We absolutely love Center Parcs! Its not too far, a home from home and 100% family friendly! It can however be VERY expensive and quite confusing if you’re a first timer.
Most people go there for a long weekend so you don’t get very long to learn the ropes before your all back in the car going home. So….allow me to give you the 101, the low down and the hacks you need to enjoy Center Parcs in the time you have
1) There are lots of free things to do.
There are some amazing activities on offer at Center Parcs and something for everyone to enjoy. However you really don’t need to book anything if you don’t want to. There are plenty of free things to do.
We have just returned from Centre Parcs – Sherwood Forest and filled our days going to the wonderful parks, biking, swimming, walking, visiting the nature reserve, playing in the maze, feeding the ducks and building sand castles on the man-made beach.
If you do decide to book activities then pre book them and print off your itinerary so you know where you need to be.
The swimming at Center Parcs is amazing. It’s a subtropical paradise with slides, wave pools, outdoor rapids and an outdoor pool which is fantastic whatever the weather. They open early doors for little ones at 9.30am so that they can enjoy a calm swim before opening to the rest of the guests at 10am.
My tip here is to pack your swimming things separately, arrive early and make the use of the pool on that day as it tends to be quieter on check in and out days. Don’t forget £1 for the lockers too.
Also with the pool staying open until 9pm swimming outdoors under the stars is an experienced not to be missed.
3) Bring your own food and alcohol
Alcohol is always useful when going on any holiday that involves children but more so than ever at Center Parcs as the shop there is very expensive.
For Breakfast we take those mini packets of cereal, bread and fruit. Then for lunch and dinner or “tea” as us Yorkshire folk say we had something on toast, shop bought cornish pasties, veg and gravy, pasta bakes, meatballs and pizzas and salad. We must have saved loads by not eating out or going to the ParcMart.
Tip: Pack a few cleaning essentials too. I know, I’m not making this sound fun but it is also not fun spending £10 on a few dishwasher tablets and some anti bacterial wipes in the Parc Mart either.
I know what you’re thinking.. DVDS!?? Don’t waste your time watching TV! However, the reality is that my kids were exhausted and in bed between 7-8pm. We were there for the best part of a week and so watching a film one night with a Gin was pretty decent chill time.
Tip: May as well take some DVDS for the kids too should you need a chill out hour. (With two boys we all usually need some downtime.)
5) Extra Bread for the ducks
The mornings in the lodge were my absolute favourite. On our January trip we had rabbits, squirrels, ducks and birds all coming right up to our window.
Of course the kids wanted to feed them and luckily we had a few crusts but this time when we went in April I took some old bread and crackers so we weren’t wasting the fresh stuff.
Take your own bikes, borrow one if you need to or hire one there because biking is part of the whole Center Parcs experience and its so convenient too. Sometimes you can be making up to 6 trips there and back to the village center and biking makes that way more enjoyable.
If you want to get to your destination even quicker, bundle the kids into the amazing bike trailers they have there. The trailers are bound to be met with cheers by all kids but be warned, they sell out really fast.
To avoid disappoint, reserve online as soon as you book. They are £30 for the duration of the weekend stay.
Tip: Dont forget the helmets
7) Sensible Shoes
I know when I say the words “sensible shoes” im at risk of sounding very mumsy, Still, a good pair of trainers or walking boots will do you well on this trip.
The walking is unavoidable and really should be enjoyed too so get a decent pair of shoes and get stuck in. Wellies for the kids too will be a life saver.
Now, I’m sure the sign says do not use your own logs for the fire but im going to mention it briefly then its up to you. You can pick up cheap logs from pound shops or B&M for the log burners in the lodge….orrrr you can pay a fortune in the Parc Mart? I know what il be doing!
9) Take a torch
When we went in January it was dark by 5pm and really hard to try locate the lodge in the pitch black. Even in the summer it gets dark quickly because of all the trees blocking the light. We took those torches that don’t need batteries. You know the ones that you pump up? They worked really well.
10) Download the Center Parcs app
We found the app to be really useful during our stay. The app allows you to view and book activities and restaurants whilst on the go and has a very useful village map too.
So there we are! If you discover any of your own hacks whilst at Center Parcs then please send them to me as im a fan anything that makes my life easier whilst away with kids.
Love Kathryn, A Mum Like Me xxx