Summer is finally upon us, and with that brings the School Holidays and children who need entertaining! Luckily for you, Sussex and its surrounding area is alive and brimming with magical adventures for the whole family, ranging from the calm and sedate, to the mysterious, the awe-inspiring and the hair-raising. To take some of the stress way, Absolute Magazine have gone and done the planning ground work for you and come up with their very own guide to Family Days Out This Summer…
Chessington World of Adventures
Everyone’s childhood favourite and still going stronger than ever, Chessington now boasts over 40 rides and attractions in 10 themed lands, a Zoo with over 1000 animals and SEA LIFE centre, plus daily live shows and seasonal events. Chessington offers a world of fun and excitement for the whole family to enjoy and what’s more ….they still have The Bubbleworks!
If you want to go all out and make a weekend of it, you could treat the little ones to an overnight adventure at the resorts themed accommodation; The Azteca and Safari Hotels, or you want to go really wild, this year Chessington World of Adventures Resort announced itswildest outdoor accommodation experience yet, Explorer Glamping.
Fearless Adventurers need look no further for a one of a kind experience with the new Explorer Glamping accommodation. Guests have the chance to further immerse themselves in nature with an overnight stay in one of the brand new family tents.
Perfect for those who want to indulge their adventurous side without compromising life’s simple pleasures, the new glamping accommodation turns a family sleepover into an exciting, outdoor experience with an engaging community atmosphere. Guests are offered the chance to participate in a number of activities including exclusive access to a selection of Wild Asia attractions. They are then able to get snug under the stars to share stories of the day’s escapades before waking up to the wonderful sounds of the surrounding wilderness.
1) Chessington World of Adventures is jam-packed with things to do. Make sure you arrive early and plan your day in advance! When you arrive, download the app that helps you navigate your way through the park and lets you know the times for the live shows which are not to be missed!
2) Seriously consider making a short break of your time at Chessington World of Adventures and stay over the night. With so many rides to go on and animals to visit, it’s quite difficult to fit everything into one day. There are several options for accommodation including Safari Glamping (which looks like such good fun) and themed hotels.
3) There is a huge variety of dining options available throughout the park, so take time to study them for you arrive at the park so you don’t miss out on your favourite food. For a slightly more civilised seated affair (which is particularly helpful for those with infants) the Temple Restaurant & Bar can be found in the Azteca Hotel. This is a premium interactive dining experience and buffet style restaurant with plenty to offer, including a non-fried kid’s only counter!
4) This is Britain and so the chances of it raining on your day out are pretty high! We found that in the event of a downpour, the best places to get shelter whilst still having bags of fun were the Sea Life Centre, the Hocus Pocus house and of course the restaurants. The good people at Chessington World of Adventures also have a Rainy Day promise, which means that in the event of it raining for a solid hour on your day out, they will issue you with a free day pass for another day. You can’t say fairer than that!
The Arun and Wey Canal Boat Trips
If you fancy an activity that is tranquil, but the kids want excitement, then this will be right up your street, or canal. On the West Sussex/Surrey border lays the idyllic Loxwood section of the Arun and Wey Canal, known as London’s lost route to the sea. Courtesy of the Arun and Wey Canal Trust and operated by W&A Enterprises Ltd, families can kick back and relax as they explore the area by taking a ride on one of three different canal boat trips.
Light refreshments are available for purchase, or you are welcome to take a picnic on board. Public trips run every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday from the beginning of April until the end of October and special events such as Pirates & Princesses Adventures (11th and 25th Aug), Cream Teas (9th Aug and 7th Sept), Sunset Cruises, Halloween and Santa Cruises take place throughout the year.
The boat trips have become so popular that The Wey and Arun Canal Trust is looking for more volunteers to help run the boat trips as well as maintain the boats themselves. For more information, visit the website.
The perfect place to hang out with your cheeky monkeys!
The award-winning Drusillas Park in East Sussex has something for all the family this summer, with exciting animals, awesome attractions, a GET WET splash pad experience plus the chance to meet some of your kid’s favourite characters too.
The zoo is also celebrating the arrival of many bundles of fur and feathers. This year’s baby boomers include a rare baby sloth, a beautiful baby black lemur, three amazing meerkats and a squirrel monkey. Add to thisthe usual animal magic, oodles of adventure play, a Thomas & Friends™ train ride and Hello Kitty Secret Garden, there’s plenty of fun to be had at Drusillas Park this summer.
Don’t miss personal appearances from the lovable Peppa Pig & George (27 July & 24 August), Leo & Raph from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (3 August), Chase and Marshall from Paw Patrol (5 and 19 August)and Bing and Flop (17 August).
1) Arrive at Drusilla’s for opening at 10am so you have the whole day to explore. You will need the maximum amount of time to make sure you don’t miss any of the zoo, rides or adventure playground.
2) Drusillas caters for whatever you fancy eating, whether it’s fast food, a sit down meal or just a snack. If you do want to save money you can bring a picnic and use one of the picnic tables provided.
3) Bring your pocket money! Unlike most gift shops and then part instructions, the gift shops here are crammed full of goodies, with tack nowhere to be seen. We ended up purchasing some super cool flamingo cushions, a Hello Kitty bag and a Thomas the Tank Engine t-shirt!
4) The layout at Drusilla’s is faultless, with a very clearly signed route that takes you right the way around the zoo area. Make sure you pick up one of the animal spotting guides, which adds to the fun for the children as they get to use the stamps dotted around the zoo to mark off each animal they’ve spotted. Don’t be scared to go see the Lemurs in their enclosure! There is an expert to guide you through and it is definitely worth a visit.
TeamSports Go Karting
Enjoy full-on, fast and furious family fun at the Lancing go-karting track.
This incredible snakey track incorporates a sweeping double apex for white-knuckle duels, long straights where you can push our 200cc karts to the limit, a banked flyover to climb and descend – what more do you need? Well, how about a Monaco-style tunnel for that Formula One feeling as you emerge in the lead? Be warned – it can get very competitive amongst families!
The youngsters have specially-designed kids’ karts suitable for 8 to 12-year-olds and the family fun doesn’t stop once you get off the track. They’re fully equipped with everything you need for a perfect day, including food and drink, a spectator area and a licensed bar
Taking the whole family means you benefit from the special group offers for families, making it a very affordable day of high-speed thrills!
1) This is fast-paced and thrilling experience but the idea of it can be a little daunting. Once changed, drivers are called to the briefing room and given really clear instructions; brilliant for those not so confident and for those that have done it before it’s relatively short.
2) Bring some money for snacks and beverages in between races. The go-karting is actually very physical and feels like a real work out, so you’ll appreciate a thirst quencher!
3) You don’t have to drive to enjoy the action. If like me, you opted to just watch the rest of the family, you will end up having a great time watching the hair raising race from the viewing platform whilst casually enjoying a tipple or two.
4) Bring a group! Although smaller groups can join open track sessions, if you bring along 8 or more drivers, there is the option of exclusive use of the track. Beware, it gets very competitive! Time sheets are handed out after each race and there’s a trophy for the winner at the end of the session
Tie a handkerchief on your head and head over to Harbour Park; the ultimate traditional British seaside fun park. It lies on the Littlehampton sandy beaches, adjacent to the Harbour & Marina and houses everything you would expect to find for a good old-fashioned family beano. All the rides and attractions are designed for families with children between the ages of 2-12, including the Waltzer, Dodgems, The Water Chute and even Adventure Golf.
There are great places to eat such as the maritime themed Galley Restaurant & Tea Rooms, famous for its tea-leaf tea & freshly cooked Fish & Chips, Harbour Kitchen, offering a great selection of hot and cold food and visitor’s guilty pleasure; Kelly’s Ice Cream Parlour. Not breaking with tradition, there is a Family Arcade. It’s a great place to gently introduce your children to the delights of fun rides and of curse a gift shop where you can get hold of everything you need to enjoy a spot of ‘crabbing’ along the river – a Littlehampton Harbour must!
Hop on the train or pack up the car and make your way to the world’s oldest scientific zoo; ZSL London Zoo. Opened on 27 April 1828, the zoo is located in the north east corner of London’s Regent’s Park and today houses a collection of 806 species of animals (19,178 individuals), making it one of the largest collections in the UK. Your family will not fail to be in total awe when you are brought face to face with nature as you make your way through 36 acre site. Visit exhibits such as Tiger Territory, Penguin Beach, Giants of the Galapagos, Meet the Monkeys (where you are actually allowed to roam within the monkey’s enclosure!), Rainforest Life, and Gorilla Kingdom show how ZSL creates realistic environments to house some of the world’s most impressive and inspiring animals.
Back in March this year, ZSL London Zoo’s launched their most majestic exhibit; the Land of the Lions. This £5.2m development has been created to transport visitors from the heart of London to the vibrant setting of Sasan Gir in Gujarat, India – the last remaining stronghold of Asiatic lions – and bring visitors closer than ever to the big cats.
Family group tickets are available online at £75 (2 adults + 2 children OR 1 adult + 3 children) and you are welcome to take your own picnic, or dine at one of the zoo’s many food outlets.
1) If you’re taking the little ones, we found that it was really easy to drive there, thus avoiding the complications of lugging all your bags and buggies through the Underground and on the trains.The zoo is outside of the congestion charge area and the car parking facilities are excellent, with it costing just £14 for a full days parking.
2) The zoo is perfectly sized for a full days entertainment. Make sure you visit the new Land of the Lions as well as the monkey enclosure where you actually get to see the monkeys up close and personal!
3) Bring a picnic! Although there is the Terrace restaurant caters for all tastes, there is a beautiful area for picnickers – it’s a great way of saving money and avoiding the manic setting of the restaurant.
4) Make sure you check out what time the live demos are at the start of your day as they are fascinating. We learnt how to treat a wounded lion and how to feed penguins!
Fishers Farm Park is a unique mixture of indoor play and outdoor adventure, creating an unforgettable family experience whatever the weather. Located within the heart of West Sussex this family-run farm park offers a jam-packed day full of fun, animals, and attractions. Get nose-to-nose in the enormous Animal Encounters Barn with some fascinating Farm Animals including baby goats, alpacas and a very friendly chinchilla! Ride ‘Jessie’ the Jersey Cow in the famous Farm Show, cradle a bunny or tickle a tortoise in the daily Animal Handling sessions or cheer on the Shetland Ponies in The Shetland Grand National!
Families can enjoy a leisurely tractor ride, bump along on the Barrel Bugs or climb aboard your very own pony ride. Chugg around the miniature track on the Fishers Express Train – a favourite for your Toddlers, or dare your little ones to brave the dark in the children’s Ghost Tunnel.
The adventure continues with ‘Adventure golf,’ The Jolly Fisher’ pirate galleon, jumping pillows, merry-go-rounds, lighthouse slides, bumper boats, summer ‘Splash Attack’ water zone, Fishers Fort, ‘Devils Dyke Descent’ toboggan run, toddler quads, zip-wires, tree-top adventures, panning for gemstones, giant climbing tower, the enchanted woods and tree houses and so many things to do with the kids and the grown-ups alike!
When you are completely pooped out and need a well-deserved break, there are five different indoor soft play zones which conveniently have comfy viewing lounges for the adults.
Music to any parent’s ears. Holiday clubs and days out are great, but they can be expensive, especially when there are six weeks to plan for! But fear not, our friends at Forest Holidays is all about helping your child find their inner wild and has created a list of things to do during the break, both indoors and outdoors that are fun and mostly free!
Natural History and Science Museum, London
Open all day, every day, throughout the summer holidays what better place could there be to lose yourself in the present and the very distant past? There are exhibits to suit all tastes at both museums which sit next door to one another. Whether it is coming face to face with a towering T-Rex or working through Einstein’s theory of relativity – both destinations are free to enter and promise an amazing day out.
National Trust Cycle Paths
The UK boasts miles of beautiful coast and countryside all just waiting to be explored. What better way to do this than hopping on your bike and hitting some of the National Trust family trails for a two-wheeled adventure? Getting off the road and into the countryside is safe, cheap, fun for all the family – and it keeps you fit too. There are Cycling Trails all over the UK to suit all abilities following historical pathways and taking in dramatic sights. Most routes have at least one tea room so hungry cyclists and stop for an ice-cream – or take your own picnic to keep costs down further.
Build a Bug Hotel
If the weather is putting pay to outside activities you can always take it indoors – but there is much more to do on rainy days than sit and stare at the computer or the TV. With a few bits and pieces that are readily found around the garden or in the shed you can build a bug house. Encourage wildlife into the garden or allotment by offering a dry place to rest weary wings and addled antenna at the end of a long day pollinating! A basic design can be made and, when the sun is out again, kids can build their structures and wait for the bugs to arrive.
OK – well not totally free, but if you have a stash of 2p pieces, Brighton Pier might just be the place to spend them. With an arcade full of 2p slot machines the fun is in trying to guess which game is due to let its booty drop making you the winner! Of course, it is mostly a game of easy come; easy go as the 2ps are shovelled back into the machine ready for the next player to take their chances.
Build a den
A fine art form and an all-round activity allowing children to practise planning and leadership skills as well as spacial awareness and team work! Dens can be built inside and out using household items such as sheets and pillows and is a great way to engage with the family. Come the summer holidays the activity can be taken outside using fallen tree branches and leaves to create some amazing temporary shelters.
Find out how to build a den.
Build a bug hotel
Why not encourage your children to love nature and build a bug hotel together? Find out more here.