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Child’s play: Big days out promise fun for all the family

Chevetogne domain (c) WBT/Denis Erroyaux
14:52 14/07/2023
Animal parks, swimming pools, caves, treetop walks and space exploration are among Belgium’s family-friendly adventures


Families can immerse themselves in medieval fantasy at the adventure nature park Sortilège. Located in Bois des Beguines in Neder-over-Hembeek, the three-hour game for children and their parents - or groups of friends - involves a mission by a prince who is in search of knights. During the urban forest trail, participants will meet various fantasy characters. Situated opposite the Ferme nos Pilifs, it’s recommended to reserve in advance. 

Ferme Maximilien

Ferme Maximilien, hiding away within the concrete jungle that is the Brussels-North station district, is an educational farm to familiarise city kids with animals and nature in the unlikeliest of places. Keep your eyes open for activities such as shearing alpacas, composting and bird watching among the varied programme for children, especially during the holidays.

Rouge Cloitre

Although there’s hundreds of playgrounds dotted around Brussels’s parks and green spaces, one of the biggest is lies in Rouge-Cloître. This medieval site on the edge of the Sonian forest in Auderghem has three different zones inspired by the adventures of Peter Pan. A large pirate ship invites six to 12-year-olds to clamber on board and climb its ropes and ladders, rest in a swinging hammock or take the helm of the impressive vessel. For little ones, a sand pit, swings, Tyrolian line and slides await. The third section is dedicated to an Indian village, with teepees, a small pond that’s home to a crocodile and a trail in the tree canopy. Finally, the domain also contains a wellness trail.


Provincial parks are a great resource for nature activities and family leisure. Wander around Walloon Brabant’s Bois des rêves near Ottignies with its ponds, streams, a water museum, signposted walks, playground and brasserie. Domaine de Chevetogne in Namur province (pictured, main image) occupies a former country estate and is committed to sustainability. As well as various types of accommodation, including chalets, rustic rooms and caravans, it brims with attractions: swimming pools, farmyard, lakes, mini golf, canoes, adventure playgrounds and a new escape game. The site also regularly hosts family-friendly events.

Aventure Parc on the outskirts of Wavre is a great option for an active day spent outdoors under a shadowy sea of canopies. Circuits of different levels lead through the trees via tubes, rope bridges and zipwires, and there’s also a dedicated kids area. Laser games are a new addition for the park, which provides adventure for all ages.


Open all year round, Le Parc Animalia de Forestia at Theux (Liège province) is home to 300 animals. The 30 species of predators and endangered animals, all native to Belgium’s climate, roam almost free in the 44-hectare park. Nature lovers can enjoy more than 5km of walking paths and kids can clamber through a wooden adventure playground. A new accommodation offer – hotel and cosy wooden lodges – is ideal for overnight or weekend stays.

The La Roche-en-Ardenne animal park puts wildlife in its natural habitat in the heart of the Ardennes. A one-hour hiking trail leads visitors along many species indigenous to the area, including deer, lynx, foxes, wolves, wild boar and owls. There’s also a petting zoo and restaurant. Look out for an activity programme over the summer.

Grottes de Han

An underground cave system and wildlife park are the main attractions of the Grottes de Han in Luxembourg province’s Lesse valley. Explore the geological treasures hidden below the surface in Belgium’s first global geopark and home to regular sound and light shows. Meanwhile, the park is home to over 650 animals, including wolves, foxes, deer and owls. Don’t miss the possibility of sleeping in treetop cabins, glamping in a cocoon tent village or sleeping on a firm bed in the four-star hotel  on the site.

Ecoparks Adventures Tournai offers three activities: aerial trails of varying difficulty, a woodland legend zone (from age two) and a games section featuring digital adventures and escape games (from age 10). A restaurant serves drinks and snacks on the terrace. Access to the park is limited to three hours; reservation recommended.


Tour the globe at animal park Pairi Daiza, divided into nine geographical zones where animals are placed at the centre of their natural habitats. The decor, gardens and planting almost compete with the 700 species in attracting visitors’ attention. The 80-hectare park in Brugelette (Hainaut) is dotted with restaurants, cafes, picnic spots and a range of accommodation including lodges installed in the animal zones for an unforgettable experience sleeping with wolves, bears and other creatures. Take advantage of festive events and late-night openings in the Estivales programme over July and August.

Science and technology park Sparkoh (formerly Pass) is geared towards families and schools, taking kids on a discovery journey with indoor and outdoor activities including interactive exhibitions, a biodiversity garden, films and workshops. Located in a former coal mining area in Frameries near Mons, there’s even a slag heap to explore in the large outdoor space.


Belgium has a long railway history so it’s no surprise that a handful of locomotive enthusiasts set up a railway line serviced by steam and diesel trains. Three Valleys Steam Train runs between Mariembourg and Treignes in the southern part of Namur province; there’s a museum and cafeteria here to prolong your visit. Check out the programme of activities, for example Model Construction on 21 July and Diesel Festival on 23 July.

Water sports may be the main activity – water skiing, wakeboarding, cable lift and aqua park – at Dock 79 leisure park, southwest of Mons, but padel tennis, tree climbing, bouldering, yoga and trampolining all mix up the fun, making it an active day out for kids big and small.


Exploring the five senses, Houtopia is a family experience park in the Ardennes town of Houffalize in the Ourthe valley (Luxembourg province). Open daily over the summer, the educational recreation centre has indoor and outdoor areas (including a 30m slide) with a range of sensory activities, such as water mists and bouncy castles, and themes from nature and the human body to the environment and creative skills.

The revamped Euro Space Center in Transinne (Luxembourg province) promises a range of attractions and interactive installations for all ages. Activities include a freefall slide, Mars walk and space show giving a taste of the astronaut experience. The centre also has simulators and Europe’s only full-scale mock-up of a US space shuttle. New outdoor trail Cosmic Valley also offers new activities. Discover the solar system, build your own sun dial, look at the stars and enjoy a bouncy castle in the form of a spaceship.



Provincial parks north of the country include the Huizingen domain, close to Brussels (pictured above). It boasts a pool, animal park, playground, rowing boats and arboretum and popular walking trails. Overnight stays in rustic wooden cabins and a glamping site are also an option. Kemmelberg provincial domain in the rural Heuvelland region of West Flanders possesses hilly hiking and cycling trails, a visitor’s centre and a programme of family activities over the summer, including a storyteller, mountain aperitif, picnic, nature crafts, adventurous climbing and a musical iinterlude.

If you’re searching for an open-air kiddie pool this summer, look no further than the Kessel-Lo recreational park in Leuven. Besides playgrounds, tennis courts, rowing boats, mini-golf, petanque, roller skating and walking trails, there’s a great swimming pool for kids up to age 12. Adults can jump in too, though the deepest part is just 1m.

Planckendael (c)Jonas Verhulst

The always fun Planckendael Zoo recently added an Orangutan Kingdom and hosts a Brick Safari this summer with animals sculptured from Legos. There are imaginative play structures around the park, and the daily program helpfully lists the feeding times for all the animals.

Children's farm

Every town at the Belgian coast has go-carts, but Nieuwpoort also offers a fantastic children’s farm – with all the animals you’d expect but also theatre and workshops such as baking bread and making felt from wool. The Outsider Coast in Nieuwpoort is ready to rent the family kayaks, offroad steps and other equipment or to host kids at the Gypsy Village open-air playground and guide you through the Mariner’s Obstacle Course, which hangs above the water.

The Sahara Play Forest in Lommel is every kid’s dream. Surrounded by trees, it’s a giant sandbox filled with unique play structures, games, a 25-metre-long tunnel, a stepping stone path and huts made of willow. Lommel is also home to the Parelstrand Park, with loads of little rental cabins, a fishing lake with a beach, swim park, endless activities for the whole family and tips on how to get the most out of this region of Limburg.

This feature was updated in July 2023

Photos: Train Treignes Mariembourg (c)Anne Bruyere; Planckendael (c)Jonas Verhulst

Written by The Bulletin