Kent is situated in South East England, bordering London, Surrey and East Sussex. Celebrated for its fruit-growing and hop gardens, Kent is more commonly known as The Garden of England. With breath-taking countryside and magnificent stretches of coastline, it is one of the most beautiful counties in the country. Local produce is a huge part of the Kentish culture, from Michelin Star restaurants to artisan food festivals and farmers markets, you’ll never go hungry in this county. Visiting Kent is perfect if you’re looking for a family-fun adventure, a romantic countryside getaway or a journey through England’s history.
We know Kent like the back of our hand, it’s where we’re from! Here are our top things to do in Kent this summer.
Leeds Castle is without a doubt one of the most beautiful venues in Kent and is coined “The Loveliest Castle in the World”. Nestled on an island surrounded by 500 acres of spectacular parkland and gardens, Leeds Castle is a must when visiting Kent. The castle is celebrating its 900th Anniversary this year and in recognition is holding various events throughout the year that the whole family can get involved in.
Come and explore this magnificent castle in Kent, there’s so much to do. Journey through the castle’s history at The Gatehouse Exhibition and wander through the rooms that once housed Henry VIII. To keep the little ones entertained, fuel their imagination at the Knights’ Stronghold Playground and the Squires’ Court Playground. Sit back and enjoy a relaxing punt along the moat as you float through the ancient arches, seeing parts of the Castle from a different perspective. Fuel your adventurous side with the Go Ape Tree Top Adventure which will see you speeding down zip lines, swinging like Tarzan and exploring life amongst the trees.
Howletts Wild Animal Park
Howletts Wild Animal Park is located near Canterbury, it is Kent’s original wildlife park. The animal park is committed to the conservation, breeding and reintroduction of rare and endangered species. Working in partnership with the internationally renowned animal conservation charity, The Aspinall Foundation, Howletts Animal Park is home to over 400 animals across 50 species. Wherever possible, these animals are returned to the wild.
Set on 90 acres of land, Howletts is a great day out for all the family. They have Kent’s only giant anteaters as well as being home to the only herd of African elephants in Kent and the largest herd in the UK. Other animals residing at the park include; Rhinos, Tigers, Leopards, Gibbons, Grey Wolves, Lions, Monkeys, Cheetahs, Bison and many more. The park’s gorillas were described as “the finest in the world” by none other than animal legend, Steve Irwin. Visitors also have the opportunity to get up close when walking with lemurs, listening to the rangers talking about their animals and watching them get fed.
Bluewater Shopping Centre
Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0
Located in Greenhithe, just outside Dartford, Bluewater Shopping Centre is the biggest shopping centre in Kent and is one of the biggest in the UK. The centre opened in 1999 and sees a whopping 27 million visitors each year!
Bluewater is a hotspot for socialising, with over 330 stores including 60 cafes and restaurants. The centre sees stylish fashion brands such as Hollister, Karen Millen and Zara grace its floors. From Jo Malone and The White Company to House of Fraser and John Lewis, the vast array of stores at Bluewater is sure to provide you with a fix of retail therapy. Once you’ve shopped till you dropped, grab a bite to eat at one of the many dining venues, including wagamama, TGI Fridays, Zizzi and Nandos. Shoppers can also catch the latest Hollywood blockbuster at the centres’ 17-screen Showcase Cinema.
Canterbury Cathedral is the oldest cathedral and the most famous Christian structure in England. It is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England and symbolic leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The cathedral dates back more than 1,400 years and forms part of a World Heritage Site. Each year this incredible working church sees more than one million visitors.
Canterbury Cathedral welcomes visitors from around the world to revel in its rich history. While the cathedral is a working church and place of faith, visitors need to be mindful that it does regularly close for services and special events. If you are able to visit the Cathedral on a day that it’s open, it truly is a magnificent sight and one to tick off your bucket list.
Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway
Known as “Kent’s Mainline in Miniature”, there’s nothing quite like a ride on the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway. This isn’t just any railway, this particular railway operates the most complete collection of one-third full-sized steam locomotives in the world. This world famous miniature railway is one of Kent’s top tourist attractions.
The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway begins its journey in the pretty town of Hythe. The track stretches 13 miles across the stunning coastline from Romney Marsh to Dungeness. The entire journey from Hythe to Dungeness takes just over an hour to complete but there are opportunities to get off and wander around the nearby towns. Each stop is a few minutes’ walk from the beach.
Diggerland is an adventure park in Rochester with a twist. It differs from your average adventure park because this park is all about diggers. From children’s birthday parties to corporate events, Diggerland is fun for everyone.
Experience the power behind a digger as you take control of these machines, race them against your friends and sit in the bucket of a 360 Excavator clinging onto dear life as you are spun around and around. Try your hand at knocking down skittles, hooking a duck and digging for treasure on the one tonne diggers. Tackle a mountain of dirt as you plough through it on the three and six tonne diggers. You’ll be on the edge of your seat as you’re lifted high up on Sky. Experience the thrill as you bounce around and get thrown side to side on Ground Shuttle. For the ultimate thrill seekers there’s the biggest ride in the park, the one that will not only make you scream but possibly vomit too, it’s Spin Dizzy. This exciting ride will have you sitting in the bucket of a 360 Excavator spinning around and around as you raise to three different heights.
Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve
Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve is located near Hythe, with stunning views over Romney Marsh. This animal park is the sister to Howletts Animal Park and also works in conjunction with the internationally renowned animal conservation charity, The Aspinall Foundation. As part of this charity, the animal reserve is committed to the conservation, breeding and reintroduction of rare and endangered species into the wild.
The park is set over an impressive 600 acres, with over 760 rare and endangered animals, across 90 species living here. Port Lympne is home to the UK’s most authentic safari experience, The African Experience, spanning 100 acres of free reining African animals. The park has the largest herd of Black Rhino in the UK as well as the only Giraffes in Kent. Other animals residing at the park include; Gorillas, Tigers, Lions, Leopards, Bears, Bison, Gibbons, Zebra, Wallaby and many more. If at the end of the day you haven’t had a chance to see everything you wanted, you can enjoy a luxury stay at the park. Choose from a luxury lodge waking up to Lions, Tigers, Wolves and Rhinos, sleep under the stars in The Bubble which gives a 180 degree view of the park, or stay in one of the boutique hotels onsite. Guests staying onsite will experience luxuries such as a personal golf buggy to get around, a private ranger guided safari and personal chef, depending on the category of room you book.
The Chapel Down Winery
The Chapel Down Winery is located in the beautiful countryside near Tenterden. This award-winning winery is set amongst 22 acres of gorgeous vineyards, which is recognised as an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”. The winery is the leading producer of English sparkling wines, still wines and beers.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the vineyards to learn about how Chapel Down grow their vines and make the wine. A vineyard tour wouldn’t be complete without the chance to taste the award-winning range of wines produced onsite. The winery also features a two AARosette and Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant which uses locally sourced fresh produce to create tantalising dishes. If you can’t get enough of the wine you’ve sampled, the Winery Store is open to purchase wines, beers and ciders, along with high quality English produce sourced from the finest local suppliers.
With plenty of things to do in Kent, you’re spoiled for choice but either way there is something for everyone in our beloved county. If you’re travelling from further afield or planning to visit any of these places as a group, trust in us to provide you with the perfect coach hire.