I must admit, I’m a big fan of Bicton Park Botanical Gardens and the husband is too. We bought a year’s membership last year and we have used it so much that we have definitely had our money’s worth!
Come rain or shine, Bicton has something for everyone, although you will always get more from it on a dry day. If you just fancy a walk around the grounds, you won’t be disappointed. From beautifully manicured lawns to swans gliding around on the lake, there’s plenty to see and plenty to explore. There are a few fairly steep hills around Bicton so be prepared for little legs to get a bit tired and for it to be a fair push up the hill with a buggy or a wheelchair but they’ve signposted the gentler hills to make life a little easier and it’s not so bad that you won’t be able to catch your breath at the top!
When we first arrive, our daughter always wants to play in the hay barn – a covered area with hay all over the floor and mini-tractors and wheelbarrows and trailers. You wouldn’t expect that picking up hay and moving it around would be so much fun but our daughter plays for ages in there!
Next we venture down the hill to The Play Barn which is an indoor soft-play. It always seems nice and clean and buggies aren’t allowed in but they have provided bouncy chairs and highchairs should you need them for the babies. They’ve even thought to designate an area with comfy chairs for breastfeeding. Top Tip: take cash as the cafe in The Play Barn doesn’t take cards and we all need that strong coffee when watching the kids run around soft play. Our one year old loves the perfectly ample baby/toddler space and our older daughter has loads of fun in the other areas. Be warned, the ball pool is deeper than you think (much to my sister-in-law’s dismay as she fell straight in and I didn’t laugh at all, no not one bit!). Toilets and child-friendly food means that you could just visit The Play Barn if the weather was a bit rubbish outside and you’d have everything you needed.
When you emerge from The Play Barn, you could take the train that takes you around the Gardens (buy your ticket at the shop) and visit the great outdoor play area. With lots of space, a mini-golf (pay to play), huge pirate ship and a set of 5 little-person-sized houses to play in, you’ll be dragging the kids away at home-time.
There’s a shop and a restaurant too and plenty of space in the grounds to take a picnic. Dogs are welcome for £1 but must stay out of the restaurant area, Orangeries and Childrens Play Areas.
If you’re just going to be visiting for one day, the family ticket will set you back £34.95 but compare that to annual membership for a family of four at £49.95, you’ll see why it’s worth buying the membership. With free parking, accessible toilets, pushchair friendly grounds and child friendly meals – we keep going back.