are so many of them around, that Xela would be well set up for kids, but the opposite is often true – playgrounds are rare, often neglected and sometimes dangerous and activities, when they exist often involve a certain “magical clown”who many parents try to avoid at all costs. So, continuing on in our fine tradition of publishing articles that may be of some use to about 1% of our readers, this month we bring you the lowdown on what to do with the anklebiters in Xela.
Restaurants: While all the major, chain-style junk food palaces have play areas, these are unappetizing for a variety of reasons. There are two major exceptions: Albamar (4a Calle 13-84, Zona 3) has a fantastic outdoor play area (complete with vertigo-inducing slides) and serves reasonably decent chicken and pizza and even has a couple of traditional dishes like pepian and jocom. San Martín (front of La Pradera Mall, Zona 3) is a bakery/café that has OK meals, great sandwiches and good coffee. The indoor play area here is a bonus for those rainy days.
Playgrounds: Downtown, the Parque Calvario (4a Calle, Zona 1) has the best playground, although the broken and rusty metal play equipment might make you think twice. Best in town is out at the Zoo (cnr 4a Calle & Av Las Americas, Zona 3), which, apart from having a decent monkey enclosure and some very depressing cages, has the best swings, slides, climbing frames, etc open to the public.
Out of Town: On the outskirts of town are two very good options – El Rancho (Atras del asilio, Zona 10) which serves OK food and has a range of kids activities (including horserides, a Gotcha range, ziplines and a climbing wall (all of which cost around the Q10-20 mark) along with an OK play area with a treehouse, swing set, etc. The other option close by is El Baul (Cerro El Baul, Zona 5) which is a park and protected area on a hill overlooking Xela. Facilities are fairly light on, but the concrete slides that run down the hillside should keep the kids entertained for a while.
Miscellaneous: The cinema at La Pradera is cheap (Q25, 2 for 1 on Wednesdays) and always has at least one kids movie showing – see the Prensa Libre for the schedule. Futeca (Diagonal 2 27-61, Zona 3) has a football/soccer training camp that kids can join on a casual basis. Girls are encouraged, but there aren’t many out there. The Complejo Deportivo (4a Calle Zona 3) has a vaguely clean, vaguely heated swimming pool plus tennis lessons for kids. If you really get stuck, take them down to the gloomy, understocked, subterranean Municipal Library (basement, cnr 12 Av & 7a Calle, Zona 1) so they can see just how good they’ve got it back home.