From the White Cliffs of Dover to the quintessential English funfair, Kent is packed with days out and activities. We’ve rounded up some of the best in our guide below.
Activities in Kent
White Cliffs of Dover
An icon as quintessentially English as fish and chips, a cup of tea and talking about the weather, the White Cliffs of Dover signal the start of Britain’s 20,000 miles of coastline. The 350-foot cliffs tower over the English Channel and can be seen from Calais on a clear day, stretching for eight miles either side of Dover. The cliff tops are home to an impressive array of wildlife while you’ll also find Dover Castle, the largest of its kind in Britain, standing resolute since the 11th century. The white chalk cliffs are dotted with sights and activities, including the Fan Bay Deep Shelter, an underground cave complex from World War II, the Dover Museum and South Foreland Lighthouse above St. Margaret’s Bay.
A mainstay in Kent since 1880, Dreamland is an amusement park and funfair on an epic scale close to our Margate hotel. The park is a mix of vintage rides and state-of-the-art rollercoasters, with nearly 30 attractions including waltzers, dodgems and the stomach-turning Dreamland Drop. As well as rides to suit adrenaline-junkies of all ages, Dreamland also includes a circus tent, roller-skating area, beach huts, arts and crafts area and a large playground, plus plenty of cafes and food and drink stalls. The park is open every weekend and daily during the summer and May half-term holidays.
Despite the name, Leeds Castle is actually in Kent, five miles from our Maidstone town centre hotel. Built on islands overlooking a lake close to the River Fen, it’s an almost Disney-like castle and has been dubbed ‘the loveliest castle in the world.’ Visitors have been welcomed to the castle since the ‘70s, with over 500 acres of gardens and parkland to explore alongside regular falconry displays, playgrounds, adventure golf, maze and grotto, plus guided tours around the castle (which was used by King Edward I and Henry VIII through the centuries).
Deal Castle on the south coast close to Dover is also well worth visiting. The 16th-century artillery castle was built during the reign of Henry VIII and is one of the best-preserved coastal forts, with a huge network of cannons and plenty of interactive exhibits.
Wingham Wildlife Park
With over 200 animal species including lions, pumas, cheetahs, wolves, penguins, otters, meerkats, reptiles, birds and more, Wingham Wildlife Park is one of the largest of its kind in the south of England. The 26-acre park covers a wide range of enclosures, including a tropical house and two-storey chimp house, with regular talks and feeding sessions. The park is open daily throughout the year and also has an indoor soft play area, cafe and a new dinosaur zoo.
Mote Park in Maidstone is a must-visit for any families, nature-lovers and those looking to get some exercise. The 450-acre park has a huge array of activities, including an adventure playground, pitch-and-putt golf course, miniature railway, sailing and angling club, cricket and rugby pitches, segway rides and a BMX and skate park. It’s also home to Maidstone Leisure Centre, which offers everything from five swimming pools to aqua sessions, a fully-equipped fitness studio and cafe.
You’re spoilt for choice in Kent, with 350 miles of coastline to choose from. Head to Ramsgate Beach for its views across the Royal Harbour and marina and vast sandy beaches, perfect for children with plenty of ice cream stands close by.
Just around the corner from there is Viking Bay, a horseshoe-shaped broad bay with a cliff-top promenade, old-fashioned boardwalk and summertime surf school. The long, curved bay is a popular summer spot and was even eulogised by Charles Dickens in one of his novels.
Heading south to Folkestone, the Lower Leas Coastal Park combines everything from a large kids’ play area, some stunning wild habitats and a large amphitheatre used for live concerts and theatre in the summer.