Keeping the kids entertained can sometimes seem like an endless task. When another trip to the park doesn’t suffice, it can be tricky to come up with new and fun ways to entertain toddlers, without straying too far from home before nap time!
That’s why we’ve collated our favourite toddler-friendly days out in Gloucestershire, from visiting farmyard animals to exploring incredible indoor playgrounds.
Our hot list sponsor, Dean Heritage Centre offers a many different activities taking place all year round, meaning there’s always so much to do, no matter the weather. In fact, if the rain stops visitors from enjoying the outdoor exhibits, Dean Heritage will invite them back free of charge within the next month with its Rainy Day Guarantee!
Kids just love the interactive galleries and Gruffalo Trail, and a visit to the Victorian school classroom is a must – visitors can step into the shoes of Victorian school children and experience first-hand what it was like to be in school during this time. The little ones can even dress up in Victorian costumes and take part in traditional games at playtime.
For more information about the toddler-friendly activities, visit deanheritagecentre.com directly.
Get transported back in time at Dean Heritage Centre, where visitors can explore the Forester’s Cottage, the Victorian School Classroom, and The Free Mine. There are a series of walking trails around the heritage centre where visitors can spot the resident wildlife – such as mandarin ducks and moorhens on Mill Pond.
On good-weather days, take a picnic to enjoy outside and overlook the wonderful scenery of the Forest of Dean. If the weather isn’t playing ball, visitors can enjoy a hot cup of tea and a slice of cake in the cosy tearooms, and there’s even the opportunity to return for free if it’s too wet or flooded to enjoy all the attractions.
Join the brave mouse on the hunt for The Gruffalo, a character from the much-loved children’s book with a magical woodland trail, it’s great fun for little ones.
With toddlers going free at Cotswold Farm Park on Tuesdays, Adam Henson’s farm is perfect for a fun-filled day out. Start the day off in the Discovery Barn, where children can say hello to smaller residents of the farm, including chicks and rabbits. Once toddlers have made some new animal friends, head over to the Animal Barn where visitors may get the chance to bottle feed some newborn animals.
Cotswold Farm Park has reintroduced Messy Play, where youngsters can splash, squeeze, crunch and squelch a whole load of messy material. There’s plenty to get stuck into, but don’t worry – there’s a bucket of water on-hand for a quick wash afterwards!
There’s certainly a lot to explore for budding adventurers at All Things Wild! From discovering the Monsters of the Deep to spotting dangerous dinosaurs, there are a range of indoor and outdoor activities, perfect for little ones.
There’s even the chance to visit some real-life animals, too! Walk through the lemur enclosure, wander through the outback trail to say hello to the free-roaming wallabies, and get close to rabbits and pygmy goats at the Farmyard Safari.
Where better to take toddlers than soft play? With an interactive play area designed especially for under 3s, the little ones will not only have a great time letting their imagination run wild, but the interactive play area will also stimulate learning and development.
What’s different about Cotswold Clubhouse is that it’s also home to the North Cotswolds Gymnastics and Trampolining Academy, and is well recognised as one of the best gymnastics’ organisations in the country. There’s also a café serving food and drinks all day, too, when a well-earned break is needed!
There’s nothing quite like a child’s imagination, and they can run wild at Dinky Street’s role play centre. Kids can be anything from a doctor to policeman, beautician to builder – or all of the above – for an educational and playful day out.
Running four sessions a day, seven days a week, Dinky Street is great fun for children (and grown-ups too).
Visit animals from all over the world, without leaving the Cotswolds. From zebras and lions to giraffes and camels, toddlers will love meeting animals of all different shapes and sizes. With 160 acres of parkland to explore, Cotswold Wildlife Park houses many endangered species which are looked after by passionate keepers.
Take the kids to see them feed the penguins, lemurs, or lions before paying a visit to the animals in the Children’s Farmyard. From April to October, hop on the narrow-gauge railway, which takes passengers around the park.
Start the day at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre by feeding ducks, geese and swans, who’ll happily eat right out of the palm of visitors’ hands!
Explore the watery world of Toad Hall, getting up close to frogs, newts, salamanders and other pond life, before heading to visit the family of otters and harvest mice.
A day out at the Wetland Centre will be a popular choice with the youngsters, especially with an indoor soft play area and a splash pad in Welly Boot Land!
A trip to the farmyard with children is always a hit, and at Cattle Country Adventure Farm Park, visitors get to meet calves, pigs and alpacas.
Take a change of clothes, or swimmers in the summer, and let the kids loose in the waterplay area. There’re also fantastic outdoor toddler areas where little ones can play on the rope bridges, tractors and seesaws, all specifically designed for small children.
There are loads of activities for the whole family to enjoy, making this a real all-day activity – from trampolines and climbing nets, through to play barns and even a covered beach – there’s plenty to keep the kids occupied.
Throughout the year, Sudeley Castle puts on lots of fun activities for families. Set in the enchanting surroundings of the Gloucestershire countryside, adults can soak up the fascinating history of the castle while children have a fun-filled day exploring the grounds.
A day out with the little ones wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the playground, and the one at Sudeley Castle won’t disappoint. When the kids have burned off some of their boundless energy, visit the pheasantry where visitors can see some of the rarest pheasants from around the world.
Westonbirt National Arboretum is home to many majestic trees, which turn amazing reds and golds in the autumn months. Providing a lovely backdrop for a day out at any time of the year, Westonbirt is a great place to take toddlers.
Wander through the wood and meet the Gruffalo sculptures, build a den out of sticks, cross the troll bridge and crawl through tyre tunnels on the outdoor adventure trail.
If the kids are feeling especially energetic, why not spend a day at Leisure at Cheltenham? The perfect opportunity to run off some steam, the Mini Gym sessions have a range of activities for the little ones, who can jump, climb and run around safely.
Leisure at also has a Sense and Play area, designed to engage babies’ senses, and a ‘Bop-A-Roo’, where little ones can dance around to music in special movement classes.
Nestled in the Forest of Dean, Beechenhurst holds a spectacular sculpture trail and fun-filled playground, great for entertaining children.
Start the day by wandering through the forest and spotting the magnificent sculptures, inspired by their surroundings.
Recharge with a bite to eat at the café before taking the kids to the play area, which is full of exciting activities such as a giant birds nest swing!
End the day with an activity trail, where visitors complete exciting activities and meet famous children’s characters along the way.
Start by visiting the wonderful Dean Heritage Centre – just head to deanheritagecentre.com directly for more information.
By Amy Wright
Monday 09 September 2019
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