6 things to do when you’re 6…
You see, that’s the thing. It seems Centre Parcs is one of those places where it doesn’t matter how old you are. It’s one of those places where families come to tuck themselves into cosy lodges, then eat, swim and adventure their way through the perfect short break.
We adventured our way to Whinfell Forest Centre Parcs located in Penrith. It’s only a two hour drive for us – which is the perfect distance of feeling like you’ve travelled from home territory – but no one starts asking, ‘Are we there yet?’ type questions on repeat.
There are a huge many ways you can plan a Centre Parcs break. You can pack everyday with booked activities. You can book nothing and just swim, walk and enjoy each others company. You can take a bit of both and book a few things here or there. There’s no right or wrong way to do it – but we opted for the latter.
We didn’t over plan our trip. We wanted to arrive tired and leave relaxed. So booking lots of activities and having to stick to a timescale seemed stressful. We booked nothing before we arrived apart from an evening in the Aqua Sana spa (thanks Cathryn!). This gave us the freedom to explore, pick up our bikes, swim, eat and enjoy.
Here are our top 6 things we’d recommend for any Centre Parcs break – no matter how you decide to plan it.
- Ride in Style
Once arrival day is out of the way – the whole forest is a ‘car-free’ zone. This makes it the perfect place for cycling. You can take your own bikes or hire them from the cycle centre. Of course you can walk everywhere, but there’s a thrilling freedom about whizzing through the trees on two wheels.
The girls has a ‘princess carriage’ for the week and absolutely loved it. It was SO easy to bundle them in, get them cosy and ferry their tired legs from A to B. We would highly recommend a ‘princess carriage’ or bike trailer if you’re using proper terms.
2. Eat out!
The variety of restaurants is superb. We had two dinners and a lunch out whilst on holiday. There are so many places to eat. We didn’t struggle too much with needing to book – but the last night we found it hard to get into the Indian restaurant we were eager to try. If there hadn’t been a cancellation we wouldn’t have been able to go.
We also ate at Bella Italia. Perfect for families and kids, the restaurant is so calm and relaxed. Plus, there’s a huge range of food on the menu. We were all happy with our food and the service.
The ‘Pancake House’ is only open until around 4pm. It’s a great post-swimming option to refuel and fill up with sugar. It’s a little on the pricey side for waffles and pancakes – but they were lovely and we didn’t have to book or queue.
On our final evening we ate at Rajinda Pardesh, we were so excited to try the food here and weren’t disappointed. It was superb. The cocktails, starters, meals, kids options – all lovely! I think we all left stuffed and feeling spoilt. Highly recommend.
The rest of our meals we made full use of the fabulous in-lodge kitchen. The kitchens are stocked full of all cooking utensils you’d ever need – and the local supermarket is great for picking up dinner essentials.
3. Push the boundaries!
Can you have an outdoor holiday without adventure? We think not!
Adventure doesn’t have to be a paid for activity. The adventure parks and brilliant and we had great fun in these.
We did book the girls into a class each. Lily (who is 4) went to Football Training and Holly went Indoor Climbing.
I was super impressed with the climbing. It was £16 for the session which lasted 70 minutes. The range of climbing routes was fabulous and the auto-belaying devices gave the option for more children to climb independently. Holly was fantastic and tried so many routes without giving up. She was proud of herself for getting to the top at least five times.
The children receive a pin badge at the end of their activity as a souvenir, nice touch!
4. Swim, Swim and Swim some more…
If you’ve been to CP’s, you’ll know swimming plays a key role. The ‘Sub Tropical Swimming Paradise’ is something not to be missed. It’s accessible for all ages and has so many different zones, slides and areas you can easily spend all day here.
We loved the free life vests for the kids to happily float along through the waves and around the rapids. Even on busy days we didn’t feel overcrowded. There are loads of slides to try – the outdoor rapids are brutal but brilliant!
The wristband system is excellent. The band allows you to unlock your lodge, lock swimming lockers and can be linked to a debit card to pay for things around the village. This is perfect for snacks and drinks at swimming.
5. Enjoy the Forest
The surrounding forest is just stunning. Definitely take the time to wander through the trees, admire the wildlife and breathe it all in. We loved watching the variety of birds through the patio windows of our lodge. It’s definitely some kind of wonderful waking up in the morning to the view of golden sun dappled through the trees.
We went ‘treasure hunting’ and collected tons of pine cones – life’s simple pleasures.
6. Find Time to Chill
In and amongst the eating, swimming, cycling, forest admiration and general merriment – we’d definitely throw a vote in for just doing nothing. Sit in the lodge, feet up, cup of tea and chill. There’s nothing as disheartening as coming home from a holiday feeling shattered – so rest up.
The girls loved enjoying each others company and pottering around the lodge. We went for little strolls, jumping on logs and rocks and just enjoyed being together.
We arrived home this afternoon feeling blissed out and feeling like it was the perfect break. Maybe we did it just right? We’ve definitely got the achey legs from cycling, the bruises from the rapids and the feeling that this isn’t the last time we’ll visit Center Parcs.