Exploring Grays Beach Riverside Park: A Hidden Gem Near Lakeside

Grays Beach Riverside Park in Thurrock is a popular park over looking the River Thames. While you might not actually be at the coast the combination of a large sandy play area and the nearby river will make you feel like you really are at the beach on a sunny day. The park has a fantastic variety of play equipment including a sand pit, large play ship and a zip line. When you are ready for a rest and some refreshments there is also a café: Lightship Cafe which is run by volunteers from the community.

Brightly coloured children's play equipment including slides and a fort
So many opportunities for imaginative play on the fort, pirate ship play equipment and sand pit

Visiting Grays Beach Riverside Park

Why Grays Beach Riverside Park is a good place to visit with children

  • There is a large play area with play equipment for a range of ages and abilities.
  • The large grass area is great for ball games.
  • There is plenty of space for picnics.
  • Refreshments and toilets are available at the Lightship Cafe.
  • In the summer months the splash park is open.

What is There To Do At Grays Beach Riverside Park?

The Play Area

The big appeal to families is the large play area which has play equipment for a range of ages. The surface of the playground is mostly sand, but the newer castle play frame is on a rubbery play surface. Children love that there is plenty of sand to play with and they can make sandcastles, but it has the downside that you will get sand everywhere.

The Thurrock council website says that the park also has a skate ramp, zip line and multi-ball court, but information on this page is out of date (including the opening hours of the cafe). It appears that the skate ramp is closed and we didn't see the ball court on our visit either. 

A children's ship themed climbing frame on sand
There is a great range of play equipment for all ages

A large children's outdoor playground with different apparatus including a boat and lighthouse
Play equipment is well spaced out

A playground with a slide and a swing set, providing fun and entertainment for children.
Most of the equipment is on sand

Splash Park

A new splash park opened a few years ago. It is only open on warmer days in the summer, keep an eye on the cafés Facebook page for announcements.  Last year the splash pad cost £2.99 for 30 minutes and £4.99 for an hour with wristbands available from the cafe. 

Eating at Grays Beach Riverside Park

The Lightship Cafe has an extensive menu including bagels, paninis, jacket potatoes and children's meal boxes as well as snacks and drinks. There is indoor seating within the cafe and picnic benches outside and around the playground area. The opening hours of the cafe are currently advertised as 11am to 6pm weekdays, 11am to 7pm on weekends.

The cafe sometimes runs events eg around Easter, but these are of varying quality.

You can also bring picnics to eat on the benches in the park, or bring a picnic blanket. 

A cafe building with picnic benches in front for eating at.
The Lightship Cafe and picnic benches

The chalk board menu and pricelist above the payment desk of a cafe
Plenty of food options at The Lightship Cafe

What age children will enjoy visiting Grays Beach Riverside Park?

There is something to appeal to children from toddlers upwards.

Is it suitable for pushchairs?

The park generally is suitable for pushchairs, but the sand covering most of the sandpit is difficult push pushchairs on (try pulling, rather than pushing if you need to use them on this area). 

What you need to know before visiting Grays Beach Riverside Park

The park can get very busy on sunny days so if you want to avoid crowds arrive early or go for cloudier days.

Is it dog friendly?

Yes dogs are allowed in the park, but they must be kept on a lead.

Toilet facilities and baby changing

There are toilets including disabled and baby changing inside the cafe, this means they are only open during the cafe opening hours. Recent reports have said the toilets are a bit tired.  

What to take with you when visiting Grays Beach Riverside Park

  • Don't forget your bucket and spade to build some sandcastles.
  • If it's sunny and you might want to go in the splash park make sure to bring swimwear, towels and swimming nappies (as required).
  • Bring a picnic blanket at peak times and some snacks.

How to get to Grays Beach Riverside Park and Where to Park

Grays Beach Riverside Park
Thames Road, 
RM17 6JP

Grays Beach Car Park currently costs £1 for an hour running to £6.50 for all day. There is also some street parking on Thames Road. Some of the street parking is free on Sundays so check the signs. 

Grays Beach Riverside Park is roughly a 10 minute walk from Grays railway station if you want to go by train. 

A pricelist board for pay and display parking
There are a range of options for parking including on and off street parking

What to do near Grays Beach Riverside Park

Thameside Theatre is approximately a 15 minute walk away. It has a good range of stage performances and cinema for children especially in holidays.
Essex Fire Museum is less than 10 minutes drive, it is only open on selected days, check out this post to find out what to expect.
Lakeside Shopping Centre with a range of shops, restaurant and entertainment is about a 10 minute drive.

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