So the other evening I was having a what’s app conversation that went a bit like this.
Friend: I need ideas for places to take DD
Me: You could go here, here, here, here – I’m kinda bored so I’m going to write a blog just for you….
A very timely blog as well as the summer holidays start next week which means loads of parents, grandparents, friends who are really regretting their generosity, need places to go come rain or shine.
And those of you asking “why not just stay in with them” – clearly you’ve never done that otherwise you wouldn’t have asked!
So where is there to go around the Herts, Beds, Bucks boader? There are quite literally to many places to list some free, some cheap and cheerful and some not so much. I have put some of my favourites and some that are on my list to try. Anymore that I come across I will of course share!
My favourite place to be if the sun is shining, and sometimes even when it isn’t. The missy moo hates being inside, some inside places are okay you can run around them there’s stuff to look at, but utimately she likes to be outdoors.
- Whipsnade Zoo – our absolute favorite-est place to go. Our little yearly luxury is a season pass (for me, Missy Moo is still free). There are animals (it’s a zoo so that’s a given but you may have had a long day) , shows, a play park, a petting zoo and soft play. It really does have it all. It doesn’t have to be hugely expensive if you don’t have a season ticket. Book your tickets online the day before and you get a discount and take a picnic. Plus the added fun this summer – the aquarium is opening to excited for words about this!
- Rushmere Country Park was a recommendation from a Choir friend, such a good find. Parking is cheap, loads of places to have a picnic and lots of fairy doors to find. A great little adventure out.
- Dunstable Downs has a fun woodland park and lots of trails to follow for avid walkers. It’s also a great place for kite flying on a windy day. Parking is free is you have a National Trust pass.
- Waddesdon Manor another National Trust place and free to pass holders. To be honest unless they are having an event on (which they do have lots of so check out their website) it is a bit of expensive day out if you don’t have National Trust passes
- Collage Lakes is tucked in the wilderness behind Tring and for a bit of getting back to nature this makes for good day and definitely falls into the category of cheap and cheerful.
- The Bucks Goat Centre near Aylesbury is a little find with some activities on during the holidays – meeting ferrets, arts and crafts. There are obviously goats but also rabbits, alpacas, donkeys – what you would expect from a petting zoo
- Langelbury Farm is very similar (if not slightly cheaper to get in) only down towards Watford
- I cannot talk about petting zoo’s without mentioning Mead Open Farm out Leighton Buzzard way. Lots to do (and a price tag to match) will make it a tiring day out and let’s face it that’s is probably what you are after! Of course there are animals (would make a pretty poor petting zoo otherwise) but what Mead has that the others do not is an indoor play area as well as plenty of outdoor activities – diggers, go-karts, crazy golf…..
- Ashridge Estate is a must if you have a dog and children and lets be honest if you have both you already know about this place. It is also great fun if you don’t have a dog but do want to play some outdoor games there is a lovely big meadow perfect for kids to run around in and the woods to explore. Also free parking which means, unless you want to buy some food, it’s a free day out!
- Wendover woods has had a make-over so after parking your car in the new car park and some serious gruffalo hunting there is always the play trail to really make sure the munchkins are going to sleep tonight. There are also the bbq points so if you want to make a day bring a disposal bbq and some food but don’t forget your Fireman Sam safety, it is a wooded area and it will hopefully be warm.
- Splash parks are great fun on a hot day but come with two warnings – don’t forget the sunscreen and don’t forget your flip flops. The splash park at Gadebridge Park in Hemel Hempstead is worth a visit and has a play park next door for when they are all watered out. The carpark next to the splash park is a couple of pound but the car park at the other end of the park (a whole 220 yards aways) is free. I’m tight so I opt for the free parking, my frivolous friends opt for the pay one.
- We are very blessed in this part of the county as we have close to hand the Grand Union Canal which can make for great fun. Whether you are going to go for a walk or a cycle up it or maybe splash out and get a boat out don’t forget it is there to be enjoyed.
- The Pop Up Farm near Harpenden is always a great shout for a photo op with the kids in the sunflowers in the summer or the pumpkins in the autumn.
- Finally it wouldn’t be summer if you didn’t OD on strawberries and they are even better if you have picked them yourself. Grove Farm in Ivinghoe is a great spot for some PYO action and fresh air.
- Garden centres are great for a dull misty rain day because you can pop out and look at the flowers as well as explore the garden centre inside. Now garden centres being a shop are free to enter, how much you spend will depend on how well you get worn down during your visit. My favourite garden for flowers and plants is Hartwell Nursery out on the Thame road however for a trip out I would recommend Worlds End near Wendover. There is a cafe and softplay as well as the fish to see and various farm shops to roam around.
- The Natural History Museum at Tring is good favourite for a wet day, but as with most wet day venues can get busy. It is free and kids seem to love it – weird sickos that they are it is after all a museum full of stuffed dead animals. But if it keeps them happy and doesn’t cost you anything…
- Bucks County Museum in Aylesbury town centre is a good visit. Little expensive but inside for kids is amazing exploring the world of Roald Dahl’s creations. For those of you who, like me, are not big fans on the 8 legged variety just don’t go into the peach.
- The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, not to be confused with the Bucks County Museum, is based out in Great Missenden and it is all about James’ Peachy Summer this year. If you have a book worm this one is must visit.
- Soft play has to mentioned because of course it is there to do on a rainy day. Personally I wouldn’t but of course you can. If you are going on a rainy day I would opt for a bigger one as there is more room, something likes DJs in Hemel as opposed to Zoomania in Aylesbury. Loads of parking and seating at DJs not so much at Zoomania.
- Arts and crafts which okay you don’t leave the house for but to be honest at some point you will need to do some housework and washing so some good old arts and crafts to keep everyone else occupied is a good shout. I shall share some of our favourite activities as the summer goes along.
- Now this final one maybe frowned upon but I am putting it here because, as parents, there is a huge amount of pressure to make sure our troublesome lovable devils are always doing something outdoors, productive, that’s teaching them things. This is of course all fantastic stuff BUT it is also ridiculously tiring for all involved. So don’t forget to schedule in some down time and if that means a day or more in front of the TV when it’s raining you do it!
So all that is left to say is enjoy the holibobs, hopefully you will get some time near a beach. Obviously that is not on my list of stuff to do because we don’t live anywhere near the seaside but if you don’t Hemel’s Riverside beach is due back this year and clearly that is just the same xxx