Soft play areas can be such a saviour on rainy or even hot summer days or when you are trying to find something less taxing yet physically and mentally engaging. Soft plays are great as children explore different sensory inputs , develop important motor skills like balance, hand-eye coordination, and problem-solving and nurture their creativity in a safe environment. You can just shove them in and be assured they will not get hurt. I have seen Ay randomly chat to other children, strike new friendships and just be acquainted with the cultural and social rules in indoor play areas. WIN WIN right!
I often get asked which is the best soft play in Oxfordshire. To be honest, I can not name one, as they all have their pros and cons but I will try to summarise the best bits of them all:
The largest one in Oxfordshire in my opinion is the Sprouts play barn in Millets Farm, Abingdon. The main play frame is four-tiered with plenty of opportunities to climb/slide/crawl/jump in, and everything has a connection to animals, barns or millet farm. There is a farmers market themed role play area with soft play props for tots. There is also a small outdoor play area with little ride-ons, roads and a tiny barn with soft cows/duckies on astroturf. It also has the advantage of having Millet Farm on site, so once finished here, you could walk around the garden centre and enjoy the farm animals etc for free. Read our full review HERE
Snakes and Ladders in Abingdon is not too far and is also quite large. The play frame is pretty good and it also has another dedicated zone for under 5s. I was really excited to see the Discovery zone which had some really interesting scientific experiments. Read our full review HERE. You can go to Abbey Meadows from S&L which is about five minutes drive away and is pretty amazing to make a full day out of it.
Yarnton Magic Garden in Kidlington is not as massive as compared to the above biggies but certainly a good one and the staff is so hospitable, it almost feels like you are in your home (only this place is strikingly clean!). It is centred around a magic garden theme with extra bits for role play. We love the balls play area with target goals or basketball hoop and also a small climbing wall. Read our full review HERE.
Eat and Play at Bicester Avenue Garden Centre is small but has a lot of things crammed in the not so big space. We usually go here when we go to the garden centre or after Bicester village visit. The cafe has a decent enough menu in the cafe so you can sit down while your kids play. KidzZoo Soft play and party venue in another small one in Bicester but popular for parties.
Rugrats and Half Pints Indoor Play Centre in Banbury has a three tiered main frame and a small Trampoline section. Their baby area is different than most of the others and there is an interactive Sandbox in a small corner as well.
Partyman World of play is located near the Kassam Stadium in Oxford, so perfect if your other halves are in for a match but it also means its a bit out of the way. The soft play is decent sized with themed play sections but what stood out for us was the interactive stage. After an hour or so, the staff would take to the stage, and play out loud music with kids joining in the dance and song party. It was noisy for me but fun for all the kids.
Riverside Hub is located in Northampton but it is so well worth the drive. It is not your typical “soft play”; it has so much more that you will never regret the drive out of Oxford for an absolutely fantastic day out. There is a four tiered giant play frame, indoor 10 metre high oak tree for harnessed climb, interactive climbing wall, interactive sandpit, Go karts, Carousel, crazy Golf, Laser tag, dedicated role play areas, sparkly Disco and so much more- all included in the price- you dont pay a penny extra! Read our full review HERE
Safari MK in Milton Keynes is a really good one too. We have visited a few times, and even had Ay’s birthday party there but unfortunately I have not got round to writing my post. I soon will, promise!
360 Play Rushden Lakes is also in Northampton. The main two tiered playframe is certainly not the largest we have seen, but what it lacks in height, it covers very well in width. Around the play frame is the 360 village street, which has everything for a brilliant role play. They also have messy play, build and break area with lego, dodgem cars and carousel, sports arena and also an outside play fort and sandpit (included in the price). The surrounding shopping area is one of the biggest I have seen with big brands. Read our full review HERE
Ruby and Red’s Soft Play in High Wycombe is relatively small as soft plays go and is mainly aimed for the younger children but with the trampoline park next to it (which has to be booked separately, one can not really complain (read review of the RUSH TRAMPOLINE PARK ).
Talking of trampoline parks, Jump Inc (previously Rebound revolution) in Bicester is a good one though I hear the air conditioning doesn’t work, so it can get really hot and sweaty in hot weather. If have a climber, then you will love Clip n Climb in Bicester or Oxford Ice Rink if you have a skater.
The newly opened leisure and entertainment centre, The Light, in Banbury have so much to offer with the adventure climbing, crazy golf, interactive darts, a retro arcade, Karaoke, American pool, shuffle board, Table tennis and of course, seven-screen cinema and dining, all arranged on three levels under one roof! Whether you’re looking for an amazing movie or fun with your friends or family, there is something for everyone, and for all ages.
Jump in Trampoline park in Slough or Rush trampoline park in High Wycombe are a bit further afield but definitely worth a visit. Whether you want to jump on trampolines or onto the giant air bag, play Dodgeball, slide down the numerous slides or try somersaults on tumble tracks, you will find something to amuse you.
The Science Oxford Centre in Headington is a mini version of The lookout discovery centre in Bracknell. It is a hands-on science and discovery centre with a number of activities to keep your kids entertained, whatever the age. The place is fun, interactive and educational. You get two hours indoors but there is also a small woodland outside. They also have an outdoor water table in summers, so the place has it all!
Museums could also be a good rainy day saviour and there are plenty to choose from. For a Dino lover, Oxford university museum of Natural History in the town centre is a must with its full length Dinosaur skeletons, huge triceratops skull, other animal skeletons such as giraffe and elephants, giant ammonite, an actual meteorite etc etc. The Oxfordshire Museum is located in Woodstock and is much smaller but has a dinosaur garden and interactive dinosaur gallery.
Other museums in the town centre include the Ashmolean Museum. They often run family activities, so it is worth checking their website. Museum of Oxford is a small one on St. Aldate’s but has interactive audio-visual features for kids, so can be a good time filler. Oxford History of Science museum is also close. You can find Einstein’s blackboard with his writing on it but I don’t think it is suitable for small children etc. The Story Museum is pretty awesome. We went for their small World experience for under 5s. It is a 75 mins timed session, so make sure you arrive on time or you may miss part of the fun.If you think something needs updating on this post, please contact us HERE