Shopping with kids is a headache, isn’t it? Especially when you need to drag them from one end of town to the other, trying to juggle holding hands and carrying bags as they get increasingly bored and frustrated.
There must be a better way and in fact, there is, as we discovered when we were invited to spend a happy Saturday shopping at a McArthurGlen designer outlet.
There are six McArthurGlen outlets across the UK, and we visited the East Midlands branch, on Mansfield Road, South Normanton, DE55 2JW.
As soon as we arrived, we could tell this was going to be a different kind of shopping experience.
The bright and spacious outlet is similar in appearance to a small, beautifully kept town centre, but arranged so that you walk around in a C shape from one end to the other, with shops either side of you.
And there’s a superb choice of retailers, from clothing stores (such as French Connection, Next Clearance and M&S Outlet), to kid’s stores (such as Designer Kidz, Lacoste Kids and Bench), to sports and shoe stores (such as Sketchers, Nike Factory Store and Reebok), to home supply stores (such as ProCook, Le Creuset, The Works and Denby) – many with amazing discounts on offer.
It’s like being in a fantasy town of years ago, when there are actual shops instead of just empty units and endless coffee houses.
And of course, when families shop, they get hungry, so there’s also a good choice of places to eat, including Pizza Express (the only branch in the country to also offer breakfast), Harry Ramsden’s, Subway and Café Thorntons.
We shopped, we shopped some more, and then we ditched our bags in the car (the car park is right next to the shops and has plenty of family spaces, so it’s easy to nip back and forth to avoid carrying too much).
Next, we ate a gorgeous lunch at Pizza Express, where my salad was delicious, Mark’s calzone was excellent and the children were well looked after with a great kids menu, crayons & colouring while we waited, and fast, friendly service.
With full bellies, we squeezed in some more shopping, ate ice cream at Thorntons and then shopped some more.
The kids loved it, picking new stationery and toys in The Works, some hair clips for Miss J in Claire’s, while I found some fab new outfits for all of us in Next Clearance and picked up some homeware bits from several stores.
Of course, children also like to run around and burn off some energy, so McArthurGlen outlets also offer a small adventure playground adjacent to the food court, where they can explore slides, tunnels and obstacles.
Miss J loved it, but sadly JD was above the height limit, so he went with Mark to buy a new Minecraft T-Shirt in Game.
When Miss J’s little legs got tired, she also had a ride in one of the McArthurCars, little push along cars you can rent from customer service for just a couple of pounds. You’re even allowed to take them into the stores, and Miss J had a whale of a time, especially when her big brother was pushing her around.
If you have babies and toddlers with you, the outlets also offer baby-changing room facilities in the Food court and Visitor Information, as well as access to high chairs and a microwave in the food court to heat milk/baby food.
Overall, we had a fantastic time and if you visit this summer, there’s even more on offer. For the holidays, McArthurGlen Designer Outlets are running a Celebration of Summer event, including a Victorian Carousel, slush drinks, sweets and ice cream stalls. And from 31 July and each Friday night they will be celebrating the launch of late night shopping with extra savings, and entertainment including stilt walkers, magicians and giant board games (chess, Jenga and Connect 4).
It’s all brilliant family fun. Why not plan your visit today?
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This is a commissioned post for McArthurGlen