Palma with the family

 

Photos: Tolo Balaguer Text: JTM

 

With its old town centre full of history, almost totally pedestrianised and with a bike lane with not too many slopes joining Palma centre with all of the bay, the city is perfect for visiting on foot, with baby carriers, on tandems or with prams. All of this is possible with a range of private and public activities, including many cheaper options, that the city offers to the many families who choose to wander through it.
 
Palma has eight major parks and many more with children's play areas. You should see the Parc de la Mar by the Cathedral, the enormous Sa Riera, Ses Estacions, the Castell de Bellver and its wood, Es Carnatge, Sa Petrolera and Sa Quarentena. Most have leisure areas, and although  the Parc de la Mar lacks a playpark, it does have a lake with a spectacular geyser and is near s'Hort del Rei and its swan lake, as well as near museums, bookshops and libraries which offer family activities. These are mainly educational workshops or storytelling sessions focusing on literature and crafts or -in the case of the museums- art.
 

Undoubtedly, Palma's giant bay and fantastic climate are an invitation to go out and explore the water's edge. Visitors of all ages will enjoy going along it by bike, scooter, skates, or on foot, moving around the Portixol with all its arrocerías (rice restaurants) and bars with terraces as far as Palma Aquarium, following the promenade and bike lanes linking the city centre and other tourist areas.
 
 
Culture for the family
 
The cultural centres and shops of Palma generally offer their family activities on Saturday mornings. It's the day when the Es Baluard, CaixaForum and Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró museums hold workshops inspired by their exhibitions. Also on Saturdays, CineCiutat offers children's screenings and babysitting services while parents watch other films. It is worth keeping an eye out for these events, which attract a large public. 
 
The play centre at the Centre Flassaders has a selection of educational games for younger children. The centre also has a service called TempsXtu (time for you) which offers flexible timetables for families. http://www.flassaders.org.
 
In the literary sphere, public libraries offer an all-year-round programme of storytelling sessions and added activities, especially on Saturdays. The most active are the smaller neighbourhood ones and those in Can Sales, Josep Maria Llompart (in the Parc de s’Escorxador), Joan Alcover and La Misericòrdia. Bookshops like Baobab, Drac Màgic and Agapea also hold regular storytelling sessions and workshops. 
 

And if you want to show your children the best architectural heritage in the city don't miss the long list of palaces and churches, the Castell de Bellver and its wood, s'Hort del Rei with its quiet swans, or the Castell de Sant Carles. The Porto Pi lighthouse, one of the oldest in the world, is mainly limited to school excursions, but once in a while it opens up its fantastic collection of giant lightbulbs to the general public. A bit of imagination will transport you to one of the bays that all pirates dreamed of. 
 
With animals 
 
An island with Majorca's natural resources was bound to include places that encourage children to get to know animals. Paradoxically, getting to know animals makes us more human. The Biogranja La Real organises everything from birthdays with rabbits, hens and ponies, to competitions with fruit and vegetables from the garden. It also organises recycling workshops practically every Saturday. The Granja Jovent works on similar lines and, although aimed mainly at schools, also offers family activities.
 
You mustn't miss Palma Aquarium, near the airport. In addition to being educational, aimed at showing the wealth of fauna in our oceans, especially the Mediterranean, this enormous aquarium has just opened the Nautilus Park, an indoor games and activity area to add to the entertaining pirate ship already found in its outdoor gardens. Plus, any braver kids over eight can get to go diving with stingrays. Amazing!
 
 
“Museu de sa Jugueta”
 
There are few sensations more magical than being surrounded by hundreds of toys which have been played with by hundreds of children for a hundred years. You can almost hear the squeaky wheels, organ music and laughter of the little ones in this museum, located in an old building. The fabulous Toni Roig toy collection has been on display for two years. It is heaven for small children, since as well as a museum, it has a play room and restaurant-bar with everything a family could need. This must-visit really is time-travel. And they make it easy for you: the museum opens every day at 9.30 a.m. and at weekends the restaurant doesn't close until midnight. 
 
 
Good clean fun
 
In recent years Palma has seen an increase (answering the demand) in the  number of leisure establishments for children. There is one which recreates Sherwood Forest (www.sherwoodpark.es), and others which look like large theme parks. There is a great variety and it won't be hard to find something to suit you. And unlike other theme parks, many of these also have complementary spaces for adults. After all, kings can be princes too.