The summer holidays are looming and no matter how much you try to organise and arrange for your little (and not-so little) ones to do, it’ll never be enough. Karen Neville serves up a few ideas…
We’ve been taking a tour of the area and have a few ideas for you. There are so many ways to entertain your children whatever their age that you shouldn’t hear cries of “I’m bored, what can I do…”
Let’s start with something for the inquisitive among you… If you get a kick out of solving puzzles or love to know how things work then a visit to The Look Out Discovery Centre in Bracknell is a must. The hands-on science and nature exhibition has more than 90 activities suitable for children of all ages, spread over five zones. Launch a rocket or set off a hot air balloon; learn the mysteries of the human body and brain by testing speed and reflex; play with laser beams; step outside to discover local wildlife and join the Look Out construction crew – with so much to do where will you start? Visit www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/leisure-services
More puzzles to solve can be enjoyed on a treasure trail. There are 14 trails to with clues to solve along the way on spy missions and murder mysteries in Hungerford,
Lambourn and Newbury among other places. To track down the full range of trails on offer go to www.treasuretrails.co.uk
If your holiday time is all about enjoying the great outdoors the Wellington Country Park is a must. There’s so much to do you might want to think about staying over at the campsite to ensure you pack it all in! The adventure play areas and toddler play area have age-appropriate activities such as zip wires, balancing beams, slides, swings and climbing frames. Bounce on the giant, colourful jumping pillow and play on the full-size snakes and ladders and make you bring a bucket and space to play with in the sand pits. Visit www.wellington-country-park.co.uk
Active kids will want to head to the Adventure Dolphin Centre in Pangbourne, which has loads of ideas for expending energy ranging from kayaking, canoeing, kayak surfing, rock climbing, abseiling, hill walking, mountaineering, gorge scrambling and off-road cycling. Suitable for kids aged 13-19 but there are plenty suitable for those aged eight or older too, check them out at www.adventuredolphin.co.uk
An ever-popular choice for a great family day out is Beale Park at Pangbourne. Enjoy the wildlife park and gardens, home to more than 20 species – who can’t resist heading straight to the meerkats? From the adventure playground, aerial cableway and sand pit to the amazing Little Tikes Outdoor Village, perfect for younger ones with police cars, trikes, traffic lights and even a zebra crossing – there’s so much to enjoy, take a picnic and tuck in! Visit www.bealepark.org.uk
More animals, 77 acres worth to be precise, can be watched and petted at Bucklebury Farm Park where you can get up close to deer, llamas, Shetland ponies, lambs, pigs, goats and calves in the farm and pat-a-pet area, including a new luxury guinea pig village that’s perfect for pampered pets! Visit www.buckleburyfarmpark.co.uk
Energetic kids listen up! If the idea of jumping, spinning and cycling for an entire day is for you then put Extreme Motion in Windsor on your “to do” list, www.extrememotion.com. But it has so much more than swings and roundabouts to try out. For starters bounce higher than ever before bungee trampolining and enjoy mastering spins, tucks and dips. Children are encouraged to run and crash into each other, but only if they’re zorbing. Mums and dads, you can get involved too!
Not had enough wildness and daredevilling yet? Go Ape in Bracknell will cure you of that! Get ready for high-altitude obstacles with three fantastic high rope adventures. Climb 13m into the skyline for two to three hours of monkey madness. Speed down a 160m zip or take on the Pendulum Pass. There are 35 crossings with rope ladders, wiggly bridges and one of the only double Tarzan swings in the UK! Mini-monkeys can even swing into action on the Tree Top Adventure course, for kids 1m and over. www.goape.co.uk
Not going anywhere exotic this holiday? Visit the Living Rainforest near Newbury (www.livingrainforest.org) for a taste of the tropical right on your doorstep. There are all manner of plants and animals you wouldn’t normally encounter in Berkshire and how about making your visit even more memorable by getting up close and personal with the animals at a keeper experience – go behind the scenes, step into the enclosures to feed the animals. National Trust property Cliveden boasts glorious gardens and woodlands overlooking the Thames near Maidenhead, during the summer you can enjoy the children’s nature trail. Pack your tent and join the family camping event in the woods on selected dates in July (early booking essential). There’s also outdoor theatre to enjoy including The Wind in the Willows and Gangsta Granny. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cliveden
We’re lucky to live close to the Thames and one family-friendly highlight next month will bring you the world’s biggest classic riverboat collection and vintage vehicles as well as shopping, children’s fun, food and more in Henley for great causes. The Thames Traditional Boat Festival runs 19th-21st July; visit www.tradboatfestival.com
For something different how about racing at Windsor Racecourse? There’s the perfect introduction at the Ice Cream Festival Raceday on 11th August when the kids can not only enjoy loads of entertainment including a bouncy castle but can also go free. To book and take advantage of the family package visit www.windsor-racecourse.co.uk. Nearby Newbury Racecourse has a great programme over the summer; www.newburyracecourse.co.uk
Journey through the countryside aboard the Dartmouth Express or the West Somerset Steam Express, board at Reading or Newbury and travel to the west country enjoying one of three classes with different dining options on the trips. Selected dates in June, July and August. For more visit www.railwaytouring.net or call 01553 661500.
Get closer to the wonders of the natural world at Marwell Zoo, there are hundreds of animals in the 140 acre park, five adventure playgrounds where you can swing like a monkey and slide like a penguin. There’s an interactive expedition with more than two million LEGO bricks in the hols and an 8m T-Rex model. Look out for Colin… Visit www.marwell.org.uk
Berkshire has a wealth of entertainment and activities for you to choose from you may want to add in a visit to Windsor Castle, Laserquest in Wokingham, Coral Reef in Bracknell, go bowling or skating, visit Basildon Park or drop in on one of the huge variety of museums across the county.
However you spend your hols, have fun!