We love going to Center Parcs on holiday but the activities can be expesnsive. Here are my top 20 things to do for free at Center Parcs Longleat Forest
We love going to Center Parcs Longleat for a family holiday. Granted, it’s not cheap but if you can get away with going during term time, prices can be reasonable. However, the prices of activities can soon add up too – some are cheaper than others but we usually pick one or two ‘Must Do’s’ (usually for me it’s a spa day!) and then try and include as many activites as we can fro free.
Below I’ve created a list of 20 things you can do for free at Center Parcs Longleat although many of them could be applied to the locations around the U.K. I’ve tried to include as many different age ranges as possible so there should be something for everyone. Some involve a little prep before hand and other involve bringing things most people would already have at home.
Feed the Ducks
May sound obvious but it’s such a simple activity and kids always love it – be sure to take some bird feed rather than bread which is full of salt and other chemicals that aren’t good for birds. If your lodge is near a lake you may even get them coming as close as your patio. On our last trip there were three ducks that liked to roost on our cabin roof every night! You can see them below with my little brother – we nicknamed the three amigo’s!
Play on The Beach
While the beach at Center Parcs Longleat is man made, it’s still sandy and provides plenty of fun for adults and little ones alike. Don’t forget to pack your bucket and spade!
Nature trails are great for kids and although Center Parcs Longleat do run their own these can be pricey. Print off your own before you leave and all you need is clipboard and pencil to get going. You could create your own – think finding different plants, flowers and animal footprints – or download a ready-made one.
Ride the Land Train
Not every Center Parcs has a land train so be sure to make the most of the one at Longleat. If you’re children are made on trains then just hopping on and doing a tour of the whole park could be a great way to spend an afternoon and is also a great way to see other parts of the park and other types of accommodation. We found all the train drivers to be lovely and will often let children pose for picture up front if you ask nicely.
Do the Toddler Maze
There is a small wooden toddler maze located at the front of the Jardin du Sport – hours of toddling fun to be had right there, perfect for the under 3s.
Find the Zip Line
There is a small zip line located in one of the small parks located between the Jardin du Sport and the main walkway to the The Village Square. We stumbled across one evening while exploring and there was no one about so we spent a happy half an hour whizzing back and forwards! (Note: This is part of a play park and NOT the huge zip line that runs over the lake!)
Go Night Swimming
Swimming in the day is fun – but swimming at night is even better, especially in the outdoor pool area. The pool is all lit up and it’s lovely to see all the steam rising up from the water. The trees surrounding the pool are also covered in twinkling lights making for a super magical experience.
Similar to the Nature trail, this is another great idea for getting children outside and exploring nature. Items to find could include feathers, acorns, certain shaped leaves, a rubbing of some tree bark and weed like flowers that it’s okay to pick like daisies and buttercups. Again you could either create your own before going or find one online to print out. You can find a list of 30+ Scavenger hunt ideas here.
Visit the Redwoods
Center Parcs Longleat is home to some very old, very tall redwood trees. Redwood trees grow taller than any other trees in the world and can live for thousands of years. They were introduced to the U.K in the 1850s but are still quite rare and quite a sight to behold.
Another nature based activity because there’s just so much wildlife at Longleat! If your children own kids binoculars take them our bird watching to see what you can spot. Encourage them to go quietly, put on your best David Attenboruogh voice and get searching. Even if you only spot ducks! You can find a UK Bird Spotting List for kids here.
Play in the Parks
There are so many children’s parks at Longleat you may not actually have time to visit them all! Some areas of accommodation have their own play area as well as the huge park in the Village Square and those behind the Jardin du Sport. If you decide ti make it your mission to visit them all, the land train is great way to get most of the way there.
All accommodation at Center Parcs as a decent T.V and DVD player so planning movie night could be a great way to snuggle up and enjoy family time without being out in the parc spending money. Dust of a few favourite DVDs before leaving and don’t forget to pack some popcorn (you could even pop your own if you want be super thrifty!)
Walk around the Lake
The Lake at Longleat is pretty big and an enjoyable time can be had simply wondering around it. The far end is much less busy and a lot quieter. It’s also fun to watch people zip lining across the lake.
Look for Koi
The plaza is the main hub of Center Parcs Longleat with shops, restaurants, the supermarket and of course the subtropical swimming paradise. There are also ponds on the lower floor which are full of Koi Carp. These Ponds have various stone bridges to walk across and there is a seating are in the middle. See who can spot the biggest fish!
Hot Tub Time
While some accommodation at Center Parcs does include a Hot Tub, not every villa does. Fear not, the Sub Tropical Swimming Paradise actually has two hot tubs. One of them is outside, the other is inside and is slightly hidden due to it’s shape – unless you head to the children’s areas or look closely at a map, you might not even see it. It’s too the left as you enter the water in the main pool.
There are some lovely shops at Center Parcs although like everything else here they are not cheap. If you can leave the kiddies elsewhere for an hour, then some quiet window shopping is a perfect way to get some me time in the midst of all the holiday hustle and bustle.
Ride the Rapids
The rapids are without a doubt the best part of the Sub Tropical Swimming Paradise. While they do look a bit scary they really are amazing fun and you’ll end up feeling like a big kid again by the time you get to the end!
I remember doing various night walks on camping trips with school. You don’t need to go far to make it exciting for kids and the fact there’s no traffic should make it quite safe and easier to hear things. Try listening for different animals that you only hear at night and see if you can spot any nocturnal creatures coming our to play. You could also try a spot of star gazing if it’s clear enough.
Most kids these days have phone’s, tablets or even special kid proof digital cameras. Why have a mini family photo competition to see who can take the best snap? There is so much wildlife around the park it should be really easy to find things that will make interesting pictures. Alternatively you could turn it into a bit of a treasure hunt to take pictures of different things such as flowers, birds and trees.
While Center Parcs is very activity focused, most activities aren’t cheap. Often there is a charge not only for hire of the courts for playing sport but also for the equipment too. Most families will have some sort of sporting equipment at home (football, badminton raquet’s etc) – you just need to remember to take it with you. The beach and the green outside the Jardin du Sport are the perfect place to run about and let off some steam without it costing you a penny. Our favorite thing do is take our own Ping Pong set and have it set up on the dining room table – it cost £3 from wilkos but we used it for four Center Parcs Holidays in a row.