I know that the summer holidays can be an expensive business, especially from a childcare perspective. But I am also a firm believer that entertaining children does not always have to be expensive if you can get a bit creative. I have already written a post of 50 free or cheap things you can do in the summer holidays. Parks, libraries, play dates, picnics and baking are absolutely my go-to! But as I live in Bracknell I thought I would put together a list of things that you can do locally on a budget.
Lookout and Discovery Centre
The Lookout and Discovery centre is perhaps one of the more well-known places in Bracknell. The Lookout is known for its mountain biking trails, but there is also a fantastic adventure park there which is great for children. You do have to pay for parking, but there is plenty of picnic benches and on-site toilets and a cafe.
If the weather is poor, then it’s definitely worth a visit to the Discovery Centre. Great for primary-aged children, under 4s are free and a family ticket is around £20. It has lots of Science based activities – over 90 of them in fact and it’s both interesting and educational. The water play section and the large building blocks have always been a big hit with my kids.
California Country Park
We love California Country Park and it’s a great place to go on a hot summer’s day, simply because of the outdoor paddling pool. Which is lovely. You do have to pay for parking and you do have to pay to use the paddling pool which you can do online. This year, the paddling pool is £2.60 for a child and £1 for an adult supervising. I would advise you to go early, especially on a hot day as it can get busy and the car park can get busy. There is a cafe, play park and fishing there. If we decide to go when the weather is warm we take a picnic and camp out for the day with friends.
There are lots of free splash pads throughout the town. They are brilliant for those warm, sunny days. You don’t have to book so if you’re free on a sunny day, just grab your swimsuits, a towel and some suncream and head on out. We like to meet up with friends and take a picnic and always have lots of fun.
The best splash pads we like to visit are – Jocks Lane, Lock’s Ride and Great Hollands. They all have park and play facilities too and Lock’s ride has a big beach themed area, make sure to bring your bucket and spade!
Library Reading Challenge
We pretty much do this every year. It’s free to do and a great way to encourage your children to read through the summer holidays. All you need is a library card, but if you don’t have one of those they are also free to sign up for so don’t worry.
The summer reading challenge is to visit the library 4 times during the summer holidays and read 6 books. Each time you visit you get a little reward, our first one was sticker. If you complete the challenge the library will send you a certificate that my children’s school hands out in assembly.
Bracknell Summer Fun Days
The Bracknell summer fun days are back after going away during the pandemic. My children love these every year and what is so amazing is that they’re free. There are a couple of things there that do charge, and I often buy mine and ice cream from the ice cream van that is usually there, but you can genuinely go along and spend no money if you’re on a tight budget.
They include activities such as inflatables, circus skills, arts and crafts, climbing, occasionally there are animals and reptiles, crazy golf and laser tag.
The dates are for 2022:
- 5th August – Sandhurst
- 10th August – Winkfield
- 16th August – Crowthorne
- 31st August – Binfield
South Hill Park
South Hill Park is a beautiful old stately home with gorgeous grounds. It’s worth keeping an eye on their What’s On page for details of shows and activities. But for the summer holidays, the grounds are a great place to visit. There are two parks – one aimed more at younger children and a bigger park over the back. You can have a walk, feed the ducks, have a picnic and take a ball for ball games. They also have a nature trail that’s a great outdoor activity to do together as a family.
Lily Hill Park
Lily Hill Park is a stunning open space in Bracknell. There is open land, parkland, a traditional garden with a pond and fountain, the world’s largest picnic bench, sculptures, an animal tracks trail and places to do brass rubbings. If the weather is nice it’s a great day to pack a picnic and head over there. We also like to take our bikes, although parts are hilly.
Kids Club Cinema at the Odeon
Odeon Kids Club is a showing in the mornings – usually in the morning aimed at children. They run Saturdays and Sundays and every weekday during the holidays. The tickets are around £2.50. The film is usually a slightly older one, but the viewing is always relaxed and easy. If you want snacks my advice is to take them with you, or for a treat do the pick and mix and the Poundland instead which is considerably cheaper. I always keep this one up my sleeve for rainy days when you just need to ge out of the house.
Windsor – Changing of the Guard
Windsor is always a great town to visit, really beautiful with the stunning castle at the centre of it. The changing of the guard happens on most days of the week in August, you can find all of the details listed online. It’s absolutely free to go and watch and deifintely a sight to see.