Sussex is a dream destination for families with children, of all ages. Whether it is the space for kids to be kids on unspoilt beaches and in wide-open countryside, the history and cultural attractions, or the plethora of family-friendly attractions that appeal, there is more than enough to keep the younger members of the family entertained for a week, or more…
With the October half-term on the horizon, here is our round up of where to stay and what to see while you’re here. Most of Sussex’s attractions are open all year-round, and our usually sunny, temperate climate means that this is a fabulous place to bring the family, whatever the season.
– The Old Stout House –
The Old Stout House is an historic building that has been fabulously renovated, boho-chic style, with bright colours that sit seamlessly alongside period features. The age of the building means there are some steep and winding stairs here, so it may not suit all families – but all will love the attention to detail, sociable spaces including the dining room in the old pub scullery, and the magical, fairy-lit enclosed courtyard garden.
What’s more the Old Stout House sits in the heart of Rye, which is a great destination for old and young alike. Children will easily be persuaded to walk the historic streets with a detective mystery-themed walking trail around the town, which starts at the Heritage Centre and leads them on with tales of Sussex smugglers! They’ll search for clues, while you can admire the beautiful buildings that line the streets. Or take them to Ypres Tower, to soak up some of the best views across the town; there are plenty of hands-on activities that will have your kids enthralled, with more about Rye’s smuggling past as well as sections on medieval life and the tower’s history as a prison.
If all that activity leaves them flagging, a trip to Knoops should do the trick. This specialist hot chocolate shop offers 20 different versions to choose from, including some intriguing additions such as Pink Pepper or Cardamom that will keep the adults interested too. Or visit the historic Mermaid Inn and challenge them to find the secret passageway that allowed the infamous Hawkshurst Gang (more smugglers!) to escape quietly between it and the nearby Old Bell Inn.
– Cliff End View –
Cliff End View is an impeccably stylish destination, that welcomes children of all ages too. This Arts & Crafts house sits perched in the most magical location on the cliff overlooking Pett Level beach, and with rolling Sussex countryside stretching out to the other side of it. The glamorous space is decorated in a predominantly white theme, which serves to highlight the original features and carefully curated furniture, accessories and art. But there is plenty to amuse people of all ages here, as well as to delight their senses; stunning gardens, an outdoor kitchen, and showers to rinse off the salt of a day at the beach, as well as table football, karaoke, and even some fancy dress boxes for evening games.
Children will love exploring the house and garden while their parents use one of the plentiful outdoor seating areas to enjoy a coffee and soak up the views. Pett Level beach is just on your doorstep and is wonderfully unspoilt – there are no amusements or shops here – so kids can be kids and enjoy the fresh air and open spaces. Low tide reveals the fascinating remains of a fossilised forest, dating back to the Ice Age, and plenty of rockpools that will keep them occupied for hours of crabbing or fishing.
If the weather or your mood demands more varied activity, then Hastings, just 20 minutes away, has tonnes of holiday attractions. The Hastings Aquarium is popular with children of all ages, and also has a family-friendly café. Hastings boasts not one but two funicular railways, the East and West Hill Lifts, ferrying visitors between the Country Park and the Old Town up steep cliffs. At the bottom of the West Hill lift is bohemian George Street, with its cafés, book and art shops. Clambers Soft Play Centre is a great place for younger visitors to burn off some steam, whatever the weather, thanks to a great indoor soft play area and huge garden with climbing frames, sand pits, slides and paddling pool.
– Camber Beach House –
Camber Beach House is a child-friendly retreat just moments from the wide, sandy beaches of Camber Sands. A modern, eco-friendly design means this house is just perfect for style-conscious families, with spacious bedrooms that all boast ensuite bathroom or shower rooms, light, airy open plan living spaces, and even a wonderful garden annexe, should grandparents or extended family want to come along too. It’s dog-friendly as well, so the family pet needn’t stay at home either.
As well as walks, swimming, seal-spotting, and bucket & spade fun, Camber is also a great destination for active families who love watersports, or want to learn. This is one of the UK’s best spots for windsuring and kite-surfing. The house offers space to store your windsurfing or kayaking equipment, should you have your own – but if not, then Rye Watersports is on hand for lessons and equipment hire. They offer everything from SUP to sailing, wild swimming to wingfoiling, and run kids courses in the holidays, too.
If you can drag yourself away from the sea, then National Trust Bodiam Castle is only about half an hour inland, and a treat for families. There is plenty that adults will be interested in from medieval times to more recent Second World War history, but there is plenty to bring that history to life for children, too (particularly during the school holidays) such as dressing up clothes, live demonstrations and even a Dragon-hunt through the Castle and its grounds.
– Little Whispers –
Thanks to its glorious location in the village of Lodsworth, off the beaten track but brilliantly placed for Petworth, Midhurst and beyond to Chichester and Arundel, Little Whispers is a wonderful place for a break with your tweens and teens (this peaceful hideaway welcomes children over 10 years of age, as well as babes in arms).
Sleeping four in two beautiful bedrooms (one a pretty twin, so perfect for older children to share), and with glamorous living spaces and a private terrace offering stunning countryside views, this is a great place to unwind on a break from the everyday – be that work or school! And there are some great places to enjoy family time out and about in this area of the South Downs National Park.
Active families will love the walking and mountain biking trails that surround Lodsworth, and for longer routes, the South Downs Way is within a short drive. All Ride Now in Midhurst offers e-bike hire, as well as guided rides on routes that take in the best of the local scenery (and some pub stops for refreshment, along the way!). 700 acre Petworth Park is a stunning location for slightly less arduous family walks, with beautiful views of Petworth House, the South Downs beyond, and the country’s largest herd of fallow deer. The House itself has a wonderful art collection, and, like most National Trust properties, has some brilliant family-friendly activities on offer during the holidays such as Pumpkin walks, Easter egg hunts, and a Christmas tree festival.
(Mountain biking on the South Downs. Photo: Seb Rogers)
(Exhibitions at the Novium Museum, Chichester)
This area is rich in Roman history too. Head to the Novium Museum in Chichester, built over the remains of a Roman Bath House, to see Roman artifacts and learn about the history of the Chichester district – and then to Fishbourne Roman Palace and Gardens to see marvellous collections of mosaics from the largest Roman home found anywhere in Britain. The South Downs Planetarium, also in Chichester, features a planetarium projector and 10m dome that science fans will love. For something less cultural, but just as fun, Chichester boasts a bowling alley, trampoline park, and cinema, all next door to one another!
Whichever corner of Sussex you choose for your next trip, you can be sure of a warm welcome and plenty to keep the whole family happy and entertained.
TYPES OF STAY
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