Top 10 Family Days Out
WHITEN THE KNUCKLES AT CHESSINGTON WORLD OF ADVENTURES
Big kids can get their thrills on stomach-churners such as the Dragon’s Fury rollercoaster, Black Buccaneer pirate ship and the Runaway Train. Younger tots, meanwhile, will enjoy the Flying Jumbos and classic carousel. There is a zoo, too, with gorillas, lions and zebras. If it rains, head to the Sea Life Centre with its walk through ocean tunnel. Book in advance online for big discounts on tickets. Click here to learn more.
CRUISE TO HAMPTON COURT
Take a leisurely trip down the Thames. Turks Launches are a great way to get from Richmond to Kingston or make your way by boat to Hampton Court. Henry VIII’s grand palace on the river is a spectacular sight with its turrets and ornate spiral chimneys. Check out the Tudor kitchens, which were designed to feed more than 600 people a day, and got through more than 8,000 sheep a year. Click here to learn more.
RIDE A LLAMA ACROSS THE NORTH DOWNS
Horse-riding is so passé – what you need is a llama. Surrey Hills Llamas takes riders aged eight and above on a trip through the countryside. In the springtime, you can ride alongside displays of primroses and bluebells; go on a picnic trek in the summer; and, in the colder months, you can walk your llama to a 16th-Century pub for lunch. Click here to learn more.
FLOCK TOGETHER AT BIRDWORLD, FARNHAM
Birdworld does what it says on the tin, with 26 acres devoted to all things avian. There are more than 160 species of birds from around the world, including tiny finches from Australia and a hefty ostrich from Africa. You can watch the penguins being fed, or buy some of the food mix so you can feed some birds yourself. A flying display shows off the centre’s owls as well as the parrots and kookaburras, and a ‘Safari Road Train’ takes you past the likes of the emus, cranes and storks. Click here to learn more.
LEAF-PEEPING IN PAINSHILL PARK, COBHAM
On a sunny autumn day, the restored 18th-Century gardens of Painshill Park are a fabulous place to be, with the leaves turning red and gold. Kids will love exploring all the eccentric follies around the lake and special events take place throughout the year, including pumpkin carving and storytelling for Halloween, and Father Christmas in the crystal grotto. Click here to learn more.
FIND THE TOWER ON LEITH HILL, DORKING
Energetic kids will enjoy the walk up Leith Hill to the atmospheric tower. A further climb up the spiral staircase will make them the highest people in south-east England. There is a telescope to spot all the landmarks you can see from this great viewpoint, and circular nature trails so kids can combine a spot of learning with exercise in the fresh air. Click here to learn more
RAINY DAYS AT GUILDFORD SPECTRUM
Don your ice-skates and take a turn on the Olympic-sized rink – little ones can learn the ropes with a penguin skating aid they can grab on to. Or take to the water in one of the four pools, complete with flumes, wave machine and bubble beds. The vast leisure complex also has tenpin bowling and a soft-play area themed around a pirate ship. Click here to learn more.
WALK AMONG THE TREETOPS AT KEW
Kew Gardens’ Treetop Walkway is a big hit with kids, who can peer down from the 18-metre-high boardwalk. Picnic by the lake in fine weather – although the ducks are rather too friendly. If it rains, head to the Palm House and the Princess of Wales Conservatory where you can see piranha, catfish, and freshwater stingrays. Or try the Climbers and Creepers indoor play zone, where children (ages 3 to 9) can crawl through tunnels and slide down a giant plant. Click here to learn more.
FLY A KITE IN RICHMOND PARK
Even if you are local to the park and have been visiting for years, you can still find new ways to enjoy it. Hire a bike, look at St Paul’s Cathedral through the telescope on King Henry’s Mound, and have tea and cakes on the terrace at Pembroke Lodge with its beautiful views. In late April/May, don’t miss the azaleas and rhododendrons in the Isabella Plantation. Click here to learn more.
SEE THE SQUIRRELS AT THE BRITISH WILDLIFE CENTRE, LINGFIELD
Young nature-spotters can watch native wild animals in settings that reflect their natural environment. The centre has over 40 different species, including owls, Scottish wildcats, and otters. The new walk-through red squirrel enclosure is a particular highlight. Click here to learn more.