Family Days Out in Canterbury

Sinead Hanna
1st November 2022

Need to entertain the kids? Grandparents need ideas for an outing? We've got you covered.

There is a huge range of fun things for the whole family to see and do in Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay, without breaking the bank.

We've compiled a list of great places for family fun in all weather, so take a look below and start planning your next adventure. Remember to check your chosen venue's website for up to date opening times and offers.  

Canterbury Cathedral

Who can resist the awe-inspiring of Canterbury Cathedral? It's a great time to introduce your little ones to the famous site - FOR FREE!

Kids go free to the cathedral until 31 December 2023 (T&Cs apply) so why not spend a happy morning or afternoon exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Whether your family wants to marvel at the beautiful stained glass windows, seek out the gargoyles or delve into the bloody history of Thomas Becket, you’ll find something to marvel at within these hallowed walls.

The cathedral has its own coffee hut, toilets and parking is available in the city centre pay & display car parks.

Canterbury Roman Museum

Step back in time and head under the city! A great option for rainy days, the Roman museum invites you to relive the past as you stroll through the ancient marketplace and Roman rooms and uncover a hoard of once buried treasures. You can also see one of the UK’s only remaining Roman pavement mosaics!

The museum entertains, engages and educates children with interactive and creative experiences. Try on a toga or make a beautiful mosaic!

Visit the museum website for information on parking and access. 

Wildwood Trust

Fancy going on a bear hunt or wolf spotting? Well you can in Canterbury!

Wildwood Trust is a sanctuary and conservation charity on the outskirts of the city, with 40 acres of ancient woodland and a collection of more than 200 animals to see.

Here you can learn about animals that are or once were native to Britain, spotting otters, foxes, badgers, bison, wild boar, lynx and many more animals in the woods. A highlight is the incredible brown bear enclosure, which you can view from above, and the huge viewing platform over the wolf pack. There’s also an adventure play park and special area just for under 5s to enjoy, along with all the usual visitor facilities.

The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge

Looking to keep the kids entertained with a lot of fun and a little bit of learning? The Beaney is the place to be.

A contender for one of the prettiest buildings in the city, The Beaney houses an art gallery, historic exhibitions, a library and visitor information centre under one roof and has a packed programme of amazing family events throughout the year, from historical games to seasonal trails and workshops.

This award winning facility is a perfect spot for rain day fun, whether you want to explore the exhibits or find a great book to read together.   

Howletts Wild Animal Park

Witness world-leading conservation in action with a trip to the 90acre Howletts Wild Animal Park.

This amazing sanctuary is home to some of the most rare and endangered species in the world, including the western lowland gorillas, Amur tigers, leopards, lions and the largest herd of African elephants in the UK. You can even walk with lemurs, discover the prehistoric wonders of the Animals of The Ice Age through our woodland walk and enjoy daily keepers talks.

A great place to visit any time of the year, there’s plenty for visitors of all ages to enjoy while supporting the charity’s conservation efforts. 

Head out on the River 

Canterbury has not one, not two but THREE beautiful boating companies offering individual and group trips along the babbling River Stour.

If you want to dive deep into the city's history - and see parts you can't see by foot - join Canterbury Historic River Tours for a sail and a tale. Or head over to the Canterbury Punting Company, with its stylish café and cocktail bar, for themed trips and cosy cruises under a blanket. Also Westgate Punts offer short and long trips through the Westgate Gardens that are perfect for families tight for time but who still want to soak up the atmosphere. 

Feeling adventurous? Head out to Canoe Wild in Fordwich for a more active excursion on the river, with private hire and group tours on offer for all abilities. 

The Gulbenkian Arts Centre

For families looking for a dash of culture on their next day out, The Gulbenkian Arts Centre is the place to be.

The arts venue at the University of Kent campus has a year-round programme of great shows and screenings for all ages, and holds the famous FREE bOing! Family Festival every August with performances and activities from international artists.

Take a look at their programme, and check out The Marlowe Theatre and The Malthouse Theatre for more family-friendly theatre.

Whitstable Castle

This magical little castle is just five minute walk from Whitstable Harbour and hosts interesting community events throughout the year.

Families will love the public park complete with ornamental gardens and children’s play area, and The Orangery Tearooms and sun terrace are a great spot for rest and refreshment! The castle regularly hosts seasonal fairs and open days for all ages. 

Why not combine your visit with a trip to the seaside and a stroll. along the Quay?

Herne Bay Mini Golf

Herne Bay’s colourful and family orientated 18 hole mini-golf course sits right on the picturesque seafront, and is a great day out for all the family.  

Parties and groups are welcome, with club sizes for ages and full disabled access.

The course is next to the town’s popular seafront amusement arcade and a visit to Herne Bay Pier is a must for great sea views and fairground fun in the summer. A proper seaside day out after your game.

Outdoor Adventures

You really can’t beat a day out in nature with the whole family, and Canterbury is surrounded by amazing parks, woodland walks, beautiful beaches and rolling countryside that are all free to explore!

You can head to the Dane John Gardens in the city, with its own adventure playground, toilets and Latin-inspired café. Or let the little ones burn off some energy at the huge Toddlers’ Cove adventure playground with ample parking, toilets and a café on site. There are plenty of seats for parents and grandparents to relax while the kids conquer the pirate ship or tackle the zip line!

For a hike or bike ride, tackle the Crab and Winkle Way through historic woodland or head to Whitstable and Herne Bay for some fun on the beach. You can even do a spot of fossil hunting any time of the year near Reculver Towers and the huge Reculver Play Park.

Rainy Day Ideas

If the weather turns, and you're looking for indoor fun, there are plenty of places to head to! 

Why not burn off some energy at Canterbury's biggest bounce arena Inflate 'N' Play, which welcomes families, adults and pre-booked parties alike. 

The Bay Sports Arena in Herne Bay has its own roller skating rink, and you can also head out for a swim at any of Active Life's swimming pools in Herne Bay, Canterbury and Whitstable.