With the kids back at school and Summer seeming a lifetime ago already, I thought it would be great to find out where you have been taking your little ones over the summer holidays!
As a mum myself, I am always looking for fresh ideas and things to do with my children to keep them excited and make new memories.  I have two boys, 10 and 4 so with a big age gap it can be hard to keep both of them entertained with the same place!
I asked mums on various Facebook groups to take a poll on what they thought was the best day out for their children.  Before I announce the results, (or you can skip this part and just scroll down!) I wanted to share with you my favourite places (but not necessarily cheap!) that were tried and tested by me and my boys!

Tower of London – this was my favourite from our summer, I had never been inside the tower before and although it has an expensive entrance fee, it was a treat for all of us!  The actual fee has a voluntary contribution added on to it which I felt is a bit sneaky yet it does go towards maintaining the tower.  I asked to take this fee off but bought a programme instead so I had something to keep and they still got a fee!
My four year old is quite sensitive so he was a bit scared of some of the rooms and what was in them, but there was not anything scary for his age and my ten year old enjoyed learning about the history of the tower.  There were actors around who stayed in character when they talk to you around the grounds and plenty of benches to sit on and take it all in.  We had a photo with a beefeater (well, I did!), and visited the Crown jewels which was stunning!
​We were here around three hours in total and even better, we walked across Tower bridge for free after and had an ice cream outside City hall taking in the Thames.

360 Play, Basildon – I have blogged about this soft play centre before but since then, they have added an outdoor area which we explored.  Again, it is not the cheapest place BUT is definitely value for money!  The outside now has mini boats that you can ride on, a football/basketball area, a sand pit and climbing area with some role play houses along the way.  We usually spend about 4 hours in this centre and this summer was no exception.  There is so much to do, there is no way your children will be bored!

Thames Chase, Upminster – a FREE day out that is so much fun, parking is £2 for the whole day and you get to walk around trying to find the different areas for the children to play on on route.  My boys enjoyed doing what boys do best, climbing!  There were teepees, a fort, a climbing frame, paths and at the end a park to continue playing on.  My favourite part is eating outside on the benches looking out the the stunning fields.  Highly recommend this place for an afternoon of freedom.

Cable Cars at the O2 – a favourite of ours, visit the cable cars for around £4 each return (prices subject to change) and take in the sights of the Thames.  For a small fee you can buy the goggles and map to keep and my boys loved how high it goes up!  We even had fun trying to see how far in the horizon we could see, and who could spot our home!  Afterwards, they love to play in the fountains if they are on at the O2 and if you’re feeling hungry there are plenty of restaurants inside that are child friendly.

Jump Evolution, Harold Hill – the evolution of trampoline places has been amazing and our local one just ten minutes down the road is something to be explored.  Having been going to the launch party and at least every week since, Jump Evolution is pricey but again, value for money.  Where else can you bounce without looking like a fool, even at my age?  Even without using the kids as an excuse!  My youngest loves running off the platforms and into the soft cubes that break his fall, and my eldest took trampoline lessons over the summer where he learned to somersault and found new skills to use.  It is great for keeping fit as well!  The only downside is one hour is not enough and two hours can be expensive so look out for their deals which are regularly announced.

Right, that’s my favourite for the summer, here is where you voted for!


 

Maldon Promenade ParkThe most popular out of the five listed, I have not been here for a few years but I remember it well and know how much of a great day out it can be!  The splash park has to be the highlight especially on a hot summers day and there is also a huge climbing frame and sand pit which I am sure gets very busy during half term holidays.  You can view more about prices and the stunning scenery on their website but I will definitely be taking my two in the future.Paddocks Splash and Playsplash parks are a popular choice in the summer as long as we get the weather for it!  Again, I have not personally been here, but it often comes up in my social media feeds as a place to visit.  Not only is there a splash park but there is also a cafe, sand pit and play area so again, it makes for a great afternoon out.

Olympic ParkOne of my favourite places to go, we have not ventured here this year but in previous years we have spent the whole day here.  It is cheaper to get the train as car parking is expensive and there are two areas to explore.  There are various things to do along your walks and exploring the area while taking the stadium in around you.  There are several play areas depending on which way round you go but they are all free and offer something modern and imaginative to our local parks.  Easily a whole day can be spent here, and if you venture near the Orbital there are water fountains to splash in, just take a change of clothes and towels!

Colchester Zoomy eldest and I used to go here all the time!  I have not been back since as it’s a bit far out for us but we will be going again soon.  They have different themed events throughout the year and a friend of mine recently took part in a zoo experience with the meerkats which looked amazing!
A great day out for all the family!

Adventure Island, Southendwe did come here this summer, although not at the fair area, we took part in the mini golf and had a walk along the pier!  Southend holds many childhood memories for me so it is great that my own kids can explore the fairground here just being 20 minutes down the road.  Wristbands are available with a variety of rides for different heights and ages so there is something for everyone.  If we do come back this year, we would come at night to soak up the atmosphere and I have heard it is not as busy then!

Thank you to everyone that took part and voted, it is always vital to hear what other parents have to say and to share that information to support these amazing places and to give our children a zest for life!

Would you like to hear what other parents have to say about planning their child’s party?
Join us in our Facebook group, Essex Birthday Club to get advice, and ideas from mums and dads!

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