Target Age: up to about 10, depending on how much your kids like sand
Two of The Beach’s main attractions are, first, that it is inside, and so it’s a perfect rainy day destination; and second, it’s free to use! Located in Middleton Hall, the big open area next to John Lewis and Next in The Centre:MK shopping centre, it’s a generous sandy area with a boarded section for buggies, and accompanied by a selection of typical seaside rides (for which there is a charge).
How long did it take?
You can spend all day here – with c:MK’s food and toilet facilities around you, you’ve got what you need to do so – but for us, on a wet day in the summer holidays, it was too busy by 11:15 or so. All of the deckchairs were full by 10am, and the spaces in the middle were becoming very crowded as people arrived with blankets. It’s very popular!
- The sand is great – just damp enough to make some great sand castles, but not so wet that it sticks to everything;
- Deckchairs for the adults, and masses of sand for the kids;
- Coffee! You are surrounded by some of the nation’s top coffee outlets – it seems wrong not to take advantage!
Top Tip: A few buckets, spades and sand toys are littered around the sand for general use, but these get snapped up quickly, so it’s best to take your own. Tiger also have a pop-up stand next to the boarded area, and are selling sets for £4-£5 – I’ve also heard a rumour that they can be picked up for even less in the Pound Shop.
Food and Facilities
Bring a picnic, or get some food-to-go from one of the centre’s many chain shops and pop-ups. There is lots to choose from!
C:MK have recently opened some very sparkly new toilets in their Guest Facilities area. I’ve heard great things about them, but be careful of the doors in the kids’ toilets – they don’t have any protectors on them, so watch those little fingers.
It’s free – fantastic! The problem comes when the kids want to go on the rides and attractions at the side: the helter-skelter, the little train, the bungee jumps, and the crazy golf. At £2 for a slide down the helter-skelter, I thought this was expensive, even if you do get two slides for £3. A few turns around the small track on the train will also cost you £2, and five minutes on the bungee jumps will cost you £4, and a round of crazy golf is £3. This all adds up pretty fast, and for me, was the main downside of the trip.
It is great to have a free indoor venue where the kids can enjoy the fun of sandcastles and digging, whatever the weather. My advice would be to get there early, and prepare to negotiate with your children if they love a seaside ride, and you’re not prepared to part with a tonne of cash!
Cost: 3/5 (It’s free, which is brilliant – but they sting you on the rides)
We visited in July 2017, and paid for the seaside attractions we used. We have not been paid to write this review. All information correct at July 2017.