I visited Center Parcs for the first time a few weeks ago. We visited Whinfell Forest and absolutely loved it. Our 2 year old had an amazing few days and we’re certainly going back. We have already booked a repeat visit in November.
But as much I loved it, I probably won’t stop visiting alternative holiday parks too, simply because I think I’d eventually bore of doing the same thing all the time. So, in this post I’ve compiled my favourite alternatives to Center Parcs.
When we holiday in the UK, we sometimes rent a cottage privately or, alternatively, visit a holiday park. This lists just holiday parks we have enjoyed as Center Parcs alternatives, rather than any of the private rentals.
I’m also certain there are scores of amazing holiday parks that don’t even get a mention here. But this is why:
I’m only including holiday parks in the UK that I’ve actually visited and enjoyed! I don’t want to recommend a park I’ve either not enjoyed or haven’t visited. So if you think there’s a glaring omission here, do get in touch! And I may well even shortlist it for a visit. I’ll be updating this post each time I visit a park I think is a good addition to this collection of Center Parcs alternatives.
Darwin Forest Country Park
We’ve been to Darwin Forest Country Park three times now. You can read our full review here. But in a nutshell, here’s what makes it a good alternative to Center Parcs:
- At peak times of the year, there are a range of activities you can book for the kids, but of course the selection is smaller than the selection of activities at Center Parcs.
- There’s a beautiful indoor pool (included in the cost of your stay), albeit not as big as the complex at Whinfell Forest and minus the slides, but the pool is great.
- The standard of accommodation is brilliant. We’ve stayed in both a classic and an elite lodge here and both were of a superb quality
- There are forest walks you can go on, very reminiscent of Whinfell Forest and great for the kids
- There’s a small inclusive soft play area and a games room on site
- There’s a large soft play centre on the park that guests can pay to use in addition to the free facilities
Darwin Forest is cheaper than Center Parcs by, at the time of looking, approximately £200/week based on the basic level of 3 bed lodge available on both sites.
It’s a lot smaller than Center Parcs and people can drive their cars and park them right at their lodges for the whole stay. That means there is typically traffic (not a lot, mind) on the site so it isn’t quite as friendly for little ones cycling. There’s a small shop on site, but much smaller than the Parc Markets of Center Parcs. That said, Darwin Forest allows deliveries from supermarkets so we tend to order a food shop to be delivered to the cabin.
When we stay here, we tend to go off site for a few hours each day sightseeing, which we didn’t do when we were at Center Parcs. But all in all, Darwin Forest is a solid alternative to Whinfell Forest, slightly lower cost but with less to do on site.
Oasis Lodges, Ledbury
This is a bit of a “different,” addition to this list because it’s not a large holiday park. In fact, there are just a few timber log cabins on the park and very little by way of “facilities,” for guests. I suppose you would categorise this as somewhere in between a private cottage rental and a holiday park. For that reason, I was unsure about whether to include it. But we had such a wonderful few days here that I thought it should be on the list.
You can read our full review here.
It’s a very different holiday to Center Parcs but a solid alternative. There aren’t activities on site, for example. But our son had just a good a time here. The things I loved about Oasis Lodges, in a nutshell:
- They have a beautiful natural outdoor pool. It’s cold, but so refreshing
- There’s a makeshift games room!
- All lodges have a hot tub
- The standard of accommodation was just incredible
- There is lots of space for the kids!
We went off site every day for at least a few hours. So it was more of a base, for us, than the place we spent our entire holiday. But that’s exactly what it markets itself as.
It feels very exclusive with so few lodges and the log cabins were just spectacular and incredibly spacious.
It’s not cheaper than Center Parcs. We paid slightly more for our visit here than we did for our Executive Lodge at Center Parcs. Nonetheless, we had as great a time, albeit a completely different type of holiday.
Talacre Beach, North Wales
We visited Talacre Beach in June 2016. I think that, of all the holiday parks we have been to, this is the one (apart from Center Parcs) that had the most to offer for the kids.
You can get basic accommodation for less than half the price of the basic Center Parcs accommodation at the time of writing. And if you want to spend more there are lots of upgrade options available. We did upgrade and had a lovely standard of accommodation for about 60% of what we spent on our Center Parcs break.
Talacre Beach has a beautiful swimming pool, some really fantastic outdoor play areas and loads of bookable activities. With evening entertainment and an absolutely stunning beach nearby, we had a fantastic break here. We loved it and I think it would be a solid alternative to Center Parcs.
More Suggestions To Follow…
As mentioned, I’m only including holiday parks here that:
- I have been to
- I have enjoyed
- Are parks I would consider revisiting as a genuine alternative to Center Parcs
I won’t include the parks I’ve been to and didn’t like!
So as my family visits more, this list will expand over time. If you have any suggestions for holiday parks I should shortlist for a potential visit to include here, drop me a message 🙂