The Look out discovery centre in Bracknell is one of our best days out from Oxfordshire EVER! A hands-on science and discovery centre with over 90 activities to entertain, no matter your kids age is, I am sure they will find something to keep them occupied. Think Oxford Science centre but at a bigger scale. This place is fun, it is interactive and it is educational. There can be no better combo than this ! Highly highly recommended!!
We combined this with a visit to the Coral Reef Waterworld which is just across the road from here but you could easily do either of these attraction separately and still have loads of fun. I was just saving myself the drive!
Back to the Look out discovery centre then.. I will be honest. When I looked at the not so big building, I could’nt help but develop doubt in my mind if the one hour’s drive will be worth it or not. The doubts became stronger when we got inside. There were lots of school children, waiting in the queue. Each one of them had bought something from the gift shop and were being served but there was only a single person on the till. I felt like it will be at least half an hour before we even manage to get inside and was beginning to have a panic attack. Luckily, the receptionist saw us (and probably took pity on us), so checked us in quickly before serving the other children in the queue. Before anyone shames me (and another family) for queue breaking, the children had actually spent their time inside and were on their way out.
Finally we were off to discover the discovery centre!!
I could not be more wrong about my first impressions!! The space is not huge but it there is so much in there that If I didn’t rush my son, he would have happily continued playing here forever!
The place is divided into few zones over two floors.
This comes first on your left and Ay shrieked with delight as soon as he “heard” the water sound. He played with the boats in the indoor stream, built a dam, let the water out, and then tried to create a whirlpool by turning the wheel. You can also learn about other stuff like food pyramid, designs a tree, make the wheels dance on the turntable, make music on the pipes etc
The construction area is just opposite. You can design a house at the architect’s table or wear hi-viz jackets and hard hats as you zoom around the Build It zone.You can use the tile chute and drive the dumper trucks to transport giant building blocks around the construction site.
There are lots of experiments to do here, all about forces and movement. I can not possibly go through everything but the highlights for Ay included:
You can have colourful fun with Optimusic, draw a light picture in the shadow box or investigate the infinity mirror. You can also play with the thermal imaging camera, look at the frozen water crystals under the microscope or capture your own shadow..
Body and Perception is on the first floor. The wind table is the first thing you see as you climb up and was a huge hit. You can make your own “planes” and put them over the massive fan to see them fly. Ay initially made use of the small paper planes made by other kids but then started throwing random bits of paper. You can also create your own marble run or have a go at creating an electrical circuit. We loved being silly on the different types of mirrors which create body illusions. There is also a small Insect enclosure upstairs: The forestry themed exhibit is home to a small range of wild insects, amphibians and reptiles.
There is a Lookout tower on top of a narrow spiral staircase. It was very busy with the school kids and looked like a lot of stairs, so we gave it a miss!
There is a fantastic play area outside The Look Out, split into 3 parts. A fully inclusive play area which includes a wheelchair accessible roundabout, slide, cradle swing, climbing frame with metal slide and musical toys. The infant play area is designed for younger children aged 3 to 6 years, and includes a fabulous pirate ship to set sail in, obstacle course, swing and trampoline. The junior play area is for older children (aged 7 to 11 years) though Ay (not yet 5) managed to do a lot of it. The castle/ fort is any child’s dream which is perfect for imaginative play but also has great climbing opportunities. The surrounding woodland area had lots of lots of teepees, some complete and some ready for your kids to get their hands on
The play area is surrounded by lots of tables and benches, which make wonderful picnic spots right on the edge of Swinley Forest. Ah, I can not gush enough about this place! You really have to visit it for yourselves
Watch us having fun here
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Go Ape Tree Top challenge, Adventure and adventure plus is also available at Swinley Forest next door to the discovery centre.
If you have the energy or left, you can explore the forest on its own too.
🗺 Address: The Look Out Discovery Centre, Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell RG12 7QW
🎟 Adult – £8.15 (£8.40 from 1 April), child (4 to 16 years) – £5.95 (£6.15 from 1 April)- Under 4s FREE. They also have dedicated toddler days, full of fun activities geared towards smaller visitors. Please see website for updated prices and opening hours HERE
🚘 The car park is open daily from 7am until 6pm.Parking is £3 for 4 hours or £6 for all day. (£3.10 and £6.20 from 1 April 2022). For more details and updated prices, click HERE
We had booked the Coral Reef Waterworld across the road afterwards, so parked our car there where parking is free for 5 hours (though you will need to enter the reg number with the reception beforehand)
🚻 Toilets and baby facilities
🍕New Woodlarks Café open on site. You can enjoy your food and drinks outside next to the adventure play area and beautiful forest. There is currently no indoor seating. MENU here
🧺 Picnic benches outside
🦽 Pushchair accessible – Full details about accessibility HERE
🐕 Dogs allowed in forest area but not in the discovery centre.
🚲 Cycling permitted in Swinley Forest. Bikes available for hire from Swinley Bike Hub.
🐎 Horse riding is permitted in Swinley Forest, but you will need a licence to do so. For further information, please visit the Windsor Great Park website.