“Things to Do in with Kids in Ghent” is a series of three articles. Part 1 includes information on sports and recreation, as well as meeting other families. In Part 2 we discuss museums and the Arts. And in Part 3 we share ways to explore the city, visit historical sites, and stay informed about current events.
Let’s be honest, no matter how much we love spending time with our kids, there is only so much we can do together at home, and we can never have too many ways to fight off the ‘stir-crazies’, especially when the weather’s not great. Here’s our selection of the best sports, recreational activities, and ways to meet other families in Ghent.
Enjoy Sports and Recreational Activities
Sometimes, we just need to get out of the house and get moving. There are many outdoor things to with kids in Ghent!
Ghent has many parks within the city, some of which include playgrounds (speeltuinen) for children. See our previous post, “Exploring Your Children’s New Neighbourhood,” for some information about parks and playgrounds.
When the weather is nice, a picnic and playtime in a park is always fun for kids. If that appeals to you, you can also visit the lovely parks and natural areas of The Botanical Garden of the University of Ghent, the Gentbrugse Meersen, or the Parkbos.
The Blaarmeersen is a huge and popular sports and recreation park in Ghent with swimming features, sports fields and courts, a walking/running trail, a playground (speelplaats), and much more. The Liedermeerspark has a playground and terrace. A similar park, The Brielmeersen, is located southwest of Ghent in Deinze, and has hiking trails, a playground, a cafe, a kid’s train, and a zoo.
Sometimes the weather prevents us from enjoying outside play, so it is nice to have some indoor playgrounds (binnenspeeltuinen) available. Pretland has a large indoor play space with sections for different ages, a snack bar, and plenty of seating for parents. Play Beach in Gentbrugge offers the same features for children up to 12 years of age, and also has an outdoor play space.
Kids & Play has multiple locations in and around Ghent with indoor play areas, games, fitness activities, and rides for kids. They are associated with Oxygen Fitness locations, so parents can exercise while their children play, or make use of the bar and seating areas.
If you’ve tried all these or want to try something outside of Ghent, Kids Adventure in Deinze is a two-story indoor playground with a variety of play spaces and games, a separate play area for toddlers, basketball, a small indoor bicycle track (bikes provided), and a snack bar and seating for parents.
Water-based Things to Do with Kids in Ghent
Stad Ghent operates swimming pools (zwembaden) in the city. You can find their locations and websites here. Their public swimming times vary, as do their operating hours depending on the season and school holidays. So check their websites or give them a call for the most up to date hours of operation.
Of Ghent’s pools, the Lago Gent Rozebroeken is the most exciting for kids, offering a “subtropical swimming paradise” with children’s pools, rapids, water slides, water playgrounds, indoor and outdoor playgrounds, and more. For parents, there is also a sauna, an Olympic lap pool, a restaurant and café, and other recreational offerings. There are sports and recreational classes for kids and adults.
In the summer months, a pop-up beach with a shallow pool is open at Zebrabeach (although this will not be taking place in 2020).
Holidays (Vakanties) and Camps (Kampen)
If your child is in school in Belgium, you may already be aware of the traditional Belgian school holidays (vakanties). If not these are Krokusvakantie/Spring Break, Paasvakantie/Easter Holiday, Zomervakantie/Summer Vacation, Herftsvakantie/Autumn Break, and Kerstvakantie/Christmas Break. During these breaks, the city of Ghent and other independent organizations offer camps and activities for children.
Other organizations offering camps during all the holidays are Free-Time and Idee Kids. Both offer a variety of camps for all ages at many different locations. Some are day camps and some are overnight/residential. Camp themes vary from sports to arts to science, and more.
Additionally, Partena partners with Idee Kids to offer holiday camps for children in and around Ghent, and they list other camp options throughout Belgium here. You don’t need to be a Partena member to take part in their camps. But they do offer discounts and reimbursements to members. Your insurance or social security provider may do the same, so it is worth looking into!
Other Sporty Things to Do with Kids in Ghent
The city of Ghent lists many options for sports in Ghent on their website at this link.
Finally, I can’t leave out Ghent’s own voetbal (football/soccer) club, the KAA Gent Buffalos. For 12 euro, kids under 13 can join the Buffalo Kids Club which offers special events for kids, a gift package for members, and other advantages.
Meet Other Families
If you are looking to meet other families in Ghent, consider joining the “Gentse Spruiten – parenting in Ghent / Gent” Facebook group, “for anyone parenting in or around Ghent from expecting baby until they’re out of the house.” The group maintains discussions for all kinds of family topics, as well as organizes play dates and parent/family get-togethers.
If this series has missed a “thing to do” with kids, please share it in the comments below!