72279-20130215With half term looming, we asked some of our members to share their half term plans to help provide some inspiration for the rest of us ☺ There’s something for everyone here:

PARKS, PLAYGROUNDS & WALKS 

Cassiobury Park, Watford

Looking for cheaper days out can sometimes be difficult, but Cassiobury Park is a fantastic day out! I get there for about 9.30 (any later and during the summer, the car park fills up really quickly!) and spend most of the day there. There is an enclosed area with the 3 paddling pools that is one of the cleanest I have seen. There are seats all the way round (but no shady areas) and they are patrolled by life guards. On the outskirts of the pools, you’ll also find the toilets, a first aid kiosk and somewhere to buy a tea/coffee/cold drink/sandwich/hotdog. There is also an extensive play area that was recently ungraded. During the summer, there’s a bouncy castle (can’t tell you the cost as I don’t use it), ice cream vans and the little train ride (last year it was £1 per person I think) so for me, if I’ve packed my picnic and got plenty of drinks the only added expense is the train ride and an ice cream …a grand total of between £15 to £20 for me and 4-6 children! Which isn’t bad for a whole day’s entertainment! It is also just as good in the cooler months as there is a lovely avenue for the bike riders, walks by the river or just playing football in the field! Reviewed by Debbie Webb, a Childminder Chalfont St Giles.

Hodgemoor Woods, Chalfont St Giles

I childmind, so this is a great place to go when I have all the boys in my care! As Mumof3 has said, boots are a must (unless it’s been a really dry spell) It is a popular place for dog walkers so if you have a child that is easily scared, then prepare them) Treasure hunts are popular with the children I look after, a preprinted sheet with things to look out for, it can get quite competetive though! Den building is also a favourite! It’s amazing how they can all work together to create a great den and they spend hours doing it and playing in it…so a great, cheap day of entertainment! Reviewed by Debbie Webb, a childminder in Chalfont St Giles.

Aldenham Country Park, Elstree
Park swings n slides n things to climb on n that. Check. Petting zoo. Check. Mini cafe. Check. Lovely walks round Winnie-the-pooh themed country park? Check! It’s cheap to park all day but the carpark is my only complaint as it gets very very busy and seems to attract people that don’t seem to know how to park if it’s busy, but! You’re in for a treat when you’ve finally found a space for your car. The park has equipment for the very young ones and is also challenging for those up to 10 I guess…and the petting zoo is clean, has fun animals and fun to walk around. You can feed lambs and have a nice close up chat to some lovely animals if thats your thang! If you have a Winnie-the-pooh fan in the family, there’s a fab walk around the ‘Hundred Akre Wood’. They’ll love trying to find Winnie asleep in his house, checking out Owls’ house, Eeyore’s place and Rabbit’s house….just try not to get caught in the Heffalump trap after you’ve played pooh sticks…. (Warning….some adults may get more excited than children on spotting Winnie. Please bring their medication to cope with this level of frenzied Pooh love etc) It’s a lovely walk anyhow -we didnt even cover half the hundred akres and we were there for aaaages…and I gather they do Pony rides, Survival days and even Weddings so….give it a look in n maybe take your own picnic…. A lovely enjoyable day out…do it…for a fiver parking and a picnic n some family time, y can’t go wrong…. Reviewed by Sarah G.

Black Park, Iver
As an Ofsted registered childminder finding things to do that will entertain the children in my care can be difficult as the children can range from 1 -12. Black Park is a great day out! £2.50-£3.00 for the car park(off/on peak) and then money for an ice cream! I always take a picnic and plenty to drink so that helps keep the spending down…although I have heard that the cafe is good. As well as the huge fenced off play area there are paths around the lake and through the woodland…plenty of space to run around and burn off that energy! I look after mainly boys at the moment and their favourite activity is den building when we go and it’s great to see even the youngest children join in by helping to gather sticks or leaves or anything that they think will be used! 🙂 The children also enjoy treasure hunts…pre-printed sheet with things to look out for…and can get quite competitive at it! The park can be enjoyed at any time of the year…I went recently (Feb) with a two and a half year old all togged up in his coat, hat, scarf and boots and we went puddle jumping!! (well…he did…I just watched! ) Reviewed by Debbie Webb, a childminder in Chalfont St Giles.

DAYS OUT

The Look Out Discovery Centre, Bracknell

Fantastic Hands On Science Fun. Car park is £2.00 for 4 hours (you get a refund at the till if you buy a ticket for the Look Out Discovery Centre). Lots of interactive exhibits (I think 100) split into zones. 
1 – Forces and Movement Zone (launch a rocket or a hot air balloon and many more)
2 – Sound and Communication Zone 
3 – Light and Colour Zone
4 – Body and Perception Zone (3D body models, body puzzles, etc)
Also small Soft Play corner for the little ones with puzzles, books, giant plastic Lego bricks and real supermarket with plastic food and shopping baskets.
All those exhibitions are inside so ideal if the weather is not very good.

You can also spend some time in Woodland and Water zone (we haven’t done it as it was freezing cold but looked like fun – lots of water tables with various activities) and fantastic outdoor Adventure Playground with 3 separate climbing frames according the age, for the oldest there was a giant wooden castle.

Cafe is not too big but they have a nice selection of yummy children pizzas, jacket potatoes and various toasted or cold sandwiches. Big ice cream selection :-)

Worth mentioning is also the famous Slimy Show (you pay £1.00 extra when you buying your ticket), show lasts 40 min and it’s all about slimy things, kids loved it. From the center you can also access the Look out tower.

We payed around £21.00 for a family of 5 (kids up to 4 goes in for free) so we only payed for 1 child and 2 adults.

Also worth mentioning that Bracknell Forrest is famous for biking so if you bring your bicycles you can pay for the car park for the whole day and go for a ride. Next to the car park is Go Ape.

Definitely worth visiting even in bad weather as 90% of exhibits are inside. it is about 40 min from CSG so not too far to drive. Across the road is a Coral Reef Water Park (closed for refurbishment until middle of March). Reviewed by Lenka.

Kew Gardens, Richmond

Kew is a brilliant family day out as we have been lots of times and decided to take out a yearly membership. It only takes 30 mins drive from the Chalfonts and if you take a picnic it works out a cheap day out. Admission is £16.00 for adults but children under 17 go free. Apart from being a place of natural beauty and a botanists dream, the orchids are on show through the half term & the children really love it as the play areas are amazing. There’s a huge play area with climbing frames slides swings and house. Tree house towers where you can walk high above the trees. An indoor play area called climbers and creepers where the children can also learn about plants and flowers. A wildlife centre where you can learn and see insects,bugs and wildlife animals. A gigantic greenhouse with exotic and tropical plants and trees. Directions to Kew are all signposted and it’s easy to find. If you find Victoria Gate entrance on Kew Road you can park for free and are in the middle of the vast gardens. Reviewed by BC.

Hell Fire Caves, High Wycombe

I have face painted at Hell Fire Caves (www.tigerface.co.uk) and this is a really interesting place to visit (handy when it’s raining) – the caves are amazing – a good venue for birthday parties and good at Halloween too – maybe a little scary for really young children but definitely worth a visit. Reviewed by Debbie, Tiger Face Painting.

Cliveden (part of The National Trust), Taplow

Whenever we are stumped for inspiration we take the kids to Cliveden. We always have a fantastic time and even after many visits are still discovering new little gardens and walks! The maze is a must, the kids just love seeing who can complete it first and it is definitely a battle of the sexes. A small but quirky play area for the little ones and lots of open spaces for hide and seek, 40/40 or the like. The cafe is ideally placed for a coffee/ice cream stop on the way to the more formal side of Cliveden with its amazing fountain and hidden gardens. We recently found the Tortoise fountain and WWII memorial which the children found facinating. There is a nice tea house although beware it is a little pricey but the food very yummy. If you’re very brave you can even take a peek, through the keyhole, at the infamous Profumo affair swimming pool (it’s for residents only, although a very nice couple gave us a wave from the hot tub when we were last there!). The formal gardens are stunning and it is very easy to spend a whole day here. During the summer they put on special events which include fantastic open air theatre. Reviewed by Penny, Livvy & Tom.

The Living Rainforest, Berkshire

My glasses steam up every time I go here…yeah….it’s that awesome… I went here when my lil lady was about 2 and have been going ever since. It’s not massive, so will realistically be an afternoons jaunt or morning sojourn, but, it’s well worth it…and the older the kids get, the more they get out of it… I guess the best way to describe it is a fun hothouse, (ok…’Living Rainforest’)…with a lovely walkthrough and some enjoyable animals and plants and descriptive displays, and..(yay!) .a small but fun shop! There’s a huge education/Eco sentiment driving the place and the room that greets you on your way in is all about exploring some of the local and world issues pinpointed by the history and endangerment of some of the Plants and Animals on display. The monkeys and crocs (no not the shoes) and butterflies are all up close and often personal, and you’ll get dripped on by plants and sat on by butterflies…it’s colourful, it’s informative, and tbh, it’s on your doorstep so pack up the kids, and go. You can adopt the animals too, and their education room has worksheets and questions galore to challenge those more enquiring minds…it’s reasonably priced and they have a cafe to sit in and chat about your mini Rainforest Adventure…. Get y khakis on n go explore… Reviewed by Sarah G.

AMF Bowling, High Wycombe

A great place to go when it’s cold and wet outside. I would definitely recommend pre-booking to avoid waiting around when you get there. Lots to keep the kids entertained, the bowling is great because you select the players who need the bumpers and they work automatically, letting the grown ups have a proper game and show off their skills! We took our 3 and 6 year olds and they loved it. Not too expensive, you should check their website for deals and you also get discount vouchers when you’re there for your next game. Reviewed by Nicola, Chiltern Chatter.

SOFT PLAY 

Whizzkidz, Thame

We stumbled across this gem by accident as we happened to be in the area looking at tiles of all things. Thought the kids could do with some fun, it’s great! Basically a huge soft play area that caters for all ages. The reason why we loved it was on a busy Saturday it wasn’t packed, we sat on a big sofa with a cuppa while the kids ran free and had a go on everything. It felt very safe as we had to sign in and out and we sat by the exit. All open plan. Only negative thing would be it was a little bit grubby, but the children certainly didn’t mind and wanted to stay! Reviewed by Jo, Matters.

Gambado, Watford

My kids absolutely love this place and it’s a bit different to the run of the mill play centres. There is a carousel, dodgems, climbing wall etc plus a separate play bit for younger ones. If you havent been, and you can face taking your kids to a play centre you should give it a try! Reviewed by Mrs F.

CINEMAS

Empire Cinema, High Wycombe

We went to Empire on a Tuesday during the school holidays. All tickets are £3.95 on a Tuesday so a cheapish morning / afternoon out with the kids. I took sweets & drinks with me to save some money. They have booster seats for smaller ones which is great. Parking is free which is a plus 🙂 Also I heard at the weekend they do films for £1 at 11am which is a bargain! Reviewed by Anon.

MUSEUMS

Roald Dahl Children’s Museum, Aylesbury

My girls really liked the Roald Dahl children’s gallery in Aylesbury, its much more suited for slightly younger ones than the museum in Great Missenden. There is Fantastic Mr Fox’s tunnel to crawl through which mine loved and a great glass elevator. It probably only takes about 30 minutes to go round but there is a little cafe there and a lovely outdoor area for picnics. The added bonus is the Aylesbury museum which is right next door and you get in there for free – there was a toy exhibition on when we went which was interesting for me and fun the girls. Definitely a good half term day out. Reviewed by Lucy, Smashing Tennis Parties.

FARMS & ANIMAL VISITS

Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable

Brilliant for a half term outing We love it here, so much to see and do all washed down with plenty of fresh air. Wrap up warm and enjoy scooting around visiting the various animals from elephants to penguins to cheeky meer cats. Wrap up warm though, it’s very windy up there especially by the penguins. Great all year round, oh and the playground and animal displays are brilliant too. Reviewed by Jo, Matters.

Willows Farm, St Albans

The initial cost is quite high to get in but once you are in then all the activities and rides are included in the entrance fee. There are numerous outside play areas and sand pits along with carousel rides. The indoor play area is large and well spaced out with plenty of seating for adults. They hold various seasonal events such as ‘pick your own pumpkin’ which are great for the kids to get involved in (take wellies!) and different shows. There are plenty of places to eat picnics, both indoor and outdoor and the kids can be kept amused for hours! The shop is really good as well. Well worth a visit. Great for both younger and older kids. Reviewed by svlaver.

Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens 

Get your Walking shoes on for a fabulous day out at a lovely, exciting, exotic, family friendly Wildlife Park. This park has everything a Wildlife park should have….and yes, a brilliant shop! (Yeah, I know I know, we all love a good stroll around these parks and reward ourselves with a browse around the shop…well…this shop is awesome, so, once you’ve been wowed by the animals, go and buy a het, cuddly toy, drinking cup, necklace….lets just say, it’s a great shop to browse in and let the kids go wild with their pocket money…(unless they’ve had a meltdown by the crocodiles…) There’s all the animals you want to see here…well cared for, and lots of them….grounds are well set out so you get a proper walk in the fresh air after going in to see some of the….smellier animals…but my kids were continually wowed by Big cats, Rhinos, cute and hilarious Monkeys, Penguins, Giraffes, comparing Meercats, and then there’s the reptiles n spiders n that kind of thing. There’s webcams too so get a relative to get a pic of you watching the penguins feed time…then you can always keep checking back on your fave penguin after you’ve visited…. Prices are something around the £14 for adults and £10 I think for kids over 3….under 3 is free…quite reasonable I guess for this kind of thing as you know the money goes towards upkeep of animals and grounds….. The adventure playground is great – there’s stuff for very young kids and higher scarier slides and climbing bits to challenge your older monkeys….all within sight of a half decent, clean cafe/restaurant (picnic facilities outside too), where staff were friendly and helpful. Hope you get a Nice sunny day to explore this park and these animals…my kids and husband had a ball…and…I got a giant cuddly bear from the shop. Might take our own coffee next time tho… Reviewed by Sarah G.

Make sure that you visit Place To Go in Kids Corner on Chiltern Chatter to see the full range of what’s on offer locally. You can also check out our events calendar for local events during half term.