It had been raining for weeks and finally one Saturday I needed to find a new indoor activity that I could take my two young kids. I've passed signs for the Living Rainforest many times and was always intrigued so decided we would make the trip.
Around 45 minutes from West London and half an hour down the road from Oxford is the Living Rainforest. It's conveniently located near to the M4 and has plenty of parking. Once upon a time it was an orchid nursery and then back in 1993 it reopened as a rainforest visitor centre. It's all contained within covered glass houses with over 700 species including plants, animals, butterflies and birds.
You really feel like you step into another world, warm, damp and packed full of exotic plants. There are pathways weaving through with lots of educational exhibits to see along the way. Some of the animals (including the crocodile) are easy to view but beyond reach while other creatures roam free.
Cheeky little monkeys, turtles and even a sloth will greet you as you become jungle explorers. The plants, leaves and textures are fascinating too. Kids will also enjoy the activity sheet that they can pick up and pick off each animal they find on their adventure.
After exploring everything there is to see, you can refuel at their simple cafe. I can recommend the sausage rolls which were surprisingly tasty.
This is a great place to visit on a cold and wet day but if it dries up there is the added bonus of a good sized play park outside. The area is fully fenced so you could grab a coffee from the cafe and rest your legs at a picnic bench while your kids run off their endless energy.
The ticket you purchase is good value as it's valid for a year so you can visit again and again. I've been back several times sometimes for half a day, other times just for a quick hour. If you're looking for something a little different to do with your kids then I give a thumbs up to the Living Rainforest.