“Things to Do in Gent with Kids” is a series of three articles. Part 1 includes information on sports and recreation, as well as meeting other families. Part 2 discusses museums and the Arts. Part 3 shares 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 in the winter months. I moved to Gent with my husband and son in 2016 and we’ve been eagerly exploring the city together since then. Here’s our selection of the best sports, recreational activities, and ways to meet other families in Gent.
Enjoy Sports and Recreational Activities
Sometimes, we just need to get out of the house and get moving. There are many ways to do that in Gent with kids, even during Belgium’s gray, cold, and wet winter days!
Gent 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 Gent 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 Gent 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 Gent 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 Gent, 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.
Stad Gent 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 Gent’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. Swimming lessons at Rozebroeken are arranged through Aqua & Move.
In the summer months, a pop-up beach with a shallow pool is open at Zebrabeach.
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): Krokusvakantie/Spring Break, Paasvakantie/Easter Holiday, Zomervakantie/Summer Vacation, Herftsvakantie/Autumn Break, and Kerstvakantie/Christmas Break. During these breaks, the city of Gent and other independent organizations offer camps and activities for children. Information and registration details for the city’s camps can be found here.
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 Gent, 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!
The city of Gent lists many options for sports in Gent on their website at this link.
Finally, I can’t leave out Gent’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 Gent, consider joining the “Gentse Spruiten – parenting in Ghent / Gent” Facebook group, “for anyone parenting in or around Gent 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 with me (and our readers) in the comments below!