Tagaytay City in Cavite is probably the most popular choice for a quick weekend or day trip for those coming from Metro Manila. Its cooler climate, refreshing sights and good restaurants offer an easy escape for locals. Other towns in Cavite also offer historic spots and resorts ideal for sports and recreational activities. Thanks to an invitation from Microtel Eagle Ridge in Cavite, I got to revisit some old favorites and discover some new things to do in the area.
Here’s a look at some family-friendly activities you can do in and near Tagaytay City.
1. Try out the rides at Sky Ranch
Sky Ranch is a relatively new leisure park in Tagaytay that aims to be a complete day destination for families and groups of friends. The leisure park offers activities like horseback riding and a mini-amusement theme park with rides ideal for kids. The main attraction is the Sky Eye, currently the tallest Ferris Wheel in the country, at 63-meters high, with 32 air-conditioned gondolas, from where you can get a great view overlooking Taal Volcano and lake. The second most popular ride is the Super Viking, similar to EK’s “Anchors Away” that will leave your stomach up in the air.
Other kiddie rides include the Sky Cruiser, where you have to pedal your way through a roller-coaster like course, the Nessi Coaster, Red Baron, Wonder Flight, Mini Viking, Express Train, Carousel and Bubble Fun. And of course, as in all popular tourist spots, there’s the inevitable zipline right next to Sky Ranch, where you can zip down with a nice view.
- Sky Ranch. Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway, Tagaytay City
- Entrance fee: P50 (weekdays), P80 (weekends and holidays), each ride has its own ticket (average ticket per ride is P50 each)
- Opening hours: Sky Ranch is open daily from 10 am to 8 pm.
- Contact info: (02) 8570100 LOC 1450
- Facebook: Sky Ranch Tagaytay
2. Visit the Puzzle Mansion
When in Tagaytay, it’s hard to miss all the signs pointing to the Puzzle Mansion, the home of the world’s largest collection of jigsaw puzzles. Tagaytay local and jigsaw puzzle aficionado Gina Lacuna converted her family resthouse to a gallery/museum and bed & breakfast after being awarded by the Guinness Book of World Records last November 2012. The mansion houses her extensive and ever-growing collection of solved puzzles (1,028 when she got the record, but much more now).
These aren’t your run-of-the-mill jigsaw puzzles either. There are puzzles with tiny and irregularly shaped pieces, 2D and 3D puzzles, puzzles made of wood, those that take the shape of balls or vases when solved, and even puzzles of famous landmarks around the world. There’s also a framed piece of the largest commercial puzzle in the world (17 feet tall x 6 feet wide) which Lacuna recently solved, composed of over 32,000 pieces!!! Visiting the Puzzle Mansion place may just inspire you to buy your own jigsaw puzzles (there are lots to choose from their souvenir shop) to take home and solve with the kids.
- Puzzle Mansion, Purok 4 Cuadra, St. Barangay Asisan, Tagaytay City
- Entrance fee: P100 per person
- Contact info: +632-425-5195, +632-661-0019, +63905-225-0229
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/PuzzleMansion
3. Relax at Sonya’s Garden
Sonya’s Garden has long been a family favorite. This picturesque bed and breakfast, and restaurant is where you can enjoy healthy meals in a lush garden setting.
There are lots of romantic spots and benches set amidst hanging vines and tree branches ideal for photo ops as well as lots of Instagram-worthy details like flowers in bowls of water, mosaic tiles and rare plants. The romantic setting has made Sonya’s Garden a very popular honeymoon and destination wedding venue.
While it may no longer be the elusive “secret garden” it once was years ago, it’s always pleasant to stop by here when you’re in the area. Walk around the landscaped brick walkways, get a massage at Sonya’s spa, or stop by the panaderia for freshly made bread.
New additions include a country store that sells organic produce, a furniture store that sells antiques and shabby-chic items, and a souvenir shop that sells eco-friendly and handcrafted products.
- Sonya’s Garden. Barangay Buck Estate, Alfonso, Cavite (near the vicinity of Tagaytay City)
- Contact info: +63-9175329097, +63-9175335140, +63-9175231080
- Email: email@example.com
- Operating hours: Sonya’s Garden is open for breakfast from 8-9:30 am. Set menus are served for lunch and dinner.
- Website: www.sonyasgarden.com
4. Review history at the GBR Museum
If you’re a history buff, you might want to check out the Geronimo Berenguer de los Reyes Jr. Museum or GBR Museum in General Trias, about 30 minutes away from Tagaytay. The well-curated museum contains photographic exhibits that offer a glimpse back at 19th and 20th century Philippines. The collection which spreads over five galleries, shows photos, antique books, and memorabilia of the country’s glorious past.
It was interesting to see how the streets of Old Manila and landmarks around the country used to look like. According to museum curator Ramon Caparas of the GBR Foundation Inc., since the museum houses rare and historic items, photography is not allowed in most of the historical galleries to prevent reproduction of photos.
Photography is allowed near the museum entrance, lobby area, hallways and some of the galleries that I found particularly interesting – the World Aviation History Exhibit, which “traces the evolution of air and space transportation from the Wright Brothers ‘Flying Machine’ to commercial and combat aircrafts, to NASA’s Lunar Roving Vehicle.” The exhibit contains 47 colored in-flight aircraft paintings executed by Stan Stokes, an artist from the USA who did similar paintings for the Smithsonian Institute. Aviation geeks will definitely love this. Having been to many small, not-so well maintained museums in several provinces, it’s great to know that we have quality museums like this in the country.
- GBR Museum. Gateway Business Park, Brg. Javalera, Gen. Trias, Cavite
- Entrance fee: P100 for adults, P70 for children and P80 for senior citizens. Foreigners: P250 (adult), P200 (children).
- Museum hours: Tuesday-Sundays, Holidays: 9:00 am – 12:00 noon, 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
- Contact info: Tel. nos: (046) 433-0313, 433-0021, Fax. no: (046) 433-0129, Cell: 0933-1640310
- Website: www.gbrmuseum.com.ph
5. Have a staycation
While Tagaytay City is relatively near Metro Manila, it’s still far enough for a weekend getaway. To maximize your trip, it’s best to stay a night or two so you have more time to go around.
Microtel Eagle Ridge in General Trias, Cavite is a good option for families and groups who want a private sanctuary with a countryside feel to unwind. I’ve stayed in branches of Microtel in Baguio and Tarlac before, and all their hotels make use of very comfortable chiropractic-approved “healthy for the back” mattresses, which always leads to a very restful stay. As a bonus, guests can enjoy the facilities of the Eagle Ridge Golf & Country Club, since the hotel is located within its premises. For more on the rooms & amenities check out this hotel feature on Microtel Eagle Ridge in Cavite.
- Microtel by Wyndham, Eagle Ridge Golf & Country Club, Amadeo Road, General Trias, Cavite
- Contact info: TelL +63 (46) 509 3333
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.microtel-cavite.com
6. Cool down at the country club
Eagle Ridge Golf & Country Club has several sports and leisure facilities, including a resort-style swimming pool, complete with water slide, bridge walkways and even sand simulating the beach. Since nearby beaches and more accessible pools in the metro will probably be really crowded this summer, this offers a good, exclusive spot away from the crowds.
- Eagle Ridge Golf & Country Club, Cavite
- Rates for swimming pool: P100/person for guests (non-members), towel rental: P20/piece
7. Go biking
The exclusive property of Eagle Ridge Country Club has secure and paved roads, with lots of cemented trails for golf carts that pass through the 4 different championships courses. Not a lot of cars pass through here, so the area is very safe and secure for biking even for children.
Microtel Eagle Ridge currently has a “family day out” package that includes an overnight stay for four, with an option to avail of 1 hour use of bikes for 4 persons as well as some other activities. Bike rentals are also available to other checked-in guests. If you’re driving to Tagaytay, you may want to load your own bikes on a car to do some sightseeing. Some bikers even prefer to bike all the way from Manila and back.
- Rates: Microtel’s Family day out package w/ bikes for costs P4,500/net inclusive of overnight stay for 4 persons
- Bike rentals: If you’re checked in as a guest, you can also rent mountain bikes for P250/3 hours
8. Hit the driving range
Substitute the Wii for a real life taste of golf at Eagle Ridge’s driving rage, where you can practice your golf swing. I found that hitting golf balls was surprisingly stress-relieving. Though it doesn’t seem like much exercise at first glance, it’s a real workout.
- Rates for driving range: Day rate: 6:00 am to P6:00 pm, 150/hour for members, P200/hour for non-members. Night: 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm: P300/hour, Day and night unlimited 6:00 am – 10:00 pm – One month P8,100
9. Strike out
Bowling is another family-friendly activity that people don’t get to enjoy much anymore. Eagle Ridge has a very modern, well-maintained fourteen-lane pin-bowling center open to guests. I haven’t gone bowling in ages and it was fun to play this again. If only my ball didn’t keep going into the gutter. Be sure to bring socks if you plan to try this out.
- Rates for bowling alley: P60/game for guests, bowling shoes rental: P20/pair, Instructor’s fee: P150/hour
10. Go on a food trip
All that sightseeing and sports activities will probably leave you hungry. Good thing there are lots of great restaurants to eat in Tagaytay. Aside from Sonya’s Garden, popular Tagaytay restaurants include Antonio’s, Bag of Beans, Josephine’s Restaurant, Leslie’s, and Marcia Adams. No trip to Tagaytay would be complete without having bulalo and crispy tawilis. During colder months, the hot broth that comes with this tender beef shank soup served with cabbage and marrow bones really hits the spot. Many restaurants in the area, including Eagle Ridge’s main clubhouse, serve this along with other Filipino favorites like adobo and crispy pata.
The country club actually has several clubhouses with each in-house restaurant specializing in different cuisine. If you’re in the mood for Japanese food, head to the Aoki Clubhouse for Japanese fare like Ebi Tempura and Katsu Curry while the Guiyomi Restaurant right beside Microtel serves Korean fare like samgyeopsal.
Another Tagaytay favorite is Mushroom Burger, a homegrown fastfood chain that uses mushrooms as the main ingredient for their burgers and fries. While there are branches of this joint in the Metro, visitors still flock to the Tagaytay branch, which has been around for over 30 years.
If you’re traveling with a large group or extended family and want a place that serves family-style dining, you can stop by King Bee in Cavite. This Chinese-style fast food joint serves the usual favorites like Yang Chow Fried Rice, Beef with Broccoli, Spicy Spare Ribs and Steamed Fish, that can feed a hungry crowd.
Thanks very much to the staff of the Microtel Eagle Ridge, General Trias, Cavite for touring us around Tagaytay and Cavite and thanks to Nina of Just Wandering for inviting me along for the weekend!