Kent is a home county bordering Greater London to the northwest, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the southwest. It has been home to Canterbury Cathedral since the 6th century. It is known as “The Garden of England” due to its abundant fruit and hop gardens. Kent has something to offer everyone whether a romantic getaway is on your mind or a fun family outing. With its age old heritage sites, modern art galleries, luxurious spas and great hiking trails, Kent is the perfect holiday destination. With its close proximity to London, you will never have a boring moment while visiting this picturesque English county.
10. Tonbridge Swimming Pool
The Tonbridge Swimming Pool is not just your average swimming pool. It offers an indoor swimming pool joined to an outdoor swimming pool by a swim-through channel. The original outdoor pool, built in 1910, is a four lane, 20 metre heated pool with a man-made beach and sunbathing terrace. You will also enjoy a wonderful cafe and the “Lifestyles Health Suite” which features a jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, aromatherapy room, sunbeds and a rest lounge. The 25 metre indoor fitness pool is designed to accommodate all your family’s fitness needs while providing a clean and safe environment. They offer many fitness programs such as aqua aerobics and swim fit. They even offer fun sessions for parents and toddlers to develop water confidence. What more could you ask for in a family outing destination?
9. St. Augustine’s Abbey
Founded shortly after 597 AD, St. Augustine’s Abbey was a benedictine monastery until its dissolution in 1538 marking the rebirth of Christianity in southern England. Until 1848, it was dismantled and since then the site has been used for education and the ruins of the abbey have been preserved for their historical value. It was originally created as a burial place for Anglo-Saxon kings and is now part of the Canterbury World Heritage Site along with the cathedral and St. Martin’s Church. Also located at the abbey is a museum and you can experience a free audio tour. The museum showcases artifacts and stone carvings originally found at the abbey during excavations. The artifacts range from skeletal remains to costumes worn by actors playing the king and queen in celebration of St. Augustine’s arrival.
8. The Hop Farm Country Park
A 400-acre (1.6 km2) country park in Beltring near East Peckham in Kent, the 450 year old Hop Farm Country Park has the largest collection of oast (a kiln for drying hops) houses in the world. Some of the spectacular attractions you can visit on the farm include: Yesterday’s World – a period replica village featuring artifacts from the Victorian era to the 1970s, Hop Story Museum – the museum features exhibits and a film about growing and harvesting hops, The Magic Castle, Children’s Driving School – a track for small cars and trucks for children to drive, Giant Jumping Pillows, Hoppers Animal World – petting farm and falconry centre, Inflatable Boats and Slides, 4D Cinema, Outdoor Adventure Play, Indoor Soft Play, Shops and Children’s Rides. Many events are also hosted in the park, so there is always plenty to see and do for all ages at this family-oriented attraction.
7. Romney Marsh
Covering an area of about 100 square miles (260 km2), the Romney Marsh is a flat, low-lying wetland area stretching from Rye to Hythe with parts of it even reaching below sea level. The area is well known for its diverse wildlife, natural beauty, extensive coastline and fascinating history. There is plenty to see and do here with its sandy beaches, medieval churches, nature reserves and breathtaking countryside. Contained within the marsh are the historic towns of Romney and Lydd, the Hythe and Dymchurch Railway and the Royal Military Canal. You can enjoy the pristine beach before heading out for a fantastic meal at one of the many restaurants, then just take in some of the natural beauty all around you while relaxing for the day or go and explore one of the magnificent medieval churches. Whatever your preference, there is something new and incredible for you to discover at every turn.
6. Canterbury Roman Museum
Located in Canterbury, Kent, the Canterbury Roman Museum opened in 1961 houses Roman pavement, a scheduled monument and is in the remains of a Roman courtyard house. You will find many artifacts on display here from Roman Canterbury which includes the Roman silver hoard known as the Canterbury Treasure along with reconstructions of the town. You can walk through the marketplace, examine the recreations of Roman rooms and learn about the Canterbury Treasure. You will also be able to handle, sort and classify real Roman pottery fragments and other items relating to the times. Some of the museum’s premier features include their mosaic tile floors and hypocaust (underfloor heating system) which have been preserved, rare tools, building materials of the times, painted plaster fragments and figurines of gods. You and your family will feel like you stepped back in time in the interactive museum.
5. Beaney House of Art and Knowledge
Located on High Street in Canterbury, the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge is the main museum, library and art gallery in Kent along with a cafe. This state-of-the-art facility was upgraded in 2012 and is a hub of activities and programs. After exploring the museum exhibits why not venture into the art galleries and take in the many permanent exhibits featuring Ancient Egyptian and Greek artifacts, objects from all over the world including Kent, birds, butterflies, stained glass, paintings and drawings. In their Cabinet of Curiosities you will find rare and exotic animals and objects collected by amateur collectors from the late eighteenth century on through the ages. The library, the first publicly funded library in Great Britain, is now one of a large network of public libraries managed by Kent County Council and is chock full of interesting resources and more collections in conjunction with the art gallery.
4. White Cliffs of Dover
Forming part of the English coastline facing the Strait of Dover and France, the White Cliffs of Dover are cliffs which are part of the North Downs Formation. The cliff face reaches up to 350 feet (110m) and its white colour comes from its composition of chalk which is accentuated by the black streaks of black flint within it making a striking spectacle you won’t want to miss. The cliffs are at the one end of Kent Down declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. From atop the magnificent cliffs, you have a breathtaking panoramic view of the English Channel toward the French coast. If you walk the coastal path toward South Foreland Lighthouse you will see the chalk grasslands that are home to unique species of plants and insects like the pyramidal orchid and chalkhill blue butterfly. It’s a spectacular adventure and one you won’t experience anywhere else in the world.
3. Canterbury Cathedral
Forming part of a World Heritage Site, the Canterbury Cathedral is the oldest and most famous Christian structure in England. It is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England. Founded in 597 and completely rebuilt from 1070 to 1077, the building has undergone many renovations and extensions over the centuries with the Norman nave and transepts being demolished in the fourteenth century to make way for the present structures. Inside the cathedral, you will be awed by the beauty of the 12th century choir, the colourfully magnificent stained glass windows, the Tomb of The Black Prince, Trinity Chapel, the Shrine of Thomas Becket featuring his crown, the incredible ornate nave and the cloister and other monastic buildings around the church. The beauty of the architecture along with the spiritual air of the cathedral will leave you feeling renewed and a peace when you visit.
2. Howletts Wild Animal Park
Originally set up as a private zoo in 1957 near Canterbury, Howlette Wild Animal Park was opened to the public in 1975. The collection of animals here are referred to as unorthodox because of the close relationship between the animals and the zoo staff and their breeding of rare and endangered species. This 90 acre (36 ha) park houses over 400 animals of more than 50 species. Amongst the animal collection is Howletts’ Western Lowland Gorillas known for being some of the largest family groups in the world and the largest breeding groups of Lion-Tailed Macaques in the world. You will also see Sumatran tigers and elephants and get to watch the elephants play in their sandy beach. Then you can enhance your visit by experiencing Keeper Day or Animal Encounters, where you get up close and personal with the animals. There is tons to do here for all ages.
1. Leeds Castle
Opened in 1119, the Leeds Castle is located 5 miles (8 km) southeast of Maidstone in Kent. It was the favourite residence for King Edward I and then served as residence to Catherine of Aragon, King Henry VIII’s first wife. The castle sits on 500 acres of land and because of its constant upkeep over the past 900 years, its condition is amongst the best of Europe’s medieval era landmarks. The tapestries, ceramics and paintings in the castle are very elegant adding to the beauty and ambiance. On the castle grounds, you will find an aviary, grotto, golf course and hedge maze constructed of over 2,400 yew trees. The only viable entrance to the grotto is through the maze providing an incentive for curious visitors. You will be awe-struck by the majestic beauty as soon as you see this impressive castle rising up from the moat.