20 best family days out in the South East: Cheap things to do with your kids

Looking to keep the kids entertained? Here are 14 budget-friendly things to do in South East England...

Kids enjoying crazy golf - one of the best family days out in the South East

We've compiled a list of the top 20 days out in the South East that are DEFINITELY worth leaving the house for.

The South East of England is bursting with brilliant attractions to explore with kids during the school summer holidays (opens in new tab).

From a trip to one of the best UK theme parks (opens in new tab) to a castle visit with children, we've rounded up the most fun and affordable options.

20 of the best family days out in the South East:

1. Port Lympne Zoo, Hythe

Get up close and personal with some of the biggest and most fascinating creatures of the animal kingdom at Port Lympne in Hythe. Think free-roaming giraffes, grizzly bears and a chance to glimpse some rare rhinos on an exclusive truck safari. Plus little ones will love the UK's largest dinosaur exhibition and letting off steam at one of three adventure playgrounds along the zoo route.

With over 900 animals to explore across 600 acres of stunning scenery, this is one of the best-value days out in the South East.


Tickets to Port Lympne start cost £22 per adult and £20 per child, which includes a 10% donation to the Aspinall Foundation. There's also the option to add on a truck safari for an additional £6pp.

Find out more about Port Lympne and book your tickets for Summer 2021 here. (opens in new tab)

2. Windsor Castle, Windsor

Tea with the Queen? Well not quite but you can visit Her Majesty's favourite royal residence - the oldest Castle in the world and the setting of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding. (opens in new tab) Steeped in royal history, with stunning gardens to explore, Windsor is great for exploring during the school summer holidays. With this South East attraction boating special holiday activities like kids' water-painting in the East Terrace Garden. Royal fans can also see the special Duke of Edinburgh exhibition celebrating the late Prince Philip's life too, which is currently on until Monday 20 September.

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Adult tickets cost £23.50 and entry for children (5-16 years) is £13.50, whilst under 5s get in for free. There's also a £13.50 saving for families when booking tickets for at least two adults and two children. Windsor Castle are still operating a timed entry slot with all tickets.

Find out more about Windsor Castle and book your tickets for Summer 2021 here (opens in new tab)

3. Chessington World of Adventures, Surrey

A theme park and safari park in one - Chessington World of Adventures is one of those perfect family day outs in the South East that's sure to satisfy every household member. Little ones will love the teacups, log flume and the extra-special Gruffalo ride. Whilst big kids will get a thrill from classics like Rattlesnake, the Vampire and Croc Drop - an all new ride for 2021. After getting your adrenaline hit, take a gentle stroll through the neighbouring zoo and SEA LIFE centre for some first-class animal spotting.


Pre-booking is essential before your Chessington visit. And day tickets are currently reduced online at £39 per person, with under 3's getting in for free. Tickets include entrance to the theme park, safari park and aquarium.

Find out more about Chessington World of Adventures and book your tickets for Summer 2021 here (opens in new tab).

4. The Mary Rose, Portsmouth

The Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth is the place to head for family adventures in the South East. Explore HMS Victory, HMS Warrior or the Mary Rose which boasts the 1545 - When Their World Ended immersive experience, new for 2021. Learn about the final moments of the Mary Rose (King Henry VIII's favourite warship) before it sank in the Battle of the Solent in 1545. With a familiar voice narrating the story...

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Three ticket options are available to purchase at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard - single attraction day tickets (£24 adult, £19 child), 3 attraction day tickets (£34 adult, £24 child) or an unlimited yearly pass (£39 adult, £29 child).

Find out more about Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and book your tickets for summer 2021 here. (opens in new tab)

5. The Enchanted Forest, Groombridge

See the fairytales come to life in this enchanting forest, full of magic and destiny. Activities alter depending on the season but there's always something to do, be it watching a play, making a crown or searching for the woodland fairies. Plus kids can expect familiar faces like Peter Pan and Sherlock Holmes making an appearance during the 2021 school summer holidays. One of the most imaginative days out in the South East your family can experience. Make sure you check out the zip wire, pirate ship, canal boat rides, archery and firing range (Nerf guns only!).

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Groombridge are asking guests to pre-book their tickets online, selecting a designated time slot. A family of four ticket costs £25, whilst entry for an adult or child comes in at under a tenner. Whilst the majority of attractions are open, sadly the treetop walkway remains closed for the rest of 2021.

Find out more about Groombridge Place and book your tickets for Summer 2021 here.  (opens in new tab)

6. The New Forest, Hampshire

There's plenty of things to do in the New Forest whatever the season. From cycling to stopping to admire the 5,000 local ponies, the whole family will love a day out here. You can also camp close by, explore the area on horseback or take a long-distance hike through the impressive grounds.


Find out more about the activities on offer and book your stay on the New Forest website (opens in new tab).

7. Bodiam Castle, Bodiam

With a stunning backdrop and surrounded by a beautiful moat, this castle really does bring history to life. Built during the reign of Richard the Lionheart, your kids will love exploring and getting involved with all the great activities. They can visit the Medieval town, become a knight or princess and find out what Medieval food tasted like (surprisingly good!). This won't be just any trip to a castle, it will be an unforgettable day, doused in history and learning.

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A family ticket with one adult costs £16.50, but of course entry is free to National Trust members. There's not an option to pre-book tickets, so simply turn up on the day. Open 10am-5pm daily.

Find out more about what's on and how to get to Bodiam Castle here (opens in new tab).

8. Canterbury Treasure Trail, Canterbury

Indulge your kids' imaginations with this great spy-themed, self-guided walk around the historic city of Canterbury. As you follow the route, try to solve the clues and crack the code to solve the mission. Have your kids got what it takes to be a spy? This is a great and really cheap way to get your kids to explore local cities and really notice their surroundings. And while you're there why not check out Canterbury Cathedral? These great value treasure trails are available in a number of cities across the country so have a search to find your nearest one.

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As it's a self-guided mission, parents will have to plan this treasure trail in advance. Download and print straight from the weboiste for £9.99 or pay an additional £1.50 for 3-5 working day delivery.

Find out more about Canterbury's spy mission treasure trail here (opens in new tab)

9. Hastings Aquarium, Hastings

Head to an underwater world in this great aquarium. With fish of all shapes and colours - not to mention a few sharks - your kids won't be disappointed with what's on offer. Attend the ocean presentation to learn more about the fish and get a front-row view at shark feeding time. There's even a chance to get up close and personal with the creepy crawlies at the reptile-handling session. No matter what you do, you are guaranteed to have a great, if somewhat fishy, day out.


You can pre-book your tickets online, which remain valid for six months. A family pass (2 adults and 2 kids) cost £42.

Find out more about Hastings Aquarium and book your tickets for Summer 2021 here (opens in new tab).

10. Hastings Adventure Golf, Hastings

Why not complement your trip to the aquarium with a visit to Hastings top-rated adventure golf? The venue, based right on the seafront, has 3 x 18 course mini golf courses to play on that are suitable for players of all ages. Expect all the usual windmills and water mills with the traditional crazy golf course, try to avoid the waterfalls and fountains of the adventure one, or tackle the pirate course complete with two shipwrecks! There's also plenty of snack stands you can munch on whilst making your way around the greens too.

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Take advantage of their 'early birdie and evening eagle offer' running Monday to Friday which allows you to play two courses for the price of one between 8:30-10:30am or 7-8:30pm. Otherwise a family of four can play one course for £26.675, two for £39 or all three for £50.

Find out more about Hastings Adventure Golf and book your tickets for Summer 2021 here (opens in new tab).

11. Legoland, Windsor

Legoland is the ultimate kids entertainment experience, there is just so much to do! And there are loads of clever ways to make a visit more affordable - many visitors take advantage of cereal box offers or newspaper promotions so some of you can go for free. From the hilarious live pirate shows, the thrilling rides to the cool 4D cinema, there is something to suit all ages and tastes - look out for the exciting new World of Mythical Creatures section too. It can be demanding to do Legoland all in one day, so you might consider staying overnight in the brand new knights-and-wizards-themed Castle Hotel located in the theme park. You can then roll out of bed, prise the kids out of their bunk beds and away from their games consoles, and enjoy a hearty cooked breakfast in the Tournament Tavern before you head off for a fun-filled day.

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Pre-book your ticket online for £39pp, saving £14 compared to when bought on the day.

Find out more about Legoland Windsor and book your tickets for 2021 here (opens in new tab).

12. Harbour Park, Littlehampton

You'll have bucket loads of fun with the kids at Harbour Park and they can cool down in the sea (weather permitting!) With lovely picnic greens and riverside walks, you don't have to spend a lot of money to have a lovely time here. The attractions are best suited for children aged between two and 12. If the weather turns there is also an indoor place area for over 3s.

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Harbour Park have suspended advanced ticket booking for Summer 2021. So you'll have to pick your tickets up on site. An unlimited rides pass costs £21, whilst individual rides cost £2.60 each.

Find out more about Harbour Park and plan your visit here (opens in new tab).

13. Bluebell Railway, Sheffield Park

Take a trip on one of these fantastic vintage trains through the beautiful Sussex countryside. Although prices for this day out are slightly higher budget, it is one of the days out in the South East really worth the expense and Blue Peter badge holders get to go for free! You might also be interested in a Bluebell Bonus pass which entitles adults to half price travel for a year and children just £1! Open all year round, experience the gorgeous summer or a Victorian Christmas as you steam your way down the track.

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Tickets are available to pre-book online (with a £3 saving) or purchase on the day. An all day-rider tickets for adults cost £25, whilst children's are £12.50. Or you can purchase a family of five ticket for £60.

Find out more about Bluebell Railway and book your tickets for Summer 2021 here (opens in new tab).

14. Guildford Spectrum, Guildford

Treat your kids to one of the greatest days out in the South East at Guildford Spectrum. From the smallest baby to the most rebellious of teens, they have activities to provide a great day of active fun. Take a dip in the swimming pool, which boasts water wheels, fish squirts and a shark shower. For those braver kids there's a diving pool with boards at 1, 3 and 5 meters high. Don't forget to check out the ice skating rink, open all year round and suitable for kids of all ages. If that's not for you, the Spectrum also contains ten pin bowling, Specky's Pirate Ship and a range of sporting activities. We promise you, you will not get bored here!

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All activities must be pre-booked online. Swimming costs £8.50 for an adult and £6.25 for juniors. Whilst ice skating costs £7 for adults and £6.00 for children (which includes skate hire)

Find out more about Guildford Spectrum and book your tickets for Summer 2021 here (opens in new tab).

15. AirHop, Guildford

Keep your kids active with this great indoor trampoline park. With trampolines lining the floor and walls, bouncing has never been more fun! Your kids will go crazy for this amazing way to get active and have fun. And a bonus - they'll probably be completely tired out by the end,  meaning an early night for us mums, phew!  It's a great activity if the classic British summer isn't looking great outdoors...


A standard 60-minute jump session costs £13. Or you could take advantage of their summer hop offer - giving you 5 jump sessions for £40.

Find out more about AirhHop Guildford and book your tickets for Summer 2021 here (opens in new tab)

16. Tulleys Farm, Crawley

The attractions at Tulleys Farm change seasonally, but this Summer kids can sink their teeth into all-new escape room SpellCraft, which promises a magical visit. With logic puzzles, illusions, giant games, and one of the country's best rated Escape Rooms, there is so much to do. Explore the adventure playground, take a ride on a tractor or have a game of farmers and frisbee golf. Your kids will be begging you to come here, time and time again.

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Find out more about Tulleys Farm and the events you can book here (opens in new tab).

17. Chiselhurst Caves, Kent

Head underground and explore the expansive caves in Chiselhurst, running up to 22 miles long. Take a guided tour as you discover mystery and history beneath your feet. Originally dug for chalk, they are now a huge tourist attraction, with stories on the Druids, Roman, Saxons, smugglings and even murder! For adventurous kids, this is a day trip that they will never forget, if you can find your way out, that is...


Tickets cost £7 for adults and £5 for children and seniors - so why not bring along Nan for the adventure? Pre-book your entry from up to 7 days in advance.

Find out more about Chislehurst Caves and book your tickets for Summer 2021 here (opens in new tab).

18. Royal Pavilion, Brighton

It's one of the crowning sights you first see when making your journey into Brighton and it's certainly one South East attraction you don't want to miss. Built as a seaside pleasure palace for King George IV over 200 years ago, this historic house mixes Regency grandeur with the visual exotics of India and China. Plug in your audio guides and get taken back in time, then finish your visit with a picnic within the beautifully manicured gardens. The nearby beach, just a 5 minute walk is also a must-visit whilst in the area.


Tickets can be pre-booked online but not on the day of your visit. A family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) costs £42.

Find out more about Brighton's Royal Pavilion and book your tickets for Summer 2021 here (opens in new tab).

19. The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, Great Missenden

This great little Museum is aimed at 6-12 year-olds and their families and is situated in Roald Dahl’s home village of Great Missenden. Learn some of Roald Dahl’s best quotes (opens in new tab) plus details about his life and stories using touch-screen monitors, hands-on exhibits and activities. Unlock your inner storyteller, see the author’s original Writing Hut and amazing treasures from the archive in the heart of Roald Dahl country. Workshops, events and free storytelling take place at weekends and in school holidays.

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Adults can get in for £7.40 and kids between the ages of 5-18 for £4.90. It's advised to book ahead online.

Find out more about the Roald Dahl museum and book your tickets for Summer 2021 here (opens in new tab).

20. Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Oxford

Give the kids something to aspire to, with a trip to Oxford University and it's Natural History museum. This stunning building is home to some incredible exhibitions and researchers paving the way with conservation. Check out their special exhibition on Meat and it's sustainability new for the Summer holidays or simply stare in awe at the huge in-house skeletons of whales, dinosaurs and many more.


Entry is free for all, but you have to pre-book your timed entry ahead of time online. Tickets are only released 10 days in advance on a Friday.

Find out more about Oxford University Museum of Natural History and book your tickets for Summer 2021 here. (opens in new tab)

Emily Stedman
Features Editor

Emily Stedman is the Features Editor for GoodTo covering all things TV, entertainment, royal, lifestyle, health and wellbeing. Boasting an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things TV, celebrity and royals, career highlights include working at HELLO! Magazine and as a royal researcher to Diana biographer Andrew Morton on his book Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. In her spare time, Emily can be found eating her way around London, swimming at her local Lido or curled up on the sofa binging the next best Netflix show.