Things To Do With Children In Loughton

If you live in Loughton and you are looking for things to do locally with children then this post has you covered. There are lots of great places to visit in London and Essex for days out, but sometimes you want to stay close to home and head out just for a few hours. Whether you are new to Loughton or you have been living here for a while, hopefully there will be a few ideas in this post that are new to you. Read on to find ideas of places to go in Loughton with children (and a few in Chigwell too). If you have a young child there are more ideas of place to go with a toddler or preschooler in Loughton in this post.

A child sitting on a bench next to Loughton underground station sign
There are lots of places to take your children in Loughton

What To Do In Loughton With Children

Loughton's Playgrounds

Loughton has 8 playgrounds, although one of the ones on Roding Valley Recreation Ground (by the tennis courts) is due to be relocated and renovated to higher ground this year as the current location floods regularly. The most popular Loughton playground is next to Loughton Library on Traps Hill at the end of the High Road. Also popular is nearby Pelican Playground in Chigwell which is a small sand based playground advertised as open 10.30am to 6.30pm Monday to Friday (closed weekends).

Details and locations of all Loughton’s playgrounds are in this post.

Traps Hill Playground in Loughton

Where To Go For A Walk In Loughton

Epping Forest

Epping Forest runs all along one side of Loughton so there are plenty of places to access the forest. You can find car parks on the main roads (eg Goldings Hill and Epping New Road) with well marked footpaths leading from them, but a popular place to start exploring the forest is High Beach (IG10 4AF). Epping Forest Visitors Centre at High Beach (open Friday to Sundays 10am to 4pm) has information about the forest as well as maps and guides. You can also find plenty of books about the local area including forest walks at the Book Shop (and Secret Toy Shop) at 150 Loughton High Road. 

Many of the forest car parks have charges, but a few of the smaller ones are free. There is more information about Epping Forest car parks here

Also worth a visit is a walk past the Deer Sanctuary near Debden House campsite. Follow the path uphill from the 90 degree bend on Debden Lane (after the turn for the campsite). The deer sanctuary is on your right after about 10 minutes and you can sometimes see the deer through the fence. This path can get very muddy in wet weather and is not suitable for pushchairs.

Epping Forest with trees and the ground covered in leaves
There is so much to explore in Epping Forest with children

Roding Valley Recreation Ground

On the other side of Loughton to the forest there is a thin strip of accessible parkland running from near Chigwell Lane (Debden) to Roding Lane near Buckhurst Hill Station. This area includes 2 of Loughton’s playgrounds as well Roding Valley Lake where you can see plenty of ducks. Easiest access is from Oakwood Hill. There is a small car park at the end of Roding Road and street parking on nearby roads.

Children on a wooden platform looking at ducks in a lake
Roding Valley Recreation Ground is a thin strip of land including a lake

Connaught Water

Located off Rangers Road on the way to Chingford is Connaught Water which is a lovely lake to walk around. The car park (charges apply) is right next to the lake making it easy access for visiting with small children who don't like to walk far. 

A child standing in front of a lake with trees and flowers visible
Connaught Water is a large lake with nearby parking

The Chigwell Meadow

With good paths suitable for scooting and pushchairs Chigwell Meadow is great for a short walk. It includes a small small pond where you can see a duck or two. Parking is across the road next to Pelican Playground and there are toilets at The Grange Centre a short walk away. Access is via Grange Farm Lane off Chigwell High Road. 

3 children scooting on a good path at Chigwell Meadow
Chigwell Meadow has free parking and good paths 

Children's Sports Activities In Loughton


Loughton Leisure Centre on Traps Hill has a standard size and a children’s pool which can be booked via the Places Leisure website or app (a free membership is required to book sessions). At weekends they often have an inflatable fun session in the main pool (age 5 plus, under 8s must be accompanied). 

There are 2 members only gyms with swimming pools near Loughton: Nuffield Health Chigwell is off Abridge Road (IG7 6BX) and David Lloyd Chigwell is off Roding Lane (IG7 6BX). Both have adult and children's pools as well as outside pools open in Summer months. Members can also use the kids clubs and creches and David Lloyd has racquets sports too. 

If you fancy open water swimming then check out Be Endurance who run open water swimming sessions in Luxborough Lake (Chigwell). During the winter season their sessions take place weekend mornings, in the summer season (April to October) they run additional hours and midweek sessions. Children age 8 upwards can get involved.

Inflatable course in blue and yellow in the middle of a swimming pool at Loughton leisure centre
Inflatable fun course at Loughton Leisure Centre

Parkrun and Junior parkrun

The local parkrun takes place on Saturday mornings at Roding Valley Recreation Ground and the shorter Junior parkrun takes place on Sunday mornings. Children age 4 to 14 can join in Junior parkrun, but they must complete the whole 2k route on foot. Older children may choose to take part in the longer 5k parkrun instead (or as well). You need to sign up to parkrun (for free) to take part and get a time. The Loughton courses are prone to flooding in the cooler months so they sometimes change the start location or alternate routes, check the relevant Facebook Pages for updates (parkrun and Junior parkrun).

Completing Junior Parkrun in Loughton
It is free to sign up and take part in Junior Parkrun which is suitable for children age 4 to 14

Top Golf

There are a number of golf courses around Loughton, but older children can enjoy an afternoon at Top Golf (Abridge Road, Chigwell, ) . They have 50 all weather bays on the driving range with free clubs to use and balls that will automatically transmit your score to the scoreboard. They also have big screen sports and a restaurant. 

Aqua Splash

From April to September you can enjoy the Aqua Splash inflatable assault course on Luxborough Lake (IG7 5DF) in Chigwell  . Suitable for children age 6 and above if a confident swimmer. Under 12s must be supervised by an adult (ie be on the course with them).

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

Children age 8 plus (who can swim) will enjoy paddleboarding on Luxborough Lake with Ripple Adventure. They run an Induction to SUP group session as well as open paddle sessions. You can borrow a paddleboard or bring your own. Be advised they don’t currently have changing facilities so they recommend bringing a large towel to change under. 

You need to have completed an induction session before you can book onto an open Paddle session and Induction sessions only run in the summer season (approx April onwards). Book via the website. 

Sports Clubs

Loughton has a great range of sports clubs for school age children. Karate clubs like UKA, Dance classes including Illusions Dance Academy or Charmas Stage School as well as the youth athletics club and preschool football

Indoor Activities In Loughton


Lopping Hall on Loughton High Road has regular amateur dramatic performances, some of which will be suitable for children eg the pantomime. You can find out about Upcoming Events here

East 15 Acting School also put on regular events at the Corbett Theatre off Rectory Lane, IG10 3RY.


As well as plenty of books the libraries often run events for children. You can find more information about local libraries here.

Loughton Library (Traps Hill) is open Monday to Sunday, Debden Library (inside Epping Forest College on the corner of Borders Lane/ Rectory lane) is open Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and Friday and Saturday Mornings. 

Chigwell Library (Hainault Road) is open Monday mornings, all day Wednesday, Friday afternoons and all day Saturday.

A toddler running along between two rows of books in Chigwell library
There are often activities for children in the Essex Libraries

Come N Play Cafe, 65 Debden Broadway IG10 2HZ

This little softplay is great for toddlers and preschoolers through to around age 7. As well as a small play frame for preschoolers and play area for toddlers there are books and toys and they sell food and drink. At weekends they can be closed for exclusive hire parties so check for availability. Prebook a 2 hour session on their website, walk ins welcome when there is space.

Holiday Activities For Children In Loughton

Epping Forest Council run a number of free Play In the Park sessions in the Easter and Summer holidays. I will link to the latest activities when available or follow the Epping Forest Facebook page for announcements. 

Hobbycraft run regular craft sessions which normally include sessions for children during the school holidays. Book sessions here , the Loughton store is listed as Epping Forest.

Forest School Activities 

Essex Wildlife Trust run events at Roding Valley Meadows Nature Reserve (Chigwell Meadows). Most holiday sessions are suitable for children age 3 to 10. They run forest school sessions as well as woodland themed crafts and pond dipping. Early booking advised. Check the events page and filter the location to "Roding" and "Chigwell Meadows" to see what is coming up. 

Learning to whittle at a forest school session in Loughton
Forest school is a fun way to teach children independence and new skills

Holiday Camps

If you are looking for holiday camps during school holidays, several private companies run them at local schools, particularly during the Easter and Summer holidays. The two main ones are:

Silver Kidz Camp run at Roding Valley High School (near Loughton station) every holiday except Christmas. Suitable for age 5 to 12

Barracudas is at Chigwell School in the Easter and Summer Holidays, Suitable for age 4 1/2 to 14.

Camping on the edge of Epping Forest
Camping at Debden House campsite on the edge of Epping Forest


Debden House campsite is a lovely campsite where you get to camp right next to the forest. Other than a very small shop, shower block and toilets there are minimal amenities, but it’s perfect for a camping adventure close to home. There are a variety of pitch sizes, some in open field and some under the trees.

 You might also be interested in these posts:

Free places to go with children in Essex - days out with no entry cost

Inside places to go in Essex  - perfect for cold rainy days or even those really really hot ones

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