Center Parcs Sherwood Forest: Our family adventure

There are certain holidays that you remember as a child. For me my most memorable holidays were going to Pembrokeshire to stay with my grandparents. I used to love the long drives down to Wales in the car, listening to Dire Straits, and then the excitement of arriving. This would be followed by a couple of days spent on the beach or going for coastal walks. We would visit a couple of times a year, and it is one of the holidays that I remember really well throughout my childhood. Holidays are a wonderful time for all children, where they can gain new experiences, enjoy new cultures and have the time of their lives. I am trying to recreate this for my daughter by taking her on a yearly long weekend to Center Parcs.

Driving into Center Parcs

A couple of weeks ago we spent four days at Center Parcs in Sherwood Forest. This was our fourth visit, and our second visit as a family of three. We visit every year with my husband’s family, and their friends, staying in the same villas and going on the same weekend at the start of the Christmas season. Some people might say that we are Center Parcs veterans!

Center Parcs - Our Villa

Our villa

We stayed in an Executive Lodge villa which was so cosy and welcoming, it was warm and had everything we needed including ensuite bathrooms, a sauna, patio with BBQ and a daily maid service. The villas are all modern and spacious enough to accommodate 4 adults, 2 children and 2 babies. Our villa had its own parking spaces which made it super easy to un-pack the car, and it was also near to water which meant that we were regularly visited by ducks on our patio, which my daughter loved.

Center Parcs - Ducks on the patio


This year taking a child, we decided that we needed to do more activities rather than just relaxing with the family, enjoying the odd wine or two in the middle of the day. So this year we booked a few activities and hired bikes in advance. We originally booked 2 adult mountain bikes and a trailer. At first the trailer seemed like a really good idea, but in reality it was quite difficult to manoeuvre down the winding paths to our villa, and my daughter just wanted to be outside. The trailers can accommodate two children, and I think if she was with another child it would have been fine. We quickly swapped our trailer for a bike with a child seat attached to it, and she loved it. Its great that Center Parcs offer a range of different types of bikes for children to sit in, and have so many paths and roads that are car free for us to enjoy safely.

Center Parcs - Bikes

Center Parcs - Trailer Bike

We also pre-booked a visit to Baby Owls that is one of Center Parcs baby friendly activities. We arrived on a fairly cold morning to a number of different owls already set out on their perches. Some were tiny, and others were huge. Our daughter liked to point and shout at them, as they moved around. The session begun and we were each (including my daughter) handed a glove to hold the owls with, there is no way that she would hold an owl. We got to hold 3 owls. I was pretty scared when the keeper put the owls onto my hand, as they flap around for a bit, but then quickly settle. Our daughter got to stroke the owls and touch their feathers, which I think she enjoyed. Not only were there owls on the perches but also a Kookabura that the keeper made laugh, and a huge eagle too.

Center Parcs - Baby Owls

The main attraction of Center Parcs is the pool with its beach like pool & wave machine, numerous slides and rapids, as well as the toddler pool. Our daughter is a little bit young for the pool, but she managed to have a bob around with me in the indoor & outdoor pool, and had a little bit of a play in the toddler pool. The rest of the family loved going down the rapids especially at night time when you can float around in the warm water under a dark sky. I enjoyed swimming in the big pool, and it made me realise that I should start going swimming again.

To enjoy our time in the swimming pool we hired a cabana which is perfect with young children. It meant that we avoided the chaos of the changing room trying to get ready with my husband, and then get my daughter ready. Having a cabana meant that we could relax away from the crowds, watch TV and enjoy the complimentary drinks, whilst letting my daughter crawl around safely. It’s also next to the Starbucks which was perfect for me to grab a cheeky hot chocolate.

Lastly the other activity was the soft play. This was the first time we took our daughter to soft play, and she loved it. She was so excited to crawl up the slope, and then down the slide, which she did over and over again. By the end of the stay she was very confidently sliding herself down the slide, without any help from my husband and I.

Center Parcs - Soft Play

The rest of the family also enjoyed table tennis, badminton, tennis, rock climbing, bowling, disco, and archery. Center Parcs has activities for everyone, and you can tailor your activities to suit what you want to do, there’s no pressure at all.

Food & Drink

We always take our food for the evening already prepared, so that all we have to do is either warm it through in the oven or heat on the hob. I find this to be so easy when catering for lots of people. We already had agreed between us that we would ready prepare a lasagne, thai curry and beef stew for every night that we were there.

As we took our own food the only restaurant we visited was Cafe Rouge for lunch after Baby Owls, and then for breakfast once we have checked out. The food was good, and free baby food was provided too. Not only this but the restaurant also has it’s own soft play area, which was perfect for our daughter when started to get a little grizzly.

There are a lot of restaurants on site including Bella Italia, an Indian, Dexters, Hucks, and the Forresters Inn at the Country Club, so there is always food available to suit every taste.

In case you want to cook your own food, or grab a chocolate bar, the Parc Market is excellent. It stocks everything you need, although slightly pricier than a normal supermarket. The Parc Market has recently been refurbished and stocks a few more gourmet items such as olives and tapas.

Center Parcs 2017

To keep the yearly tradition going our next visit to Center Parcs Sherwood Forest is already booked for the same weekend in 2017, and we are staying in the same villa. I would definitely say that we are beginning to become Center Parcs veterans. As our daughter will be a little bit older I hope that we can take her to see Santa and the fireworks, and enjoy some more of the child friendly activities such as the disco and Mucky Pups. I hope that this is something that we can keep doing year on year, and she remembers these holidays as she grows up.

Have you ever been to Center Parcs?

Claire x

Center Parcs Sherwood Forest

Center Parcs Sherwood Forest


Center Parcs Sherwood Forest

Center Parcs Sherwood Forest

Two Tiny Hands


  • Karen : TwoTinyHands

    I always love how close to nature it looks. I stayed at Sherwood for a secret hen party once and we got trapped inside by some swans. I enjoyed the experience of being there and going there but think It’ll be a fair few years before I can convince my other half to go to center parcs instead of just camping! Thanks for linking up to #famiyfun

  • Mindful Mummy Mission

    Ah what a great family tradition to get into – we love Center Parcs – only ever been to the Woburn Forest one but it’s so fab for the kids – my eldest loves seeing the owls and birds of prey and the swimming is a big hit with everyone! #familyfun

  • tammymum

    Wow that is very prepared of you cooking your meals beforehand. Not a bad idea though I must admit. I love centre parcs but I’m worried my two are too young for us all to enjoy it properly but I have seen lots of blogs that make me think otherwise. Well done on hiring bikes I would be so tempted to just indulge in afternoon wine, haha. Glad you had a good time and thanks for sharing it with us at #familyfun xx

  • Michelle G

    Looks like you had a fab time. Good tip on the trailer – and the prepared food. I love Center Parcs too and will be going back next year – it’s so easy for baby, especially the soft play and outside park. We found a really nice pub at ours that we used to eat at. It was 45 minutes from home but felt we could have been anywhere #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Let your light shine Mummy

    We love Center Parcs too, and are going in February for a long weekend, but to Longleat. We have been at Christmas, in the Summer and the Spring, some with friends and some with family, its wonderful. We have also tried different accommodation. Its getting harder now BB is in school though. It’s so much more expensive in holiday time, I even notice quite a difference from weekdays to weekends. We were fortunate that he’s got an extra inset day at school, so we are taking full advantage! #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Kimberly

    Massive fan of Center Parcs! We’ve also been without kids and every year since having them too. Such a good, refreshing, outdoorsy break. Looking forward to our next one (although will be expensive in school holidays now eeek)

  • Geraldine

    I have always always always wanted to go to center parks. They just look like amazing places. I’ll have to organise a holiday next year if I can convince myself travelling with a baby is a good idea! #fortheloveofblog

  • Sunita

    Ah I’m hoping we can squeeze in a CenterParcs break before Big Munch starts school. They’re so cool and they make it easy to do stuff plus swimming everyday is always a bonus. Love how warm their swimming domes are!! We love a self catering holiday. Luckily Mr H is a good cook. #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Sam - StressyMama

    I’ve never been to Centre Parcs before but it’s somewhere I’d love to go with the family. Something we will have to think about doing as soon as I think. I love that you go back every year with the family. Such a good tradition to have.

  • Kirsty - Winnettes

    We love centre parcs but have never been around Christmas time. The last time we went we hired a bike trailer and both of our girls (3 & 1) fitted in it with space to spare. You definitely sound like well seasoned veterans!

  • Squirmy Popple

    I’ve never been but have heard good things from people who have gone with young children – we may need to check it out now that all holidays need to be toddler-friendly! #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Angela Watling

    It sounds like you had a lovely visit! Center Parcs is a great was to get a ‘outdoorsy’ holiday without any complicated logistics. We went for a long weekend to Woburn in the summer with my In Laws and it was a great weekend. We took my daughter to the Baby Owls session as well because she adores birds. She was too young to hold them sadly but hopefully if we go next year… Woburn has a little beach too which she enjoyed. I’m hoping we can go again next year as well x #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Lianne harris

    It looks like you had a fab time, I love the idea of precooking food to save time and energy!
    The villa looks beautiful from the outside, I imagine being in the forest with the autumn leaves was stunning! #fortheloveofblog

  • Jane Taylor Maflingo

    We’ve visited nearby Clumber Park many, many times, which is adjacent to Center Parcs so I know what a lovely setting it is. I’ve never been to Center Parcs before, though. I guess because we have a caravan we tend to go away with that. The other thing is the prices. Whenever I’ve looked the prices seem fairly steep…I haven’t noticed many discounts but I really must give it a try sometime as so many people rave about it…The spa breaks are supposed to be great too. #Fortheloveofblog

  • Lucy's Locket

    Looks like a nice little break. It’s a nice idea taking them each year, a little tradition. They’ll remember it as they grow up. Love it. I love that photo second from last with the sun shining through the trees! #ForTheLoveOfBlog

  • Briony

    It sounds like you had an amazing time. I love the idea of turning a family break into a tradition like this. A great way to start the Christmas build up #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Single Mum Speaks

    Well jel! I’ve never been to Center Parcs but I would love to. It looks like the ultimate middle class holiday hideaway (that’s a good thing btw). I really want to take Piglet but I wonder whether it might be worth waiting until he’s a bit older. #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Lucy grace

    I’ve never been to centre parcs but have always wanted to go! It sounds ideal for everyone and anyone…. singles and families alike. Anywhere with a soft play always gets my vote nowadays! #fortheloveofblog

  • Alana - Burnished Chaos

    Sounds like you had an amazing four days, I’d love to visit centre parks as I’ve heard so many good things but with one son in school we’d have to go at peak times and it seems so expensive. Maybe one day. Gorgeous pictures by the way x

  • Siena Says

    It looks lovely! I have never been but always wanted to go. Sounds like the perfect get away from it all. I think that my two would definitely enjoy it. I think the reason we have never been is because the husband works in a school and so the weekends aren’t suitable and the school hols are extortionate. Maybe one day!!!
    Ps. Love the owls


  • Susie at This Is Me Now

    We went for the first time this summer when my daughter was 18months. I loved the outdoors but we didn’t hire bikes. If we go again we will as we’ve since had a bike and trailer which was great. We did mucky pups but I think she was too young. She enjoyed the soft play though. God you had a lovely time XX

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