This is the Milton Keynes Kids guide to ten of our favourite places you can take your kids for FREE this half term. You will probably need to drive to quite a few of them and you’ll need to pay to park, but once there, they are free to enjoy. Some extra activities may require an additional charge. We have been to all of them at least once. Click on the blue links for my full review, address details and gallery of pictures. Please check each destination’s website or facebook page before travelling for up to date information.
- Stanwick Lakes has a HUGE adventure playground, a smaller play area for toddlers and a sand and water area. Definitely take a bucket and spade, waterproofs, wellies and a change of clothes if they love splashing. There’s an adventure trail with two climbing rocks, a rope bridge over the water, a giant tyre swing (soon to be replaced with a new hexagonal swing and climbable animal structures) and zip wire. My toddler loved climbing up into the big bird hide. If it’s wet there’s a lovely visitors centre and small soft play area (additional charge applies). Approximately 40 minutes from MK. £2.50 to park.
2. Sywell Country Park has a sand and water play area called the filter bed which includes a water pump (my toddler loved this), a climbing frame, a smaller pirate ship style climbing frame and lots of sand for digging. Take waterproofs and / or spare trousers. We loved the animal / bug sculpture trail. It wasn’t huge but plenty big enough for toddler and he loved spotting all the animals. There’s a big slide there too. He also enjoyed seeing the cascading water and feeding the ducks. If it’s wet there’s a small indoor soft play area suitable for little ones – additional charge sometimes applies. Costs either £2.70 or £3 to park depending on which day you go. Time from MK – 35-45 mins approximately
3. If you don’t want to travel too far from Milton Keynes then Rushmere Country Park is a must visit. There’s a HUGE slide, a big swing and a small but nice sandpit play area near the entrance to the park. Definitely take wellies for a walk around the woodland – it can get very muddy. We love to search for the fairy doors, big spider, giant’s chair and carved wooden chairs – it’s an easy circuit suitable for little legs. There’s a café if it rains. A £2 car park charge is payable on exit. Time from MK – 20 mins approx.
4. Irchester Country Park has one of the biggest playgrounds we’ve ever visited with a number of climbing frames, a snake swing and a sand pit digging area with train, bridges and slides. There’s also a separate dinosaur play area as well. If your son or daughter likes trains then it’s worth walking down to the railway museum. There’s one train you can sit in. There are plenty of trails if you want to go for a nice walk. If it’s wet there’s a café. £2.70 to park / £3 on a Sunday. Approximately 35 mins from MK.
5. The Natural History Museum in Tring is a weird and wonderful collection of 4000 animal and insect specimens that Sir Walter Rothschild collected during his life. It’s both impressive and quirky… and nothing like we’ve been to before. It’s on a number of levels and there’s so many animals to look at. My toddler enjoyed peering through the windows and asking me about them. It’s one of the best alternative indoor places to go if you’re fed up with soft play. But a couple of things to bear in mind, when the weather is bad then it’s really popular and can be difficult to park. Buggies are allowed in but if it’s busy then it’s better to carry your baby in a baby carrier. The café is really small. It’s approximately 40 mins from MK.
6. With its Gruffalo statue, Stick Man trail and impressive den-building area, Wendover Woods is well worth a visit if you have young children. Take your wellies though it’s SO muddy! As a fan of Julia Donaldson my toddler loved seeing the Gruffalo and its only a short walk from the centre of the woods. My 2 year old loved exploring the dens – some of the best we’ve seen at the various woods and forests we’ve visited. The play area is ok but nothing special and unlike some of the country parks we’ve visited isn’t worth going for that alone. £3 to park – approximately 45 minutes from MK.
7. Salcey Forest is great fun for young children.The structure rises to 15 metres above the woodland floor, with a crow’s nest platform at 20 metres reached by steps. It offers stunning views across Salcey Forest and the adjoining woodlands of Yardley Chase. It’s a bit wobbly! Fine to take the toddlers up – perfectly safe – but hold on to your belongings – you don’t want to drop anything over the edge. My 2 year old enjoyed going in the the little wooden houses at the end of the elephant trail which you walk around at ground level. There’s a nice play area but it’s more suitable for slightly older children. Since we went a Stick Man trail has also been put in place. £3 to park – about 25 mins from MK.
8. One of the best parks in Milton Keynes in my opinion is Brooklands Park. It’s a bit like a mini Stanwick Lakes. Take a bucket and spade! There is a lovely sand pit – we love digging. Nice climbing frames – a small one for toddlers, wide slide, baby swings and a big swing, a tunnel and some nice sculptures. 2 year old’s favourite thing was the pirate ship – he loved pretending to be Peter Pan on it.
9. Emberton Country Park is a beautiful country park just outside of Olney with fun varied play areas for children. Toddler loved the pirate ship – parks with boats or trains are just the best aren’t they?! He found the trampolines in the ground great to bounce on too. There’s a big slide which was popular with the bigger ones. Nice sand pit – worth taking a bucket and spade if your child likes to dig, there’s diggers to sit on as well. £4 to park.
10. And… if the weather is horrendous, one of our favourite places to go is the library. It’s a change of scenery and we can sit for some time reading different stories. One of our favourites is Kingston library – it opened just over a year ago and still feels really modern and bright. There’s a big stack of soft shapes there that my toddler loves climbing on. I assume that’s what they’re for?! Hugless Douglas is doing a tour of the libraries during half term for stories, songs and crafts – there is a £1 charge though. Do have a look at the library website for details of when he’s there.
If you’re looking for more ideas of places to take the children (and are happy to pay to take them somewhere) then have a look at the where to go section of my website. Remember to check on the destination’s website or facebook page for the latest opening times and facilities.
I'm Laura, mum of two boys - aged six and four. I started this website at the end of Sept 2015 whilst on maternity leave. I now work four days a week and do this blog late at night once the little boys are sleeping. It's won several awards over the last four years and I continue to run it for free and mostly focus on free, cheap, and good value days out. Do drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to contact me. Don't forget to follow all of our latest adventures on facebook, instagram and twitter and have a look at all of the videos of the places we visit on the Milton Keynes Kids YouTube Channel - subscribe to it for notifications every time I add a new place. And remember... you may been reading this post months after we visited, do check with the destination you're visiting for up to date opening times and prices. If you find this blog useful then please do comment on my posts and leave me a Facebook review - it makes doing this all the more worthwhile.