I love exploring with my family. Going on an outing with them is something I really treasure and enjoy. Since welcoming our son 8 years ago we have visited a fair number of beautiful (and less beautiful) spots and I thought – since the summer is upon us and the holidays soon to start – that I would share with you my favourite 12. I must admit, the hard bit was not the selection of the places I wanted to talk to you about but find in my extensive archive of photos, the shots to illustrate each venue. I had to look through no less than 3 external hard drives (yes, I am a prolific photo taker;-))
[Note that I have intentionally not added the notorious kids’ friendly spots such as Peppa Pig World, Chessington, Bocketts Farm, Hobbledown etc which most of you already know.]
So, in no particular order (drum rolls;-), here is my selection:
1 – Garsons, the Pick-your-own farm (Surrey): a favourite place of ours.
We love going out there before Halloween to pick up our pumpkin but it’s actually really good to go in the summer when you can hand-pick tonnes of nice fresh fruit and vegetables. You pay by weight. The kids absolutely love picking up what they are going to eat. It’s also a good way to explain to kids how and where the produce grows which we find in the supermarket. https://www.garsons.co.uk/pyo-farm
Winterdown Road, Esher, Surrey, KT10 8LS
2. The Outlook discovery centre in Bracknell (Berkshire)
Not only does the place have a good play area but the discovery centre is a really good place to take kids for fun experiments and games. It’s a particularly good spot for under 10s, and the bonus is while you are in Bracknell you have a Go Ape next door, a massive forest to have a walk, picnic and/or you can bring bikes to go for a ride too. https://www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/leisure-services/look-out-discovery-centre
Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell RG12 7QW
3. Alice Holt Forest (Surrey):
I really loved this forest which came recommended by my friend Claire. I wrote a detailed blog post about this place which you can read here. To summarise: it’s a super clean, well-signposted forest with bike & walking trails, bike hire, a Go Ape, a cafe and a good playground too. https://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-72dg7l
Alice Holt Forest, Bucks Horn Oak, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4LS
4. Black Park Country Park (Buckinghamshire)
A beautiful forest so near London. Nice trails, nice wooden playground, cafe, large pond and a Go Ape too. See my previous blog post about this place by clicking here
Black Park Rd, Slough SL3 6DS
5. Frensham pond (Surrey).
If the weather gets too hot, I would recommend Frensham Pond. It has a sort of beach side where you can have a delightful picnic and then let the kids have fun in the (slightly muddy) water of the pond. There are days when it’s really too hot to do anything else. Good spot to have a walk and explore with the kids too. Beware though that the parking can get a bit tricky if you arrive too late in the day. http://www.waverley.gov.uk/info/200073/parks_and_countryside/693/frensham_great_pond_and_common
6. Bekonscott Model Village (Buckinghamshire)
I believe we have visited this place 4 times and every time we return, we fall in love all over again with this fabulous model village. It is really impressive. It gets a bit busy sometimes and it’s tricky to go around the small alleys with a buggy so if you have very young ones I would recommend you using a sling/baby carrier. There is a reasonably priced cafe with lots of options for everyone, plenty of outdoor picnic tables and a playground (best for under 8 year old) http://www.bekonscot.co.uk
Warwick Road, Beaconsfield,
Buckinghamshire, HP9 2PL
7. Hounslow Urban Farm (Middlesex)
It’s a great city farm really near London. When we went were also able to see a whole lot of non-farm animals and we had a lovely time. http://hounslowurbanfarm.co.uk
|The Hounslow Urban Farm, Faggs Road, Feltham, Middlesex, TW14 0LZ|
8. Painshill Gardens (Surrey)
We went to this place on Mother’s Day this year – it was a beautiful day – and this is the stunning landscape garden to have a nice walk.There is a pond, nice views and a very interesting and surprising crystal grotto, worth visiting! Cafe on site. http://www.painshill.co.uk
Portsmouth Road, Cobham, Surrey, KT11 1JE
9. The Brooklands Museum (aka the birthplace of the British motorsport and aviation)
We visited this place a while ago and I have very good memories of our day spent out there. So much to see and explore from old bikes, old planes you can enter…https://www.brooklandsmuseum.com
The Museum is between Weybridge and Byfleet in Surrey. Just a few minutes from Junction 10 of the M25 and the A3 London-Portsmouth trunk road.
The postcode for the visitor car park is KT13 0SL for most satnavs.
10. Bodiam Castle (Sussex)
It’s an impressive 600-year-old moated Castle, near Robertsbridge and part of the National Trust network. It is still in great condition considering it’s a 14th century build and you can climb onto. Thr grounds are very pleasant and it’sworth packing a picnic for a nice day out!
11. Bluebell Railway (East Sussex)
It is really special to get on a steam train for the kids. It is really a fun and unique experience. http://www.bluebell-railway.co.uk
The Bluebell Railway
Sheffield Park Station
East Sussex, TN22 3QL
Try to combine your visit to the Bluebell Railway with a nice lunch and stroll in nearby (2min away) Sheffield Park National Trust which is beautiful and well worth a visit for a walk/run around.
Sheffield Park, Uckfield, East Sussex, TN22 3QX
12. Leith Hill Place and Leith Hill Tower (Surrey)
We visited this really nice National Trust place last Summer in Surrey. We liked the place very much. Leith Hill place is a grand house with links to Vaughan Williams, Wedgwood & Darwin. Leith Hill Tower has cracking views over the Surrey landscape, a great place for a walk, a picnic and the fun bit is to walk all the way to the tower which is a great challenge for all (you will feel it in your legs). More info: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/leith-hill/features/leith-hill-place-early-history
Leith Hill Lane
Holmbury St Mary
I hope you all enjoy the summer and make the most of this list. Let me know if you also have a wonderful place worth visiting outside Londo to complement this list.