Stuck for what to do with the kids this summer holiday? Read on for our guide of family days out across Sussex!
GETTING THERE: Follow the A27 west for approx. 40 mins.
BEST FOR: The whole family.
For a slice of history amid a stunning medieval setting, head to the West Sussex market town of Arundel, which is overlooked by a magnificent 950-year old castle (£55 for a family ticket of two adults and up to three children includes full admission of the grounds). Schedule your visit for the weekend of the 18-19 Aug, and you’ll arrive during Family History Weekend with its medieval activities such as falconry and artillery.
Just a 20 minute walk away, the boating lake at Swanbourne is worth a quieter visit, with a number of ducks and geese for kids big and small to feed, and boats available for hire.
The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (£30.90 family ticket) is also a minute up the road, as is the Black Rabbit pub – perfect for a scenic dinner by the River Arun.
GETTING THERE: North on A26, just past Haywards Heath
BEST FOR: Llama lovers and crazy cat people
Discover some truly llamazing animals at the Llama Park, where families can feed, stroke, cuddle and even take them out for a walk!
The short, 30-minute Family Walk is perfect for little ones. It’s designed for two adults, two children (and two llamas) but may be adapted. Set price is £50 with extra walkers charged at £15/adult and £10/child.
For a smaller furry fix, The National Cat Centre is only a four minute drive from The Llama Park. Kids will love its Top Cat themed cafe and the nature trail hosts all manner of wildlife, with a family activity pack available. Free admission.
Young and old, everyone familiar with A.A Milne’s timeless odes to childhood remembers Poohsticks Bridge and The Heffalump Trap. In Ashdown, the real locations await discovery! Refresh in Piglet’s Tearoom, which features cutely named dishes with plenty of child appeal. The gift shop contains a huge amount of memorabilia (free entry).
GETTING THERE: Short drive East, accessible on A27
BEST FOR: Animal lovers
Lewes Castle offers plenty in addition to its usual trails and quizzes. August has Roman artefact replication, a wildlife day on the 15th and a superhero day on the 27th. £21.50 for two adults and up to four children, pre-booking extra events advisable.
If in the mood to meet some animals head to Blackberry Farm, five miles south of Uckfield. A ticket for a family of four costs £36, and on themed summer holiday Tuesdays, all children in fancy dress enter half price. A face painter is also available across the weekend, plus tractor rides, animal handling and pony rides (£2.75) are also available.
Children will love being greeted by chatty birds at Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare! Explore the grounds of the sanctuary with a great view of the surrounding lakes. Learn about the rescued critters and listen to some interesting talks. Entry by donation.
GETTING THERE: East on A259 or A27
BEST FOR: Outdoorsy types and water babies
Buzz Active adds fun to its seaside location so your family can make a sizeable splash this summer. Try your hand at sailing, windsurfing and kayaking, and enjoy refreshments at the nearby Boathouse. This year, the centre is offering £10 taster sessions across most of its activities. The shallow lake next door makes perfect safe paddling for little ones, and the Airbourne airshow also takes place 16-19 Aug, just 25 minutes from the park!
Knockhatch Adventure Park in Hailsham also caters to water lovers with a slide and paddling pools. If you’d rather keep your feet dry, there’s indoor soft play, go karts, outdoor playgrounds, a ski slope and even a mining simulator, and more (family entrance is £36.78).
Adrenaline junkies should also check out Amazon Events, north of Hailsham. Perfect for families and larger groups – paintballing, quad biking, off-road karting, airsoft and more await. Best reserved for children 11+, family activity packages are available, with prices ranging from £16/person for a paintball game to £100 for a full day activity sampler.
GETTING THERE: Follow A27 for 50 minutes
BEST FOR: Science geeks, merchants and bards
The Observatory Science Centre at Herstmonceux boasts six historic telescopes – get close to these incredible machines and explore the night sky. With all the summer events scheduled, there can be no better time to visit!
Current exhibition ‘Life’ explores the human body, insects and plants, whereas ‘Shocking Electricity’ is a messier affair, with electrical experiments and explosions to provoke cheers. Throughout August, catch science themed workshops, as well as the special show, ‘Operation Earth’.
General admission is £8.25/adult and £6.25/child, with family concessions available.
England’s Medieval Festival celebrates its 26th year at Herstmonceux Castle from 25th – 27th August with more royal fun. Costumes, music and merriment make this a novel choice for a family friendly fest. Day tickets £19/adult and £9/child.
GETTING THERE: Head north on the A23
BEST FOR: Plant lovers, kids and the whole family
Head to Borde Hill Gardens on Sunday afternoons in August for Music In the Garden. Enjoy the flora while serenaded by talented performers, included in the family entrance price of £25.65 for two adults and up to three children. The Garden’s own music festival Magical also takes place on the 17 Aug, with tickets £100/adult, £50/child (10% off with code BN1).
This summer Wakehurst unveils The Wonder Project, an interactive art instalment. Traverse two miles over Wakehurst, through stimulating soundscapes and sculptures which meld art and nature. The project is open 2 – 5 Aug.