Have you ever felt let down by the guide books? Sometimes, when you’re visiting somewhere new, don’t you just wish you had a local to show you around – tell you the places to avoid and the hidden gems you wouldn’t otherwise know about?
That’s where the Tots100 Out and About series comes in. Throughout 2014 we’ll be visiting places around the UK, getting the inside scoop from parent bloggers themselves. It’ll be like your very own friend taking you by the hand and showing you around their favourite town.
This week it’s all about Camberley in Surrey. Donna from Red Head Babyled has written this brilliant guide for us – and for you!
A guide to Camberley…
Camberley isn’t the biggest town in the country but it’s a lovely place for a family to live. There is so much to do in and around Camberley with your children – most are everyday things that you may not realise are there! Here’s a list of my top things to do with children in Camberley or just a short drive away.
1. The Arena Leisure Centre
The Arena is a fantastic place to swim but that’s not why we love it. We love the Arena because they have a Creepy Crawlies soft play session most mornings of the week. It’s only £3.70 for the under 5’s and they get to play on a bouncy castle, inflatable ball pit, climbing frames, soft play shapes and with various tricycles and bikes. As well as watching your children have a great time you also get a ‘Buy One Get One Free’ voucher for drinks at the Arena Cafe!
Behind the Arena there’s also a lovely little play park with all the usual equipment – a slide, couple of swings, climbing frame. Perfect place for toddlers to unwind – but be warned, it lacks shade in the summer.
2. The Magic Castle
If you wanted a soft play that was available at a time to suit you then the Magic Castle is tucked away around the back of the town centre. It’s a big soft play complex complete with toddler area and cafe. All the usual soft play favourites are available – air cannons, tipper basket, climbing wall, two slides, ball pit, trampoline, zip slide and bridges.
3. La Di La Cupcakes
La Di La Cupcakes isn’t just your usual cupcake shop. La Di La Cupcakes is something different altogether! The decor is shabby chic with bunting, mismatched but gorgeous crockery, cake stands and traditional wooden dressers. If you venture in you’ll find a great children’s play area with toys, sofas, colouring materials and playmats. It’s the perfect place for toddlers to let off steam whilst you enjoy a cupcake (or two!), but the thing that drew me to La Di La Cupcakes (aside from the play area), was the offer that on a term time weekday morning I could buy a cupcake and hot drink and get a toddler cupcake and drink free! It’s now my favourite place in town.
4. Camberley Library
Everyone knows about libraries – nothing new there! But you may not know about the free baby and toddler sessions that are available. Camberley Library has a Rhymetime session for babies on a Monday and Saturday and a Storytime session for the under 5’s on a Thursday afternoon.
Also, behind Camberley Library there’s a new park with children’s playground and adventure trail. As well as a ruined Obelisk Tower.
5. Sandhurst Shepherd Meadows and Memorial Park
We often drive the very short journey to Sandhurst to visit Shepherd Meadows. There’s free parking and a lovely community feel – especially as the community centre is right next to the car park! It’s a great place to walk a dog or go for a wander with the kids. It’s a lovely green space with a really well stocked play park – complete with sandpit! There are also skating ramps for older children, a zip wire and other adventure play equipment. A lovely way to finish off the visit is to stop at Pistachios in the Park. It’s a really child-friendly cafe complete with IKEA Antilop highchairs and a great children’s menu – the children love it!
6. The Look Out Discovery Centre, Swinley Forest, Bracknell
Another local treasure is the Look Out Discovery Centre in Bracknell. This is a great place to come to play in the adventure playground and have a wander through the forest but there is so much more to the Look Out than that! The main attraction at The Look Out is the hands-on science exhibition which has over 90 hands-on activities suitable for children of all ages. Younger children will love the indoor stream, mini supermarket and soft play area. It’s a really great day out with loads to do, complete with gift shop and cafe. They also have regular Toddler Days with reduced rates for parents and young children. The next Toddler Days are the 24th 25th April. The Look Out is also home to Go Ape although admittedly that is aimed at older children and adults.
7. Frimley Lodge Park
There are a lot of green spaces around Camberley and Frimley Lodge Park is just that. A lovely area of woodland and meadows with picnic areas and a children’s play park. There’s also a cafe and the main attraction is a miniature railway – although it only runs on the first Sunday of the month and selected dates through school holidays.
8. The Atrium
The Atrium is Camberley’s shopping and leisure complex and there is so much to do! Camberley Bowl Plex offers free bowling for Under 4’s. It’s a great new experience for any toddler – get those bumper bars up! The Vue cinema has Kids AM screenings every weekend and weekdays through school holidays. The tickets are only £1.75 and it feels like such a treat for the children – a great way to start the day. Add to this the assortment of quality restaurants there’s definitely something for everyone.
9. The Little Gym
A fairly new addition to Camberley is The Little Gym. It’s also hidden away above the shops in the town centre – look up or you’ll miss it! The Little Gym offers gymnastics classes for children over 4 months and there are different classes for different abilities. The Little Gym even offers a free introductory visit.
10. Holme Grange Craft Village, Wokingham
Somewhere I had to add (as it’s less than 5 miles away and such a hidden gem) is the Holme Grange Craft Village. We first found this place when looking for somewhere to get the children’s hand and foot prints done when they were tiny. Pottery Pals is one of the businesses at the Craft Village and offers everything from pottery painting to animal paw prints. It’s a lovely fun activity for children with the rest of the craft village around it. There’s also a lovely tea shop that serves amazing homemade cakes as well as full meals, and a really wide variety of shops. It also has the added bonus of free parking!