Soft play centres in Kent including Octopus's Garden in Dreamland and Dinotropolis Bluewater
As the days shorten and become colder, entertaining the kids at the weekend can get trickier.
Luckily, Kent has lots of indoor play centres that are perfect to wear the kids out, while the grown ups (hopefully) get the chance to have a cuppa. Mum of two, Natasha Harding picks out some places to play in the county...
BUZY BEES, ASH NEAR SEVENOAKS
About: Recently refurbished to a high standard Buzy Bees is suitable for children aged 0 - 12. There are two separate frames for older and younger kids, including an incredibly fast slide.
Age: Up to 12 years.
Price: From £3.50
Cafe: The cafe serves hot and cold drinks and a selection of hot and cold meals.
Verdict: It’s beautifully clean and when we went it wasn’t too busy. However, it is a very small space and there isn’t much seating available in the communal areas so keeping an eye on your child isn’t that easy. Although it says it’s suitable for children up to 12, I think kids over the age of 10 could get bored fairly quickly. Further information at buzybees.co.uk
OCTOPUS’S GARDEN AT DREAMLAND, MARGATE
About: A lot of thought has gone into creating the play area. As well as small slides and soft play equipment. There is a beach with real sand and play shops. It’s bright and nicely maintained.
Age: Up to eight years.
Cafe: The newly updated menu now offers a range of vegan and gluten free food. Soup, sandwiches and cakes are available.
Verdict: The play choices are great for younger children who might not like the super high play frames that you find at some soft plays. It’s nice that it’s an open space too as it means you can keep an eye on where your child is, which is useful when it’s busier. If they want to entice slightly older children or more adventurous kids, they could do with some different equipment too. dreamland.co.uk
About: Combing three storeys of soft play and dinosaurs, Dinotropolis is bigger than an average play centre. ’It only opened a year ago, so it’s very clean and everything is still working. As well as running, sliding and climbing kids can have a go at Raptor Racing or do the creative activities on the ground floor such as interactive sand, drawing and ‘excavating dinosaur bones’.
Older kids would like the Dino Escape - a dark room where you have to escape without waking the resident dinosaur.
Age: Up to 16 years
Cafe: The Fossill Cafe offers food all day including breakfast, sandwiches and cakes. Although it’s a fiver for adults to enter Dinotropolis, you do get a free cuppa from the cafe.
Verdict: Although it was the most expensive play centre we visited, there was more to it than the others so it actually felt like good value. You can book at dinotropolis.co.uk
HOPPERS INDOOR SOFT PLAY CENTRE AT THE HOP FARM FAMILY PARK, PADDOCK WOOD
About: Although the soft play has been at the Hop Farm Family Park for years, it’s recently been refurbished so it’s cleaner looking. The indoor play centre new features an under 3’s area and the larger play game section there are slides, ball pits and fireman poles.
Age: Up to nine years
Cafe: The cafe serves freshly ground coffee, snacks, cake and hot food.
Verdict: Now it’s been done up, Hoppers looks far cleaner and brighter than it did before. It’s also very good value for money, considering that children can also use the outside play park and visit the animals on the farm too. More info at hopfarm.co.uk
INFINITY, KINGS HILL
About: A fairly new addition to the gym means that kids can play too. Although it’s very small, there’s enough for younger children to play with. There is a small slide, rockers, squishy shapes and numbers to move about.
Age: Up to five years
Cafe: Sandwiches, jacket potatoes and salads are available for group ups. Kids specials include beans on toast or a kids lunch box.
Verdict: It’s ideal for younger children as it’s not ridiculously busy. As you know that it’s not suitable for older children you can relax slightly knowing that your child isn’t going to get knocked over by an over excited bigger kid. Details about the facility at infinity-fitness-uk.com