I’m sure we should be basking in the sunshine, but it hasn’t really worked out that way. Rachel’s posted about some lovely things to do and places to visit on rainy days. And I thought I’d mention a couple of soft play centres that we’ve visited recently that might make a rainy day with a toddler bearable.
We went to a birthday party at Kidspace in Romford – I hadn’t heard of it and I thought it might be quite a hassle to get to until I looked at a map and realised it was one/a few stop(s) from Stratford (depending on which train you get).
It’s located in a shopping centre, a five minute walk from the tube station, and it’s a really big space.
Unlike most soft plays, there’s a decent dedicated area for under fives that doesn’t leave them wanting to join the big kids in an obviously more exciting bit. It’s a good size. There are the usual slides and tunnels and climbing areas, but also some more unusual stuff like keyboard keys that your toddler can play stepping from one to the next.
There are also (in a separate section) some mini Go Karts that you can go on with your toddler around a (small) track. Think dodgems, without the bumping into each other, and cars styled to look like racing cars. Pretty exciting, although my toddler didn’t actually want a go.
For older children, there’s a climbing zone and laster tag – thankfully that’s not for us right now.
What? Kidspace, Romford.
Where? The Brewery, Waterloo Rd, Romford RM1 1AU (For directions, click here).
How much? Prices vary for peak and off-peak and under threes pay a reduced price (but it’s not cheap), check here.
Facilities and access: Romford has step-free access and so does the shopping centre. At Kidspace, there’s everything you’d expect baby change, a cafe etc.
The Idol, Barking
Any soft play centre that has only one other child in it on an overcast Bank Holiday Monday wins my vote – and we go every now and again. The Idol is in Abbey Leisure Centre, a 10 minute or so walk from Barking tube. The soft play itself has a small footprint, but it makes up for it in height. It goes up high – way up high. The first time we went I thought I’d be able to watch from the bottom, but soon lost track of where my toddler was and had to go up and find her..
For under threes, there’s only a small area with a nice slide. And a ball pool, with a blower that sends them magically in the air.
It means that younger children end up going on the whole thing, although they might need a hand from the adult who’s with them. But The Idol is one of those places that seems to welcome parents joining in the fun.
For those who don’t feel like it, there are table and chairs and a cafe, which serves inexpensive toddler-friendly food. And it’s probably better that you find a moment to sit and relax so that you can contemplate the fact that The Idol isn’t just a soft play – it’s an artwork by a Turner Prize nominated artist. Which toddler doesn’t infinitely prefer playing on an artwork?
There’s also a terrifying slide that’s only open to older children and seems to be closed most of the time.
When? Check out opening times here.
How much? Prices vary, but there’s a great offer of £2 per child for under fours Monday-Friday 10am-3pm (check here for more info).
Facilities and access: There’s step-free access to The Idol, there’s a toilet with a drop-down baby change, plus a cafe.