With a host of indoor and outdoor activities, you’ll never be short of things to do in Bedford. From canoeing to cycling and pottery to sprawling water parks, you’ll need an extra weekend to fit it all in.
Activities in Bedford
With the Great Ouse so close, it comes as no surprise that Bedford's outdoor activities make the most of the winding river.
Offering half-day and full-day trips, Canoe Trail Bedford is a great way to explore the region from the water via traditional canoes, kayaks or paddle boarding. Half-day trips are perfect for families with a little over two hours spent on the water, while full-day trips and camping trips take you much further downstream into Great Barford and beyond.
Box End Park ups the aqua ante a little more. A five-minute drive from our Bedford South (A421) hotel, it’s a giant water park with ace waterski and wakeboarding facilities. The 100-acre park also has an amazing obstacle course open for kids four years and older.
Sticking with the water theme, the John Bunyan Community Boat offers a popular cruise that runs from May to November on Thursdays and Sundays. Choose from either a 45-minute or two-hour cruise that take in the region’s waterways and locks, with food and drinks served on board, as well as a guided tour to the sights.
Kempston Outdoor Centre is an all-encompassing activity centre that offers water sport, climbing and team challenges. It’s perfect for an adventurous family or guided walking and canoe trips.
PalmerSport will appeal to the petrol-heads in the region. Run by ex-BBC F1 commentator Jonathan Palmer, PalmerSport are based at Bedford Autodrome and offer a range of driving experiences, including single-seater race cars such as the Formula 3000 and Land Rover driving courses from March to December each year.
One of the largest bird of prey centres in the UK, Herrings Green Activity Farm and Birds of Prey Centre is a great family day out. Based in Wilstead, the farm is home to over 200 birds, including eagles, hawks, falcons and owls, as well as shire horses, snakes, alpacas and guinea pigs. You can also pan for gold, ride on toy tractors and help milk the cows.
Open to big kids aged seven to 70, Laser World is a sprawling 4,000-foot complex full of secret bases and hideouts where you can battle it out with laser packs. Open Tuesday to Sunday and until 10pm on Friday and Saturday nights, games are open to adults and children taller than 1.2m.
Aimed more at smaller children and just next door, Kids World is a mammoth soft play arena full of tunnels, slides, ball pits and arts and crafts areas. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am, there’s also a well-priced café on-site, as well as baby-changing facilities, free Wi-Fi and car parking.
Another fun place to take kids is The Kiln, a pottery studio for kids and adults in the heart of Bedford on the High Street. Simply select what you want to paint, including money boxes, cars, robots and piggy banks, and then get to work with a range of sponges, paints, stencils and more.
Want to try shooting, skydiving, surfing and climbing, but want to do it all in the same morning? Then help is at hand at the Twinwoods Adventure Centre, where you can enjoy indoor skydiving, try your hand at surfing, shoot on their indoor range or try out their incredible F1 racing simulators. All the activities can be booked in advance, with cheaper prices for off-peak sessions, which are usually Wednesday to Friday during term time.
If you’re craving a tub of popcorn and the latest Hollywood action, head to the Vue Cinema complex off Horne Lane near the Harpur Shopping Centre. There are seven screens, all equipped with Sony 4K picture quality and Dolby Surround Sound, with VIP seating and reclining seats available.
Running every Sunday from May to the end of September, Bedford Guided Walks start at 11am at St. Paul’s Square. They have a different theme each week, including guided tours of Bedford during WWII, the rise and fall of Bedford Castle and the I Never Knew That tour, which provides a fascinating insight into Bedford’s hidden sights.
Tours generally take around two hours and are open to children aged eight and older, with maximum groups of between 15 and 18.
Started in 2009 and updated in 2017, the Bedford Green Wheel is a clever way of linking the town’s cycle paths and walking trails with Bedford town centre as the hub of the wheel. The wheel includes all the paths and trails within a 20-minute cycle of the town centre, with most of the routes indicated off road with occasional quiet road sections.
Using parts of the National Cycle Route 12 and 51, the Bedford to Sandy bike ride takes in great views of the Great Ouse river, as well as going through Prior Country Park and Willington Dovecote & Stables, both of which we’ve highlighted in our parks section. A flat ride, the 20-mile round trip should take you a couple of hours, with plenty of opportunities to stop off, including Pecoro in Sandy, a popular Italian restaurant.