Now, there is Life After Kids! Do you find that the summer holidays loom LARGE and LONG? If you find the daily (sometimes hourly) struggle to keep those pesky patience-sappers entertained is REAL, read on!
Over the last 11 years of parenthood, I have visited many an attraction in and around Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Sevenoaks, Crowborough and the South East. I have accumulated a useful (and extensive) list of places to visit with the kids which I would love to share with you! If you are time starved and in need of inspiration, check out my list for great Summer Days Out With The Kids.
1. Dunorlan Boats & Playground
Whilst at Dunorlan, you can also visit the café for a drink, a bite to eat or treat yourself to some fabulous italian icecream, as well as exploring the natural adventure play area which is home to the Dunorlan Dragon!
2. The British Wildlife Centre
You can also hire bikes from Quench cycles to explore the family friendly bike trails or get really adventurous and have a go at a treetop challenge with Go Ape!
There is also an excellent cafe at the visitor centre.
With over 800 animals to see, jump on board a safari truck to travel through South America, Asia and Africa in one day where you’ll encounter free roaming animals. For dinosaur lovers, discover the UK’s largest outdoor dinosaur exhibition which features life sized creatures from pre-historic ages.
It’s a great day out for all the family with two excellent cafes and a treasure trove gift shop too!
7. Kent & East Sussex Railway
In the barn, children and adults alike, can interact with farm animals, such as pigs, horses and goats as well as handling rabbits and guinea pigs. Take a relaxing tractor ride around the site, enjoy some highly entertaining pig racing and visit the butterfly tunnel! There are various different playgrounds across the site, plenty of opportunity for a wander around the countryside setting or head to the indoor softplay barn with your youngers kiddies. A fabulous day out come rain or shine.
The magnificent, award-winning gardens set in 125 acres of glorious grounds might not enchant the children quite as much as the adults, however, the castle playground, the amazing water maze (NB: take spare clothes and magic towels) and the castle itself should keep them entertained for a good few hours! No matter what time of year you visit you are guaranteed a great day out.
Open all year round, the 800-acre parkland provides a wealth of entertainment opportunities for your little ones. With miles of scenic pathways to walk, cycle, run or ride, and hundreds of protected species to discover, Bewl Water is packed full of healthy outdoor fun. Younger children will spend hours in the pirate ship playground and enjoy the MASSIVE slide!
Join in the fun at the aqua park, have a go at laser quest, head indoors to the softplay or try one of the many water sports available.
13. Riverhill Himalayan Gardens
An A to Z trail runs around the perimeter of the wood and takes about 45 minutes – longer if you are with a curious toddler and shorter if you are keeping up with your dog.
The trail takes you through many and varied types of woodland at different stages of growth – with bluebells in spring, chestnuts in autumn and beautiful views out in winter when there are no leaves.
Along the way, there are also play structures, art works, leaky dams and amazing woodland architecture.
Add in a mud kitchen, fabulous rope swing and refreshments from The Hatch in the form of delicious home made cakes, biscuits and icecreams, Wilderness Wood will not disappoint!
With your ticket you can enjoy all we have to offer at your leisure, with a whole year to explore this unique chapter in the story of historic England. Whether you’re a couple proposing or a history buff exploring, or a lover of wildlife wandering, what you do is up to you. This is your Leeds Castle waiting to be discovered. Plan your day and then come again.
19. Hastings Adventure Golf
20. Beech Hurst Park Miniature Railway
21. Middleton Butterly Gardens
25. Tonbridge Swimming Pool
26. Tonbridge Model Engineering Society
If you fancy a more energetic trip on the river, you can also hire rowing boats by the hour…
28. National Trust: Scotney Castle
If you don’t have National Trust membership, now might be the summer to get it! With 9 easily accessible locations close to Tunbridge Wells and access to over 500 NT sites across the UK, the family membership is a steal at £13 a month (or just under £150 for the year).
Scotney Castle is under half an hour from central Tunbridge Wells and is a favourite with the kids all year round. There is a ‘natural’ playground, mud kitchen, acres of beautiful grounds to explore and the house might even keep some kids interested for a minute or two! On top of that, there is an excellent cafe in the old stables with the usual delcious array of NT treats to bribe them with!
If your kids are prepared to head further afield, there is a beautiful estate walk as well.
29. National Trust: Knole Park
Knole Park has had some extensive refurbishment over the last few years and I have to admit, I have yet to visit the house at Knole. However, I have visited countless times just to walk in the grounds and thse alone will keep the kids entertained for hours; climbing trees, looking out for friendly (sometimes too friendly!) deer and running off any excess energy!
30. National Trust: Igtham Mote
Igtham Mote offers a moated house which is fun to explore, beautiful if not extensive gardens, a small natural playground (with stream) and a giant dog kennel – perfect for small to medium sized children!!
31. National Trust: Emmetts Gardens
Emmetts is famous for its’ beautiful bluebell display in Spring. However, it is wonderful to visit at any time of year! There is a huge open meadow/field with stunning views over the Weald. In the summer, there are countless games to play – all housed in a sweet little shed that the kids can help themselves to! There is skipping, skittles, hula hoops, cricket bats, balls – you name it, you could spend the entire afternoon in the field and never see the rest of the site!
32. National Trust: Standen House & Garden
I am led to believe that the house itself is one of the finest examples of Arts and Crafts workmanship, but I’ll be honest, I’ve never braved the house with my kids! However, the extensive grounds always have a lot to offer. The natural play area features a willow maze, wooden swing and balance beam. At the entrance there are often a number of lovely old fashioned toys for the kids to play with – hobby horses for example! 🥰
32. National Trust: Chartwell
Chartwell is famous as the home to Winston Churchill and his family. The formal and walled gardens are just beautiful in the summer and well worth dragging the kids round – especially as there is also a delightful wendy/playhouse next to the walled garden. The grounds are extensive and a stroll up into the woods and the play trail will provide plenty to keep the kids entertained (including a 2nd world war bomb crater!). Beware of the black swans near the lake in summer; they are notoriously grumpy!
33. National Trust: Sheffield Park
I have been to Sheffield Park so many times, I have lost count! It is stunning in the Autumn, but in summer, it provides lots of cool, shady walks and plenty of opportunities to explore, climb trees and spot wildlife.
34. National Trust: Nymans
Nymans has an impressive and ultimately sad history. The original house was built around 1839 and underwent various adaptations and remodels until the house was ravaged by fire in 1947. The family were unable to rebuild so they made safe what remained of the house, with the rest turning to ruin. It leaves an impressive site to visit now. The gardens have been maintained beautifully and house fascinating plants and trees from across the globe. When I visited last summer, a field was given over to activities for the children, who were able to have running races, dress up and generally enjoy some wonderfully wholesome outdoor fun!
35. National Trust: Sissinghurst Castle
I adore Sissinghurst. The gardens in Spring and Summer are simply breathtaking! The children don’t necessarily agree – but hey! You’ve got to do some things for yourself as a parent! What they did enjoy, was climing the tower to enjoy the specatular views around the High Weald. As well as the den building activities further into the estate. Gorgeous opportuities for pinicing here too!
So there you have it: a nice long list of summer days out with the kids in and around Tunbridge Wells this summer. I would love to hear about the places you go to with your kids during the summer holidays. Let me know in the comments below!