Have you ever visited Crawley? It’s not necessarily top of everyone’s list of travel destinations, but more of us have been there than probably realise it. All thanks to the area’s biggest employer: Gatwick Airport.
Crawley shouldn’t be somewhere that you just pass through. You can get there easily on the train, travelling from Brighton to Crawley, or in the opposite direction from central London. And there’s plenty to see and do in the area that doesn’t involve catching a plane.
The largest and most popular park in the Crawley area, Tilgate Park was originally part of the ancient Worth Forest, but nowadays is a visitor destination for a wide range of outdoor activities.
One of the highlights for visitors to the park is the stunning lakes and there are miles of footpaths around them and in the surrounding woodland. There’s a nature centre that is home to everything from endangered species to farmyard animals. In addition, there are water sports on the lake, a playground for children, an outdoor gym for fitness fanatics and a restaurant for the appetite that you will build up whilst there.
The park is run by Crawley Borough Council and there is visitor information on their website.
If you’re looking for a bit of culture, then The Hawth may be the place to head. Opening in 1988, the venue has one of the widest ranges of performances in the South East. It shows everything from dance to comedy, to films and West End Shows.
With an 855-seat theatre and a smaller studio space, The Hawth boasts over 350 performances and events a year. No matter what your interest in the arts is, I’m sure you’ll be able to find something on their programme of events to capture you.
Sports fans and kids of all ages will love the K2 Leisure Centre. With an Olympic size 50m swimming pool, as well as a small teaching pool, it is the perfect place to put in a few lengths.
If swimming isn’t your thing, then there is also a gym with over 150 stations and a climbing wall. Those preferring a more sedate place can make use of the two indoor bowling greens, or book themselves in for a treatment in one of the treatment rooms there.
Snooker fans will also be interested to know that the K2 was home to the 2018 Snooker Open, which featured household names like Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams.
Southern Pursuits – Outdoor activity days
If you’re after an adrenaline-fuelled activity day, then Southern Pursuits is the place to head. Not only can you just book for one of their outdoor activities, but they also run corporate events, team building days and hen and stag parties. Activities range from quad biking to axe throwing!
County Mall Shopping Centre
Shopping addicts will love the range of shops on offer in Crawley’s County Mall Shopping Centre. It’s also the perfect place for tourists to head to pick up gifts to take back before heading to Gatwick Airport. It’s handily located just across the road from Crawley train station.
The range of stores covers all different tastes and budgets. And when you’ve had enough of shopping you can always head to the food court area for a bite to eat and a coffee.