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We recently spent 5 days with our whole family at Center Parcs and realised there were many questions new timers might be asking. My sisters were arriving mid-week and so we had to arrange for them to be able to get to the lodge and back in a timely manner.
While we figured that out they were unsure whether they could leave again to go to the supermarket or visit a nearby attraction. There are a number of reasons why you might want to leave Center Parcs during your stay. Whether you are looking to go to a nearby attraction or heading to a nearby supermarket.
You can leave Center Parcs during your stay to go shopping or visit a nearby attraction. There are restrictions in place such as not allowing your vehicle into the village or to your lodge. You will also need your pass and lodge number for when your return through security.
You will be given a pass upon check-in to leave your car, that is your pass to be able to get back into the village. You will only need to go through security who can verify your pass, lodge number and car registration.
Can You Leave Center Parcs During Your Stay?
You can leave Center Parcs during your stay for any reason, there is a free come-and-go policy for all guests. The only restrictions in place are that vehicle is not allowed in the main village areas or to your lodge. Cars must remain in the car park when returning from your outing.
When you arrive at Center Parcs you will be given a pass, this pass will stay in your car and if you are going out of the Center Parcs area you will need this to get back in. You may also need to give security your lodge number just in case.
An important question to ask yourself is, do you need to leave Center Parcs?
With everything you need and more on-site, there are a few reasons to leave if you need to get food for your stay look at buying it locally before you arrive.
There is also a number of fantastic activities for everyone to try at Center Parcs which can keep even the most active kids (and adults) busy and entertained.
If you are looking to have a more budget-friendly trip why not look at the free things you can do at Center Parcs, there is still plenty to do and it doesn’t have to cost you a penny.
Can You Leave Center Parcs Early?
You can leave Center Parcs early but you would need to speak to security personnel or someone at guest services if you wish to move your car to your lodge and load a day or two early.
They can often make exceptions for people who need to leave for emergencies, illness etc.
You will often be given a 1-hour time slot to move your car to your lodge and then back to the car park or to leave. This is to ensure that no other guests are disrupted during their stay.
Many like to pack up their cars the night before check out so they can leave early without getting caught in the traffic at Center Parcs.
Though with many activities, restaurants and the swimming pool staying open on Monday and Friday you can still explore the village and have an extra full day of fun.
Can You Arrive Early And Unload At Your Lodge?
As part of your Center Parcs booking, you’ll be asked if you want to arrive at your lodge early. This is an add-on to your booking that costs between £20 and £50 per booking and provides you with access to your lodge one hour before other guests.
In our opinion, this is not good value for money. Instead, we opt to arrive at Center Parcs between 12 midday and 1pm on the day of arrival, park the car and head to the pool or for lunch (on the day of arrival guests are permitted to use the Center Parcs facilities from midday).
Then after a fun-filled afternoon, we’ll head back to the car and drive it around to the lodge to unpack.
This is a win, win situation in our opinion as the activities and restaurants are generally quieter with other guests coming and going then by the time it comes to us unloading the initial rush of people has already diminished making the experience significantly less stressful.
Can You Arrive Or Leave Mid-Week?
You can leave Center Parcs when you want to, you are not restrained to staying your full stay. There are a number of reasons you might want to leave early or arrive later. Some people join their family mid-week due to work commitments or school and some people wish to leave early for emergencies or work or simply they don’t like it.
If you are booked under one name and one lodge and some family are arriving on the first day you can simply ask them to tell the staff member who is checking them in that the rest of the party will arrive on a later day.
They will say that is fine and will give them a reference number that you can then use to check in when you arrive.
There isn’t a lot included in your Center Parcs lodge in terms of food, drinks, washing materials etc. While these can be purchased on-site in the Parc Market the cost is often significantly higher when compared to stores outside of Center Parcs.
As such we highly recommend putting together a Center Parcs packing list in advance, to try and minimise the risk of you forgetting things that you’ll either need to pay over the odds for on-site or leave Center Parcs to purchase.
If you are checking in during the week they can allow you to have your car to your lodge for a 1-hour slot, if the park is busy and there are lots of people around they may not allow you to move your car to the lodge and ask you to unpack at the car park (though this is unlikely).
Within that 1-hour time slot, you will need to get to your lodge, unpack and get your car pack into the car park.
Remember to note where you parked or what number/letter so you can find your car easily on check-out day.
If you are looking to leave in the middle of the week you can head to guest services to arrange your car with them. They will give you a time slot to move your car, pack and get back to the car park or leave. The staff are very accommodating and helpful so they will do all they can to help you where possible.
If you do not need to move your car to your lodge to pack you can leave Center Parcs and not notify any members. Just make sure you leave your key/wristband behind.
Attractions Near Center Parcs
If you are looking for something to do on Check-in day or check-out day or even during your stay at Center Parcs here are some of the nearby attractions you can find at each location.
If you are looking at doing one of these you can look at doing them the day you are due to arrive or due to leave, that way you don’t have to leave Center Parcs and you can still have a great time.
Many of these are great to do whether you are a family or just a couple having a relaxing week away at Center Parcs.
Longleat Safari park is the perfect place to go on arrival day or check out day for a little extra fun on your trip. There is so much to see and do at Longleat so it really is a day worth of fun for all the family.
Nunney Castle is 20 minutes drive from Longleat Forest Center Parcs and is a great place to head stretch your legs. The castle is in Somerset and dates back to the 1370s. It is free to enter and is part of the English Heritage organisation.
Stourhead is a 1,072-hectare estate located at the source of the River Stour. Located in the beautiful countryside it has open greenery to play in and plenty of woodlands to explore. There are gardens you can look around and even a house to explore. This is a great place to stop by during your time at Center Parcs but would save it for arrival or departure day.
Sherwood Forest Railway is a great place to stop by if you or anyone in your family are train fans. This is an idyllic spot to watch the trains pass by and you might even see some of the old-style steam trains along the way.
Rufford Abbey is a country estate that was converted in the 16th century after the dissolution of the monasteries. It is now open to the public to explore the gardens and is part of the English Heritage organisation.
RSPB Sherwood Forest is a wonderful place to visit if you want to explore more of the wonderful forest at Sherwood Forest. Even though you will be spending time in the forest and area at Center Parcs you can still see new wildlife and see more of what the area has to offer.
Robin Hoods Wheelgate Park is a fun-filled activity park filled with rides, activities and animals for all the family to enjoy. Just a short 14-minute drive from Center Parcs Sherwood Forest it is something you can do at any time and really have a great day out.
Brougham Castle located 2 miles south of Penrith is a medieval building. Founded by Robert I de Vieuxpont in the early 13th Century. The rivers of Eamont and Lowther running make it an incredibly picturesque place to visit.
Lakeland Bird Of Prey Centre is a great place to head if you love birds and birds of prey. You can watch the birds fly and even take part in flying lessons. You can see anything from owls to falcons and even vultures and eagles. Just a short drive of 18 minutes, 8.5 miles from Center Parcs Whinfell Forest it is perfect to go and explore.
Winderwath Gardens is a tranquil and peaceful area to visit, privately owned by Jane Pollock. The Gardens boast of unique and mature trees from Wellingtonia, Cut Leaf Beech and Cedar. This is a great place if you enjoy seeing new and interesting flowers or just enjoy exploring gardens. Not somewhere I would take smaller children.
Dalemain Mansion & Historic Gardens is another stately home in which you can explore the surroundings, gardens and the house. If you are wanting to know more about the area and its history this is a great place to go. There is also a cafe and shop in which you can buy some of their award-winning marmalades.
Thetford Priory or also known as The Priory of Our Lady of Thetford is one of the most important monasteries in medieval East Anglia. It was founded in the early 12th century and has been a burial for earls and dukes of Norfolk. What is left is the remains of the base structure which you can explore and take in the history.
Ancient House Museum is a 500-year-old house that lives in the heart of Thetford and is now home to artefacts and interesting tools from the time. It is a museum in which you can explore what life would have been like for the people 500 years ago and learn more about life back then.
Grime’s Graves – Prehistoric Flint Mine is a site located in Norfolk which is a large Neolithic flint mining complex. It is part of the English Heritage organisation and so you can find more information on their website. They were named Grime’s Graves by the Anglo- Saxons and only discovered they were flint mines once they were dug up. They are believed to have been there for over 5,000 years.
West Stow Anglo Saxon Village is a fantastic place to visit especially for families and children. With lots of different events and activities, you can pretend to be an Anglo-Saxon for the day. There is plenty to explore from the ancient village to the museum and even some birds of prey.
De Grey Mausoleum is a part of the full estate and area in Flitton. There is plenty of heritage and amazing things to see here along with the 17 sculpted and effigy monuments. They span nearly 2 and a half centuries of the De Grey family at Wrest Park.
Woburn Abbey And Gardens is a great location to explore more of the local high life and estate. At Woburn Abbey, you can explore the Palladian manor house which is home to a significant art collection along with stunning gardens and even some wild deer.
Summerfields Miniature Railways are located a 24-minute drive from Center Parcs Woburn Forest and is a great place to go before, after or during your trip. There are miniature trains that you sit on and ride around on the track. It is a great place for children to enjoy a ride and some snacks.
Herrings Green Activity Farm & Bird of Prey Centre is a wonderful place to stop and have some fun during your Center Parcs holiday. Here you can find a number of experiences and activities, some of which are similar to what you can do at Center Parcs but then they have some that are more focused on animal interaction which is super fun.
Can I Leave To Center Parcs To Go Food Shopping?
You can leave Center Parcs to go food shopping. There will be a number of supermarkets within the area of each location you can go to for food shopping.
Though it can be a little more hassle going out and checking back in with security for a small amount. I would only advise doing this if you are wanting to do a large food shop or need to buy something very unique.
Alternatively, there is a supermarket on-site at Center Parcs, while the prices are a little more expensive. If you only need a select few items I would suggest using that supermarket instead of leaving Center Parcs to find a cheaper alternative.
If you really want to cut down on time and space in your car you can get a starter pack added to your booking which supplies you with a few necessities to get you started.
Supermarkets Near Center Parcs
I decided to put together a quick guide to show you the nearest supermarkets and stop shops near each Center Parcs location to help you plan your route and where you can stop to get your food shopping.
Each of these is the closest to the Center Parcs entrances and will be the easiest to get to.
Some may mean you have to go a little out of your way depending on where you are travelling from so take that into account in your planning for your trip.
|Center Parcs Location||Supermarket||Time From Center Parcs||Miles From Center Parcs|
|Elveden Forest||Sainsbury’s||6 Minutes||3.4|
|Elveden Forest||Lidl||6 Minutes||3.4|
|Elveden Forest||Aldi||9 Minutes||4.7|
|Longleat Forest||Morrisons||8 Minutes||3.6|
|Longleat Forest||Tesco Express||6 Minutes||2.3|
|Sherwood Forest||Tesco Superstore||11 Minutes||3.9|
|Sherwood Forest||Asda Superstore||19 Minutes||7.8|
|Whinfell Forest||Aldi||10 Minutes||5.3|
|Whinfell Forest||Sainsbury’s||8 Minutes||4.6|
|Whinfell Forest||Marks & Spencers||8 Minutes||4.5|
|Whinfell Forest||Morrisons||11 Minutes||5.0|
|Woburn Forest||Tesco Superstore||7 Minutes||3.2|
|Woburn Forest||Co-Op||9 Minutes||3.5|