Updated: Feb 9, 2020
1. HOUGHTON HOUSE IN AMPTHILL
Houghton House is a ruined mansion house with some magnificent views. It is a perfect place for a little walk with kids who can enjoy the surrounding nature, ride a bike, fly a kite and play hide & seek in the ruins. You first see Houghton House from a distance: a splendid ruin that, in its lonely beauty, seems more dream than reality. You then reach the house through an avenue of trees while enjoying singing birds. It is one of our favourite spots near Ampthill and Flitwick.
Open: Daily from 10 am until 6 pm or dusk, whichever is earliest Address: Hazelwood Lane, Ampthill, Bedford, Bedfordshire, MK45 2EZ
2. THE FOREST OF MARSTON VALE
The Forest Centre is a great place for a walk, hire a bike and cycle or to have a picnic. The lakes are only a short walk from the café, there are lots of benches where you can relax and admire beautiful views. We like to finish our walks at the wooden playground, where my daughter enjoys driving the wooden train or climbing.
Open: Monday-Friday 9.00-16.00, Saturday-Sunday 10.00-17.00
Address: The Forest Centre, Station Road, Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, MK43 0PR
3. WREST PARK IN SILSOE
Wrest Park is located in the pretty village of Silsoe offering sweeping views and beautiful walks across 90 acres and 300 years of garden history. It is a perfect place for a family day out. There is plenty of space for a picnic or you can enjoy something tasty at the café. I often take my kids to the wooden playground where they run off some steam while I enjoy my cup of hot latte. During the spring we love to explore the vegetable patch around the playground which they found fascinating.
Open: please visit the website for up-to-date opening times Address: Silsoe, Bedfordshire, MK45 4HR
4. STOCKWOOD DISCOVERY CENTRE
Stockwood Discovery Centre is a free museum and displays collections of local social history, archaeology, geology, and rural crafts. It also houses the biggest collection of horse-drawn carriages in Europe, the Mossman Collection. My kids had a great time there, especially that we were able to sit in some of the old carriages. They also enjoyed the extensive gardens, a big blue tractor and a lovely children’s playground.
Open: Daily 10am – 5am 14th February – 31st October and daily 10am – 4pm 1st November – 13th February
Address: Stockwood Discovery Centre, London Road, Luton, LU1 4LX
5. DUNSTABLE DOWNS
It is a peaceful and quiet place with stunning views. The wind-swept ridge is ideal or a variety of air sports, especially flying our bumblebee kite flying which my kids truly enjoy. On calmer days it's the ideal spot to enjoy the view and a picnic. The chalk grasslands of the Downs have miles of footpaths and several circular walks, fascinating history and an abundance of plants and wildlife.
Open: Dawn to dusk
Address: Whipsnade, Dunstable LU6 2NB, England
6. RUSHMERE COUNTRY PARK
Rushmere Country Park is a beautiful country park, with wonderful trails to walk and great wood sculptures to explore. It is a lovely and peaceful place to enjoy fresh air, let the kids run around and explore wood carvings throughout. My little one enjoyed playing hide & seek there and exploring the giant chair and spider which we came across at some point.
Open: The Park gates open at 8.30am and close at 5pm daily until the end of March 2019. The Visitor Centre and Tree Tops Cafe open at 10am and close at 4pm.
Address: Herons' View Visitor Centre, Linslade Road, Heath and Reach, Bedfordshire LU7 0EB.
7. ZOG ACTIVITY TRAIL AT WENDOVER WOODS
My daughter is a big fun of Gruffalo and she loved the Gruffalo Trail at Wensower Woods we did in December last year. We are now planning to go back to do the new ZOG activity trail which came to the woods this January. To take part, you need to follow the trail markers through the woods to find familiar characters from the story, collect stars as you learn as Zog did at dragon school, and complete interesting challenges along the way. There is even a ZOG mask to help make your day picture perfect.
Open: Daily 08.00-17.00
Address: Aston Hill, Halton, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP22 5NQ
8. NATIONAL HISTORY MUSEUM IN TRING
This place is a must-see, especially if you are interested in animals and/or taxidermy. Over 3 levels there are lots of mammals, birds, primates, fish, insects, game animals, sea life, big birds, and more. When we went there the museum was running a kids activity where they had to locate 12 toy polar bears throughout the museum. This kept my daughter entertained whilst I got to check out a number of stuffed animals that I have never seen before. The special exhibit was the Wildlife Photographer of the year and the pictures were incredible.
Open: Monday-Saturday 10.00-17.00, Sunday 14.00-17.00
Address: The Walter Rothschild Building, Akeman Street, Tring, Hertfordshire, HP23 6AP
9. HITCHIN LAVENDER
This is one of Hitchin’s most popular summer attractions. You can enjoy a fantastic day wandering among over 25 miles of lavender fields, enjoy lunch or homemade cake in the onsite restaurant and explore the gift shop. You can pick your own lavender too (local charge payable) or simply sit back and enjoy the surroundings. For children, there is an outside play area.
Open: May-September Address: Cadwell Farm, SG5 3UA Website: www.hitchinlavender.com
10. STOTFOLD WATERMILL AND NATURE RESERVE
It is time to visit the Stotfold Mill again this spring (currently closed until April). Last time we went there my daughter was a little baby. It is a fully working watermill and we enjoyed exploring the surrounding area, watching the millstones grinding flour and learning about the process from exhibits and demonstrations. The Mill stands in a local nature reserve with riverside and woodland walks. There is also a lovely café to enjoy a hot drink or some food.
Open: Next open to the public on Sunday 31st March 2019. The Mill is only open 3 – 5 days a month. Refer to the website for dates. The Nature Reserve is open daily.
Address: Mill Lane, Stotfold, Beds SG5 4NU