By Rebecca Younger
With the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the doorstep, welcome to a walker’s paradise! Serious thrillseekers don’t miss out either, from treetop obstacle courses to fun-filled theme parks.
Gorgeous gardens abound in Surrey, including the world-famous Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew on the border with London. Coined as the most biodiverse place on earth, the World Heritage Site is a wonderland of glasshouses, woodland and incredible rare plants. You’ll also see the Kew Palace, home of George III and Queen Charlotte more than 200 years ago.
Charles Hamilton created Painshill Park in the 12th century as a living painting. A gothic tower and mystical crystal grotto decorate stunning scenes like the Serpentine Lake. Children love the fairy doors in gigantic trees and the venue hosts plenty of special events for the little ones. Magnificent displays of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias explode across the grounds of Ramster Gardens in Chiddingfold.
The 240-acre RHS Garden Wisley is the flagship garden of the Royal Horticultural Society. It’s open year-round, however, stunning special events include Butterflies in the Glasshouse from January to March and its spectacular annual garden show each September. Opened by none other than Sir David Attenborough, the Living Planet Centre is one of the greenest buildings in the country. A free interactive exhibition brings to life the secrets of the natural world and the threats it faces.
Coined as the most biodiverse place on earth the world-famous Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a wonderland of glasshouses, woodland and incredible rare plants
It’s not hard to keep the kids smiling on days out in Surrey! Mess about on the river at Dapdune Wharf, in Guildford. You’ll find out about the history of the River Wey while boarding a barge, building a den and dipping in the pond. For more watery fun, Frensham Great Pond is Surrey’s answer to a day by the sea. Sunbathe or build sandcastles on the sandy beach and splash about in the calm, shallow waters.
When the kids have some energy to burn, spend the day at Go Ape just outside of Farnham. The tree-top adventure park delivers heart-pumping thrills with a Tarzan swing and rope obstacles surrounded by beautiful scenery. Guildford’s Stoke Park features Wildwood Adventure with more tree-top fun on wobbly rope crossings and zooming ziplines. Hands up if you love to play golf? Top Golf in Addlestone is an entertainment venue with point-scoring golf games.
Surrey’s theme parks offer worlds of fun for everyone. Run around the themed lands of Chessington World of Adventures to jump on the Vampire ride in Transylvania and see the Dragon Falls in mystic Asia. The little ones don’t miss out, with the Gruffalo ride and a zoo to meet new furry friends up close. For hair-raising fun, dare to ride Stealth at Thorpe Park in Chertsey. One of the UK’s tallest roller coasters, it shoots passengers from 0 to 80 mph in under two seconds. If that’s not enough, you’ll ride backwards on the Swarm!
Feeling the need for speed? Spend the day at Mercedes-Benz World, where you’ll put a range of vehicles through their paces on the handling circuit. There’s even an under-16s driving experience for the kids. If you’d rather just watch, the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows Display Team demonstrates mind-blowing skills from power slides on the Wet Skid Circle.
Go Ape tree-top adventure park delivers heart-pumping thrills with a Tarzan swing and rope obstacles surrounded by beautiful scenery
From tiny harvest mice to magnificent red deer, the British Wildlife Centre is home to all creatures great and small for you to meet. Keeper talks help you learn about rare species, like Scottish wildcats and otters. Younger children absolutely adore Bocketts Farm in Fetcham. The working farm is home to cuddly rabbits and curious goats to feed, along with pony and tractor rides.
Godstone Farm offers a similar experience with a Farm Trail and adventure playground areas. Epsom’s Hobbledown is an enchanting mix of animal encounters and mythical characters performing across the park. Get your camera ready for a shot of the kids on the larger-than-life wooden chair at Priory Farm. Take the Discovery Land nature trail around ancient woodland and serene lakes filled with hungry fish. You’ll make feathered friends at Birdworld, home to hundreds of unusual birds and the Outdoor Flying Display.
Find out more about RHS Garden Wisley
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