What is it about garden centres that have become so appealing to me as a parent? I have very little interest in actual gardening. In fact I rope in my folks to mow our lawn and help keep our outdoor space in a reasonable condition. So why am I drawn to garden centres. If you don’t know, I’m going to reveal why they are such a great outing with little ones.
I’m pretty sure my girls think they are giant gardens. We enter and wander through all the plants spotting colours and choosing our favourites. They like to run up and down between the raised beds to see what is new and any chance they get to burn off some energy is great by me.
Next we move onto the garden ornaments. Our local centre has hundreds of animal statues of varying sizes. They pet the fake dogs and pretend to feed the ceramic tortoises. Again we choose which we like best before heading to the water features to dip in our fingers.
As we head inside, there is always something new on display and it’s a rare chance for mummy to browse if not actually shop. After a quick scoot around, it’s into the aquarium. They must get sick and tired of parents traipsing their little ones through with absolutely no intention of purchasing a single thing but they never show it. In contrast, the staff are chatty and friendly telling us all about the different fish.
My girls make themselves right at home here, sitting on the floor and staring into the tanks of colourful coral and creatures. I quite like it too. There is something very calming about fish. At this particular shop, they have huge tanks of pond fish which you can feed for 20p. Jessica and Emily love to lean in and watch as the fish gawp at them, mouths wide in anticipation.
After all this excitement, mummy has earnt herself a large caramel latte and the girls an hour in the softplay. Often these softplay areas are best suited to younger children which is perfect as you can supervise them from your coffee drinking table and they can access all the levels. It also means they are less likely to be trampled by older ones.
If you’re feeling extravagant, you could splash out on lunch and grab a lunch box full of tasty treats or head to the on site farm shop to check out the meat and cheese samples. Often they stock delicious preprepared pies and lasagnas which are great for freezing so I often bag one of these before we head for home.
All of this for less than a tenner and you’ve got dinner sorted too. Does anyone else use garden centres as a day trip? Where else are the hidden gems I’m missing?