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If you’re looking for a fun family day out in Kent for all ages, then Swanley Park in Kent is an excellent choice. As well as a splash park, good playground, large green area, lake with pedalos and a cafe, they also have The Great Outdoors, an outdoor stay and play!
The Great Outdoors is an outdoor stay and play aimed at children under 6. Within an enclosed area, there are lots of toys, ride ons and so much more for children to play with under the supervision of their parents. There’s everything from tables and chairs with bundles of Happyland toys, trucks, cars and trains to sheds filled with dollies and prams. There’s tuff trays set up with dinosaurs and animals, playhouses, fairy gardens, sand pits, building and construction area, play kitchen, pretend shop, slides, mini climbing frames, musical instruments and so much more! There really is something for everyone and plenty to keep the kiddos busy for hours.
It is open Monday to Friday 10am-12pm, also being open 1pm-3pm in Summer, however, if there is a private party booked then they will be closed – it is best to join the facebook group and check before going, as they normally post every morning to let you know if they are open and what times they will be open for that day. They are also open on Saturdays and Sundays however as these are very popular with party bookings it is often not open for stay and play, but again – do check their facebook page for updates. Being an outdoor stay and play, everything is equipped for rainy weather, so if you don’t mind getting a little bit wet then this is one for you, although in very poor weather conditions they do close for safety.
The Great Outdoors is very reasonably priced at £5 for the first child and £1 for siblings. Adults and non-walkers are free. There’s no pre-booking, just check on Facebook before you go that it is open then just turn up!
The Great Outdoors is located inside Swanley Park, New Barn Road, Swanley, Kent, BR8 7PW. Head towards the lake – The Great Outdoors is just behind the lake, near to the splash pad and cafe. You can’t miss it!
There are two car parks at Swanley park – both at opposite ends to the park. These are located at The Birches, Swanley, BR8 7YL and New Barn Road, Swanley, BR8 7PW. The car park is not free, and there is ANPR, so please do ensure to buy your ticket when you park. If you don’t want to pay, you can park for free along streets near The Birches, but of course be mindful to local residents.
Swanley Park itself advertises that is open from 11am-5pm, although you can gain access earlier to this (we have often visited the playground at when it’s empty at 7am!). However, if you’re hoping to ride the pedalos on the lake or utilise the splash park then these should be set up and ready to go from 11am onwards.
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We went to The Great Outdoors in March of 2022, so despite being lucky with the sun it was still quite cold, so a puddlesuit was needed! We got to Swanley Park nice and early, enjoying the playground before the masses of people arrived to enjoy the rest of the park. We then realised The Great Outdoors was open, having meant to have visited for months, so ran over to play! My son had an absolute whale of a time. We were all so impressed by the quantity of toys and activities – there’s just so much! It’s a large enough area for it to get quite busy and yet still have one child per toy/activity. The whole area is fully enclosed so theres no need to worry about children running away. I was also impressed to see a covered gazebo area with seats for adults to sit, so it’s a great place to visit with friends and family so you can let the kids run around and play safely whilst you catch up and have a natter! My son’s favourite toys were by far the Happyland and mini figurine toys – there were just so many of them, and as they’re not toys we have at home he was able to enjoy playing with something new. Being a little dinosaur lover, he also of course loved the dinosaur tuff tray, spending a good 20 minutes playing in the small world. He also loved the mud kitchen and construction area, and we were impressed with the tools, blocks and construction materials. They even had weighing scales!
I have seen some negative reviews online commenting on the cleanliness and disrepair of the toys, but I think they’re probably missing the point a little – this is an outdoor and outdoor only stay and play, so of course the toys are sun faded, battery free and a little bit dusty and muddy. It’s all part of the fun of being outdoors and exploring the natural elements! Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend to any local families – whether you’re stopping off just for the morning or spending the whole day at Swanley Park, your child is bound to enjoy it, and you might even get 5 minutes peace before you’re roped into playing with them!
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PS – If you visit off the back of my recommendation, please tag me in your photos on Instagram and use the hashtag #JodetopiaInKent
Are you looking for other ideas for family days out in Kent? Why not try Dinotropolis in Bluewater, or if you fancy venturing further then I highly recommend Discover Children’s Story Centre in Stratford!