If you’re staying in a Center Parcs on a break, you’ll already have a ton of activities to do. Center Parcs is famous for catering for all different tastes, ages and energy levels throughout the day, whilst providing a safe forest environment to explore, not to mention free swimming facilities. But when we visited Woburn Forest we also wanted to see what attractions the surrounding area has to offer. If you like animals, you’re in for an absolute treat with three amazing zoos within an hours drive, but I’ve also included a round up that’ll be suitable for other tastes too including historical attractions and family-fun. Like Center Parcs, I’ve tried to find something to keep the whole family happy here. You won’t fit it all into one week that’s for sure, but don’t worry, that just gives you an excuse to come back next year!
Note that prices and other details were valid at the time of writing, but please click the links included and double check before traveling.
Top 10 Attractions Near Center Parcs Woburn Forest
Woburn Safari Park – 15 minute drive
Woburn Safari Park should need no introduction, being one of the most well known Safari Park’s in the UK, with over 1000 animals to experience on a 1 hour road safari and then a smaller land-based zoo. This is a full day’s outing and with it being only 15 minutes drive from Center Parcs Woburn Forest, you won’t have to get up too early in the morning to make the most of it (which is nice!). It is worth checking out the website for cheaper prices before traveling and I particularly like the All Inclusive ticket which includes a guidebook, drinks, hot meal, salad or sandwich from the restaurant and free entry to their 3D Cinema in Sea Lion Cove. If that’s not tiring enough, pair it with the Go Ape center, details below!
Go Ape – 15 minute drive
Go Ape is set within Woburn Safari Park but doesn’t require you to be visiting the Safari Park. This is a 2 – 3 hour experience, but you might have time to fit both in the same day if you get up early and have plenty of energy! Minimum age is 10 years but this is a really fun family adventure with massive swings, zip wires, rope bridges and more. Price is from £25 to £33.
You are highly recommended to book Go Ape in advance, but you don’t have to decide whether you’re doing the Safari Park as well until you see how you feel on the day. If you decide to upgrade to a Safari ticket as well, you’ll get a massive discount (£10 for adults and £7.50 for children). I think this really makes it worth trying to fit both in one day as that’s cracking value.
Whipsnade Zoo – 40 minute drive
Whipsnade Zoo (part of the Zoological Society of London group) is just a 40 minute drive away and I think it’s well worth a visit. This is a very large zoo with massive enclosures that are quite spread out, so it’s definitely an active day trip. It’s not a Safari Park, but for those who can’t walk very far, you can drive your car into the park and park at designated spots around the zoo, cutting down the walking drastically. The only downside of this is it’s an extra £25 parking to take a car in, whereas parking at the main entrance is free.
With loads of daily events and talks, highly rated cafe’s and restaurants and a lot of animals to visit including one of the largest butterfly biomes in the UK, this is definitely a full day out. Costs start at £16.60 upwards online, or £20.35 on the gate, so if you know when you’re going, it’s definitely worth booking in advance. Under 3s are free!
Woburn Abbey and Gardens – 20 minute drive
Woburn Abbey is a real treat for those who enjoy art and antiques. 18th century furniture, magnificent silver and gold collections, porcelain, coins and one of the most significant private art collections in the world are housed within this great house, which was originally founded as a monastery in 1145! The gardens offer 28 acres of peace and tranquility and it’s all set within a deer park that has our native Red Deer and Fallow Deer, but also seven other Asian species! The entrance to the Abbey takes you on a drive through a 2.5 mile route through the deer park, but public footpaths are well signposted for you to explore on foot. If you just want to visit the deer park, you can enter on foot for free through the Woburn village entrance.
To visit the Gardens, prices start at £5.25, whilst a joint ticket for the Gardens and the Abbey starts at £8.50 for children and £17.50 for adults. They clearly recognize that children won’t take much from the museum interior and I like the flexibility of children being able to enjoy the gardens without needing to pay for the Abbey interior at all. Under 3s are free for both Abbey and Gardens, whilst the Deer Park is free for all visitors entering on foot.
Leighton Buzzard Railway – 30 minute drive
If you have any train enthusiasts in the family whether young or old, you need to stop at Leighton Buzzard Railway, just a 30 minute drive from Center Parcs Woburn Forest. Leighton Buzzard Railway is one of England’s Longest and oldest narrow-gauge lines. Built in 1919, it’s now a top tourist attraction with a 3 mile line and 60 locomotives. This is a visit that can combine history with a lot of fun, as you get to ride the line in an authentic experience. There’s also a miniature railway, a quarry digger display and free guided tours of the engine shed. Lots of special events take place here too, so it’s worth checking the website for the dates of your visit.
You do want to check in advance what time and train is running for your visit, and prices vary from £6.50 upwards. Under 2s are free.
Gulliver’s Land – 25 minute drive
Fancy a bit of excitement? Gulliver’s Land near Milton Keynes is a family theme park with over 70 attractions designed for children between 2 to 13. It has a full list of rides on the website with a minimum height slider so you can see exactly what your kids can do there, which I thought was pretty handy. It’s annoying going to theme parks with small children sometimes as you’re never sure if there’s going to be much for them to do or if it’s catering to older children. Gulliver’s Land has really made an effort to make sure there’s something for all the family. There are several water rides so make sure you pack a change of clothes!
Costs vary but start at £14.95 and are slightly cheaper if booking online than on the gate. Children under 90cm are free.
Planet Ice – 30 minute drive
Planet Ice is an ice skating rink that is suitable for the whole family. For younger children, they offer Penguin skating aids which are really unique, and help build confidence on the ice. With prices starting from £8, it’s worth checking if there’s a family session at a convenient time during your stay. There are also some great shows on here, special offers and disco’s, so it’s worth checking their website and seeing what’s on. Ice skating is something that’s not available at Center Parcs, so this is a great opportunity to try something different. Ice skating is a really fun way to keep the family active!
Berkhamsted Castle – 50 minute drive
Berkhamstead Castle is one of the oldest motte and bailey Castles in England, but is now very much a ruin. Despite it being ruined, there’s still some interesting historical things to see and you’ll be standing on the ground where the English surrounded to William the Conqueror after the battle of Hastings in 1066. This Castle offers free entry to everyone, so if you’re in the area then it’d be excellent value to pop in and immerse yourself in a bit of history. It’s also set on a big grassy site so ideal for burning a bit of energy running around in!
The only downside is there aren’t any facilities on site – so no toilets or cafe, but toilets are available at the train station parking just a few minutes walk away. This isn’t something you’d want to make a full trip for, but it is an option for example if you’re visiting the Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery below, or are driving near. With London only 50 minutes away from Woburn Forest Center Parcs by train, there is a lot of history within your reach.
Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery – 50 minute drive
The award winning Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery is located in Buckinghamshire Country Museum, which offers interesting local history as well. The Gallery is like walking into an interactive, giant pop-up book where you’ll be immersed into the fantastical world’s that Roald Dahl created. It’s an inviting mix up of education and entertainment, with loads of fun and suitable for all ages, from babies and toddlers to grandparents alike. There’s also a Garden Cafe and Walled Garden to explore, so it’s a great place to visit in the morning and then have a spot of lunch. Aylesbury is a lovely town with some interesting historical buildings, churches and a good mix of shopping centres and independent shops.
Cost: £7.70 adults, £5.50 children aged 4-17 and children under 4 are free. Group ticket of 4 people is £22 (and can be 4 adults or 1 adult and 3 children or your traditional 2 adults 2 children, giving you a lot more flexibility than your usual family ticket).
You could easily pair Berkhamstead Castle and the Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery for a full day activity, as they are only 20 minutes drive apart!
London – 50 minute train journey, 1 hour 30 minute drive
Flitwick Train Station is just a 10 minute drive from Woburn Forest. From here, it’s a 50 minute no-changes journey to London St Pancras and the service runs three to four times an hour, so you’ve never got long to wait for a train. This means London with all it’s amazing attractions is really quite convenient to get to. You can also drive in, but parking and traffic can be a bit daunting, whereas the train ride is very easily accessible. I highly recommend London Zoo, but since there are simply too many things to fit in here, I’ve also written up my Top Ten Family Friendly Things To Do in London!
So hopefully if you’re heading to Woburn Forest Center Parcs or going on holiday in the Bedfordshire or North London area this helps you figure out what attractions are available in the area. This is just my top 10 and I’m sure there are plenty more. Have you visited the area and have a recommendation?