Kent with Kids: The 15 best FREE family days out in Kent!

I’ve lived in Kent my entire life, so if you want to find out the best places for frugal family fun then I am definitely your girl! We often do ‘no spend’ weekends, and with the kids being homeschooled entertaining them without spending money is essential as we spend lots of time out and about or meeting up with friends. So, I’ve compiled my 15 best free family days out in Kent – we’ve got so much on our doorstep and plenty of places for the kids to explore and let off steam.

Whether it be for weekend fun, or school holiday entertainment, all of these places can be enjoyed for free – with the exception of parking charges! (And don’t forget to pack up a picnic too!) From aerodromes, to country parks, paddling pools, beaches, zoo animals (who doesn’t love a giraffe!), hikes, streams, playgrounds and more – here’s how to have loads of fun this summer with a next-to-nothing budget!

I’ve done some little mini reviews, added photos and included our experiences so that you’ll know what to expect. Honestly, I barely spend a penny over the summer holidays but we have the absolute best of times, so I hope you will too! Enjoy!

1. Brockhill Country Park, Hythe, Kent

Brockhill Country Park is such a gem – it has a large play park and lovely grounds to explore – you can stroll across fields, roll down hills (I leave that to the kids!), trudge around the woods or have a saunter around the lake. It’s one of my children’s favourite places to meet their friends and get muddy!

Kent, Kids, FREE family days out, brockhill country park, hythe, frugal mum child photo in playpark

Kent, Kids, FREE family days out, brockhill country park, hythe, frugal mum, lake photo

This is typically how filthy my kids end up when we visit Brockhill Country Park… 😂

Kent, Kids, FREE family days out, brockhill country park, hythe, frugal mum children photo

We’ve had many a day out there; often taking nets with us and paddling in the stream, which you can find after exploring the fields at the edge of the lake – it’s the perfect way to cool everyone down in the summer months. (They also do events including stream dipping, but we prefer to do this on a non event day and have the stream to ourselves – and without any cost involved.)

Kent, Kids, FREE family days out, brockhill country park, hythe, frugal mum child photo nets in stream

If you do have a bit of spending money, there are also lots of events held at Brockhill Park. Activities are themed throughout the year for Easter, Halloween and Christmas – as well as summer holiday fun, forest craft and campfire sessions. They range in price, dependent on what you’re booking, and prices start from about a fiver. My two loved the Easter trail when they were smaller.

Kent, Kids, FREE family days out, brockhill country park, hythe, frugal mum children photo, campfire with ranger, event

We also had another great day geocaching around the site for just £5 for our group! The kids loved using the little GPS device we were given, along with picture clues and a map. We went with friends, so there were six of us altogether. The trail itself took just over 2 hours and we trudged all over the valleys and the lake.

Kent, Kids, FREE family days out, brockhill country park, hythe, frugal mum children photo, geocaching

It’s the perfect place to take a picnic and meet up with your mummy friends and their broods! If you don’t want to attend the activities on offer, you can enjoy a free day out at Brockhill Country Park for the cost of parking. (£2.50 per day Mon-Fri, £3.50 per day weekends and bank holidays.)

Address:  Sandling Road, Hythe, Kent, CT21 4HL, England

Facilities: Parking, toilets, cafe

 

2. Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens, Dover, Kent

Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens, in Dover, is a great choice for a sunny day. And, the best bit is, it’s open every single day of the year and it won’t cost you a penny for entry or parking (which is free for up to four hours). So, if the kids don’t fleece you for an ice-cream, you can have a completely free day out.

Kent, Kids, FREE family days out, kearsney abbey russell gardens, dover frugal mum photo of lake

It’s a beautiful place to visit for a stroll outdoors and, if you’re lucky enough to get some sunshine, the children can paddle in the shallow streams which is a firm favourite with my two and their friends in the summer! There are some smaller areas for the little ones, but also places for the older ones to climb and explore – just remember to bring towels and a change of clothes!

Kent, Kids, FREE family days out, kearsney abbey russell gardens, dover, frugal mum photo, children in stream

Kent, Kids, FREE family days out, kearsney abbey russell gardens, dover, frugal mum photo, children in stream

We’ve had so many days out there with friends and family; there are huge areas of grass for picnics and games, so it’s a great space for a game of football or rounders. We take all sorts with us when we go to keep the kids occupied.

Kent, Kids, FREE family days out, kearsney abbey russell gardens, dover, frugal mum photo, grass area

There are a couple of play parks to keep the children entertained too – these are on both sides of the road, so it’s worth moving around to make the most of it all. It does get quite busy in the summer holidays,  but as there’s a lot of space to roam it doesn’t ever feel too crowded or overwhelming. The park on the main side is best for younger ones, whilst the other side of the road has a more natural themed park better for older kids.

Kent, Kids, FREE family days out, kearsney abbey russell gardens, dover, frugal mum photo, children playing in park

Address:  Alkham Road, Temple Ewell, Dover, Kent. > The postcode for the western car park (opposite Russell Gardens) is CT16 3EE.

Facilities: Parking, toilets, cafe

 

3. The Three Peaks Challenge, the Folkestone version, Kent

One of our favourite free days out in Kent is the Three Peaks hiking route in Folkestone – conquering Castle Hill, Round Hill and Sugarloaf Hill. It’s a fantastic walk, and a brilliant way to spend a freebie afternoon and get some fresh air with the kids. I’ve included photos from a few of our different visits, old and new, as we do this route a few times a year.

Folkestone 3 Peaks Challenge, Free Day Out with the Kids, Kent, nature walk, hills, frugal mum family

It’s quite some distance – our route is about 6km and it takes a few hours – but the kids always have a great time exploring along the way. Whilst the first parts of the walk are more easily achieved, despite some uneven terrain, Sugarloaf itself is very steep compared to the other two hills and you’ll need to sort of scramble up it and slide down.

Folkestone 3 Peaks Challenge, Free Day Out with the Kids, Kent, nature walk, hills, frugal mum family photo climbing sugarloaf

It’s very satisfying when you make it to the top, and the view is incredible. It’s the perfect picnic spot! Finn and Lola are always super determined to get to the top so that they can slide back down on their bottoms!

Folkestone 3 Peaks Challenge, Free Day Out with the Kids, Kent, nature walk, hills, frugal mum family photo

Wear sensible clothes and supportive shoes, and bring some food and drink to keep the kids going. A lot of the walk is unshaded, so you’ll need suncream on a warmer day, but there’s a wooded area along the way that’s perfect for a rest in the shade. Finn and Lola love to play hide-and-seek there too!

Folkestone 3 Peaks Challenge, Free Day Out with the Kids, Kent, nature walk, hills, frugal mum children climbing tree

The field at the bottom of Sugarloaf can be very boggy when it’s been wet – so think about this before you walk. We’ve had very soggy shoes in the past! But, as long as you’ve had a spell of dry weather, the field will be fine.

Folkestone 3 Peaks Challenge, Free Day Out with the Kids, Kent, nature walk, hills, frugal mum family photo of view

If you fancy having a go at the three peaks challenge, click here to get the route and some more info. I think we take a slightly different route as we explore along the way, but this will give you an idea of where to start.

Folkestone 3 Peaks Challenge, Free Day Out with the Kids, Kent, nature walk, hills, frugal mum family photo

You can park your car in a parking area off of the M20 Motorway at Junction 13 for Folkestone. The route will take you back in a loop. It’s important to note that it’s near a McDonalds for when everyone’s starving on the way home! 😂 This walk was our sanctuary during the pandemic when everything was closed! Have a great hike! 😍

I’ve taken this route map from the ‘Walksandwalking‘ website:

Folkestone 3 Peaks Challenge, Free Day Out with the Kids, Kent, nature walk, hills, route image map

 

4. West Hythe river walk, with a hint of giraffe! Hythe, Kent

Fancy getting a glimpse of the zoo animals without the big bill? The kids do love a day at the zoo, but it can easily set us back £100 for a family of four, so it’s not something that we do too often. But what if you could get up close to the giraffes, and even watch feeding time, without spending a penny? Here’s the secret to seeing some of the animals at Port Lympne Zoo for absolutely nothing.

Free Day Out with the Kids, West Hythe river walk, zoo animals, nature walk, Kent, frugal mum children looking at giraffes

Starting at the river along West Hythe, at the bottom of Lympne Hill, park in the car park and follow the pathway along the river. It’s a lovely walk in itself, and the trees provide a bit of shade on a warm summer’s day.

Free Day Out with the Kids, West Hythe river walk, zoo animals, nature walk, Kent, frugal mum child on rope swing

Continue farther along and you’ll start to see some of the zoo animals on your right-hand-side through the fencing. Keep going a little more, and you’ll see a path that leads you in between the enclosures and up the hill. Here you can see gazelles, water buffalo and (Finn and Lola’s favourite!) the giraffes!

Free Day Out with the Kids, West Hythe river walk, zoo animals, nature walk, Kent, frugal mum photo, zoo animals

In the past, we’ve been lucky enough to venture there at feeding time – we saw so many of the giraffes up close, all clustered together whilst they were being fed, and could even hear the talk being given by the keeper. The children love getting a sneaky look at the animals, and it makes an afternoon stroll much more exciting! Take a picnic, and you’ll have a lovely thing to do on a Sunday, without spending a penny. And, it’ll certainly tide you over until your next visit to the zoo!

Free Day Out with the Kids, West Hythe river walk, zoo animals, nature walk, Kent, frugal mum photo of giraffes

Address:  Car park is at: CT21 4NB

 

5. Mote Park, Maidstone, Kent

Mote Park, in Maidstone, is a stunning place for a fun family day out – the 450 acre site is enormous. This one comes into both the free and affordable camp – you can spend barely a penny here, or book onto some of the paid activities available, but it’s totally possible to have a great day for the cost of parking (£2 for up to six hours).

Free Day Out with the Kids, mote park, maidstone, Kent, frugal mum children in play park photo

The big play park has a range of equipment for little and older children, and there’s plenty of open spaces for games of football, rounders and anything else the kids fancy doing too. The skate park area is good for the older ones, and the stunning lake is perfect for a summer’s day walk in the sunshine.

Day Out with the Kids, Mote Park Review, Maidstone, Kent, frugal mum child playing in park

There are lots of water activities available on the lake including: sailing, boating, diving, rowing, windsurfing and swimming, and you can also hire a pedalo swan to explore the islands, reeds and trees with the kids if you do have a little money in the kitty.

free day Out with the Kids, Mote Park Review, Maidstone, Kent, photo of lake, frugal mum

But if you want to keep things cheap and cheerful, make the most of the parks, go for a walk or bring your bikes – there are plenty of cycling trails, if you love biking as much as we do, and also a BMX track for the more adventurous! The whole park is beautiful, and there’s plenty to explore.

Address:  Mote Ave, Maidstone ME15 7RN

Facilities: Parking, toilets, cafe

 

6. Toddler’s Cove, Canterbury, Kent

Toddler’s Cove play park is great place to take the little ones if you’re looking for a free day out. The play equipment has been really well done – there’s a pirate ship, a zip line, a trim trail and green space for running around, plus it’s in a beautiful spot along the river.

Free Day Out with the Kids, Toddler's Cove Review, Canterbury, Kent, photo frugal mum children playing in park

Toddler’s Cove playground isn’t far from Canterbury’s city centre, so a short walk along the water’s edge will take you towards the hustle and bustle of the shops. Parking prices in Canterbury can be horrendous but the car park here is much cheaper so, if you’re also heading to the shops, the affordable parking here could be really handy and may be worth the five-ten minute walk along the river; you’ll enjoy the scenery too!

Free Day Out with the Kids, Toddler's Cove Review, Canterbury, Kent, photo frugal mum children playing in park

On a warm summer’s day, you’ll usually find an affordable ice-cream truck on site too, as well as a catering van if you’re looking for an easy lunch.  But if you bring a packed lunch then there’s no need to spend anything at all, besides parking charges.

Free Day Out with the Kids, Toddler's Cove Review, Canterbury, Kent, photo frugal mum children playing in park

Address:  Whitehall RoadCanterbury CT2 8BQ, England

Facilities: Parking, toilets

 

7. Dymchurch Beach, Romney Marsh, Kent

When the sunshine is out, and the summer is in full swing, Dymchurch beach is the perfect place for a free family day out. (Though you’ll need to be careful about the tide times, as the beach disappears completely when the tide comes in, so be sure to have a quick google to see the best time for your visit before heading out.)

Free Day Out with the Kids, dymchurch beach, Kent, frugal mum photo of seaside

When the tide is out, there’s a huge expanse of sand – perfect for beach rounders, football, digging trenches and sandcastle competitions. We’ve made so many brilliant memories at Dymchurch beach, and kids adore it when we meet up with friends – they’ll happily entertain themselves for hours.

Free Day Out with the Kids, dymchurch beach, Kent, frugal mum photo with kids at seaside

Free Day Out with the Kids, dymchurch beach, Kent, frugal mum children playing in sand

If you do have some money to spend, there’s also an amusement park with fairground rides and arcades which the kids will love. And, lots of yummy ice-cream and fish and chip shops too. (Though if you bring a picnic you can have a totally free family fun!)

Free Day Out with the Kids, dymchurch beach, Kent, frugal mum photo of children at amusements

 

8. Betteshanger Country Park, Deal, Kent

Betteshanger is a huge country park in Deal – and it’s really well known for it’s cycling tracks (on and off road!). They’ve recently added lots of activities to the site like axe throwing, a shoot out arena, an obstacle course and all sorts, but there’s also plenty to do for free so you can have a great day with the kids for the cost of parking (£3.50 for weekdays and £5 at weekends).

Free Day Out with the Kids, betteshanger, deal, Kent, frugal mum photo of child on bike track

There are plenty of places to have a picnic, and if you pop your wellies on you can explore the wooded areas too – the site is 250 acres! The adventure playground is good fun for the kids, and they often run activities and events, so check their website to see what’s going on.

Free Day Out with the Kids, betteshanger, deal, Kent, frugal mum photo of children in playground

Some are events are free – like the stunt bikes show we watched a while back – whilst others are chargeable, such as Easter egg hunts. We used to do the Easter trail most years when Finn and Lola were small and it was always good fun. (Look how little and adorable they were!) Betteshanger Country Park is a great place for the kids to let off some steam.

Free Day Out with the Kids, betteshanger, deal, Kent, frugal mum photo of children on easter egg hunt

Address: Sandwich Rd, Deal CT14 0BF

Facilities: Restaurant, parking, toilets

 

9. Lower Leas Coastal Park, Folkestone, Kent

Lower Leas Coastal Park in Folkestone is a fantastic outdoor play area, in the seaside town of Folkestone, and it’s one of Lola’s favourite places to play.  Just a stone’s throw from the beach itself, it’s a great destination for a cheap day out. The Lower Leas Coastal Park is the largest free adventure playground in the South East of England!

Free Day Out with the Kids, Lower Leas Coastal Park, Folkestone, Kent, Frugal mum children playing in park

The Coastal Park has a fantastic playground with slides, nets, sand pits and zip lines, and the main play area is a huge wooden structure – plenty to keep the kids entertained! It’s also right on the beach, so on a warm day you can head down the steps and play in the sea or take a stroll along the sand too.

Free Day Out with the Kids, Lower Leas Coastal Park, Folkestone, Kent, Frugal mum children playing in park

It makes a good base for day out – you can do the park, the beach and head into town which is nearby. (You might want to park in town too, or on a nearby residential road, as the parking for the coastal park is expensive.) There are grassy areas around, which are perfect for setting up a picnic blanket and enjoying some lunch – the view along the coastline is stunning on a beautiful sunny day.

Free Day Out with the Kids, Lower Leas Coastal Park, Folkestone, Kent, Frugal mum children playing in park

The Coastal Park is great place to watch the planes zoom over during Folkestone Airshow too, and we love combining the two for a really great day out.  Finn loves aeroplanes – so when the park, planes and ice-cream are all in one place, he’s in his element!  It’s the perfect place to meet friends for a day of free fun!

Free Day Out with the Kids, Lower Leas Coastal Park, Folkestone, Kent, beach view

Address:  Lower Sandgate Road, Lower Leas, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 2JP, England

Facilities: Restaurant, parking, toilets

 

10. Viking Bay Beach, Broadstairs, Kent

Broadstairs has some lovely beaches, and Viking Bay in particular is a brilliant spot for some summer fun when the weather’s being kind! It’s a lovely sandy beach, so if you pack up some jam sarnies and some buckets and spades, the kids can have lots of fun at the seaside.

Free Day Out with the Kids, broadstairs beach, viking bay, Kent, frugal mum photo of seaside

For the icing on the cake, visit over the school holidays on one of their event days. They run several summer firework nights which are completely free (though donations are welcome to support it) and there’s live music on the bandstand too! So, you really can make a whole day of it and have some evening entertainment as well! You can find the dates for the firework displays at: https://www.broadstairsfireworks.co.uk/.

(more photos coming soon!)

 

11. The Wye Downs, Ashford, Kent

Another of our favourite free days out, is a walk along the Wye Downs in Ashford. It’s such a beautiful area, and the village of Wye is a lovely place too. Park in the village by the church, and wander down past the school buildings to begin your walk.

Day Out family, wye downs, ashford, Kent, frugal mum photo of children walking on hills

You’ll find a pathway through a large field that then guides you through an uphill wooded area. Once you reach the top, enjoy roaming the fields and head towards the infamous white crown on the hill. The views are spectacular across the countryside.

day out family, wye downs, ashford, Kent, frugal mum photo of view

It can be super windy and blustery up on the downs, so pick your hiking day wisely. Comfy shoes and a picnic are always a winner too – it’s easy to clock up a good 4-5 miles of walking. You can find the route here: https://explorekent.org/activities/wye-downs-walk/.

day of out family, wye downs, ashford, Kent, frugal mum photo of children walking on hills

 

12. Headcorn Aerodrome, Kent

If your kids love watching the planes, then you needn’t wait for an airshow – you can watch them for free at Headcorn Aerodrome. My two love a chilled picnic plane watching session on a sunny summer afternoon. I spent a lot of my childhood at the airfield so it’s a place that’s pretty special to our family.

Free Day Out with the Kids, headcorn aerodrome, Kent, frugal mum photo of aeroplane

They have all sorts of pleasure flight planes taking off and landing almost continuously, as well as lots of parachutists and a plane that they strap people to the front of – Finn and Lola think that one is brilliant!

Free Day Out with the Kids, headcorn aerodrome, Kent, frugal mum photo of aeroplane with person strapped to front

The nearby village of Bethersden (where I grew up!) has a fantastic recreation ground with tennis courts, a field for football, exercise equipment and a large trim trail. So, once we’ve finished at the airfield, we head there so that the kids can let off steam at the park before we head home.

Free Day Out with the Kids, headcorn aerodrome, Kent, frugal mum photo of children

Address: Shenley Rd, Ashford TN27 9HX

Facilities: Restaurant, parking, toilets

 

13. Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, Goudhurst, Kent

Bedgebury National Pinetum is the perfect venue for a beautiful sunny day – it’s a lovely place to enjoy the outdoors and get back to nature. (Throwback photos from when the kids were small and cute!)

There are plenty of things for the kids to do there, including: cycling, horse riding, Go Ape (tree-top adventure), geocaching / orienteering and treasure hunts. But you really don’t need any of that to entertain the children – there are some brilliant play areas dotted around the site to keep the kids occupied for hours without the extra cost of the paid activities.

Bedgebury National Pinetum Review, Goudhurst, frugal mum child in play park

My two really enjoyed the play parks here when they were little, and it’s good fun to follow the trail to see which play area you will come across next. Trails and activity sheets to accompany your visit can also be downloaded and printed from their website.

 Kent with Kids, Bedgebury National Pinetum Review, Goudhurst, frugal mum child in play park

There are plenty of wooded areas geared up for exploring and den building too – Finn and Lola would spend hours dragging logs around! It’s a massive place with plenty on offer to keep the kids occupied.

Kent with Kids, Bedgebury National Pinetum Review, Goudhurst, frugal mum children wooden den

Now, I do have to come clean, Bedgebury is a little controversial as a ‘free’ day out. Though most places will incur a small parking cost, it’s definitely more expensive than everywhere else on this list. There’s no actual entrance cost but they do charge £14.50 per car (peak) and £11 (off peak). But if you bring a picnic then you won’t need to spend a penny more and it is a lovely family day out.

Address:  Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, Park Lane, Goudhurst, Kent, TN17 2SJ, England

Facilities: Restaurant, parking, toilets

 

14. Samphire Hoe, Dover, Kent

Samphire Hoe in Dover is a great place to have a wander along the coast. The nature reserve is home to the infamous White Cliffs, and it’s the perfect spot for a relaxing family walk and a picnic overlooking the English Channel.

There are no entrance fees to Samphire Hoe, and parking charges are a maximum of £2, so it’s a cheap and cheerful way to spend a sunny afternoon. The further you venture from the carpark the more wild the site gets, so you can definitely enjoy some peace and quiet despite the fact that it’s a popular place to visit.

The coastal trail is around 2 miles, and the lighthouse walk is around 4 miles if your little ones can manage a longer route. The beach area is a great spot for rock-pooling and fossil hunting so the kids can amuse themselves for hours and have a splash around too.

(photos coming soon!)

Address: Samphire Rd, Dover CT17 9FL

Facilities: Cafe, parking, toilets

 

15. Walmer Paddling Pool, Deal, Kent

Once the summer rolls around (if the sun actually appears!) you might want to check out Walmer Paddling Pool with the kids. It’s completely free, and the perfect place for little ones to splash around and cool down. The paddling pool opens from May half-term each year (weather dependent).

free day out, Kent with Kids, walmer paddling pool, deal

It’s surrounded by a lovely lawn area and it’s right on the seafront – so it’s also a great spot for a whole day of free family fun – you can have a play on the beach too. There’s a crazy golf next door to it, if you do have a little money in the kitty, and nearby Walmer Castle has some brilliant play areas for the kids to enjoy if you have an English Heritage membership.

frugal mum photo, walmer castle play area with children

Address: Marine Road, Walmer, Deal, Kent, CT14 7DN

Facilities: Toilet, changing, takeaway food

 

Bad weather spoiling all of your fun? Check out my article:

Kent with Kids: The 10 best indoor attractions to entertain the kids on a rainy day!

Kent with Kids, The 10 best indoor attractions to entertain the kids on a rainy day, frugal mum tips, family reviews

 

And download my free, printable 30 day kids’ activity calendar for lots of ideas on how to keep the little ones busy on a budget without even leaving the house!

30 day kids school holiday activity grid, entertain kids at home, frugal mum printable

 

Looking for lots of ways to save money on family fun this summer? Check out these articles too:

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