The Best of West Sussex: Things to Do in Horsham
Exploring leafy West Sussex with our list of things to do in Horsham
When you type ‘travel in Horsham’ into Google, it gives you the latest information about traffic and public transport, rather than a Lonely Planet guide. But that’s a good thing, because the charm of this West Sussex village lies in its sleepy and quaint nature, unspoilt by all those horrible wanderlust-seekers (you don't count, you're good).
A walk through the town centre will take you to all sorts of art galleries and museums, while the immediate countryside is adorned with woodland, lakes and water features. Check out the monuments and get a sense of the local culture by chatting to the vendors in the market. It’s here, Google, so get ready: the long-awaited and comprehensive Plum Guide to travel and things to do in Horsham. And we’re not talking about the bus schedule.
Explore the parks
If you like nature, bring your hay fever pills (not a very sexy feature of most travel guides, but then, we’re not most travel guides) and hiking boots, and head off into the countryside around Horsham. It may sound a little backhanded, the suggestion that one of the best things to do in Horsham is to get out of it. But, that would be to underestimate the beauty of the town's pastoral peripheries. And the countryside is gorgeous in West Sussex – read our guide to the county if you don't believe us.
Among the highlights is undoubtedly the Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens. Walk down a corridor of vibrant flowers that lead to such sights as the Famous Dolls House Museum, the Rock Garden and many other parts of the gardens. Enjoy a hot drink at the Café & Farm Shop and drop in for souvenirs at the Lovely Gift & Garden Shops.
Wave at the birds
If you’re traveling with kids (or not), you can’t go wrong with a trip to see the animals. Visit the Huxley’s Birds of Prey Centre and Gardens, in the south-east of the town. Watch a flying display, where owls do all sorts of acrobatics for your amusement. They’ve even got a display called ‘British birds of prey’, so these are birds of prey that are really into music and literature, but always lose on penalties (football in-joke there).
Bird-watching is also popular at the Warnham Local Nature Reserve, so bring your binoculars and get into some ornithology (the study of birds). All sorts of birds can be seen flying above the islands in the Warnham Millpond, including three species of woodpecker and various wildfowl. Spot some of the 21 species of dragonfly hovering above the wetlands.
Admire the town centre
Wander through the Carfax pedestrian square at the core of the town. Try to work out the time from the Horsham Heritage Sundial and see the memorial to those from the town who died in the two world wars. Visit the Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin, which is the oldest edifice in Horsham, dating back eight centuries (during which it has been in continuous use). Admire the late-Victorian architecture of the Town Hall in the Market Square. And brush up on your Horsham history in the Horsham Museum and Art Gallery.
Technically, this bit could fit into the first category, which was very much concerned with all things parks. But, propping up the town centre, this park is unique in that it is part of the Horsham furniture, in contrast to those parks on the peripheral. Let your kids frolic in the playground and consider booking out the tennis courts. Actually, might as well book all of them, so nobody can watch your embarrassing backhand from the adjacent court. Stop for a break and a hot drink at the Kaya Café and watch the youngsters at the skatepark. There’s also a bowls club, football pitches, picnic areas and gardens in this beloved park in the heart of Horsham.
If you like golf, you’re in luck, because enjoying this relaxing sport is one of the best things to do in Horsham. The Rookwood Golf Centre comprises plenty of hills with stunning views of the various lakes in which you’ll lose most of your balls. At the nearby Horsham Golf & Fitness centre, you can make use of the driving range and golf shop.