IMAGE Dinosaur Land/Facebook and Sky Ranch Pampanga/Facebook
In case you and your family are looking for a short but sweet break , you may want to check out Pampanga. People often talk about the place because of its good food (well-deserved), but there are also a lot of options for adventure, sightseeing, and recreation. The travel time is also a huge plus--you can reach most of these places under two to three hours from Manila (although there is road expansion as of this writing, North Luzon Expressway is a dream for drivers because the roads are well-maintained). So if you're on a tight budget, you can get your money's worth for a daytime trip. (Click the names for exact addresses.)
Ride the Giant Swing, improve your balancing skills in the Aerial Walk Challenge, climb up the Adventure Tower, or fly high atop the Roller Coaster Zipline. These are just some of the daring activities you and your kids can enjoy in Sandbox. It’s best to be there as soon as the park opens at 9 a.m. since there is a limited capacity for the rides. Once your kids get a taste of the outdoors, they’ll be raring to go on more thrilling adventures! Most rides are suitable for kids 7 years old and above, while some activities have a height restriction. SandBox is in Alviera, Porac.
Get a glimpse into the rich history of the former Clark Air Base and the surrounding towns through an interactive tour of this museum. Several galleries showcase different aspects of past and present life in Clark. Don’t miss “Risen From the Ashes,” a 20-minute documentary film where you and the kids can view the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo--complete with special effects like wind, mist, and bubbles. Clark Museum and 4D Theater is located at E. Jacinto Street, Clark Freeport, Mabalacat.
Fans of the Jurassic Park series will get a kick out of this dinosaur theme park. Walk along the forest trail, and be prepared to come face-to-face with life-sized, animatronic dinosaurs! Make sure to warn the kids though, as the dinosaurs’ roars can be quite scary. You can also learn more about the age of the dinosaurs through a guided tour, see giant fossils, and watch a dancing dino show. Dinosaurs Island is located at Clark Freeport Zone, Angeles City
Parents and their teens may enjoy this more since to get to here, you need a 4x4 ride to head to the rugged landscape around Mt. Pinatubo where Puning Hot Spring and Restaurant is located. Swim in the warm, natural pools at the foot of the volcano, followed by a soothing spa experience, where you will be buried in sand from the neck down. You can also enjoy a buffet meal at the restaurant, where you can meet and take photos with Aetas decked in their native costumes. Puning Hot Spring and Restaurant is in Sitio Target, Barangay Sapang Bato, Angeles City.
5. Say a prayer at the Parish Church of St. James the Apostle (Betis Church).
When you step inside this centuries-old church, you’ll know why it’s known as “the Sistine Chapel of the Philippines.” Even the kids will be amazed at the exquisite paintings of religious figures and bible scenes adorning the ceiling and the walls. To learn more about the church’s history, take a few steps next door and see the vintage photographs at the Museo Ning Betis. Parish Church of St. James the Apostle is in Barangay San Nicolas, Betis, Guagua
Want to ride the country’s tallest ferris wheel? You’ll find it in Sky Ranch Pampanga. A family of four will fit comfortably in one of its air-conditioned gondolas. At 65 meters above the ground, you’ll get a stunning bird’s eye view of Mt. Arayat and the fields of Pampanga. Scared of heights? No sweat! The amusement park has other rides, like the Double Decker Carousel and Loop Roller Coaster, as well as fun games you and your kids can play. Sky Ranch Pampanga is in San Fernando.
The old Pamintuan mansion built in 1890 now houses the museum of social history, which contains intricate dioramas featuring different Philippine architectural styles, as well as displays of clothing and accessories, antique furniture, and more. Pay special attention to Gallery 7 and 8, where you can teach your kids about different traditional Filipino games and Philippine mythological creatures. The best part? Entrance is free! Museo ng Kasaysayang Panlipunan ng Pilipinas, Santo Entiero Street corner Miranda Street, Angeles City.
8. Go on a food trip around Angeles City. Going around the different tourist spots in Pampanga will surely leave you feeling famished. Fuel up at Aling Lucing Sisig, home of Pampanga’s signature dish. Cool of with a glass of Kabigting’s Halo-Halo—it’s not your typical halo-halo as it only has three key ingredients: crushed red beans, creamed corn, and pastillas made out of carabao’s milk that all blend perfectly with the creamy milk and crushed ice. Before heading home, don’t forget to take home a box of native kakanin from Susie’s Cuisine.
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Aling Lucing Sisig is located at Glaciano Valdez Street, Barangay Agapito del Rosario, Angeles City. Kabigting’s Halo-Halo has a branch at the ground level of Marquee Mall (via NLEX Angeles exit) Susie’s Cuisine, 36 Hilda Street, Nepo Mart, Angeles City