Days out in Kent
Kent is truly the Garden of England, with quaint countryside, a world-famous coastline and culinary attractions to boot, there is no shortage of attractions in Kent. There’s also a huge variety of things to do in Kent: visit the coast, explore ancient buildings or head into the countryside.
Incredible locations are waiting to be discovered such as Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, and delightful Dymchurch. If this gets you thirsty then why not visit Britain's oldest brewer Shepherd Neame for a taste of proper British beer? We’ve rounded up the best Kent days out ideas for when you want a change of scene from Kent Coast Holiday Park. However, we’ve ensured that everything on this list is within reasonable driving distance from your caravan, so all that’s left for you to do is take your pick from the options.
Explore Canterbury on a treasure trail for kids
This trail takes in the main sights of one of the UK’s prettiest cities, allowing you to discover hidden gems while your kids wander around in search of clues. The trail is suitable for all ages from 6+ and is a good opportunity to get some exercise together as a family. The course takes you on a fixed walking route of around two miles so it’s easy-going enough for anyone to participate.
You'll need to stay alert and keep your eyes peeled for the clues as you go: you'll be examining ancient buildings, plaques and monuments in order to solve the mystery. At the end of the trail, you and your kids will complete the mission and save the day! To participate in the treasure trail, simply download the booklet as a PDF file for same-day-trailing-fun or get a copy posted to you for a very reasonable price. See the Treasure Trails website for more details.
Spend a day at the seaside
Whether it’s March, October or the height of summer, there is nothing better than spending time topping up your vitamin C by the sea! From days when it’s too hot to do anything but stretch out on a towel, to bracing walks with the dog in spring or autumn, you can take your pick of Kent’s stunning beaches.
For traditional seaside fun visit Margate, with its wonderful seaside entertainment Herne Bay with its Victorian-style pier, there are some great spots to grab an ice cream too. If it's sandy beaches you’re after then we’d recommend Botany Bay in Thanet, but perhaps best of all is Dymchurch Beach. Dymchurch offers the right balance of beauty, amenities and convenience without being over commercialised like many of its neighbours in Kent. You’re reminded that this stretch of coastline is one of the closest parts of the county to the continent on most visits, with the northern coast of France often visible from the vast, golden sand.
The small defensive forts are a reminder that this part of the English Channel wasn’t always as peaceful as it is today. When the tide is out, the beach becomes huge, with the sand stretches vastly out to the water. A great place for a coastal walk, with the sea wall stretching all the way from St. Mary’s Bay up to Hythe. Bringing the bikes is also a popular pastime here and makes for one of the best free days out in Kent.
Learn about the history of beer at Shepherd Neame Brewery
Beer is as ingrained in Kent culture as the oast houses which dry the hops to make it. The drink has been produced in Faversham for over 850 years and the Shepherd Neame brewery is open to visitors who wish to discover more about this history.
The award-winning 80-minute-long guided tour will take you behind the scenes at this working brewery and show you the fascinating process through which Kent Ales and specialty lagers are made. At the end of the tour is what we’ve all been waiting for - the tasting (audience participation is of course encouraged!) Tours run most days but advance booking is still recommended.
Visit The Hop Farm, Beltring
One of Kent’s most iconic landmarks, The Hop Farm is an inland journey through swathes of lush countryside. As you approach, you’ll see the memorable sight of the Victorian oast houses in the distance, the largest collection of its kind in the world. At its height, the farm functioned as the major supplier of London breweries for much of the 19th and 20th-centuries. Seasonal workers would head here from across the country to help produce the goods, harvesting the hops and preparing them for transportation.
This line of work is captured brilliantly by the museum today which is one of the top attractions in Kent. Life-size recreations of a period village portray daily life on the farm and a range of attractions like the live theatre and Hopper’s Animal World keep all generations entertained. Perhaps more child orientated than the brewery tour, The Hop Farm makes for one of the best family days out in Kent.
Leeds Castle, near Maidstone
One of England’s finest, Leeds Castle has existed since 1119. It became the favoured residence of King Edward I in the 13th-century, as well as a haunt of Catherine of Aragon, famously one of Henry VIII’s six wives. Built as a real fortress, it sits on an island in the centre of a moat filled with water from the nearby River Len. The present castle has stood in glory for at least 200 years and has been a magnet for visitors for decades.
One of the best school trips of this writer came here, with the maze the star of the show. Thoroughly entertaining to navigate, the forested walls brilliantly confuse until you finally crack the code to the centre. Awe-inspiring luxury is found within the castle’s walls, with dining, reading and bedrooms all portrayed with accuracy. You can walk around the rooms at your own pace, and guided tours are also available to give you even greater context.
Browse the attractive boutiques on Rochester High Street
In times gone by, Rochester’s quaint high street was not the lively centre of food and culture that it is today. In the past there were, of course, particular days when the street burst into life, particularly during the traditional Sweeps Festival in spring, the world-famous Dickens Festival at the beginning of summer. These annual events remain extremely popular to this day.
However, there is now a great all year-round atmosphere with the addition of charming boutiques, attractive gift shops and quirky homeware stores. There’s more of a café culture here now too, with plenty of customers choosing to sit outside the classy coffee shops, tea rooms and restaurants in the summer months.
Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway- starts at Hythe
This miniature railway wins the hearts and minds of all those that ride it. The route from Hythe down the Kent coast to Dungeness will keep you coming back. The 13-and-a-half-mile distance takes you through lovely countryside that’s just a stone’s throw from the coast. Smaller stations such as Romney Sands and St. Mary’s Bay afford access to quiet villages in between major stops like Dymchurch and New Romney.
The latter is a great place for trainspotters, with the steam train sidings visible from the station’s platform. If you stay on until Dungeness, you’re rewarded by a visit to one of the most bizarre places in Kent. Surrounded by shingle, the village is home to unique beach huts and is a truly vast expanse overlooked by the brutalist structure of Dungeness Power Station. It’s well worth the extra time on the train.
Sissinghurst Castle, Cranbrook
Undoubtedly one of the best days out in Kent, these beautiful gardens are an idyllic place to spend the day alone, with kids or even with pets. Owned and maintained by the National Trust, the garden at Sissinghurst is grade I listed and world-famous for its design. The ruins of the castle and grounds were bought in 1930 by writer Vita Sackbille-West and her husband Harold Nicholson who began renovating both the property and the garden before opening it to the public 8 years later. Since that time, the gardens have charmed visitors from around the world as they are simply the pinnacle of Kent’s rustic charm.
Before you leave, make sure to check out the shop with its excellent variety of gifts, from the usual postcards and kitchen items to delicious jams and preserves. As always, we advise checking the National Trust website prior to a visit, just to make sure it's open when you need it to be.