Summer holidays: 28 things to do with kids
It's been four long months with the kids at home - and now the summer holidays are here. Step away from the gin and read on for 28 great ideas on things to do with kids and teens.
••• FARMS & ANIMAL PARKS •••
Godstone Farm, Godstone
There’s so much to pack into a day at the farm. Think tractor rides, lots of farm animals – including newborn baby pigs – an adventure playground, and a dinosaur trail! The indoor play, animal holding and tea rooms will remain shut for the time being. But there’s plenty here for all adventurous animal loving little ones.
■ Entry is by pre-booked ticket only. Adults and children to 16 years cost £8.25, 1 year olds are £2.10 and under 1s are free. godstonefarm.co.uk
Oak Tree Farm, Banstead
This farm is brand new – gates open on Fri 10 July – where you can wander in the lavender fields, take part in the butterfly trail, pick your own big bunch to take home and breathe-in the heady fragrance of these hazy blue aromatic plants. Artisan tea, coffee and cakes are available, as well as afternoon tea. And you can also buy honey that comes from beehives on the farm, as well as locally made skincare products from Naturally Thinking the family-run business that has opened the farm.
■ Entry is free. The pick-your-own lavender is £3 for a big bunch. naturallythinking.com or head to the Naturallythinking facebook page for info.
Bockett’s Farm Park, Fetcham
Animal lovers and adventurers alike need a trip to Bockett’s Farm. From teeny tiny baby chicks to hungry llamas, there are a whole host of animals to meet. All outdoor play will be open including the sandpits, jumping pillows and go-karts. The jumping pillows have been sectioned to allow family groups their own space to jump. Tractor rides are also re-starting. The Cowshed Coffee Shop will be open for takeaway food.
■ Tickets must be booked in advance. Prices are adults £12.25, children 3-17 cost £13.25, children aged 2 cost £11.25, under 2s go free bockettsfarm.co.uk
You’ll need a full day to take in all the birds at Birdworld. There are more than 160 species from all around the world and 2000 birds in total. That’s a lot of feathers! The Jenny Wren Farm is aimed at younger kids, and you’ll find all kinds of farm animals from goats and pigs to mice and ferrets. Daily events like penguin feeding are not being held and Underwater World is also closed.
■ Entry is by pre-booked tickets only. Adults £14.95, children £12.50, under 3 free. birdworld.co.uk
••• NATIONAL TRUST •••
Polesden Lacey, Great Bookham
Explore the beautiful gardens and estate of Polesden Lacey and spot the summer flowers coming into bloom. There are plenty of trails to follow to see the sites, too. The car park, gardens, refreshment kiosk, shop and main toilets are all open. You’ll have to book your timed entry tickets by 3pm the day before you visit.
■ Entry is by pre-booked tickets. National Trust members are free. Non-members are £10 adults, £5 child. nationaltrust.org.uk/polesden-lacey
Hatchlands Park, East Clandon
The parkland at Hatchlands span over a gigantic 422 acres, so there are ample romping opportunities. There are walking trails you can follow, so don’t miss a thing. Or you might just prefer to pack a picnic and chill out under a tree. The National Trust’s children’s activity ’50 things to do before you’re 11 and ¾’ can be downloaded here.
■ Entry is by pre-booked tickets only. National Trust members are free. Non-members are £8 adults, £4 child, £20 family. nationaltrust.org.uk/hatchlands-park
Winkworth Arboretum, Godalming
Created in the early 20th Century by Dr Wilfred Fox, a local doctor with a passion for preserving the wooded hillside near his home, the arboretum really is worth a visit. There are over 1,000 different species of trees and shrubs, as well as a picturesque lake complete with boat house. Kids will love the Fairy door trail which you can print off here.
■ Entry is by pre-booked tickets only. National Trust members are free. Non-members are £8 adults, £4 child, £25 family. nationaltrust.org.uk/winkworth-arboretum
Claremont Landscape Garden, Esher
This Grade I listed garden . Many of the greatest names associated with landscape design have been involved: Capability Brown, Sir John Vanbrugh, Charles Bridgeman and William Kent. I wouldn’t expect that to impress the children necessarily, but the they might be taken by the serpentine lake, the grotto and the Thatched Cottage (although it’s closed at the moment so the toys, games and dress-ups are off limits). There is however mini-beast bingo – print it off here to play.
■ Entry is by pre-booked tickets only. National Trust members are free. Non-members are £8 adults, £4 child, £2o family. nationaltrust.org.uk/claremont-landscape-garden
Box Hill, near Dorking
Plenty of walks, great picnic spots and stunning views to be had at Box Hill. The Stepping Stones Walk is always a favourite – kids always seem to love the risk of falling in! But if you have toddlers, you might prefer the Natural Play Trail which can take anything from an hour to all day. The café is open for takeaway refreshments.
■ Free. There’s a charge for parking. nationaltrust.org.uk/box-hill
Reigate Hill & Gatton Park, Reigate
This stretch of the North Downs is good walking country with flower-sprinkled grasslands and quiet shady woods. It is also a lovely spot for family picnics and games. The Reigate Fort is at the top of the hill. The park at Gatton is a sprawling 600 acres, just under a half of which are gardens famous for the work by Capability Brown.
■ Free. nationaltrust.org.uk/reigate-hill-and-gatton-park
••• GET ACTIVE •••
Go Boat, Kingston
Fancy a boating adventure. Head to the River Thames at Kingston where you can be the captain of your own GoBoat. No boating experience is needed, they’ll teach you everything you need to know before you set sail. It’s a great way to see London and Surrey from a whole different viewpoint whether you head downriver towards Teddington Lock or along the Thames River to Hampton Court Palace. Each boat takes up to 8 people, including children and dogs.
■ Prices for one boat are; £79 for the first hour; £109 for 2 hours; £139 for 3 hours. goboat.co.uk/kingston/
Wild Wood Adventure, Guildford
Unleash your inner Tarzan at the Wild Wood Adventures in Guildford. There’s Extreme Wild – rope bridges, wobbly crossings, tightropes, climbing challenges, obstacles and ziplines up to 15 metres high – for kids aged 11 and over (as long as they’re at least 140cm tall). For younger dare devils, there’s Wild Kids – aimed at kids from 6-12 – it’s easy enough to be fun, but tricky enough for a sense of achievement.
■ Cost is £22.50 adults, £15 children. wildwood-adventure.com
Skywalk Adventure, Esher
Another one for thrill seekers – a treetop course full of zip wires, barrel crawls and fun activities. There are two courses to test your balance, bravery and dignity – both of differing heights – which makes it a great adventure day out for all ages. There’s a minimum age of 8 years and 1.3 metres
■ Adults cost £30, children cost £22 for both courses. skywalkadventure.co.uk
••• PARKS & GARDENS •••
This beautiful landscape garden, created by Charles Hamilton in the 1700s, has magical follies, a serpentine lake, a man-made crystal grotto and a gothic tower – although the latter two and the play area are closed at the moment. Most of the paths are paved, so it’s very accessible. And there are plenty of spots for a picnic. Local artists are exhibiting at Painshill until 21 July, and there’s open air cinema on Fri 21 Aug (Dirty Dancing), Sat 22 Aug (Pretty Woman), Sun 23 Aug (Rocketman). The café is open for takeaway food.
■ Tickets must be booked in advance online. Adults £9, children £5 under fives are free. painshill.co.uk
Alice Holt Forest, Farnham
Set in a beautiful woodland setting, there is a whole host of activities at Alice Holt Forest. Take your bike and head out into the forest to explore the two cycle trails, or explore one of the four walking trails on foot – keep your eyes peeled for the Gruffalo sculptures. The Go Ape, archery, bike hire and play areas are closed due to Government guidance. The café is open for takeaway food and drinks.
■ Free entry, with paid-for activities available. forestryengland.uk
Wisley Gardens, near Woking
The beautiful RHS gardens at Wisley are open – just in time for the glorious summer season. And while I wouldn’t expect every kid to be inspired by the 240 acres of manicured gardens – there’s still plenty to explore including lovely long mixed borders, vegetable plots and the rose garden. The Glasshouse, Alpine Houses, Bird Hide, Back to Nature Garden for children, Learning Centre, Library and Advisory Desk remain closed.
■ There’s a booking system in place, and it’s booked for about two weeks in advance. Entry is free for RHS members and one guest (or two children), £14.95 for adults, £7.45 for children aged 5-16. rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley
Priory Park, Reigate
Priory Park is a huge park nestled behind Reigate’s town centre with plenty to keep the whole family busy. For the active ones of you out there, there’s four all weather tennis courts, a ball court suitable for basketball and five-a-side football, a skatepark, a table tennis table (remember your bats and balls!) and a croquet lawn (remember your bits for this too!). There is also a huge recently-revamped playground for the littlies, a lake to have a wander around, nature galore to explore and the Pavilion cafe to recharge at with a coffee and slice of cake!
■ Free. reigate-banstead.gov.uk
Virginia Water Lake, Runnymede
Situated on the edge of the Windsor Great Park, enjoy a 4.5 mile walk around the picturesque lake and keep an eye out for the 100ft totem pole! Take a wander around The Savill Garden and peep into The Savill Building while you’re at it. If you’re feeling extra active, you can even hire a bike!
■ Free entry windsorgreatpark.co.uk
Frensham Great Pond, Farnham
A lovely place to visit, but it does get very busy on a sunny day – so probably best to avoid on the hot days. Swimming is permitted, but keep to marked areas. The car park, loos and café are open. Dogs are not allowed on the beaches.
■ Free waverley.gov.uk
••• FESTIVALS •••
The Peachy Playhouse: drive-in festival for mind, body and soul
A drive-in festival at Loseley Park in Guildford offering a range of drive-in events including films, theatre, comedy, cabaret and fitness. It’s from 18 – 31 July and shows include Doctor Zob’s Zany Science Show, The Pop-up Comedy Show and The Cinderella Theatre Show. Click here for a full list of entertainment shows, fitness and drive-in cinema.
■ Ticket prices vary. Click here to book. peachyplayhouse.co.uk
••• MUSEUMS, ARTS AND HERITAGE •••
Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village, Compton
The former home, studio and gallery of Victorian era artist GF Watts and his wife Mary, hosts exhibitions and workshops. The Contemporary Gallery is showing the work of Norman Ackroyd. From Mon 3 Aug, the tea shop and historic galleries will be open (featuring the gallery’s permanent collection), and on Mon 17 Aug the temporary exhibition Unto This Last: Two Hundred Years of John Ruskin will re-open. Limnerslease house and studio will reopen in the autumn on a date TBC. Watts Gallery is also hosting online workshops.
■ Tickets cost £12.50 adults, students £6.25, under 18s free. All visitors must pre-book time-allocated tickets for exhibitions to allow for social distancing. wattsgallery.org.uk
The transport mecca in Weybridge will be open from the start of August – and there’s lots to see here, both inside and out. Brooklands is on the site of the world’s first ever purpose-built motor racing circuit, and was also a major centre for aircraft design, construction and flight testing throughout most of the 20th century. It’s also the home of Concorde, and the London Bus Museum is also on the site.
■ Tickets are £16.30 adults, £8.95 children, family with two adults and three kids £42.55. brooklandsmuseum.com
Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey
There’s plenty to see and do at Henry’s old gaff, including 60 acres of formal gardens and the palace to explore. Follow the garden trails, then relax with a picnic in a lovely shady spot – here are some suggestions. The Magic Garden and Maze will remain closed.
■ Hampton Court Palace is open Wed-Sun. All tickets must be booked in advance with a timed entry slot. Adults £12.50, child £6.20, family tickets £18.70-£31.20. hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace
The Lightbox, Woking
The art centre in Woking reopens on Tues 11 Aug with an Ingram collection in the Main Gallery. There are no plans to run the usual children’s craft workshops at the gallery, but there are online workshops available here.
■ General admission to The Lightbox is free which includes the Café, Shop, Art Fund Prize Gallery and Woking’s Story museum. Tickets for the main and upper galleries are £8.50 adults, under 21 free. thelightbox.org.uk
••• WALKING & CYCLE ROUTES •••
Mole Gap Trail, Leatherhead to Dorking
This 10km walk starts right at Leatherhead train station, where you’ll follow the silver arrows for a beautiful trail all the way to Dorking. You’ll pass through Norbury Park and Westhumble prior to your final destination, with plenty of opportunity for a snack or two en route.
■ Free surreyhills.org
Box Hill Juniper Top circular walk, Tadworth
This walk has the perk of starting at the top of the hills, so you won’t be faced with huge inclines from the get-go! Set out from the tip of Box Hill and follow the trail markers through woods and valleys for four miles, with sweeping views of both the North and South Downs throughout. Lovely!
■ Free nationaltrust.org.uk
Ride Surrey 17km, from Abinger Hammer
On ya bike! Inspired by the London 2012 Olympics, this shortened route starts at Abinger Hammer and takes you through the Hurtwood, past Ockley and Leith Hill, finishing back at Abinger. The perfect ride for beginners or those looking for an easy Sunday afternoon cycle!
■ Free surreyhills.org
The Ockley TT, from Ockley
Spanning 17.7km, this huge loop at the heart of Surrey is relatively flat and passes an abundance of brilliant pubs and restaurants, making it the perfect route for a weekend cycle. Perfect for a family ride with a large Sunday roast at the end (and maybe a glass of red?)
■ Free surreyhills.org