“ Address: 9 Mile Ride / Bracknell / Berkshire / RG12 7QW / England „
I don't think I will be doing Bracknell an injustice if I say that it isn't really necessarily the first place that springs to mind if you think "good family day out", it is not really a top tourist destination, probably best known for its maze of roundabouts and subways.
The Look Out Discovery Centre is, however, a great place to visit and well worth it if you are in the area or staying at nearby Legoland.
The Discovery Centre is situated in the outskirts of Bracknell and easily accessible from junction 3 of the M3. It is a small centre nestled in the forest and opposite Coral Reef, an indoor adventure swimming pool - a trip to both would make for a good family day.
The centre consists of 3 parts; an outside play area and adventure playground (free), a hands on science area, and also a small tower. Admisssion prices are reasonable, under 4's are free, adults cost £5.60 and children cost £3.75 and a parent+toddler visit is a bargain £4.55 in term time. Parking is free, though the car park is under the trees and does get a bit muddy - there are bike and walking trails and also a "go ape" facility next to the car park.
The discovery centre is worth a trip to enjoy the outside facilities in clement weather, it gets very busy in School holidays. The actual indoor exhibits are of interest too.
On entering the centre you go through the turnstile to find yourself in a labyrinth of different zones. Though the exhibits, which are science based, are primarily aimed at school aged children there is plenty for younger children to enjoy too.
The first zone contains exhibits on sound, my children have great fun running up and down the gigantic keys of the interactive piano and altering their voices in the microphone voice changer. There is also a water run with plenty of boats for small children to sail and damns to be built - if you have been to the Science museum in London it is a similar thing to the one found in their basement.
A side room houses an exhibit based on Light - again with interactive fun exhibits, there is access to the tower which no doubt provides a great view of Bracknell's wonders (I have to confess that I have yet to climb it as I am normally there with 2 small people).
There is also a main exhibit area with again plenty of interactive exhibits - there are hot air balloons to launch, a mini supermarket to play in, chromatology to do and quite often some arts and crafts available.
All in all the centre is a great place to while away an afternoon - it is not the hugest of areas but it is great fun for families, as well as being educational. There are quite often special shows or themed toddler days, so worth checking out before you go.
Apart from the exhibits there is also a small cafe with the usual fare and a gift shop. The shop has an excellent range of small cheapish toys - we got our flashing bath toys from there for £1.70 and they have provided hours of enjoyment.
Whilst not on the same scale as some other interactive Science exhibits the Discovery Centre is well worth a visit if you have children. You can expect to spend about half a day there, but there are plenty of other things to visit nearby.
Up-to-date information can be found on the Centre's website, along with directions, below. The Discovery Centre is open daily from 10am to 5pm.
The Lookout Discovery Centre
Nine Mile Ride
Tel: 01344 354400
Fax: 01344 354422
The main attraction is an exciting hands on, interactive science and nature exhibition.Young budding scientists will spend any hours exploring and discovering over 70 bright, fun filled exhibits within five themes zones.