Not only has Mushrif Central Park finally opened, providing an amazing new public space for Abu Dhabi residents, but it is also a new venue for the beloved Ripe Food and Craft Market every Saturday, from 4pm to 9pm.
On both of the market days so far, crowds flocked to the beautifully designed park to end the weekend on a high thanks to the community favourite the market has become.
With food trucks, arts and crafts stalls, vendors, live music and children’s activities, there really is something for everyone at the market.
But what about the rest of the week, when there are no stalls and tranquillity reigns? Is the park as much fun and worth a visit?
We say yes, especially for parents with young kids. The park feels like a gift for families. Its many different areas help to educate children while they’re having fun in a clean, smoke-free, outdoor space.
Here are seven reasons why you should take every opportunity to visit the park.
The Music Garden
There is a soundtrack to Mushrif Central Park: tasteful music from hundreds of discreetly placed speakers. But in one particular area, adjacent to one of the many children’s playgrounds and jungle gyms, you will find giant percussion instruments in the Music Garden. There are four drums and a variety of tubular bells, some of which resemble a marimba, and are a delight to play with, for children and adults alike.
Learn through play
Large metal structures near one of the sandy playgrounds seem to be illustrating the laws of physics. There are pulleys to play with, levers to pull that direct wind through tubes to sound a musical note, and a huge, metal contraption that you can push and watch as it slides downhill then returns to its original spot. There are also carnival mirrors that distort your reflection. Children will learn about cause and effect, the idea that every action has a reaction, simply by playing with the structures throughout the park.
Feed the imagination
The park feeds a child’s imagination. The mammoth metal structure over the outdoor amphitheatre area resembles the ribcage of a dinosaur and can provide hours of play.
The children’s play area mimics the arid landscape of the desert and comes complete with bridges, tents, valleys and rocks, ideal for a game of hide-and-seek or an imaginative pretend adventure. Metal fish are embedded in the rock of the man-made streams running through the park and rocky steps in the water have been filed down to remove sharp edges. This is all in addition to the playgrounds dotted around the park, with swings, slides and monkey bars galore.
Goats, sheep, ponies, donkeys and camels are the highlights of the Animal Barn area and kids are encouraged to feed them, pet them and observe as their stalls are cleaned.
There are camel rides each day between 5pm and 9pm, with one free ride per guest. Interaction with the animals is free and children are taught about compassion and kindness towards them.
Plants in the mist
There is an open-air botanic garden, shaded by a 28-metre-high structure, in which tropical plants and trees grow in a moisture-controlled environment, which means a continuous, cool mist envelops the area. It’s magical for a child to walk through the thick vegetation, which feels like it’s inside a cloud. To add to the sense of adventure, the structure has two upper-level viewing platforms overlooking the park and surrounding areas, accessible by stairs or a lift.
A small, colourful train chugs its way through the park from noon onwards, for Dh15 per person (or per child sitting on a parent’s lap). It’s an excellent way to see more of the park’s 14 hectares quickly and easily – and ideal when a toddler needs a rest after running around.
There is exercise equipment near each children’s play area, meaning that parents can get a workout in the fresh air while children are having fun – a win-win situation.
Entry to Mushrif Central Park costs Dh5 per person, free for children age 3 and under. The park is open from 10am to 10pm daily. Visit www.mushrifcentralpark.ae for more information