The best soft play centres in Kent, according to the KentOnline team and readers
It’s cold, it’s windy, it’s raining. Your two young children have just watched an hour of Paw Patrol and are starting to get restless.
They’ve started jumping up and down (and off) the sofas and are perilously close to literally bouncing off the walls. It’s time to go to soft play.
But perhaps this winter will be the time to look further afield and find a new place for the children to burn some energy.
Below, our team lists some of our favourites – and we also take a look at the soft play centre recommended by readers...
Kidz Planet, Folkestone
Was I brave or foolish to try to take a four-year-old and an 18-month-old to soft play by myself? Probably the latter.
It was fine while they were mucking around in the ball-pit together – but it got a lot trickier when the eldest went off on the big slides while the toddler wanted to stay in the under-2s area. I had to somehow make sure I didn’t lose sight of either!
All very stressful and I only made it worse when I stuck to my vow not to buy anything from the cafe, and only give them the snacks and water I’d brought with me. Every other child there seemed to be enjoying a freshly-purchased fruit smoothie or sausage and chips.
Tears followed and I really should have accepted that these places are designed to make you want a coffee and make your children yearn for the various fizzy drinks, crisps and biscuits on offer. You need to factor in these additional costs on top of the entry fee whenever going to soft play.
Enough of my questionable parenting tactics – is Kidz Planet worth a visit if you’re travelling from further afield? Absolutely, yes.
There are various play sections for each age group mentioned earlier. The oldest kids have a drop slide, a mini football pitch on the top level, and some blasters where you can fire balls at a target (behind a net, so no one will inadvertently get hit by a projectile). The younger children have four or five Little Tikes cars they can ride around in, as well as their own slide and the ball pit. There is also a space shuttle-style train ride which appears to be loved by all ages.
Plus the food at the cafe – it seems – is also very popular!
Stour Centre, Ashford
It was branded “filthy” and “disgusting” by some parents back in January, but my children have always had a great time at this soft play centre.
It’s not the biggest, but it does have separate play areas for older and younger children. It also has a climbing wall section.
There is a cafe there too – but it’s not quite so in your face as others. There’s a barrier preventing the children from running out to stare longingly at the sweets and chocolates on the counter.
Imagine Play Centre, Ashford
It’s been a couple of years since we went here but I remember my eldest having a great time. It has a big central climbing area with slides. Meanwhile, at the back there are swings too – which you don’t often get at indoor play centres. We had a nice coffee from the cafe as well.
Here are some more of the best soft play centres in the county, as selected by other members of the KentOnline team…
The Fun Drum, Gillingham
The Fun Drum is one of the oldest established indoor play centres in Kent but it has just undergone a major refurbishment. Located in Elm Court Business Village in Capstone Road, it now has 150 sq m Nerf battle arena, a new soft play extension, a Tiny Town featuring nine immersive zones and a designated arcade corner.
There’s plenty of space for parents to sit and a cafe serving hot and cold food. The centre is open every day during the school holidays and there is parking on site.
Monkey Bizz, Strood
Monkey Bizz, located on the Medway City Estate, has been welcoming families for more than 25 years. It has a large multi-level play frame for bigger kids to let off some steam, and a separate Tot’s Town where parents can keep an eye on little ones.
This includes a role play area with the chance for younger children to play at being a fireman, policeman, nursery teacher or shop assistant. It is open seven days a week with three play sessions each day.
Jumpin Fun, Strood
Located next to Monkey Bizz is this inflatable indoor activity centre, offering something a bit different to the usual soft plays. The 15,000 sq ft venue includes a giant slide that runs into a ball pool and a labyrinth of obstacles and challenges. There's also a separate Last Man Standing challenge, in which participants have to duck and jump over two spinning arms.
It has a cafe and viewing gallery where parents can watch from above, or adults can join in too.
Kidzone is a fully air-conditioned soft play for children under 10 (there is a height restriction of under 4ft 6in) that is full of interconnecting rope bridges, ball pools, tunnels and slides. It has a lovely area for children under three with sensory lighting, where parents can sit and play with their little ones.
The centre is located in Maidstone Road with free parking on site and there’s a cafe and seating for grown-ups. It is open seven days a week with a SEN session every Saturday.
Adventure Play at Faversham Activity Centre
It may be smaller than other soft plays in Kent, but the Adventure Play at Faversham Activity Centre has plenty to keep children entertained and blow off some steam. Housed in one self-contained block, the equipment allows kids to climb and crawl their way through a variety of routes to reach the top of a number of tunnel and wavy slides. There's a cafe offering reasonably-priced refreshments, with seating affording parents a good vantage point to keep an eye on their little ones. A separate area for under-2s ensures babies and toddlers also have a safe and stimulating place to play. The walk-in soft play operates on a first-come-first-served basis, with a booking system for busy Saturday morning sessions.
Active Zone, Swallows Leisure Centre, Sittingbourne
The soft play area inside Swallows’ Active Zone is separated into two areas to ensure children of all ages can have fun in a safe environment. With different spaces for children aged up to four and then for those aged five and older, there is plenty of room to burn off steam among the slides, climbing frames and sensory play. For those bringing older children along, Clip ‘n Climb is also on-site with 13 different climbing walls to scramble up and down. An on-site cafe will also keep everyone suitably fed and watered.
Merry Go Round, Bonham Drive, Eurolink Estate, Sittingbourne
The Merry Go Round play centre caters for all children up to the age of 12 with plenty of soft play equipment to choose from.
From toys, games and slides for babies and toddlers through to larger soft play challenges and climbing areas for older visitors, there is so much to keep everyone occupied and active. Staff also run dedicated SEN sessions, which are available to book in advance, as well as children’s birthday parties. A cafe on site also serves a full menu of hot and cold food.
Polar Adventure, Mote Park Leisure Centre, Maidstone
Polar Adventure’s purpose-built three-storey soft play area and climbing zone inside Maidstone leisure centre is open alongside the adrenaline-packed Ice Hill slides. All are available to children up the age of 12 – with children required to be one metre tall in order to ride the slides. A special ‘under fives area’ offers soft safe play for smaller children while the complex is also open for private hire.
Adventure Kidz, Quarry Wood Retail Park, Aylesford
A unique indoor adventure awaits at Adventure Kidz.
With everything from special baby and toddler areas and sensory spaces alongside its enormous indoor soft play and slides for bigger children, there is definitely something to suit all members of the family. And if that doesn’t sound like enough to tire the kids – there are also indoor quad bikes to ride and a high ropes course available to tackle too!
Cheeky Dino Play Centre, St Peter's Street, Maidstone
Cheeky Dino promises 13,000 sq ft of ‘fun and happiness’ at its Maidstone soft play centre. With soft play, climbing frames, slides, an artificial football space, areas for toddlers, a baby room and sensory area there is plenty to keep everyone busy during your visit. There is a cafe serving a wide range of food and drink, both hot and cold, while the centre also has a buggy park and baby change facilities for the youngest visitors. Cheeky Dino is open throughout the week – but bookings are required for weekends and school holidays when the centre is extremely popular.
And the best soft play in Kent according to KentOnline readers is…
Under 1 Roof in Thanet
When we asked our Facebook followers to name the best soft play centre, the overwhelming winner was the so-called “urban kids’ oasis” in Ramsgate. The site not only includes soft play, there is also a laser arena, go-karting track, children’s hairdressers, nursery, dance school, cafe and a “dinky town” role play village.
The team took over the old Bumblebeez building on Pysons Road in 2020 and told KentOnline at the time: "Our idea is to create a centre that houses multiple children’s service providers, classes, activities and entertainment - all under one roof." They even have soft play events for adults!
Additional reporting by Jenni Horn, Lauren Abbott and Lowri Chant