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tried & tested

Rain or shine Stockwood Discovery Centre is always a hit

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A visit to Stockwood Discovery Centre has become a feature of every school holiday in our house since the children were very little.  Sometimes we visit at the request of the children, other times I just need to get everyone out the house and it's an easy option when we've already exhausted the local park. It's free, it's only a short drive away, it has indoor and outdoor activities and there's plenty of free parking. What's not to like?

If you've never visited the Discovery Centre before then there are a few obvious things to do.  Pop into the exhibition hall and enjoy the fascinating permanent exhibit of carriages through the ages, including some that the children can climb on to.  There are often special exhibitions going on too.  Recent favourites of ours have included fantastic displays of Lego models, inspiring wildlife photography, and a multi-sensory interactive installation made from recycled materials.

Outside there's lovely open space to run around and explore - hide amongst the trees, jump on the stepping stones and peer over the fence at the horses in the riding school next door.  And of course, there's the ever-popular play area with something for all ages, from the wooden hut and the slide for the little ones (though there seems to be even more fun to be had sliding down the artificial grass slope), to the climbing frame and climbing wall for the older ones.  And for the parents it's handily situated next to the cafe!

But don't stop there as there's so much more to discover... learn all about bees in the greenhouse; head beyond the playground to explore the various gardens - sensory, medicinal, wildlife and period; then to the old stables where there's the display of vintage engines and an old tractor that little ones love to sit on, the galleries telling the story of Luton and the surrounding area through the ages, and the blacksmiths forge.

In addition to all that fun there are usually additional activities or shows running during the school holidays.  Booking is often required, so keep an eye on our What's On page for details.

When you've exhausted everything there is to see and do and it's time to leave be aware that you have to exit via the gift shop - a cunning marketing ploy and a potential nightmare for parents - but perhaps if you just grab the children and run they won't notice!

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