With all the aerial chaos, you might be thinking of vacationing closer to home this summer. Kent, the Garden of England, is packed with things to do and see for families, friends and couples, and here are some of the county’s top attractions and places to stay…
Main image: The White Cliffs of Dover (Getty)
What to do in Kent
1 Rare Breeds Centre, Ashford
With 100 acres and three game parks, including the mysterious Swamp Outdoor Activity Trail, the Rare Breed Center has something for the whole family. A walk through the woods with a wildflower meadow, a butterfly tunnel that is currently awash with fluttering wings and tropical plants, trailer rides and pig racing on weekends and holidays, you will have a fantastic time on the farm. There are also three food spots, with burgers, fries, great local coffee and ice cream that will keep you cool in the shade, and a shop with fun toys to take home. Reservation in advance recommended.
Address: Woodchurch, Ashford TN26 3RJ
2 Terlingham Vineyard, Hawkinge
A family-run vineyard producing award-winning natural wines and gin, Terlingham Vineyard is just 10 minutes from Folkstone West Rail Station. Wine tastings are offered year-round, where you can taste the delicious wines and gin, as well as learn about natural farming practices that encourage wild flora, insects, bees and bugs as well as traditional methods of winemaking.
Address: Terlingham Lane, Hawkinge CT18 7AE
3 Chartwell, Westerham
Overlooking the Weald of Kent, the hillside home of Sir Winston Churchill offers a unique insight into his life not only as a statesman and politician, but also as a husband, father, writer and painter. Surrounded by gardens, lakes and woods, Chartwell remains an ode to the Churchills’ love of landscape and nature. On this summer’s flagship tour, delve beyond the studio and into the story of Churchill the Artist.
Address: Mapleton Road, Westerham TN16 1PS
4 Emmetts Garden, Sevenoaks
An Edwardian planter’s paradise, Emmetts Garden is home to botanical specimens from around the world, with a romantic rose garden and surrounded by woodland walks. Join us this summer for a trip to the theater with The Lord Chamberlain’s Men and their production of William Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’.
Address: Ide Hill, Sevenoaks, TN14 6BA
5 Balfour Vineyard, Staplehurst
Family-owned Balfour Winery is located on the Hush Heath estate – 400 acres and home to some of England’s most vibrant flora and fauna. Walk through beautiful vineyards, wildflower meadows and ancient oak forests on a free self-guided walk or join an expert-led tour. You can also sample wines, either during a self-taught tasting or a Cellar Door Masterclass for a fun and relaxing experience overlooking the vineyard. either way, savor the gout accompanied by delicious platters to share for lunch with a selection of charcuterie, seafood, cheeses and vegetables.
Address: Five Oak Lane, Staplehurst TN12 0HT
6 Hever Castle, Hever
Just 30 miles from central London but a world away, Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, Hever Castle, is set in 150 acres of stunning grounds in the Weald of Kent. From hands-on activities to falconry demonstrations and jousting, a summer visit offers a fun-filled day regardless of your age. Young visitors can learn the ropes from the resident wizards, or hunt shields and dragon eggs, as well as experience falconry or a jousting tournament or have fun in the water maze. You can also stroll through the award-winning gardens, including the Italian Garden overlooking the picturesque lake.
Address: Hever TN8 7NG
7 Copper Rivet Distillery, Chatham
The Copper Rivet Distillery and Pumproom restaurant is housed in a beautiful Victorian pumphouse in Chatham Dockyard, Kent. Since opening in 2016, Copper Rivet Distillery has been crafting gin, vodka and whiskey from scratch in bespoke stills, using only grain grown within a 20-mile radius. Take a tour of the distillery to learn about the ‘farm-to-glass’ distillation process, with plenty of opportunities to sample exceptional craft spirits. Follow up with a casual gourmet meal at the Pumproom Restaurant.
Address: Pump House no. 5, Chatham Dockyard, Leviathan Way, Chatham ME4 4LP
Telephone: For visits 01634 931 122; for the restaurant 01634 931 121
Website: www.coperrivetdistillery.com; crdpumproom.com
8 Wingham Wildlife Park, Wingham
Nestled in the Kent countryside, Wingham Wildlife Park is home to lions, flamingos, parrots, meerkats, red pandas and moon bears among many other wondrous creatures. In addition to these beautiful animals, the WWP also offers indoor and outdoor play areas, food facilities, picnic areas, gift shop, free parking, museum, dinosaur exhibit, golf crazy and battery powered karts making for a fun filled day out for the family. . Wheelchair accessible.
Address: Rusham Road, Wingham CT3 1JL
Accommodations in Kent
1 Marquess of Granby, Dover
This beautifully renovated, award-winning boutique pub and hotel is located in one of Kent’s most picturesque areas, just steps from the White Cliffs of Dover. It is also perfectly located for those traveling to the Continent, with the Channel Tunnel and the Port of Dover both just 15 minutes away by car. The AA Rosette-winning pub was a finalist in the Taste of Kent awards and its kitchen serves a varied selection of food, including some Kent pub classics.
Address: Alkham Valley Road, Alkham Dover CT15 7DF
Telephone: 01304 873410
2 The dog at Wingham, Wingham
The award-winning Dog at Wingham is a charming pub and restaurant in the center of a picturesque village in the heart of Kent wine country, surrounded by walks and things to do. Just a few miles from the historic city of Canterbury, the coastal towns of Whitstable, Herne Bay, Dover, Deal, Sandwich, Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate are all within easy reach. The family-run hotel has beautiful, individually designed rooms, a Top 50 Gastropubs restaurant and a superb selection of local gins and wines. Naturally, The Dog accepts pets.
Address: Canterbury Road, Wingham, near Canterbury CT3 1BB
Telephone: 01227 720339
3 The View Hotel Folkestone
The View Hotel Folkestone is a four star boutique hotel with an unrivaled location. Situated on the famous Leas in Folkestone, the building has been beautifully restored to its former glory and is now a refined contemporary venue, with excellent dining options and spectacular panoramic views over the English Channel and the beautiful seafront of the town. The hotel also offers easy access to the charming town center of Folkestone and all it has to offer.
Address: The Leas, Folkestone, CT20 2EF
4 Relish, Folkestone
Folkestone’s first contemporary guesthouse, The Relish enjoys a central location in the trendy West End. The hotel is a stone’s throw from some of the best restaurants in town and not far from the sea, the famous Leas and the Lower Leas Coastal Park with picnic areas, great beaches and cliff top walks . The hotel’s contemporary interiors are havens of comfort, privacy and elegance, and come with a warm touch – a slice of homemade cake on arrival and fresh tea and coffee throughout your stay .
Address: 4 Augusta Gardens, Folkestone CT20 2RR
5 Frasers of Egerton, Egerton
An award-winning eco estate surrounded by stunning countryside, vineyards, walking trails, castles and abundant nature, this characterful location and its 300-acre farm has impressive green credentials – running on 80% energy renewable, for example. Just an hour from London, it offers the perfect getaway for multi-generational family breaks, parties and other celebrations, and corporate events. Sympathetically converted farm buildings house a choice of ten elegantly furnished bedrooms, while a seasonal menu celebrates the finest local produce, fresh from the vegetable garden or local artisan suppliers.
Address: Coldharbour Farm, Barham’s Mill Road, Egerton TN27 9DD
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