Great Things to Do in Kent with Kids
Let your offspring run wild in the Garden of England.
Kent’s a bit of a weird one because it sounds more like a town or city than a county. There’s no ‘shire’ or ‘sex’ (stop it, you) suffix typical of county names. But it is a county; a massive one at that, stretching from the outskirts of London as far as the coast, making for a wide-ranging and varied destination for the whole family.
The kids will love the views of the iconic White Cliffs of Dover, while Margate is the ultimate seaside destination for the little ones, with its enormous amusement park. Inland, the likes of Canterbury and Maidstone showcase medieval castles, zoos and parks that’ll stay long in the memory of those little cherubs.
We’ve put our heads together at Plum Guide and come up with the ultimate list of things to do in Kent with kids.
Conquer the castles
Now, the award for the most confusingly named structure in the UK (disclaimer: this is not a real award, we made it up) goes to Leeds Castle. It’s not, as its title suggests, in the midst of Yorkshire’s undulating terrain, but rather nestled in the south-eastern peripheries of Maidstone in Kent. Wander around the gardens and show your kids the Dog Collar Museum. They’ll love the Knights’ Stronghold Playground, the Squires’ Courtyard Playground and the Leeds Castle Adventure Golf. Nearby, you’ve also got the impressive sights of Thurnham Castle and Sutton Valence Castle.
Travel down to the south coast for the Dover Castle. Climb to the rooftop for exceptional views of the sea and the White Cliffs of Dover. Take your kids around the grounds and teach them about British history, as you pass between the battlements. Delve into the Castle Tunnels and take a break at the castle café, which probably wasn’t there during the Norman period, but you wouldn’t want what they were eating back then.
Have a jolly in the parks
We love Kent so much we've even added it to our list of things to do in England. Well, specifically, we added a winery in Kent to our list of things to do in England. Not exactly kid-friendly. However, what's stopping you bringing a cheeky bottle of vino to a family picnic? That's where Kent's parks come in.
This vast county has all manner of parks. The Shorne Woods Country Park is packed with nature trails that meander between meadows and marshes. Let the little ones run wild in the playground as you relax with a hot drink in the café.
In Tonbridge, you’ll find a lake with a beach. On the off chance it's not raining, put together a picnic for the family to enjoy at one of the designated tables. Water sports and fishing are among the fun activities in the park.
As you explore the main cities and towns in Kent, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice for parks, with big leafy areas in Ashford, Canterbury and Maidstone.
Kids love animals, right?
Good, because the various wildlife complexes dotted across the county make for a great option for things to do in Kent with kids. Head on down to the Wingham Wildlife Park to hang out with tigers, chimps and bears. The little ones will want to take some of the red pandas, meerkats and Humboldt penguins home with them, but maybe a hamster will suffice.
Try the Port Lympne Safari Park, and hop aboard a safari truck to get a closer look at the animals. They have around 900 animals, including spectacled bears (that’s the name of the species, they’re not wearing glasses), giraffes, gorillas and lions.
Howletts Wild Animal Park is another fun family site, where you’ll encounter leopards, gorillas and tigers. Chat with the guides about the endangered species and the cute new-borns in the complex.
The towns and cities spread across Kent have some of the most historic and well-preserved cores in the United Kingdom. Canterbury, famous for Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, is lined with Tudor-style buildings. Wander along the river and relax in the parks. Marvel at the Canterbury Cathedral, and consider its religious and cultural import, being the church of the Archbishop of Canterbury. And if you want to stay in this charming Cathedral city, you could do worse than booking yourself a night or two at Parquet Pocket, a lovely little home right in Canterbury city centre.
Explore the museums and galleries of the quaint old town district of Royal Tunbridge Wells. Learn about the maritime history of Kent in the coastal museums in Ramsgate and admire the cathedral in Rochester. See the crumbling church and art galleries in Dartford. There’s even a real place called Sandwich, and yes, it’s where the word sandwich comes from. Your kids will get a kick out of eating a sandwich in Sandwich, while they learn about the 4th Earl of Sandwich, who invented the sandwich.
When it comes to things to do in Kent with kids, the county's various amusement parks won't disappoint. Your sprogs will go mad for Dreamland Margate, a huge complex packed with roller coasters and… well, all the amusement park stuff you’d expect. There’s also Diggerland Kent, Dymchurch Amusement Park and the Drusillas Park. If you want to go the extra mile, your kids will love Frodo's Lair, a Tolkien-inspired Plum Guide home.