Things to do with kids in Kent: culture, cafes and contemporary art

Whether you're lucky enough to live in this lovely county or just visiting, there's plenty for al the family to do. Let our Local editor guide you round some of Kent's top spots.

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Hidden Gems

The seaside might not be one of the first things that comes to mind when you think of Kent, but Westgate-on-Sea is a lovely quiet beach - perfect for making sandcastles and paddling. The beach is easily accessible from the road, so you won't have to traipse to the car and back.

If you're a cyclist, you can start in Reculver and cycle down to either Birchington or Westage. Both have good places to grab something to eat before the ride back.

Another hidden gem for the whole family to enjoy is the Riverhill Himalayan Gardens in Sevenoaks. It's full of beautiful foliage and sculptures as well as the woodland walk where you can take in gorgeous vistas across the Weald of Kent. There is also an adventure playground, hedge maze, woodland den building and fabulous cafe with a handy gift shop.


Museum culture

If you don't fancy getting sandy, there are also plenty of things to do in town. Head over to the Museum in Maidstone and squeeze in some shopping in Fremlin Walk. From now until September you can see Brick City at the museum, which is an impressive exhibition of acclaimed Lego artist Warren Elsmore's creations, including the Trevi Fountain and St Pancras Station. After that, head over to Mote Park to feed the swans and ride the miniature railway.

For history buffs, a trip to Canterbury should definitely be on the to-do list. Walk along the cobbled streets and catch a glimpse of the ducking stool, take a river ride and relax while taking in the beautiful views, or grab a bite to eat at one of the many cafes and restaurants.

While there you must head to the Beaney where you can venture up the grand staircase and investigate the different permanent exhibits. There are also regular visiting exhibitions, so it's always worth checking to see what's on. There's plenty to do in the evening too; catch a show at The Marlowe Theatre or head to one of the many pubs and bars.


Jump on board

Kent has its own steam railway, which is a must for Thomas fans.  Catch the 15-inch gauge Romney Hythe & Dymchurch railway from Hythe and travel down the coast - there are also special events over the summer, so check the Local site frequently to see what's on.

There are also vintage engines on the Spa Valley Railway. Their heritage trains travel along a five mile line between Tunbridge Wells West and Eridge, with intermediate stops at High Rocks and Groombridge. You can hop off at Groombridge Place Gardens and the Enchanted Forest where you can spend the day exploring the grounds, taking a trip along the river and looking for the resident dragon.


Kent for free

If you're feeling the pinch, there are plenty of free attractions and events, including the fabulous bOing! festival at the end of August in Canterbury. The international family festival returns to the Gulbenkian for another year with a variety of free and ticketed shows including JCB dancing... yes that's right, dancing JCBs! It looks to be spectacular.

If the good weather holds out, then a trip to the Lower Leas Coastal Park will be a sure fire hit with the children. With three zones (formal, fun and wild) there's something for all energy levels.

Over in Ramsgate, you can go to The Spitfire Hurricane Memorial Museum for free. The iconic RAF fighter planes of the Second World War, the Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVI and the Hawker Hurricane IIC, are housed under one museum roof at the historic Battle of Britain airfield in Manston. Get up close to these spectacular planes, and have some tea and cake in the cafe. 


A rainy day in Kent

If the weather does the really British thing of letting you down, don't despair - pack your raincoat and head over to Wingham Wildlife Park. The animals are happy to roam around whatever the weather, but if the heavens open you can take shelter in the reptile centre. Or there's the indoor play centre, where you can also get drinks and snacks.

Arty types must visit the Turner Contemporary in Margate. Inspired by JMW Turner's sense of curiosity, the gallery's aim is to embrace curiosity and help visitors discover different ways of seeing, thinking and learning.

See what other Kent locals had to say about their favourite places:

@CanterburyMum "We spent a lovely Mother's Day at Godinton House near Ashford. First visit there and the grounds are beautiful!"

@nancyp_rocks "We love Broadstairs - there are so many lovely beaches to choose from!"

@MegOfMargate "My new favourite place is @DreamlandMarg. It's amazing."

@TunWellsDad "My fave is @FugglesBeerCafe."
@LornaWalter "@DockyardChath is great: playgrounds, ships & take a picnic to the Commissioners Garden."
@Edspire "Leeds Castle for me."
@riaramsey "I'm itching to get down to the newly opened @DreamlandMarg!"
@SevenoaksMums "@KnoleNT is glorious. Beautiful house but most of all stunning deer-filled parkland, great for a jog, a walk, a scoot, a picnic!"

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Last updated: almost 2 years ago