Overlooking the lake at Center Parcs

Visiting Center Parcs with a baby

If you’re looking for a straight-forward family holiday, visiting Center Parcs with a baby is as easy as it gets.

Before I had my little adventurer I’d been to Center Parcs twice for weekends with friends. On both occasions I’d been really surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Before I visited, I hadn’t really thought spending a long weekend on one site would be my kind of thing. I was worried that I’d find it too restrictive. But honestly it was so much fun and there is so much to do that it’s impossible to get bored.

Don’t get my wrong, I love staying in quirky places with my little adventurer, going on interesting city breaks and even going off grid when we get the chance. But sometimes you just want a simple holiday, where you don’t have to worry about how you’ll get from A to B, or whether there’ll be something the baby can eat, or how annoyed on a scale of 1 to 10 the rest of the campsite will be when your baby wakes up at 5am.

So when we started to think about organising a UK break for our extended family it made perfect sense. The whole ethos of the company is geared around families so I knew that visiting Center Parcs with a baby would be an easy option.

Center Parcs has six sites in the UK and we booked a four day midweek stay at Sherwood Forest in Nottingham, arriving on Monday and leaving on Friday. We booked an Executive Lodge, (which includes en-suite bathrooms, housekeeping services and an outdoor sauna), to share with my parents, my sister and her boyfriend.

What I loved about visiting Center Parcs with a baby was the ease of everything. Once you’re on site, you unload your car and then park it in the car park for the rest of the week which means there is no having to wrestle your little one in and out of a car to get to places; no time wasted driving from one activity to another and everything feels very relaxed.

It also feels incredibly safe. There’s no busy roads to negotiate and you’re surrounded by other families, so it felt like the perfect place for our little adventurer to exercise the new sense of freedom she has recently begun to develop. We bought her her first pair of shoes just before we went away and seeing her starting to toddle around was one of the highlights of my trip. 

Sitting on a throne at Center Parcs
Sitting on her throne

So if you’re looking for a straight-forward easy getaway in the UK, here’s why I’d recommend visiting Center Parcs with a baby:

It’s good value if you can be flexible

One of the criticisms of Center Parcs is that is can be expensive if you go during the school holidays. If you’re able to be flexible with your dates it is much cheaper to visit Center Parcs with a baby during term time. It also means the site is much quieter and we were amazed at how empty the parks and restaurants were and how easy it was to book activities straight-away. 

There’s something for everyone

Center Parcs is a perfect option if you’re planning a trip with other family members, as everyone can do their own thing and then meet up for meals or certain activities. That way there’s less pressure to do everything together and you don’t end up dragging six adults to a soft play.

There are more than 200 indoor and outdoor activities to choose from, so even the fussiest person will be able to find something they’ll enjoy!

Sherwood Forest, Center Parcs
A moment to reflect

There’s loads of free stuff for babies

Although paying out for the activities in Center Parcs can quickly add up, there is so much free stuff for little ones to do. The biggest one, of course, is the Subtropical Swimming Paradise and an amazing new toddler pool has just opened at Sherwood Forest, which our little adventurer absolutely loved.

There are also lots of playgrounds around the site as well as a couple of big soft play areas. Most of the resturants also have small soft play areas in them too.

The weather wasn’t too warm when we visited, but during the warmer months there’s also a beach overlooking the lake which is perfect for an afternoon of play or a packed lunch on the beach. Who doesn’t love sandy sandwiches?

As well as all of the activities, our little adventurer absolutely loved all of the wildlife living in the forest. Wherever you look, there are birds, squirrels and rabbits and every morning a swan came and tapped on our patio door.

Swan spotting at Center Parcs
“Look Mama!”

I think the highlight of the week for my little adventurer was shouting “daa daa” (‘quack quack’) every time she saw a duck.

There was more than enough to wear her out each day and the best thing about visiting Center Parcs with a baby is that while they enjoy looking at everything that’s going on, they don’t actually ask to go on any of the pricey paid-for activities! 

It’s SO easy

The whole point of Center Parcs is that it’s totally set up for families. All of the lodges are provided with a high chair and a cot (you need to take your own bedding for it).

The restaurants also all have plenty of high chairs, kids menus, colouring activities and soft play areas.

Unlike some holidays we go on, when it feels as though we are packing the kitchen sink, we managed to travel relatively light.

Hiring bikes can be quite pricey, but they do have child seats and trailers to make transporting little ones around the site easier.

Center Parcs also gets a massive thumbs up from me for thinking about the tired parents and having the Aqua Sana Spa on site, which makes it super easy to slip away for a bit of ‘me time’. I had three blissful hours in the spa, which has more than 25 different experiences, with my mum and my sister and it was everything I needed for a mental reboot.

At the Aqua Sana Spa
One very happy mummy!

If you’re travelling alone, there are also qualified babysitters on site who can be booked for a few hours.

All in all, our visit to Center Parcs was such a memorable trip, for so many reasons. It was lovely and relaxing, with no stress and so many special moments. The perfect start to spring!

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Have you ever been to Center Parcs? I’d love to hear about your experiences below.

If you enjoyed this post, you might like to read more about one of our quirky stays in a horsebox, an off-grid adventure in a shepherd hut or how we got on camping with a baby.