THE SUMMER HOLIDAYS BOREDOM BUSTER
Come rain or shine, we have the lowdown on how to keep the kids entertained this summer with these great family days out
RAINY FAMILY DAYS OUT
There are plenty of indoor activities at this vast complex that houses a number of swimming pools – including a kids area with several water slides, water cannon pirate ship and wave machine. The ice skating arena is huge with ice penguins and snowmen for those yet to find their skating legs. And there is a soft play for under 10s, plus Rock Box climbing for five+ years. If you have any energy left, there is bowling too.
Need to know: On busy days, the pool gets packed and the noise levels are high. And you will want to keep less confident swimmers close at hand. You can pre-book tickets online in advance for the Spectrum, which is useful for planning your day and guaranteeing you get the activities you want. Prices vary. Junior ice skating around £5.55 plus skate hire.
Kidzania, Westfield, W12
A world just for kids, your little ones’ imaginations can run wild as they put themselves in the shoes of a pilot, a vet, a surgeon and a firefighter to name but a few of the occupations on offer in this themed city. The different sets are all very detailed, providing quite a magical set-up.
Need to know: Some of the attractions have age restrictions meaning it can be frustrating for younger siblings. It is also worth noting that this is a world for kids so parents are not allowed to enter the activities meaning there is a fair amount of waiting around unless your kids are over eight, in which case drop and go for four hours with the shopping mecca of Westfield all around you (you can unlock deals from certain retailers as a KidZania customer). Or if you want family time, go on the special Family Sundays where you can join in with the kids for certain activities. KidZania is aimed at four to 14 years, and there is an Early Years area for younger kids. Book online for the best prices, four to 14 years from £19.
White Spider, Surbiton
Burn off some energy at this indoor climbing and bouldering centre. For younger kids, there is a fun play area with a castle where they can try out some low-level climbing.
Need to know: There is plenty on offer over the holidays, from hour-long sessions to all-day camps, plus family taster sessions. The minimum age for climbing is five+, and three+ for the Kids Castle play area, although under threes are admitted so long as they are with a supervising adult at all times.
Flip Out, Wandsworth
This vast trampoline park has Olympic and toddler trampolines, two foam pit areas, two basketball areas, go carts, battle beams, and a giant slide ending with a ball pit.
Need to know: There is an under fives dedicated area with jungle gym. You can book everything online in advance. An hour’s jumping costs £13 (peak).
National Army Museum, Chelsea
This fantastic museum is ideal for all ages, with interesting and interactive exhibits, such as a tank driving simulator and camouflage gear, plus there is a themed soft-play area for ages eight and under. There are also missions over the summer including a Nerf Gun session and a family boot camp.
Need to know: The museum has a great cafe where kids can eat free at weekends and during school holidays. Book in advance for the soft play.Check the website for various age restrictions. Museum is free. Activity prices vary. Soft play £4.75 ages one to eight, under ones free.
SUNNY FAMILY DAYS OUT
Boating on the river
Hire a GoBoat for a fantastic family picnic along the Thames from Kingston. You can head out towards Teddington or towards Hampton Court – we loved approaching the golden gates and tangle of chimneys at Hampton Court, and cruising past the riverside homes in Thames Ditton. It was a totally relaxing way to spend a couple of hours, eating and just watching the world go by.
Need to know: You can get to Hampton Court and back within two hours – if you don’t dawdle. We were overtaken by another GoBoat – apparently ours was slower as it was slightly smaller! There are no toilets on board – obviously, so bear that in mind. And bring sturdy picnicwear – our paper plates blew off in the breeze! A GoBoat costs from £59 for an hour and the boats can fit up to eight.
Wetlands Centre, Barnes
Watch the vast range of wildlife as you stroll around the lakes, ponds and gardens. As well as rare swans, ducks and geese, there are dragonflies, bats, otters and butterflies. There is an adventure playground too with zip slides and water games.
Need to know: There is a huge range of activities on offer over the summer holidays such as scavenger hunts. £31.99 for a family ticket. Book online and save 10% off tickets.
There is tonnes to do at this vast farm, from animal attractions to high ropes so it is a good bet if you have kids of a variety of ages. Hobblers can hunt for treasure in the mining village, climb in the towers and walkways, and get up close with some cute critters.
Need to know: You can get 20% off by booking in advance online. Prices around £10 to £16 per child. If the weather takes a turn for the for the worse, you can head inside to the play barn, which has a roleplay village and an area made up of nets and tunnels to explore.
Putt in the Park
Try your hand at mini golf at Wandsworth, Battersea or the Acton outposts of Putt in the Park. With their leafy settings and lovely cafes, they offer a great way to spend a sunny few hours.
Need to know: They don’t accept bookings, and it is suitable for all ages. £28 for a family of four at Wandsworth Park and Acton Park. £30 at Battersea Park.
With local sites at Chessington World of Adventures and Battersea Park on our doorsteps, this is a good boredom buster for the summer holidays. Check the website for height restrictions and supervision requirements first, and you’re set for a great family day out for adrenaline climbing thrills, bridge balancing and zip wire spills.
Need to know: Battersea Park Treetop Challenge is suitable for all ages over 1.4m (4ft 7″) in height. Battersea Park Treetop Challenge – Under 15 regular price: £28. See website for promo codes and restrictions. Treetop Challenge at Chessington under 15s £25 (min height over 1.4m (4ft 7″) in height). Treetop Adventure at Chessington from £18, min height 1m (3ft 3).
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