The best places to go in Kent
Ok, before the title of this article makes you not want to read any further, I get that Kent isn't the most glamorous location for a family holiday in the UK. It doesn't have the coastline of Devon and Cornwall or the mountains of Wales or the Lakes. But it is filled with beautiful villages, stunning countryside - it's not known as the Garden of England for nothing - and it's a great place to go with the kids.
We're lucky that my parents live in a village near Maidstone so we've spent several staycations exploring different parts of Kent both with the grandparents and on our own.
Here are my top 5 things to do with the kids in Kent:
1. Margate - it's the quintessential British seaside town. The beach is large, sandy and mostly clean. There are some great places to get fish and chips along the sea front. It has your standard arcades and, of course, Dreamland which is an old school theme park for those wanting some extra thrills. We visited the Turner Museum when we were there which houses cool temporary exhibitions and installations and is spacious so the kids can explore. The cafe does great coffee and has lovely views across the bay. We also wanted to visit the Shell Grotto - a network of underground rooms covered in amazing mosaics - but unfortunately it was closed while we were there. I definitely want to go back to see it though.
2. White Cliffs of Dover - we actually went to Dover planning to visit the Castle but had a total fail because it was closed when we got there. I'll blame my sleep deprived baby brain for that one. Luckily though, it's worth going to Dover even without visiting the castle. The walk along the White Cliffs is amazing. We loved jumping off rocks and looking for bugs and running around. The first part of the route from the cafe was buggy friendly too which was good. And you can walk for miles if you have older children with more stamina.
3. Tenterden - it's such a pretty village with lots of independent shops and cafes so it's worth going just for a stroll along the high street. It also has a lovely big playground at one end, with a separate area for toddlers and younger children so they can burn off some energy. If you want to make a proper day of it's also the first stop for the Bluebell Railway - an old steam railway which chugs through the beautiful countryside while you enjoy the ride. At Christmas the big man himself makes a special appearance!
4. Chartwell - Kent is full of wonderful National Trust properties and I struggled to pick just one for this list! Chartwell is the former home on Sir Winston Churchill and it's a real gem. The grounds are huge with lots of space for family picnics and to play hide and seek and chase. The house is full of interesting WW2 history. When we visited my partner and I took it in turns to go in while the other stayed outside with the kids so we could actually read things and take it in without spending our time saying don't touch that or trying not to knock things over with the buggy.
5. Leeds Castle - I've saved the best until last. We love Leeds Castle. The grounds are beautiful and there's lots of exploring to be done round the lake and in the woodland. The castle and its moat are very impressive and fun to run around for big and little kids. We love the maze too and the playground has got lots for slightly older children. There are also regular birds of prey displays which are always impressive. There are often special events going on like the Christmas market with all its music, local craft stalls and fairground rides and it's worth going just for that. It's not National Trust or English Heritage so you will have to pay but once you've bought your tickets they're valid for a year so you can use them multiple times.
So there you have it - five reasons to visit Kent. And if you decide to go, feel free to drop me a message for more recommendations. Or if you have any of your own I'd love to hear them!
Written by Sarah Holmes
Sarah is mum to two little monsters - Skye who is two and a half and Max who is four months. She lives with her partner Kevin and the children in south west London and works as a journalist in her other life. Before kids she and Kevin travelled as much as possible and now they’re determined to try to show the children plenty of the world as well, finances and general sanity permitting!
Follow Sarah on Instagram @raisingSkyeandMax