The best places to visit in Windsor, Maidenhead and the surrounding area when you actually want to catch up with friends (and not end up chasing the kids in opposite directions).

Maybe it’s just me, but I think I think i have had approximately 4000 unfinished conversations with friends in the last 5 years.  We meet with the best of intentions; our sole aim of meeting is to ‘catch up’.  But then, one kid goes one way, the other goes another way and you end up going home thinking you may as well not have bothered!  Well I always end up talking about this with clients – its one of the many topics we cover in our sessions.   So I thought i’d put together a list of my favourite places to catch up if you want to actually try and complete those conversations, and have lots of fun with the kids.  It’s not guaranteed, they are for children after all (it’s not a list of spa’s)! But I do find that I get to see more of my friends in these places.

Beautiful Spring in Langley and black Park

Black Park / Iver Heath

Price per child: Free, parking is between £3 and £5.50 and dogs are welcome.

Perfect if: You are having a larger group get together, although it’s suitable for anyone!  It’s lovely to walk around and let the kids climb tree’s and explore the woodland.

We used to go here as kids and it’s now a favourite for me as a mum.  You can definitely spend a chunk of the day here with friends in the summer months.  It’s the other side of Slough, in Iver Heath, so about 20 minutes from Windsor.  The park is set around a lake with a cafe and a playground suitable for ages. There are huge walks that you can do and lots of different flora and fauna to explore.  Throughout the year they hold different kids trails such as an elves and fairy trail or an Easter or halloween hunt.  Then in the summer there are lots of activities usually scheduled such as outdoor cinema and fun days with the fair etc.  The playground is fairly big, so I can’t guarantee constant conversation but the lovely walks and large cafe make up for that and provide plenty of opportunities to catch up.

Langley Park / Langley

Price per child: Free to get in, parking is between £3.50 and 5.50

Perfect if: You have children that have a habit or running off!

My favourite place for outdoor photo shoots, this is a beautiful spot and great for catching up with friends.  It’s very near Black Park, in Langley.  There is a small gated play area where you can see the kids at all times, so perfect if you want to have a natter while they play and they cannot escape.  Outside of the park there are beautiful gardens – especially pretty in the spring and summer months when then rhododendrons and Azalea are in bloom.  The cafe serves delicious food and if you are up for a walk there is plenty to explore with the Arboretum and other historical features.  In the summer we love to make use of the large open space to picnic and watch the kids run around.

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Beautiful Langley Park in the autumn

Savill Gardens /Old  Windsor

Price per child: Entrance is free until the end of Feb but parking can be expensive – up to £10 for a few hours – try parking on the roads nearby if you can.

Perfect for: Walks all year around and picnics with plenty to keep the kids occupied.  Great for scooters and bikes.

Savill Gardens is part of the Windsor Great Park and is one of our family favourites for Sunday walks.  The garden itself cost to go inside although it is free in January and February.  If you park and then go left as you are looking at the garden entrance you will head towards Virgina Waters.  Just at the start of that walk you will find a small play area with sand pit inside.  It’s opposite the lake and a large open space so it’s perfect for parents to take turns to sit and watch their children play as the playground is secured (my husband and I often do shifts in the playground when we go with friends – one goes in the playground while the other sits on the grass and mans the picnic area and chats to friends).  There is an ice-cream van in the summer months and then tea and coffee and warm food in the winter months.  It’s perfect for walks, although the parking is expensive so try to get a space o the road on the way in if possible.

Runnymede/Old Windsor/Egham

Price per child: Free, with parking around £6 for the whole day.

Perfect if: You want to fill your day and keep the kids from getting bored, especially on sunny warm days.

This is a great day out, on the way to Egham if you are going from Windsor.  The riverside itself is a beautiful setting for a picnic and people / boat watching! The children love the splash pool in the summer months and there is also a small amusement park too.  The playground is large enough for all ages and is situated next to the cafe.  There are plenty of walking opportunities so the kids simply can’t get bored.

The Jelly Lounge is a firm favourite

Jelly Lounge/ Windsor

Price per child: It costs £6 to get in for an hour and a half soft play and they also run workshops for music / craft / cooking etc at set times, so you can pay £7 to go to one of those (£10 for cooking) or get half an hour soft play included too if you pay £10.

Perfect if: You have toddlers and under 6’s (although I think it’s recommended up to 8) that you are comfortable running free in soft play, or if you have babies/ small toddlers that are the same age.

This is a fairly new soft play in Windsor and is in a great location, just off Peascod Street, so very central.  It has a medium sized soft play for the kids with seating along side it and then a smaller area for younger ones with baby toys, trains, wooden kitchen etc plus a few tablets attached to the walls.  Their facilities are great with lovely toilets and plenty of space to eat (although you have to buy from them you can’t eat packed lunches).  Their food makes a nice, healthy, change to the usual stuff available in soft plays and they even sell alcohol, win!

My 2 year old is confident, and after a few visits where I have shown him the slides he has developed his own little loop of up the stairs, down the slide and doesn’t need my help.  Meaning I actually get to watch and have tea and talk!  They also have staff manning the soft play which helps although I don’t rely on it personally.  When we have been with younger kids, he is happy to go into the quieter toy area and even my 4 year old loves it because they have trains and tablets.

Jungle Mania / Bourne End

Price per child: £1.50 – 6.95 admission depending on age of child

Perfect if: You have a baby and older children with you or just babies.

When my first baby was little I loved it here because there was enough for him to do while I sat and had coffee, and the older children my friends had could run off and play safely. It is a great place for kids of all ages.  It has a large soft play with big slides for the older kids and a smaller one for the under twos.  There is also a football area and it has baby toys (jumperoo’s etc) for those that aren’t old enough to go in the soft play.  I like it because it’s not so big that if you have older ones you get in a panic that you can’t see them (It’s smaller than Kids in Action and Odds Farm).  You can call out for them and they will hear you if you are loud enough (unless it is ridiculously busy, which it can be on weekends or rainy days).  They have a cafe and toilets with space to change and the soft play has just been refurbished.

 

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Ockwells Park near Andreas Cafe, in the summer months

Andrea’s Cafe/Maidenhead

Price per child:  Parking is free and the soft play is around £3-£4.

Perfect if: You have small kids that can enjoy the soft play but might want you close at hand.

This is set within Ockwells park in Maidenhead, which in itself has lots for the children to do.  There is plenty of open space for the kids to run around, a few animals to look at over the fences, nature trails, bluebells usually in May and a large playground including sand pit and zip wire.  The Soft play and cafe are opposite the playground, with the cafe serving basic food like bacon sarnies.  The soft play is small enough that when the kids are in there you can see them at all times.  Its perfect for under 4’s.  I love it because you can have a proper catch up with friends without having to chase them up and down slides as they can always see mummy. You can literally always see them.  And once the soft play gets too much or they get bored you can go outside for more fun.  The cafe also provide some outdoor toys such as fisher price cars and scooters.

 

 

Maidenhead Library/Maidenhead

Price per child: Free

Perfect for: A catch up when the kids prefer quieter play or you don’t want the noise of sotfplay

I like meeting friends here when I have just one child in tow (they have to be in a calm mood though – sorry).  It’s a nice quiet space with a coffee shop that sells delicious cakes.  Round the corner from the coffee shop is the kids book/reading area, with toys as well as books for them to explore while you enjoy a catch up and a coffee with friends (I believe you can take your drinks from the coffee shop with you).

Pheonix Gym / Windsor

Price per child:  50p for non walkers and £4 for children. It’s open every weekday morning except Wednesdays

Perfect for: Catching up with friends that have toddlers or babies and toddlers

This is hidden away in between Holyport and Windsor and was a godsend for me with my first when I needed to wear him out.  Its’ just one big warehouse full of soft play toys and gym equipment for babies and kids but because its’ just free play and open space you can chat to friends whilst keeping your kids safe no matter what their age.

Thames Valley Adventure Playground / Taplow

Price per child: £3

Perfect for: Children that like to keep moving onto new things or get bored easily.  I’d suggest kids of similar ages so you can stick together.

This is a registered charity, a sensory adventure centre for kids and adults with special needs.  It is open to the public on a Wednesday morning when they hold their ‘toddler sessions’.  Inside, you’ll find a small soft play, dressing up area, toys, crafts and my kids favourite, the music room complete with real, grown up drums!  Outside there is plenty to explore and it’s great for kids who get bored easily.  Sensory gardens, panpipes, sandpits, toys, ramps, climbing opportunities, swings, and a small trail that takes you on a path where you see a big pretend gorilla (of course).  It’s a firm favourite of mine and you can find it just past the BMW garage and Miller and Carter on the right hand side on the way to Taplow if you are coming from Maidenhead.

Jump In / Slough

Price per child: Between £5 and £10 depending on age and time for one hour.  If it is your first time you will need grip socks too £2.50

Perfect for: Meeting friends when you have older and younger kids that don’t want to do the same things.  The older children can go and jump on the trampolines while the younger ones can stay in the toddler area where there is a small soft play and fisher price type cars (and you can have coffee).

If you want to wear the kids out while you have a catch up this is for you- so long as you are happy for them to go off jumping on their own.  If they aren’t old or confident enough then expect to do a lot of jumping yourself to keep them safe!   There are seats within the trampoline area so you can stay close by.  The cafe and seating area is good as it sells different food and you can see the kids area when you go to order.  If you want a quiet catch up, best to avoid on the weekends but their toddler sessions in the week are usually quite chilled.

maidenhead and bracknell photographer

The Look Out/ Bracknell

Price per child:  The parking is around £4 for the day and you get money off the entrance to the discovery centre if you show your parking ticket.  Under 4’s are free to get in and adults and other children are between £6 and £8 (before the car park discount).  The playground and forest walks are free.

Perfect for: Keeping the children entertained on days where it may look like it will rain but you want the option of outside if it doesn’t.

This is a bit further from Maidenhead and Windsor as it’s in Bracknell but worth the drive.  The discovery centre itself is a fabulous space for kids to learn and play.  There are loads of activities such as water tubes with boats they can navigate, building sites with diggers and blocks and plenty of other sensory activities.    When we go with friends the kids either gravitate towards the water area or the building area, both of which we can stand, watch and have a chat.  Outside there is plenty of picnic space, a cafe and a large play area separated into three gated spaces.  So you can always chat to friends as the kids are never too far away from each other.  It’s set in Swinley Forest so there is also plenty of space to walk and for the kids to explore and jump in muddy puddles.

 

Escape soft play/ Egham

Price per child: £4.50 for non members

Perfect if: You want a quick catch up between one or two friends

This is a small soft play in the leisure centre, suitable for under 4’s I’d say.  It’s lovely if you want to meet a friend or two for coffee and know that your little ones are safe as you can always see them.  The cafe sells a mixture of hot and cold food too.

 

Maidenhead Riverside (Boulters Lock)  and Ray Mill Island / Maidenhead

Price per child:  Free, parking is under £4 (there current prices aren’t disclosed online)

Perfect if:  You want to give the kids fresh air and to have a picnic with friends

This is on the way to Cookham if you are travelling rom Maidenhead.  The Riverside area (which is actually the other side of the road to the riverside!) has a playground with large sand area which my kids have always enjoyed.  It’s got a mixture of things for all ages, so good if you have large age gaps.  I have never done it but there is also a mini golf next door.  The cafe serves hot and cold food and is open all year round.  If you walk slightly further up the road, towards Cookham you will find Ray Mill Island.  This is a really pretty site and gives the kids the chance  to see the lock and weir at the top the island.  There is also a small playground, waterfalls, ducks, swans and an aviary and guinea pigs.  If you’re not confident taking small kids near water then it might not be the place to go, but I really like it for a walk and a place to stop and get an ice-cream with friends.

Dad and son walking in the forrest
The Look Out, Bracknell

I hope you find this useful – and again, sorry if you don’t get to catch up – I make no guarantees!  But I do find these are my go to places these days.

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