Park near Yokosuka offers parents, kids a great day out

Travel
Children ride bicycles at Le Soleil park. The park offers several attractions for parents and children, to include wading pools, playgrounds and petting zoos. (Photo by Tyler Hlavac)
From Stripes.com
Children ride bicycles at Le Soleil park. The park offers several attractions for parents and children, to include wading pools, playgrounds and petting zoos. (Photo by Tyler Hlavac)

Park near Yokosuka offers parents, kids a great day out

by: Tyler Hlavac | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: June 30, 2016

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE – Parents in the Yokosuka area who are looking for a good place to take the kids but don’t want to visit Tokyo or Yokohama, should give the Le Soleil amusement park a try.

Located south of Yokosuka, Le Soleil offers visitors a chance to enjoy a kid-friendly amusement park without dealing with the costs or crowds of establishments in big cities. The park is fairly easy to get to. From Yokosuka-Chuo station, it’s a 27-minute train ride to Misakiguchi Station, with no transfers in between. After arriving at the station, a 15-minute bus ride will take you straight to Le Soleil.

One of the first things that struck me about Le Soleil was its theme and architecture. I had been expecting a park that was in featured either a Japanese- or American-style theme. Instead, the park is very much Southern France - pseudo vineyard, villa buildings and accordion music playing over the system.

I noticed a shop located at the entrance and poked my head inside expecting to see some toys or souvenirs for sale. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of local goods for sale, such as bread, fish and produce. I was also pleasantly surprised to see the park required no entrance fee.

Le Soleil offers a variety of different attractions for parents and kids. These include a petting zoo, wading pools, two large and unique playgrounds, boat rides, bicycle tracks, restaurants and more. Some of these attractions, such as the wading pools and playground, are free and are really more than enough to justify a visit. The other attractions at the park do require a fee but are pretty cheap. Most of them appeared to be somewhere around 100 or 300 yen.

As for food, the park has two dining buildings. One has lower-priced options such as hamburger steak, pasta or curry with the meals costing somewhere around 1,000 yen. The other dining facility appeared to offer much higher priced items such as BBQ and seafood dishes. One thing worth mentioning is at the cheaper dining hall, customers are given a number after they order and their number is called when the food is ready. If you aren’t familiar with the Japanese words for numbers, you might have a harder time ordering. And remember, you can always pack a lunch.

Aside from the wading pools and playgrounds, I think kids will get the biggest kick out of the petting zoo. The zoo has several different animals for the kids to play with, including rabbits, dogs, horses, goats and surprisingly kangaroos. I was a bit apprehensive about approaching the kangaroos as I had heard stories from Australia about them being a little bit aggressive. They seemed pretty docile though, and between a combination of the blazing heat and being well fed, they seemed pretty relaxed and comfortable around humans.

Overall, the park was a pleasant surprise for me. I had previously thought there was nothing really interesting south of Yokosuka Naval Base, and that if I wanted to do something cool or interesting, I pretty much had to go to Yokohama or Tokyo and spend a lot of money. While a lot of the attractions at the park do have fees, you can easily go to the park and not spend any money. It’s worth a trip just to enjoy the playground, swim in the pools or walk around the park and take in the scenery. There is a lot of open space for kids to run around, be loud and just generally be kids. Anyone living in the Tokyo metropolitan area knows that locations like this that are also free of charge, are few and far between.

The park does appear to sometimes offer cooking classes and other activities, but I believe they are most likely Japanese-language only. One thing worth mentioning is when I went to the park on a Monday and there was still a good amount of people there. I can only assume the place gets super crowded on the weekends. I think it’s a great option for stay-at-home parents who are looking for cheap things to do with the kids while their spouse is at work.

hlavac.tyler@stripes.com

Name: Le Soleil (also known as Soleil Nooka Park)
Address: 238-0316 Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture Nagai 4-chome
Hours: From March to November, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
From December to February, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Website: http://www.seibu-la.co.jp/soleil/
Direction: From Yokosuka-Chuo Station take the Keikyu Main Line Rapid Express to Misakiguchi Station. From there, take the bus from the #3 platform to Le Soleil. The stop from Le Soleil is very obvious as it is a giant park, so there is no way you can miss it. Keep in mind the Japanese sometimes refer to the park as “Soleil Nooka” so if you mention Le Soleil, some Japanese people may not know what you are talking about.
Price: Entry is free and the wading pools and playground are free. The attractions cost anywhere from 100 to 300 yen.

Tags: Travel, Yokosuka Naval Base
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