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The Guide To Leisure And Tourist Attractions In Kent, Great Days Out
Welcome to our Discover Kent Directory. It is a long standing feature that has been highlighting things to see and do in the county for more than ten years. On these pages you will find a wide range of attractions from all parts of Kent. The aim of these pages is to provide more than simple listings, we aspire to give a realistic idea about the places we feature and share user feedback with our audience. In this spirit we welcome your comments about any of the county's attractions, no matter how big or small. Our contact details and disclaimer are below.
Tourists and residents alike have a great choice of things to do and places to see in the county; historic monuments, family days out, country pursuits, seaside towns, sites of military interest in short something to suit every interest and budget!
We review somewhere new every three to four weeks and revisit the old reviews to keep them fresh. Despite our best efforts these details are subject to change without notice so always check with the venue if you need to confirm the relevant information. Inevitably something will be out of date at some time. If you spot an error or omission we'd be delighted to hear from you.
Days Out In Kent An Independent Perspective
Our guide is independent, what we feature is largely decided by our users and researchers, we take no inducement to review and when we go in person we pay an entrance fee like everyone else. This is not an exhaustive directory, we don't list every tourist attraction in Kent but the number of places we feature is increasing. Follow this link for the current tourist attraction.
A quick word for My Kent Big Day Out, a chance to visit some of the county's finest attractions for free! We've tried it and it is brilliant.
The Kent Tourist Attractions
Bewl Water - When you go to Bewl you will look out over the largest area of open freshwater in the region. The reservoir nestles in a Wealden paradise, green undulating hills dotted with mature trees. 250,000 visitor a year undertake activities as diverse as; rowing, fishing and painting. Bewl Water, Lamberhurst, TN3 8JH
Biddenden Vineyards - Authentic Kentish wine and and cider from the oldest commercial vineyard in the county. There are acres of vines, free tastings and much more. Gribble Bridge Lane, Biddenden, TN27 8DF
Blean Woods - Blean Woods are an ancient managed woodland barely two miles outside of Canterbury. There is a small car park (that does get busy at bank holidays and weekends). Good footwear when wet is essential. Rough Common Road, Near Canterbury.
Brenchley Band Concert - No details yet for the 2013 season, feedback from previous years most welcome. Do you have a memorable Brenchley moment?
Brogdale Collection - Home to the National Fruit Collections, an internationally important resource and a great place to visit all the year not just during the festival season. Brogdale, Brogdale Road, Faversham, ME13 8XZ.
Brookland Church - One of the most interesting churches in Kent with several rare features, not least a lead font and a belfry set next to the church at ground level. Some subsidence visible in the internal architecture as well as a fresco of St Thomas a' Becket.
Chatham Historic Dockyard - Did you know just how important Chatham has been to the history of these Isles? In the 400 years that the Naval Dockyard was active 500 ships were built there. The Historic Dockyard, Chatham, ME4 4TZ.
Chiddingstone Castle - When Denys Eyre Bower died in 1977 his collection included an impressive array of items from around the world, some of national and international importance. A private trust has been created to ensure the preservation and display of these wonderful objects. Chiddingstone Castle. Hill Hoath Road, Chiddingstone, TN8 7AD.
Chislehurst Caves - One of the most amazing places in South East London. During WWII it contained a hospital, church and 10,000 people taking shelter from the bombs. Old Hill, Chislehurst, Bromley, BR7 5NB.
Cinema 3 - One of the few independent film theatres in East Kent showing mainstream and fine independent pictures. Also some of the best foreign flicks not screened elsewhere in the city. University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NB.
Cinque Ports - The Cinque Ports (Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich) began in the reign of Edward the Confessor, the network was officially consolidation for the first time in the 13th century. They underpinned our naval security for centuries.
Crabble Corn Mill - A historic site for mills since the 13th century, the current building was constructed to meet the needs of troops stationed in Dover during the Napoleonic Wars. Crabble Corn Mill, Lower Road, River, CT17 0UY.
Dover Castle - Its proximity to mainland Europe has made Dover an important defensive location since the Iron Age. Originally a Hill Fort then a site for a Roman Beacon, Anglo Saxon Fortress, Earthwork Castle then a Norman Castle and now a monument to 2,000 years of our history. There's an extensive range of regular and one off events. Dover, Castle Hill, Dover; CT16 1HU.
Dover Museum - Founded in 1836, this impressive local resource includes the renown Bronze Age Boat amongst many other fascinating exhibits. Market Square, Dover, CT16 1PB.
Down House - The long standing home of the father of 'natural selection', Charles Darwin lived at Down (in Downe) for for over 40 years. Luxted Road, Downe, BR6 7JT.
Downs Walks - Free, healthy and available at an open space near you. Walk in the great outdoors in some of the most beautiful countryside in the south of England.
Dungeness - Still bleak but enigmatic, dominate by two lighthouses and a nuclear power station, can be accessed by a light railway, the Listening Ears can be found nearby.
Eastbridge Hospital - One of the most interesting historical buildings in Canterbury, it mirrors in many respects the Cathedral itself. The hospital was the place frequented by pilgrims on their journey. Eastbridge Hospital, 25 High Street, Canterbury, CT1 2BD.
Faversham Guildhall - A jewel in the crown of one of Kent's most historic towns. The building sits in the market square and is still at the very heart of town life. Market Place, Faversham.
Grand Shaft - Take a step back in time to a period when Dover was anticipating a visit from Napoleon at any moment. The Grand Shaft is a low tech but effective system of getting troops from the Western Heights down to ground level and back up again. Snargate Street, Dover.
Groombridge Place And Gardens - If you enjoy formal gardens then Groombridge is likely to be for you. It is regarded by many as one of Kent's most outstanding family attractions. As well as the gardens there is an 'Enchanted Wood'. Groombridge has won accolades like The Good Britain Guide's Garden of the Year title. Groombridge Place, Groombridge, Tunbridge Wells.
Gulbenkian Theatre Canterbury - An important part of the cultural life of the university, the city and the whole of East Kent. As a 340 seat venue it is able to accommodate professional and community productions. There is an excellent foyer and cafe area to meet and eat with friends.
Hever Castle - A local attraction of international reputation running great family oriented events throughout the year. The origins of the castle date to 1270’s at which time the gate house and outer and inner walls and moat were created. Two hundred years later the Boleyn family built the Tudor manor. Estate Office, Hever Castle, Hever, Nr Edenbridge, TN8 7NG.
Hop Farm - Paddock Wood welcomes visitors young and old for a nostalgic journey firmly routed in the present. This attraction features interactive collections, Shire Horses, farm animals and much more. There's a huge amount for children to see and do, indoor and outdoor play areas, crazy golf, bouncy castle, arts and crafts and even a paddling pool. Paddock Wood, Tonbridge, TN12 6PY.
Hornby Visitor Centre - Everything you ever wanted to know about; Hornby, Scalextric, Airfix and Corgi. The trains take centre stage, take a walk through the history of model railways including; the original sheet metal toys, ‘00’ gauge, Dublo, ‘Live Steam’, fantastic layouts and regular fun days. The Hornby Visitor Centre, Westwood, Margate, CT9 4JX.
Ightham Mote - A historic house in an iconic location. The grounds are an attraction in themselves The house offers a great historical insight into architecture generally and the fixtures and fitting of a historic house. It is possible to get there by public transport but it takes a bit of organising. Ivy Hatch, Sevenoaks, TN15 0NT.
Kent Life - One of our favorite attractions, a working farm, brilliant family day out and a refuge for everything connected to Kentish farming. Based on the original Sandling Farm which stood on the site for over 500 years. Kent Life, Lock Lane, Sandling, Maidstone, ME14 3AU.
Kent & East Sussex Railway - Enjoy over ten miles of the South East's most beautiful scenery from the comfort of a vintage train. The Rover Fare allows passengers to hop off and on at all the stations on the route. Tenterden Town Station, Station Road, Tenterden, TN30 6HE.
Kent Maritime Heritage Trail - See Kent in the context of a regional story linking Kent and Medway with the Nord Pas de Calais. The trail is a 325-mile long tour of a coastline that highlights the 3,000 years of history which has united and at times divided France and England.
Kent Surfing & Surfers - Looking for something a bit different to do this weekend, have a longing to wax a long piece of fiberglass? The Big Chill (named after the North Easterly wind that brings the surf and buffets the out of season Thanet holiday makers), a website that pulls together the local surfing community.
Knole - Set in a magnificent deer park, Knole is an architectural treasure with important collections of; furniture, tapestries, textiles and portraits. It was built between 1450 and 1486 on the site of a much older property. Knole, Sevenoaks, TN15 0RP.
Leeds Castle - One of Kent's star attractions. From the outside it seems to fit the bill as a 'typical' fortified castle including a moat. Inside it enjoys a fair degree of comfort and domestication . The grounds are stunning in every season and there are frequent events both large and small. Leeds Castle, Leeds, Near Maidstone, ME17 1PL.
Lullingstone Roman Villa - A really brilliant day at for all ages at Lullingstone, it's hard to imagine a better setting to explore Roman Britain. The remains of the impressive Villa are housed in a comfortable two storey building. There are a huge number of exhibits, clothes to dress up in, interactive displays and much more (don't miss the film). There is a shop, cafe and toilets on site. Lullingstone Roman Villa, Lullingstone Lane, Eynsford, Dartford, DA4 0JA.
Maidstone Museum - A brilliant local resource and excellent attraction, something for almost everyone, many recent developments and refurbishments. You can still visit the museum free of charge but as you might imagine patrons are welcome to make a donation and volunteer! Maidstone Museum, St Faith's Street, Maidstone.
Manston Airshow 2013 - The Thanet airshow is set to return in 2013. More details to follow.
Margate Caves - Have you ever seen the chalk caves in Margate? Would you like to have the opportunity in the future? This attraction is currently closed but a group of local residents have a plan to transform it's fortunes.
Minster Abbey - There is so much history in this part of Kent, including the Abbey, one of the countries first nunneries. It was originally founded by Domneva in about AD 670, it has had a mixed history now returned to it's original purpose. A daily visit is possible if booked in advance. Minster Abbey, Minster-in-Thanet, Nr Ramsgate.
Mount Ephraim Gardens - Exceptionally attractive gardens in Hernehill. The estate has been in the same family for three hundred years. The original building Mount Ephraim House, was originally built in 1690 and then reconstructed during the 1870's. Mount Ephraim, Hernhill, Nr Faversham, ME13 9TX.
Penshurst Place & Gardens - An ancestral home located on the Kentish Weald. The estate includes ancient parkland and formal gardens. This property balances its historical role with that of a 'living' family home. Penshurst Place & Gardens, Penshurst, TN11 8DG.
Quex Museum, House and Gardens - Widely known as Quex Museum it is in fact the The Powell-Cotton Museum and shares the Quex Estate with other ventures such as Quex Foods. An exciting and very large collection totalling more than 20,000 articles including; stuffed animals, guns, cutting weapons, object d'arte and much more. Quex Park, Park Lane, Birchington, CT7 0BH.
RHDR - This attraction seems to put a smile on all the passengers faces, young and old, it's also part of the local public transport network. The Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway (RHDR) utilises steam and diesel locomotives to pull closed and open coaches, everything being one third of the normal size. Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway, New Romney Station, New Romney.
Richborough Castle - An ancient site that was a very important military and civil outpost. The fort dates to around the time of the invasion of Britain in AD43, so this may well have been the first Roman building of any significance on these shores. The location would have afforded good views over the surrounding area, natural protection and accessibility from sea and river. Richborough Road, Sandwich, CT13 9JW.
Riverside Country Park - An important park which has Site of Scientific Interest status. A great resource for bird watchers, families, walkers, runner, cyclists and much more. Riverside Country Park, Lower Rainham Road, Rainham, Gillingham, ME7 2XH.
Rochester Castle - The first castle on this site was constructed during the 1120’s, an imposing position overlooking the Medway. A fine example of of Norman architecture and a piece of Medway's living history. Rochester, Kent, ME1 1LX.
The Friars - Aylesford Priory, a retreat and pilgrimage centre that attracts over 200,000 visitors every year. It's open every day, the shop, pottery and tea rooms have specific opening hours. The site also has a range of conference facilities.
The RE Museum - A surprisingly interesting attraction with artefacts that span much more than just engineering, such as: Chinese embroideries, uniforms, drawings, 25 VCs and 3 George Crosses, paintings artefacts from the Zulu wars and much more. Prince Arthur Road, Gillingham, ME4 4UG.
Samphire Hoe - A recreational space created from the waste or spoil from the Channel Tunnel, this was the area originally known as Lower Shakespeare Cliff. There are events arranged here from time to time, see the website for more details. The name Samphire Hoe was selected from a range of entries to a competition set in 1994.
Saxon Shore Way - This is a path or track that traces the coastline as it was in the times of the Romans. It follows a route from Gravesend to Hastings, over 160 miles in total. To walk the whole way would be quite a significant undertaking and all but experienced walker might like to start by choosing a small section. It's a brilliant way of getting some exercise and learning about the history of Kent. Kent has perhaps the longest uninterrupted coastline of any county in England, you'll really appreciate just how long when you walk it!
Seal And Wildlife Spotting - Did you know that there are colonies of seals living off the Thanet Coast? There's no better way to see them than to take a place on one of the nature spotting trips that operates in the area. Most (but not all) of the excursions manage to encounter a seal, in every instance there's always something interesting to see.
Spa Valley Railway - Travel in style along a beautiful stretch of country between Tunbridge Wells and Eridge stopping off en route at Goombridge and High Rocks. There are many special events and unique opportunities to travel on the line, weddings, train charters, day out with Thomas specials and seasonal Santa specials.
Thames River Trip - For a really good family day out consider a trip up the river Thames from Gravesend to Greenwich, you can have make a two hour stay, or alternatively remain on board and go further up the river as far as Chelsea.
Timeball Tower - The building is an important piece of nautical history in it's own right. Having been a Semaphore Tower, Shutter Telegraph Tower and now a Timeball Station. It's primary role was to indicate the exact time at 1pm every day for the ships in the area. The building now hosts a museum completely run by volunteers. Landmark Centre, High Street, Kent, CT14 6BB.
Tonbridge Castle - A 12th century motte and bailey castle built on a prominent position overlooking the town. The walls date from the 12th century the gatehouse and towers are about 150 years older. Tonbridge Castle, Castle Street, Tonbridge, TN9 1BG.
Tudeley Woods - This RSPB reserve provides several miles of walks in this restored heathland. Many changes and improvement have been achieved by a partnership between the Hadlow Estate and the RSPB.
Tunbridge Wells - The area has been inhabited since the iron age but there seems not to have been a settlement of any consequence until Dudley Lord North started to proclaim the merits of the waters to the good and great of the day. The town has never looked back from this simple beginning. Tunbridge Wells Tourist Information Centre, The Old Fish Market, The Pantiles, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN2 5TN.
Upnor Castle - The main job of this impressive castle was to protect the Royal Navel fleet at Chatham. Yet the one time it was called into action it failed to stop the Dutch sailing up the Medway and causing havoc. However like most historical events it's all about the detail. It seems that the chronic under funding of Upnor and the dockyard at Chatham may have had as much an impact on the successful Dutch operation as any military prowess. Upnor Castle, Upper Upnor, ME2 4XG.
Walmer Castle - A really great attraction for the whole family because it has so many facets. It's a piece of military history, still with cannon looking out protectively across the English Channel. As residence to the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports it has been the home to several very famous people, some of whom have left their mark on the place. The extensive grounds are a sheer delight, particularly in spring and summer. If that's not enough to satisfy you what about a swim in the sea? The castle sits right on Walmer Beach. Walmer Castle, Kingsdown Road, Deal, CT14 7LJ.
Western Heights - Further proof of the military significance of Dover are the fortifications on the Western Heights, a counterbalance to Dover Castle on the other side of the town. The Napoleonic wars were the catalyst for these fortifications and much of the building work was undertaken during this period. York Street, Dover
Whatman Park - One of the most important and popular recreation areas in Maidstone. Now incorporated into the Millennium River Park. The park sits a stone's throw from Maidstone town centre. Facilities including a performance area, bridges across the river and a landing stage for the Maidstone River Taxi service. Whatman Park, St Peters Street, Maidstone, ME16 0SX.
Kent Tourist Attractions - Feedback & Reviews
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