Places to Go in Kent

 

ANIMALS AND WILDLIFEWalking, Cycling & Open Spaces

Ashdown Forest, between Crowborough, Forest Row and Maresfield. Originally a deer hunting forest in Norman times, Ashdown Forest is now one of the largest free public access spaces in the South East. Great walking, spectacular views and known the world over as the home of Winnie-the-Pooh. 

The Forest is at the heart of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and nearly two thirds of its 6,500 acres are rare heathland.

Bough Beech Visitor Centre, Winkhurst Green, Ide Hill, Sevenoaks, TN14 6LD.  01732 750624
Situated next to Bough Beech reservoir the visitor centre, in a converted oast house, has a small shop and café offering hot and cold drinks, ice cream and light snacks.  There is a short circular walk great for families.

The Ashdown Forest Centre is an information point for visitors. The Information Barn has exhibitions including works by local artists and photographers, crafts people and local historical societies. Other unusual events take place (see Events Page). 01342 823583

Bedgebury Pinetum, Goudhurst. A 2,000 acre forest for walking, family cycling trails, mountain bike and dirt jump area, cycle hire, horse riding for TROT members, adventure play trail, Go Ape, 01580 879842/879820

Bewl Water, Lamberhurst, TN3 8JH, walking, cycling, fishing, model boating, boat trips, playground, crazy golf and hydro balling, (bridle path for cycling and horse riding is weather dependent and can be closed), free entry Mon-Fri in winter,  bike hire, 01892 890000

Cobham Wood & Mausoleum (National Trust) near Cobham, Kent.  Walk through the ancient cattle grazed woodland, once part of the Cobham Hall estate, and view the mausoleum designed by James Wyatt. Check opening times before visiting 01732 810378

Reculver Visitor Centre, Off Reculver Lane, Reculver, Herne Bay, CT6 6SS.  01227 740676
The visitor centre at Reculver sits within Reculver Country Park which combines an undeveloped coast, wildlife interest and historic building which include the twin towers of St. Mary’s Church (English Heritage) and the remains of a roman fort.

Romney Marsh Visitor Centre, Dymchurch Road, New Romney, TN28 8AY.  01797 369487
An award winning, eco-friendly building where you can discover, explore and learn about Romney Marsh’s unique landscape, natural and social history. Shop selling gifts and local crafts, ‘The Art Shack’ art gallery, light refreshments in the café and picnic areas.

Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, Bradbourne Vale Road, Sevenoaks, TN13 3DH.  01732 456407
Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve has 5 lakes and is a spectacular site for birds, plants, fungi and animals.  There is a small café and shop and a Kingfisher Trail great for families.

Toys Hill, (National Trust) near Brasted Chart, Kent, TN16 1QG. Nature trails through 200 acres of ancient woodland, designated SSSI with abundant wildlife and spectacular views over the Weald of Kent. 01732 868381

Tyland Barn, Sandling, Maidstone, ME14 3BD.  01622 662012.  Tyland Barn visitor centre in Maidstone is also the head office for Kent Wildlife Trust and situated in a 17th Century barn.  There is a small nature park with ponds, mini beast homes and trails, a café offering a selection of light lunches and a gallery which exhibits local artists work.  Maps are available for walks to the surrounding countryside.

The White Cliffs of Dover, Langdon Cliffs, Kent. Dramatic walks along the cliffs. The National Trust Visitor Centre is open daily from 11am to 4pm except bank holidays. Free maps, parking and info panels around the site plus gift shop and a coffee shop.

Family Farms

Blackberry Farm, Whitesmith BN8 6JD. Some 18 acres, home to over 200 animals and, most of which can be petted or fed by hand with staff to tell you about them. Large outdoor play area, “Clucky’s” undercover adventure playbarn and sensory zone, family picnic area and baby area. Open daily from 10am until 4pm in winter, 5pm in spring and autumn and 6pm in summer. Own a Pony and Young Farmers Holiday Clubs at half term and school holidays. 01825 872912

Blackstock Farm, Grove Hill, Hellingly, Near Hailsham, BN27 4HF. Animals, nature trails, indoor farm, play area including trampolines, zip wire, soft play, farm shop and cafe. 01323 848006

Christmas Tree Farm, Cudham Road, Downe, Orpington, BR6 7LF. Animals including alpacas, donkeys, ponies, goats, cows, rabbits, etc, all of which can be petted and stroked. Open all year including winter when animals are indoors. 01689 861603

Godstone Farm, Godstone, Surrey, RH9 8LX. Animals, Dino Trail, outdoor play area, indoor play barn, pets for sale. 01883 742546

Heaven Farm, Furners Green, Uckfield, TN22 3RG. A 100 acre farm with nature walks, bluebell nature trail (in season), tea rooms, rural life museum, camping etc. 01825 790226

Lathe Barn Tearooms Children’s Farm, Donkey Street, Burmarsh, Romney Marsh, Kent TN29 0JN. Children’s farm, picnic area, mini golf, playground and play barn.  Tearooms only open in winter. 01303 873618

Port Lympne Reserve, Lympne, nr Hythe, CT21 4PD. One of the largest wild animal parks in the UK. Primates, otters, rhinos, small cats, wild dogs, gorillas, lions, giraffe, zebra etc. Organised safaris can be booked. 0844 842 4647

The Hop Farm Family Park, Paddock Wood, Tonbridge, TN12 6PY. Lots of indoor & outdoor attractions including driving school, fun rides, pirate cove, gingerbread hut, soft play area, farmyard, bird of prey centre, visitor centre. 01622 872068

The Woodlands Farm Trust, 331 Shooters Hill, Welling, Kent, DA16  3RP.. A 98 acre working city farm. Find out about farming life and experience the countryside including native bird species, butterflies, wild flowers and ancient woodland. 020 8319 8900

Animals, Sealife and Nature

Beaver Water World, Waylands Farm, Approach Road,  Tatsfield, Westerham, TN16 2JT. Animal rescue centre & charity for beavers, deer, lemurs, meerkats, small primates, reptiles and birds. Supervised handling sessions, parties, educational and walk&talk only with the aid of volunteers. 01959 577747

British Wildlife Centre, A22 Newchapel, nr Lingfield, RH7 6LF. More than 40 native wildlife species in natural settings – red squirrels, otters, wildcats, foxes, owl display, deer park and alot more.  01342 834658

Coolings Green & Pleasant Nature trail, Main Road, Knockholt,  TN14 7NN. Once a plant nursery, now 6 acres of habitat for native plants, creatures and resident animals accessible by bark pathways. Attractions include a colony of around 25 wallabies, Welsh badger-faced mountain sheep, woollypigs or Mangalitzas, goats, geese, ducks, and moorhens. 01959 532269

Eagle Heights, Kent’s Bird of Prey Centre, Eynsford DA4 0AR. Animal experience centre, indoor and outdoor aviaries, daily bird of prey displays, reptile house, meerkats, camel, arctic fox and coati mundi. 01322 866466

Friends of Animal League (FOAL) Farm Animal Rescue Centre, Jail Lane, Biggin Hill, Kent, TN16 3AX. Rescue centre on 26 acre farm, family fun days (check for details), pet shop, animals for adoption. 01959 572386

Howletts Wild Animal Park, Bekesbourne, Nr. Canterbury CT4 5EL. A 90-acre wild animal park dedicated to conservation, breeding and reintroduction. Largest herd of wild elephants in the UK plus, tigers, gorillas, primates etc. 0844 842 4647

Scadbury Park Nature Reserve, near Chislehurst, Kent,  300 acres of countryside owned by the London Borough of Bromley. Main entrance off the A222 Bromley Lane. Includes 2.5mile Acorn Nature Trail starting from Old Perry Street car park.

Places of Historic Interest & Gardens

Chartwell National Trust House, home of Winston Churchill, Mapleton Road, Westerham, Kent TN16 1PS. The rooms remain much as they were when Churchill lived here with pictures, books and personal mementoes. Entrance is by timed ticket. House and Studio are open daily from 1st March – 2nd November 2014. The Garden, exhibition, shop and restaurant are open year round from 11am – 5pm (or dusk), 01732 868381

Chislehurst Caves Caveside Close, Old Hill, Chislehurst, BR7 5NL. The caves at Chislehurst are a labyrinth of manmade tunnels forming a maze covering over six hectares 30 metres below woodlands above. They were dug for chalk used in lime burning and brick-making for the building of London, also for flints to fire the tinderboxes and flintlock guns of years ago. Lamp lit tours last 45-50 minutes. Booking is necessary for large groups. Cafe & gift shop. 020 8467 3264

Crofton Roman Villa, Crofton Road, Orpington, BR6 8AF, opening 1st April to 30th October, limited times (check the website). Remains of 10 rooms of the roman villa that was occupied between AD140 to 400. Activities for children include Roman games to play, mosaic making, dressing up as Romans and digging for finds in the excavation tray.Gift shop 020 8460 1442

Dover Castle, Castle Hill, Dover, CT16 1HU, explore the atmospheric Secret Wartime Tunnels including the vivid recreation of the Dunkirk evacuation in Operation Dynamo: Rescue from Dunkirk, complete with dramatic projections of swooping Spitfires and real film footage.  A colourful contrast is the richly-furnished Great Tower, where costumed actors introduce medieval life at King Henry II’s court.  Constant exhibitions, winding tunnels, ghosts plus restaurants, shops and space for running around – an action-packed, great value family day out. Opening times vary, check online before planning your day. 01304 211 067 or 0870 333 1181

Down House (the home of Charles Darwin), Luxted Road, Downe, Kent, BN6 7JT. Open weekends until 16th Feb & 24th Feb – 31st March, Wed – Sun during Feb half term, check the website for summer opening times, 0870 333 1181 (customer services) or 01689 859119 (site phone)

Emmetts National Trust Garden, Ide Hill, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 6AY. An Edwardian estate owned by Frederic Lubbock, the garden was laid out in the late 19th century and contains many exotic and rare trees and shrubs. Traditional children’s games available. Open daily 1st March – 31st December 2014 (not 25th/26th Dec), 10am – 5pm (or dusk), 01732 750367

Finchcocks House, Gardens & Musical Museum, Goudhurst, Kent TN17 1HH, a fine Georgian manor in Kent, houses Richard Burnett’s celebrated collection of over 100 keyboard instruments: harpsichords, pianos, organs and many more. Open Easter – end of September: Sundays & Bank Holiday Mondays and Wednesdays & Thursdays in August. House open 2pm – 6pm, garden 12.30am – 6pm, 01580 211702

Groombridge Place Gardens and Enchanted Forest, TN3 9QG, animals , enchanted forest with giant swings, zip wires and Crusoe’s World, animals (including a zedonk), canal boat ride, daily Birds of Prey displays (except Mondays).  Open weekends only in March and then daily from 31st March – end October, 10am – 5.30pm (or dusk), 01892 861444

Hever Castle, Hever, Nr Edenbridge, Kent TN8 7NG. Gardens/maze, playground, water maze (take a change of clothes), open daily 15th February – 2nd November (Wed – Sun after half term in Feb/Mar), seasonal opening for some attractions, 01732 865224

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens Family Fun with den building, spot the yeti, explorers escarpment & adventure playground, little Everest viewpoint, Himalayan hedge maze and lots of activity days, 01732 459777

Ightham Mote, Mote Road, Ivy Hatch, Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 ONT. Romantic moated manor house built nearly 700 years ago surrounded by gardens and woodland walks. The house and garden are open daily from 1st March – 31st December from 11am – 5pm (3pm in Dec), estate open all year, 01732 810378

Knole National Trust House, Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 0RP. Built as a palace in a medieval deer-park, Knole was owned by the Archbishops of Canterbuy, the Tudors and the Sackville family who still live here.  The Estate Office tells the story of Knole in the 20th century, changing exhibitions in the Orangery, guided walks in the Parkland, family holiday activities, the showrooms are being converted to create Knole Studios, conservation studio, learning centre and cafe. For full opening schedule check online, 01732 450608

Leeds Castle, Leeds Castle, Maidstone, Kent ME17 1PL. Leeds Castle has been a Norman stronghold; the private property of six of England’s medieval queens; a palace used by Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon; a Jacobean country house; a Georgian mansion; an elegant early 20th century retreat for the influential and famous; and now it is one of the most visited historic buildings in Britain. Open daily 10am – 4pm with a few dates when its closed for private functions, 01622 765400.

Lullingstone Roman Villa, Lullinstone Lane, Eynsford,  DA4 0JA, Among the most outstanding Roman villa survivals in Britain, Lullingstone provides a unique all weather family day out. Set in the Darent Valley, the villa was begun in about AD 100, and developed to suit the tastes and beliefs of successive wealthy owners, reaching its peak of luxury in the mid-4th century. 

View the spectacular mosaics and prints of the rare wall paintings, a heated bath-suite and a ‘house-church’. A light show brings the villa to life and galleries display Roman artefacts. Children can try on Roman costumes and play traditional board games from the period. Opening times vary, check before planning your day out, 01322 863467

Lullingstone Castle, Eynsford, Kent DA4 0JA, home of the UK’s first  World Garden of Plants, plants from all parts of the world planted in respective countries of origin. Opens at Easter, 01322 862114

Old Soar manor, Plaxtol Borough Green, Kent TN15 OXQ.  Dating from 1290 the remaining rooms of this knight’s house offer a glimpse back to the time of Edward I.  01732 810378

Owletts, The Street, Cobham, Gravesend Kent DA12 3AP.  Dating back to Charles II, Owletts was the family home of the renouned architect, Sir Herbert Baker.  01732 810378

Penshurst Place and Gardens, Penshurst, Kent ~ 01892 870307

Quebec House, Quebec Square, Westerham, Kent, TN16 1TD.  The Family House of General Hames Wolfe with an exhibition of the dramatic battle for North America.  01732 868381

Rivershill Himalayan Gardens, Riverhill, Sevenoaks, TN15 0RR. Den building; spot the yeti; explorers escarpment & adventure playground; little Everest viewpoint; Himalayan hedge maze. 01732 459777

Scotney National Trust Castle, Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN3 8JN, garden, house and estate. Estate walks open all year, house, old castle and gardens open daily from 15th Feb -31st Dec form 10am, entrance to the house by timed ticket, 01829 893868 or 01892 893820 (infoline)

Sissinghurst Castle & Gardens, Biddenden Road, Nr Cranbrook, Kent TN17 2AB. A ruin of an Elizabethan manor house which gained international fame in the 1930s when Vita Sackville West and Harold Nicolson created a garden here. Estate walks are open all year, otherwise the gardens are open 15th March – 31st Dec 11am – 5.30pm (or dusk). Probably more of an adult day out! 01580 710700

South Foreland Lighthouse , The Front, St Margaret’s Bay, Dover, Kent  CT15 6HP.  Dramatic lighthouse on the White Cliffs of Dover.  01304 852463

Yalding Organic Gardens,  01622 814650

Museums & Galleries

Brede Steam Engine Society Waterworks Lane, Brede TN31 6HG – The Giants of Brede, museum of water heritage pumping machinery, Open Saturdays all year around from 10am – 4pm, 01323 897310

Bromley Museum, Orpington, history of Bromley, 01689 873826

Cutty Sark Clipper Ship, Greenwich, 020 8858 3445

Dover Museum

Woodlands Farm Trust, Welling,  020 8319 8900

Railways, Buses & Boats

Bentley Miniature Railway, at Bentley Country Park, between Uckfield and Halland, open Sundays year-round, Saturdays mid March – October, and school holidays, 01825 840573

Bluebell Railway, now fully operational from East Grinstead to Sheffield Park Station TN22 3QL, volunteer preserved steam railway. Open most days subject to special events taking place, 01825 720800

Dotto, Eastbourne’s Mini Train, run along the seafront from end of March until 3rd November 2013, hop on, hop off between Holywell Retreat and Sovereign Harbour, 0871 2002233

Eastbourne Miniature Steam Railway BN23 6QJ plus playground and lake, indoor model railway, picnic area, cafe, open daily from 28th March – 1st November, 01323 520229

Kent & East Sussex Steam Railway, Tenterden, Northiam and Bodiam Stations, vintage steam and historical diesel trains dating from Victorian times, special events including Thomas the Tank Engine days, 01580 765155

Lavender Line, Isfield TN22 5XB, preserved railway – travels for a two mile round trip between the village of Isfield and Worth halt near Uckfield. At Isfield you will find the headquarters of the Lavender line which includes the original Victorian station and signal box. Open Sundays and bank holidays, 11am – 5pm, Santa Specials at weekend in December, 01825 750515

Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, the world’s smallest public railway, 01797 362353

Spa Valley Railway, Tunbridge Wells, Day out with Thomas ~ 01892 537715

Sussex Voyages, Gate 3, Lower Quayside, The Waterfront, Sovereign Harbour Marina BN23 5YZ, rigid inflatable and power boat trips from Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne, summer season, 01293 888780

Adventure Parks and Family Fun

Rock UK Carroty Wood Adventure Centre, Higham Lane, Tonbridge, TN11 9QX – 58 acres of beautiful, mature, enclosed woodland ideal for outdoor education; Accommodation for up to 190 catering or self-catering as offered at all our residential centres; optional outdoor activities; indoor swimming pool; indoor sports hall; high ropes course; floodlit all-weather sports pitch;  01732 361361

Chessington World of Adventures, Leatherhead Road, Surrey KT9 2NE, opens 18th March 2015, theme park, zoo, Sea Life centre, daily activities and shows, new experiences for spring 2015 with the Year of the Penguins,  0871 663 447

Diggerland, Roman Way, Medway Valley Leisure Park, Strood, Kent ME2 2NU 08700 344437

Drusillas Park, Alfriston Road just off the A27, BN26 5QS, zoo & extensive adventure playgrounds, 01323 874100

Father Christmas World, Tunbridge Wells, an unforgettable festive journey           0800 085 0020

Flamingo Park, East Beach Street, Hastings, TN34 3AR, rides and attractions for all the family, 01424 715133

Fort Fun Adventure Park, Royal Parade, Eastbourne, BN22 7LU, Aqua splash Land (seasonal), theme park rides, indoor soft play, adventure golf, 01323 642833

Kidspace, The Brewery, Waterloo Road, Romford, RM1 1AU, is a magical, award-winning indoor adventure park and party venue,  0208 686 0040

Harbour Park Amusement Park,  Windmill  Road, Littlehampton BN17 5LH. Rides for all ages, adventure golf, arcade, picnic  greens, soft play area, 01903 721200

Hop Farm Family Park, Paddock Wood, Tonbridge TN12 6PY, reopens spring half term, fun fair rides, soft play area, giant jumping pillows, the Magic Castle, and Hopper’s Animal World,  Hopper’s Diner, Hovermania, Driving School, 4D Cinema and Entertainment Show.  01622 872068

Knockhatch Adventure Park, On A22 at Hailsham, Hailsham BN27 3GD, animals, falconry, indoor year round soft play at Froggies, go karts, outdoor playgrounds and paddling pools, ski slope, some activities not available during the winter, 01323 442051 

Legoland ,  Winkfield Road, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 4AY, theme park with more than 55 interactive rides and attractions, plus hotel, bookings 0871 222201

Manic Monsters Soft Play, Gardiner Business Park, Little Browns Lane, Edenbridge, TN8 6LH, kids’ fun zone for aged birth to 12, open daily 10am to 6.30pm, 01732 866115

Paradise Family Leisure Park, Newhaven, East Sussex BN9 0DH. Planet Earth museum, Dinosaur Safari, Paradise Gardens including mini Sussex buildings and landmarks, Plant House and Maritime Museum, Play Zone including miniature train and crazy golf, 01273 512 123

Thorpe Park, Staines Road, Chertsey KT16 8PN, theme park with numerous rides such as Stealth, Colossus, Nemisis Inferno and Tidal Wave, 0871 663 1673

Treasure IslandAdventure Park, Royal Park, Eastbourne BN22 7AE, Buccaneers Indoor Adventure, soft play, Pirates Adventure Golf, Treasure Island Outdoor Adventure Park and paddling lagoon (summer only and weather dependent), Hungry Pirate Cafe,01323 411077

Exploring Science

Observatory Science Centre, Wartling Rd, Herstmonceux BN27 1RN, hands on science with 100+ interactive exhibits both indoors and out and lots of children’s and family workshops. The Centre is open every day from 1st February 2014.  10am – 6pm. Last admission 2 hours before closing, 01323 832731

Camping & Hostels

Blackberry Wood, Streat Lane, Streat near Ditchling BN6 8RS at the foot of the Downs near Hassocks and Plumpton, no phone bookings or enquiries but book online.

Chestnut Meadow Camping & Caravanning Park, luxury park, near Bexhill, 01424 892361

Crowborough Camping and Caravanning Club Site, Goldsmiths Recreation Ground, TN6 2TN, located next to the leisure centre and close to a playground with recreation hall, parent and child room, 01892 664827

Fairfields Farm, Eastbourne Road, Westham, Pevensey, East Sussex BN24 5NG, 01323 763165

Forest Garden, Shovelstrode Lane, Ashurst Wood RH19 3PH. Yurt Camping, 07957 621672

Heaven Farm, Furners Green, Uckfield, TN22 3RG, 01825 790226

Horam Manor Touring Park, Horam, Heathfield TN21 OYD, 01435 813662

Norman’s Bay Camping and Caravanning Club site, Near Pevensey BN24 6PR, 01323 761190

Plaw Hatch Farm Walk, Old Plaw Hatch Farm, Sharpthorne, RH19 4JL, (groups only) 01342 810201

Saddlescombe Farm Campsite, just off the South Downs Way near Devils Dyke, 01273 857712

Scotts Farm, West Wittering, walking distance of the beach, 01243 671720

Stoneywish Nature Reserve, Spatham Lane, Ditchling BN6 8XH, open 1st March-31st October, 01273 843498

The Secret Campsite, Barcombe, BN8 4TD, real camping with nature, tents only plus secret shelters to hire, 01273 401100

Wilderness Wood, Hadlow Down, Nr Uckfield TN22 4HJ, wild camping in beautiful woodland glades, complete with fire pit and cooking grill, shelter and rustic furniture, 01825 830509

Wimbles Farm Wild Camping & Shepherd’s Hut, Heathfield, 01435 810390

Wowo Campsite, Wapsbourne Manor Farm, Sheffield Park TN22 3QT, complete with Mongolian yurts! 01825 723414

Outdoor Pursuits

Amazon Outdoor Events at Knockhatch Adventure Park, Ski Centre Car Park, Hailsham By-pass, Hailsham, provides outdoor activity adventure days including family fun days, 11yrs+, 0844 2570433

Arena Pursuits, near Bewl Water, 6yrs+, company organising outdoor adventures including for all members of the family such as4×4 driving, the quads, team tasks, the assault course, clay pigeon shooting, orienteering and paintballing, 01580 879614

Bedgebury National Pinetium & Forest, Bedgebury Road, Goudhurst, Kent TN17 2SJ, ideal space for walking, running, cycling, riding, adventure play, 01580 879820, and Go Ape, 0333 331 7928

Bewl Water Outdoor Centre, Lamberhurst, Kent TN3 8JH watersports, climbing and residential centre, 8yrs+, 01892 890716

Blackland Farm, East Grinstead RH19 4HP, climbing, zipwire, abseiling, canoeing, archery, orienteering etc, 01342 810493

Bowles Activity Centre, Eridge Green TN3 9LW, ski slopes, rock crags, ropes courses, archery range, 8yrs+, 01892 665665

Airports

Shoreham Airport, Cecil Pashley Way, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, BN43 5FF, 01273 467373, Visitor Centre and pre-bookable tours, 07508 184424

Biggin Hill Airport, Biggin Hill, Bromley, TN16 3BH, airport 12 miles from London, serving mainly the specialist business market, also a technology and engineering centre, yearly air displays in the summer, 01959 578 500

Brighton Scenic, guided sightseeing tours departing from Shoreham Airport, 07918 902721