12 Rainy Day Activity Ideas for Childern in West Berkshire
Let’s face it, we get a lot of rainy days here in the UK. We know that kids (and parents!) can sometimes go stir crazy being stuck inside all day and if you have young children you will inevitably hear the words ‘I’m bored’ regularly. So, what can you do on a rainy day in the area if you don’t fancy getting soaked in a play park? Well, we’ve got some inspiration for you! We’ve suggested some rainy activity ideas in and around West Berkshire below.
Please check for accurate and up to date information before visiting any of the places we have listed below.
1. Pottery Painting at The Ugly Duckling
The Ugly Duckling is a family friendly pottery painting coffee house on Bartholomew Street in Newbury. You’ll find a warm welcome and a wide selection of pottery to choose from. You paint your pottery and leave it to be fired and glazed, you can then collect your finished pieces a week later. The Ugly Duckling team are on hand to help you (just ask them if you want to get some baby hand or footprints) and you can also enjoy drinks, cakes and snacks while you paint. It’s a great way to keep children occupied and get them creating. Booking is recommended at weekends and during the school holidays.
The Ugly Duckling is a West Berkshire Family Life membership card partner! Our members can enjoy a free drink when going for a painting session (Monday-Friday only), see more details and sign up for your free membership card here.
Visit The Ugly Duckling website here. T: 01635 523778
2. Cobbs Play Barn
At the time of writing (January 2022) Cobbs Play Barn remains closed, however, it is available for parties and private hire. Hopefully it will be re-opening for general play at some point soon!
It is a firm favourite with our two girls and we have always found the staff to be friendly and welcoming (and the coffee delicious!). You’ll find the Play Barn behind Cobbs Farm Shop on Bath Road in Hungerford. It has a wooden play frame for children aged up to 8, plus a dress up and role play area and a small ‘soft zone’ area for babies and younger children.
Cobbs Play Barn is a West Berkshire Family Life membership card partner! See our members’ page for details of its latest membership offer and to sign up for your free card. Visit the Play Barn website here. Read our article about the Play Barn here.
3. Bumper’s Backyard at Northcroft Leisure Centre
Bumper’s Backyard is a small soft play area at Northcroft Leisure Centre in Newbury. It has two main sections, one for younger children and one with more challenging equipment for older children. There is seating available for parents & carers.
There is a cafe in the leisure centre but it doesn’t always share the same opening hours as the soft play area. It’s an easy walk from Newbury town centre to the leisure centre. Advance booking is not required, you pay at the leisure centre reception. Visit the leisure centre website here.
4. Visit a Local Library
We have libraries in Burghfield Common, Hungerford, Lambourn, Mortimer, Newbury, Pangbourne, Thatcham and Theale.
The libraries hold regular Duplo, Rhymetime and Storytime sessions for younger children plus Lego and craft sessions for older children. Of course, you can always go along to a library to have a browse.
A good place to find out what’s on at the libraries is the West Berkshire Libraries Facebook page (under the Events tab). You can also find information on all of the libraries here (such as locations, contact details and opening times).
5. The Living Rainforest
Situated in Hampstead Norreys, The Living Rainforest is a great place to visit on a rainy day. You’ll find three different glasshouses to explore with over 850 species of plants and animals. There is a café on site plus an outdoor play area (if you visit on a non rainy day!). The whole place is not overly large though so it is unlikely you’ll spend more than an hour or two exploring.
At the time of writing advance booking is required. You can buy an annual pass which allows unlimited visits for one – definitely worth doing.
Book your tickets and find out more about The Living Rainforest on its website.
6. West Berkshire Museum
West Berkshire Museum is located at The Wharf in Newbury. It’s open Wednesday-Sunday 10am-4pm and is free to visit (donations are welcomed).
Inside the museum you’ll find a permanent exhibition about West Berkshire itself – including its geography, previous inhabitants and historical local events. There are special exhibitions on the first floor galleries. There is a café on the ground floor, serving drinks and cakes. The museum is small so don’t expect to spend more than an hour looking around. There are lifts if you have a buggy or a wheelchair.
The Museum holds craft activities for children during the school holidays plus a ‘Blaze’s Buddies’ session for 2-5 year olds on the first Thursday of the month at 11am. It’s a free drop-in session but places are limited and operate on a first come, first served basis. Find out more on the Museum website, you can also telephone 01635 519562 or email email@example.com.
7. The Nature Discovery Centre, Thatcham.
Okay, this is somewhere that you might think of going on a dry and sunny day. However, you will also find a café, shop and learning centre on site. Again, it’s not somewhere you can expect to spend hours (unless you are visiting on a dry day and will be enjoying the outdoor activities too) but you will find puzzles, books, games and things to explore. This is another free attraction although donations are requested for car parking. The centre is open Wednesday – Sunday 10am-4pm. Visit the website here.
Not one of the cheapest options but always something to consider when the weather’s miserable. Vue Cinema in Newbury runs ‘Mini Mornings’ at weekends and during the school holidays when you can purchase adult & child tickets from only £2.49. Mini Mornings films are shown at 10am. Visit the website here.
The Corn Exchange in Newbury hosts special parent & baby screenings on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings for those with babies under 18 months. Find out more here.
9. Soft Play at Thatcham Garden Centre
This is a small play area that is good for toddlers and pre-schoolers (although the recommended age is 3-9). It’s £3.50 per session and no booking is required.
Keep up to date with any changes via the Facebook page.
10. Other soft play options
For a more substantial soft play than those already mentioned, you will need to venture further afield. Sadly, two of West Berkshire’s biggest soft play venues were victims of the pandemic.
Sprouts Play Barn at Millets Farm (near Abingdon, about a 30 minute drive from Newbury) has a good reputation and Reading has some soft play centres including The Mad House and Active Tots (for babies & toddlers only).
A good low cost option to consider on a rainy day.
Four of West Berkshire’s Leisure Centres have swimming pools:
Click on the links to find the swimming pool timetables and when you can go along for a family swim.
12. Trampoline Park (Basingstoke & Reading)
We don’t actually have any trampoline parks in West Berkshire but you’ll find one in Reading (Red Kangaroo Trampoline Park) and a couple in Basingstoke (Flip Out and Atmosphere) so it’s something to consider if you live close by or you don’t mind travelling.
Don’t fancy going out?
If you’d rather not go out on a rainy day and want to stay at home, some activities you could do are:
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Board games
- Snuggle up and watch a film