Image Credit: Paul Webb
Kent is famed for being the ‘Garden of England’, but it’s not just a county of lush rolling countryside and wide open skies; it has an impressive coastline and a vast array of tourist attractions. From majestic castles to windswept cliff top walks and animal parks to golden Blue Flag beaches, there’s no shortage of great days out or reasons to visit Kent.
To help you get the most out of your holiday or staycation in Kent, we’ve put together some suggestions for great days out and there’s even something to brighten up a rainy day!
- Visit one of the country’s most iconic landmarks – For those who enjoy walking, you are in for a real treat if you follow the four mile White Cliffs of Dover Wildlife Trail. Nothing beats getting some fresh sea air in your lungs and a coastal walk will certainly blow the cobwebs away! Being one of the National Trust’s top sites for rare wildlife, flora and fauna, there are plenty of fascinating things to spot along the way including kittiwake’s nesting among the cliffs, Chalkhill Blue Butterflies fluttering in the breeze and pyramidal orchids.
A moderate level walk that the whole family can enjoy (including the dog providing it is kept under close control) which can be rounded off perfectly with tea and homemade cake in the visitor’s centre cafe – the views over the English Channel are fantastic and not to be missed! For a full day of fun, why not combine this with a visit to Dover Castle. Perched high up above the White Cliffs, the kids are sure to love exploring the secret wartime tunnels and opulent royal court of King Henry II .
- A wildlife adventure – For those looking for a wildlife adventure, Kent offers not one but two large wild animal parks. Owned by Howletts Wild Animal Trust, working in conjunction with the Aspinall Foundation, the parks are amongst the world’s leading breeding sanctuaries for endangered species. Both parks offer a great family day out and are not too many miles apart. Port Lympne is located Nr Hythe on the Kent coastline and is the larger park of the two. With a ‘resort’ feel, Port Lympne offers a true African experience with its guided safari tours allowing you to get up close to the animals as they roam freely including zebras, giraffes and ostriches. Howletts is located just three miles from Canterbury and like Port Lympne, is open daily (except Christmas day!). From Keeper Experiences (why not become a Keeper for the day?) to guided tours, Howletts offers plenty of opportunities to learn about its many endangered species including black rhino, Chinese leopards and its large herd of African elephants (adults down to adorable toddlers!). And if that’s not enough excitement, why not take on the challenge of a Tree Top Adventure at Howletts for those feeling brave! Don’t forget to book online in advance and save yourself 20% on admission fees.
- King of the castle – If castles are your passion, then Kent will spoil you. Being the oldest county in the country it has more castles and houses than any other. From Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn to romantic Scotney Castle near Tunbridge Wells, it is hard to pick a favourite. Nevertheless, if you only have time to visit one, our recommendation is Leeds Castle near Maidstone. One of England’s most historic and romantic buildings, this impressive moated castle has been residence to lords, ladies and even royalty for nearly 900 years. In a stunning position and beautifully preserved, Leeds castle hosts numerous events and is a year round attraction. With plenty to offer children (including wildlife walks, a maze, Go Ape outdoor adventure and falconry displays) and lots for the adults too (from a game of golf to the splendours of the castle itself), Leeds Castle is an attraction for all ages come rain or shine.
- The cry of the gulls – Who doesn’t love a day by the sea and Kent has 350 miles of stunning coastline and some of the country’s finest Blue Flag Beaches to explore. For those who want some traditional seaside fun, head to the golden sands of Margate with your bucket and spade for a day of sandcastles, fish and chips and amusement. Why not throw in some culture whilst there and visit the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery; or visit the UK’s only Royal Harbour in nearby Ramsgate – a great place for lunch whilst watching the boats coming and going in the marina. A little further around the coast is the quirky vibrant seaside town of Whitstable with its pebble beach, great seafood restaurants and independent boutiques, putting the fun back into shopping! Wander around the harbour fish market and pick up the ‘catch of the day’ for supper or treat yourself to a lobster lunch or Whitstable oyster feast. Dymchurch is another one of Kent’s popular beaches and great for families. With some three miles of relatively flat sands that are cleansed regularly by the tide, Dymchurch is a great place for bathing, beach sports and even a traditional donkey ride! Why not combine a few hours on the beach with a nostalgic trip on the world famous Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway? A relaxed way of exploring the Romney Marsh Landscape on one of the miniature steam and diesel locomotives (dogs are welcome on board!).
Beaches for dog owners: Whilst many of Kent’s beaches have dog restrictions between 1st May – 30th September, there are some with no restrictions (including East Cliff Beach in Broadstairs; Whitstable West Beach and Littlestone near New Romney). Some also allow dogs before 10:00 and after 18:00 (including Joss Bay and Botany Bay in Broadstairs) so why not enjoy the quietest part of the day on the beach with your dog as the sunsets?
- Fun at the farm – A trip to the ‘Garden of England’ wouldn’t be complete without visiting Kent Life. Set within 28 acres of grounds close to Maidstone, Kent Life features the country’s last remaining coal-fired oast house and provides a taste of traditional working farm life. With plenty of animals for the children to see, a cuddle corner for petting (animals only!), tractor rides, play areas (both inside and out for all weathers), donkey rides, a nature trail and period farm buildings including a Victorian farmhouse, Kent Life provides a great day out for the little ones and also the adults.
With so many great attractions to choose from, the list could go on and on and we also have some great days out to recommend for dog owners (click to view). Why not leave a reply below and tell us about your favourite attractions in Kent.