Since I arrived in Armenia last year, I’ve been a much happier mom. I feel more accepted here when I’m out and about with my kids than anywhere else in the world. In Armenia, kids are the national treasure, even if they are your foreign kids (see my earlier blog post!).
I’ve been waiting for nine months for my security clearance to come through to start working in the embassy, so I’ve gotten to explore the city quite a bit already.
I have a baby and a 4-year old son, so I’m always looking for places to go for that particular age group. Here is a list of the places we enjoyed going:
1. The Cascade is a giant stairway made of limestone and one of the most famous sights in Yerevan. The stairs are a fun challenge to climb, but you can also take the escalators. There are also contemporary sculptures, plenty of restaurants, and a beautiful fountain. Plus: it’s very close to Santa Fe restaurant and Zazaland, in case the kids get hungry or bored.
Address: 10 Tamanyan St, Yerevan
2. Zazaland is a downtown amusement park for little kids. The rides seem more updated here than in other places and include trampolines, jungle gyms, arts and crafts, excavators, carrousels, and water cycles. The area is lined with restaurants and a brewery (Beer Academy).
Address: Moskovyan Street, Yerevan
3. Haghtanak Amusement Park is bigger and cheaper than Zazaland, but also a bit outdated. Because it’s in Victory Park though, there’s more space for kids to run around, and the cheap toys they sell there are always a big hit with my son. Once he’s done with the carnival rides, we go for a walk to enjoy the view of Yerevan from above, or pass by the Mother Armenia Statue and the war museum.
Address: Victory Park
4. Tumanyan Park is a glorious park with several playgrounds, picnic tables, and a tiny river stream. It happens to be close to my house, which is great, because we love to spend time there on a sunny day while my son runs around barefoot and we relax on a blanket under the trees.
Address: 13 Halabyan St, Yerevan
5. Children’s Railway Park is yet another attraction park but this one is also nice because, in addition to some fun rides, it has a small train that runs down Hrazdan gorge that dates back to early Soviet times (it opened in 1937).
Address: 130 Dzorapi Street, Yerevan
6. Ararat Golf Club is Yerevan’s only golf club and it’s rather basic, but that’s actually perfect when you bring kids who are terrible at golf! The club is happy to loan you a child-sized club (and watch your baby, if you want). There is also a mini golf course, a playground, and a clubhouse with a large outdoor pool. The whole facility feels very “back to the fifties”, but in a good, relaxing kind of way.
Address: M1, Yerevan
7. Yerevan Zoo is just as busy and exhausting as any other zoo in the world (that I’ve been to anyway), but I still liked it. It’s inexpensive and not very big, so you can see most of the animals within an hour, maybe two. There are playgrounds and cafes, and outside the gate there are some kids rides. The only bummer, for me, was that it’s a hilly area so it was quite a workout to push the baby’s stroller up and down.
Address: 20 Myasnikyan Ave, Yerevan
8. Bangladesh Market is great if you want to experience the real Yerevan. Especially in the summer and fall, you’ll find heaps of Armenia’s famous fruits (pomegranates, apricots), and your kids will get plenty of it for free because that’s just the Armenian culture! It’s kind of dingy and dark, but I think it’s nice that farmers can sell their produce there directly.
9. Hotel Swimming Pools
I heard several of my friends rave about different hotel pools, but the ones that stand out most are the Best Western Hotel pool, located on Italy Street 1 and, my personal favorite: the Multi Wellness Center outdoor pool, which is huge and has a “swim-up bar”! It's a bit pricey at AMD 14,000 per person, but if you make a group reservation it's possible to pay only half that amount.
10. Freedom Square is a big square in front of at the state opera house where kids get to play and run around freely. It's not immediately on the road, so it's pretty safe. There are plenty of little rides and bikes, scooters and kids-cars for rent, and in the summer there are bouncy castles and little stands to do arts-and-crafts.
Address: Freedom Square
11. Ice-skating indoors in the winter months (December-February) in Karen Demirchyan Sports/Concerts Complex is great; just rent a couple of skates there and go! For outdoor ice-skating I enjoyed Winterpark, and once my kids are older I’ll definitely try out the Swan Lake.
Address: Tsitsernakaberd hill, Yerevan
12. Winterpark is an outdoor attraction park with a Christmas theme, rides, ice-skating rink and snow tubing hill. It can look a little dreary during the day, especially when there’s no snow, but it’s definitely fun for kids. You pay per ride, as in all other attraction parks, which is nice because you don’t feel committed to being there a full day or something.
Address: Tbilisyan Hwy, Yerevan
13. In-Art studio
A friend of mine recommended this place because it’s very family-friendly and they offer a lot of different things like painting, pottery baking, candle making, etc. on request. And as most things go in Armenia: it’s very affordable.
Address: Baghramyan St. 30, Yerevan 0013, Armenia
14. State Puppet Theater
I hesitated going to the puppet theater because it’s only in Armenian, however, I shouldn’t have worried. The show was very well done and my 4-year old son, who doesn’t speak Armenian, loved it. It’s inexpensive and there’s a free puppet exhibition in the lobby.
Address: 4 Sayat-Nova Ave, Yerevan
15. Captain Kid Treasure Island (located in Yerevan Mall) is a big indoor entertainment center for kids of different ages, and includes a small bowling alley. It’s perfect for a rainy day, and sometimes I just drop my family off so I can shop. You can find similar entertainment options in Dalma Mall, by the way.
Address: 34 Arshakunyats Ave, Yerevan
16. Good Time is an entertainment center that focuses 100% on kids. There are rides, games, and a lot of people use it for birthday parties. I’d say it’s best for kids a little bit older than mine (5+).
Address: 34 Halabyan St, Yerevan
It’s funny to me that when I read Tripadvisor reviews on family-friendly restaurants in Yerevan, I see lots of people complaining about the menu or the lack of service. Personally I think that, even when the food or waiting staff isn’t always perfect, we should all be thrilled that there are restaurants that cater so well to kids here. In general, I find them relaxing, pleasant on the eye, and the menus are very similar to other good restaurants.
17. El Garden is a beautiful outdoor restaurant located in a hilltop park with an awesome play area for kids. The restaurant, which has a separate area for families, is huge, and the design is amazing – check out the pictures!
Address: Tsitsernakaberd Park 8, Yerevan
18. Santa Fe is a great option for outdoor eating in the summer months. It is located right across from the Cascade; there is a supervised playground (costs 3,000 dram); there are several different places to eat; and when it’s hot outside kids can play (for free) with the multi-colored water fountains that shoot up from the ground.
Address: Tamanian Park, Yerevan 0002, Armenia
19. Coffee Story is a nice café that happens to have excellent food (try the steak) and a supervised “Crayola room” where you pay per 30 minutes. While we had our dinner there my son played with other kids downstairs and had a great time.
Address: 98/9 Nalbandyan St, Yerevan
20. Kings Garden is a huge restaurant with a kids entertainment center, a small jungle gym and, on Saturdays, a life Transformers show! I only went there once, and I thought the place looked over-the-top, but I like that it is big, clean, and the food is decent.
Address: 40 Sayat-Nova Ave, Yerevan
I just like to add one more thing about this post, which is that I only recommend these places to people with small kids. I did these activities with my very social and active 4-year old son and he loved all of it. He didn’t see that some of these places appear outdated, and he wasn’t able to compare it to the US or Western European standard (because he’s too young to remember living there).
The key to enjoying these activities and restaurants in Yerevan is to take it for what it is, however basic some of these things might look to you. In my mind, these are all reasonably priced options (except perhaps for the swimming pools) where kids can be kids, and I can be relaxed because my kids are in good hands. I just love to be out in Yerevan and enjoy the fabulous Armenian hospitality, which goes in overdrive once it concerns children. That’s all!