What?: Kew’s website misleadingly advertises its indoor play zone as suitable for three to nine year olds, but it’s actually its more treacherous outdoor Treehouse Towers playground that’s meant for older kids, while Climbers and Creepers is for 0-7s. Naughty Kew
Now, I enjoy a themed play area as much as the next jaded parent. They beat the monotony of those horribly garish soft-play centres with their unimaginative jungle themes, and humdrum playgrounds designed by depressed council workers. But to be honest you can throw in as many plant-based puns and giant flowers that look like they’ve been stolen from the set of The Day of the Triffids as you want; at the end of the day a play area still needs a variety of decent things to play on, and it has to be said that this place is somewhat lacking in this department.
Where?: Climbers and Creepers is best accessed via Kew’s Victoria Gate, which is a six-minute walk from Kew Gardens station (Ginger, mainline).
Best Bits: Some of the apparatus is quite cute, with a spherical dormouse den to explore, a gigantic, tactile lily to poke at and a giant wooden caterpillar to run through – or at least that’s my interpretation of what these things are supposed to be. We really liked the baby slide, which is tiny enough for people even smaller than Bab to safely clamber up and shuffle down.
Worst Bits: Climbers and Creepers is housed in a giant sweaty greenhouse and is best avoided on an already sweaty day. While the space is roomy and filled with some interesting-looking bits and pieces, even Bab had pretty much exhausted everything within about half an hour. The orange rubber sand was a bit baffling given that you can’t actually do anything with it other than competing with other children to see how much of it you can get stuck up your nose. Plus what the hell is wrong with actual sand?!
Facilities: The play area is located right next door to the White Peaks Cafe, which offers high chairs, a decent kids’ menu and baby-change facilities. Climbers and Creepers also has step-free access and space to park a buggy.
Price: Entry to the play area is free but you either have to be a member or pay entry to the gardens to get in in the first place. Tickets cost £14 per adult, £2.50 per child (4-16) and under-fours go free.
Would We Come Back?: I will always come back to Kew but probably won’t return to Climbers and Creepers unless I happen to be in the vicinity and it starts pissing it down, or if Bab develops a fondness for crap play centres when she’s older – which, let’s face it, of course she will.
Bab gets hands-on with a giant creepy crawly at Climbers and Creepers, Kew Gardens