I am a huge fan of shopping.
Shopping online may be easier and more convenient, there is nothing better than the pleasure of shopping in person.
As a girl from Essex, I instinctively go to the Lakeside Shopping Center in Grays for a proper day of shopping.
It has free parking, lots of shops, and is only about an hour’s drive from my home.
However, I have heard many people talk about the Bluewater Shopping Center in Kent, just a short drive across Dartford Crossing.
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After trying out Hangloose Adventure’s new zip line, I thought I was going for a stroll around the mall.
My first impression when I arrived was good as there was free parking and plenty of it.
I was also impressed with how easy the facilities were to find once I stepped inside.
Once I got there I had to find a bathroom and there was one right where I went to the center.
I was expecting to have to wait as this always seems to be the case with Lakeside – I was so wrong.
There were loads of toilets, all very clean and modern with lots of space, the complete opposite of Lakeside.
All I had done was park and go to the bathroom – I hadn’t been to a single store, but I was impressed.
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When I started shopping, one thing struck me – the square.
It felt like I had a lot more room to look around in Bluewater than I did in Lakeside.
It was reasonably crowded, but the floor plan has enough space to relax in, which is really important during the pandemic.
Lakeside can often feel crowded, especially in summer when it’s hot, but that wasn’t the case with Bluewater.
I also really liked the design of the shopping center.
You walk around in a loop instead of pacing up and down the lakeside.
I have the feeling that as a result, the center is bigger and the shops are further apart.
Bluewater also looks better in my opinion.
There are many statues and sculptures around the center that add character and just make it look more inviting than Lakeside.
If I want big high street names like Primark, New Look, H&M, and Zara, I know a trip to Lakeside guarantees it.
Lakeside is absent from smaller stores, however, with most of the units being taken over by bigger names.
I noticed that Bluewater had much smaller stores, with lots of names that I had never seen before.
I liked that very much because it gave me a slightly different shopping experience than usual.
There were so many stores selling products that interested me – I really could have spent the whole day there.
One area of the Bluewater that I really liked was ‘The Village’ which is a really cute area with little shops selling everything from cocktails to dog supplies.
I felt like this gives Bluewater a charm that doesn’t exist in Lakeside.
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Restaurants and leisure
Lakeside is known for its entertainment and hospitality, so I didn’t think Bluewater could match.
But when I saw the restaurants I realized I was wrong.
Bluewater has a lot of great restaurants to choose from, there really is something for everyone and I think I would have a hard time deciding where to eat.
When it comes to recreational activities, however, I think Lakeside has the upper hand.
The Grays Mall has a movie theater, bowling alley, mini golf, Nickelodeon Adventure, giant dice, and more.
Bluewater has plenty of recreational activities too, but it isn’t as emphasized as it is at Lakeside.
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Before going to Bluewater, I would always move to Lakeside for some shopping.
However, my first visit across the border completely changed my mind.
The range of stores at Bluewater really won me over.
There are just so many to choose from, and so many that I like.
Bluewater can take an additional 20 minutes to get there and means using (and paying for) the Dartford Crossing, but I think it’s worth it.
It has free parking, just like Lakeside, and a better atmosphere for shopping in my opinion.
However, if I was looking for a fun day out I would probably still go to Lakeside as there is so much to do there.
what do you prefer? Lakeshore or blue water? Let us know in the comments.
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