So you’ve survived the airports and airplanes and have finally arrived at your destination, Rabat, Morocco! Marhaba, Welcome, My friend! The kids are eager to roam freely and explore and there are some great places to let them do just that.
1. The Chellah
Families with a wide range of children can enjoy the opportunity to time travel (think: take a ride on the Magic School Bus or climb into the Magic Tree House!) and transport themselves to the Roman era at the Chellah. After a short introduction about preserving the past (and not climbing on the ruins) children can explore the garden paths and ancient city freely and in the safety of the walls. Take a time to pretend play and bring a picnic to really stay a while – the memories created evolve with the simplicity of letting the moments unfold.
2. Hassan Tour and Mausoleum
Children can also roam freely and in safety at Hassan Tour and Mausoleum, two additional historical sites; the pillars are a unique spot for hide and seek! Be cognizant here of the lack of shade and choose a cool time of day, morning or early evening may be best, as there are no trees here. A spot run to wild before nap time or to let the wiggles out before bedtime!
3. The beach!
The Rabat beaches in Harhoura are just outside of the city. You can either take the highway, heading south to Casablanca and exit at the first exit, called Temera. Or you can drive along the coast road from downtown, again, heading south toward Casablanca. In August, the beaches are quite crowded, but in autumn, winter and spring, you could quite easily have the beach to yourself. The board walk at the Casino Beach (no casino, it’s just oddly enough, the name of the beach) has camel and pony rides during the summer.
You can rent chairs and a table all year round for around 60 dirhams a day. The tidal pools are wonderful at low tide and the sand is always fun for children. Many people do swim, however, I tend to be cautious in the waters and not allow my children to swim here as the undercurrent can be quickly turn to dangerous.
4. The Rabat Zoo
The Rabat Zoo is recently renovated, wonderfully clean and organized and in addition to seeing the animals in their natural habitat, has one of the best playgrounds in the city! They have restaurants just as you enter the zoo and kiosks for light meals and snacks dispersed all around the zoo. You can also bring your own picnic and feast at one of the many picnic table areas. My favorite spot is the cave to watch the chimpanzees and we often picnic in the shaded area there. The signs about the animals, although in French and Arabic, are very informative. Currently you can not rent strollers at the zoo and as the trail is extensive, be ready to carry some tired toddlers as needed (or plan on seeing just half and make your way over to the playground for a picnic). During the week, schools often visit during the school year, but on a whole, it is so well laid out that despite multiple school groups, it doesn’t see to ever feel overly crowded.
Take a look at their website, rabatzoo.ma for undated information for hours and prices.
5. Rain day? Try Rabat’s many museums
My top three rainy day activities for exploring Rabat with young children are the Natural Science Museum in Agdal, the Maroc Telecom Museum in Hay Riad and the little known secret, the Postal Museum downtown (near Tour Hassan). One option might be to choose two and pause for lunch out in between. Any blue petite taxi will know where these are located in the city and may be the most direct way of getting to each.
Most importantly, wherever you are and where ever you go – bring water and snacks, a new book or two–The Butterman takes place in Morocco–and be ready to explore the world around you through your children’s eyes- it’s a whole new perspective!
About the author: Regina is the mother of two trilingual children and has called Rabat home for over 15 years. She has degrees in early childhood education and curriculum development and is always on the lookout for opportunities for little ones to learn. When traveling with her young ones, she always has new books (paperback and lightweight) to read. She is not a fan of electronic devises, preferring instead the teachable moments, child-centered exploration, and imagination play of the real world.