After even just a few days in fast-paced, hyper-urban Manila, you and the kids might be inclined to beat the retreat, if only for a day. Fortunately, less than an hour’s drive from the Conrad is a great spot where a family can shift into the slow lane. (Indeed, Manila’s expat parents swear by the place.) The Sta. Elena Fun Farm makes a perfect escape for all ages: you and your brood can cast lines for fish, feed goats, cows, and pigs at the petting zoo, and saddle up for rides on a carabao (water buffalo). Of course, children may decide to ignore all that the farm has to offer and just do what comes naturally: running wild across the estate’s lush, rolling grounds. There’s a natural playground of carved wooden see-saws and hand-hewn log swing sets, a network of trails to explore, and mini-ziplines between the treetops that even the bravest of toddlers can enjoy. There’s also a casual café with kid-friendly snacks and sandwiches. The whole excursion can easily be done in 5 hours round-trip. It’s best to plan your visit for either the morning (before the mid-day heat sets in) or the late afternoon (from 3 p.m. till dusk). Either way, the ride home will be a peaceful one as your blissfully exhausted kids conk out for a nap after a restorative day on the farm.
Sta. Elena Fun Farm is 45 kilometers south of Conrad Manila, an easy 50-minute drive without traffic. Take the South Luzon Expressway; the farm is right after the Santa Rosa Exit. Avoid Friday afternoons and holiday weekends.