Surrey has plenty to offer when it comes to a memorable and enjoyable day out – so much in fact that it attracts 26 million day visitors each year. There’s nothing better than getting out and about and enjoying the fresh air, and with the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the doorstep, there’s plenty of unspoilt countryside to explore and all for free! Check out surreyhills.org for walks and points of interest to take in while you’re there.
There are a number of other National Trust sites, which really make the most of the county’s magnificent stately homes and gardens. The elegant Edwardian country house, Polesden Lacey, was known as ‘the’ place for lavish high-society parties in its heyday. No building makes the most of its surroundings better than the National Trust’s Leith Hill Tower, near Dorking. The Gothic tower stands alone on top of the highest point in the South East and, if you climb to the top of its spiral staircase, the views of the Surrey Hills and beyond are well worth it – on a clear day you can even see the clock face of Big Ben!
Surrey also has a wealth of lovely churches and chapels, each telling the unique history of the area. The first Cistercian abbey in England was Waverley Abbey (1128), in Farnham, where you can still visit its ruins; in Shere, you’ll find St James Church, which you may recognise from films such as Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and The Wedding Date; and then there’s the country’s most modern cathedral in Guildford which, from its commanding hilltop position, is an imposing landmark that can be seen across the town (dare we also mention its affiliation with the film, The Omen?).
Young St, Fetcham, Leatherhead KT22 9BS
Younger children will absolutely adore Bocketts Farm, in Fetcham, where you can really get up close and personal with the animals on this working farm. Watch the famous pig race, take a pony ride, hop on board the tractor and trailer, cuddle cute rabbits or feed the goats; it’s a day out they will never forget. Visit website
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
2 Lichfield Rd, Richmond TW9 3JR
Situated on Surrey’s border with London, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew – the world’s most famous botanic garden – boasts landscapes, glasshouses, historic buildings and a vast range of rare and beautiful plants. More than 250 years old and recognised as a World Heritage Site, the garden recently underwent a huge restoration project, reopening its Victorian glasshouse and famous Dragon Pagoda. You can also experience the intimate Kew Palace, home of George III and Queen Charlotte more than 200 years ago. Visit website
WWF Living Planet Centre
Rufford House, Brewery Rd, Woking GU21 4LL
The £20 million WWF UK headquarters is well worth a visit. Opened by none other than Sir David Attenborough, the Living Planet Centre is one of the greenest buildings in the country and features a free interactive exhibition which brings to life the secrets of the natural world and the threats it faces. Visit website
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Ct Way, Molesey, East Molesey KT8 9AU
Tucked away in the village of East Molesey, and more than 500 year old, Hampton Court Palace is a spectacular Tudor building with its great gate house and stunning detailed chimneys. In summer, the Palace hosts a series of open-air concerts in its spectacular and iconic Tudor courtyard. Visit website
British Wildlife Centre
Eastbourne Rd, Newchapel, Lingfield RH7 6LF
The British Wildlife Centre is home to the finest collection of native species in the country; you’ll find more than 40 different species, from tiny harvest mice to magnificent red deer and everything in-between. Here you will have the opportunity to see more rare species such as otters and Scottish wildcats, as well as foxes, deer and beautiful free-flying British owls. Visit website
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