There are tonnes of places in East Sussex and West Sussex that offer lots of things to do with kids for excellent family days out. Visit smugglers' and pirates' museums, hop aboard a vintage locomotive or learn the fascinating history of the castles and historic houses across the county. There are so many days out for kids in Sussex, whatever the age - don't forget the animal attractions and the farm parks either - great for tiny tots who can pet the friendly animals, the conservation angle is also important for older children and teenagers.
Have a look through our selection of places to go in Sussex below:
ZOOS AND ANIMAL PARKS
Drusillas Park is a small but excellent zoo, rated the best in Europe, with kids’ rides too. It is one of the county’s top tourist attractions. The adventure playgrounds, such as Hello Kitty’s Secret Garden, and themed rides, including the Flying Cheetahs and the Hippopotobus, are very popular with kids from toddlers and upwards. The super active meerkats are a spectacle but the animal fun goes way beyond; see flamingos, anteaters, llamas and more. You can even get up close at one of the walk-through exhibits, including Lemurland and the Bat Cave.
Meet a whole host of friendly farm animals at Knockhatch before having a go at holding a snake or a spider and watching owls swoop through the air in the amazing owl show. After the kids have seen their favourite animals, there are four indoor play areas for them to burn off steam in, each designed for a different age group, while the crazy golf course and the boating lake are great outdoor fun for all the family.
CASTLES AND HISTORIC HOUSES
A truly splendid 14th century fortress, the family is sure to have a fun-packed day out at Bodiam Castle. Meet a host of costumed characters as you explore turrets, battlements and spiral staircases, and use the adventure map and interactive audio adventure to discover even more fun facts about this National Trust-owned castle.
AMUSEMENTS AND ADVENTURE PARKS
With its gigantic replica pirate galleon ship, Hastings Adventure Golf is the place to head to if you love this fun and twisted remix version of the gentleman’s sport; it is also one of the UK’s largest crazy golf courses. The three 18-hole golf courses on Hastings seafront are even the venue for the world championships! The courses are well-kept and it’s a great way to pass some time with the family when in the area, with a Florida-themed course, a traditional seaside course and a miniature golf course.
Image: Paul Gillett
Treasure Island, found on Eastbourne’s promenade, is perfect for both sunny and rainy-day fun with its indoor Buccaneers’ Adventure and its Long John Silver’s Outdoor Adventure, home to a shipwreck complete with bridges, slides, walkways and a zip line. The attraction is also home to its own 8-hole crazy golf course if you’re looking for a more relaxed family activity.
Image: Cory Doctorow
Older children and parents will really appreciate the Smugglers Adventure, one of Hastings’ top tourist attractions. Take a journey through an ancient cave system and learn the history of smuggling on the South Coast and beyond, guided by notorious smuggler Hairy Jack. More than 70 characters and an array of interactive displays and special effects help to bring the world of the smugglers to life.
This toy museum is a kid’s dream come true, and a nice dose of nostalgia for parents too. Hidden underneath Brighton railway station, this West Sussex museum is a treasure trove of toys, with more than 10,000 to marvel at, including soft toys, model trains, construction toys and puppets. A great rainy-day activity sure to entertain adults and children alike.
Both of these attractions are within yards of each other, just opposite the East Cliff funicular railway, and entry is free of charge. The Shipwreck Museum contains artefacts recovered from shipwrecks off Hastings and from around the world. One local wreck that you can find traces of along the shore is the Amsterdam (1749) at Bultherhythe in West Hastings. The Fishermen’s Museum is also packed with interesting displays dedicated to the trade of the hardworking fisherman and how the industry has changed and where it has remained the same. An aquarium can also be found down the road for even more marine-based fun.
HERITAGE RAILWAYS AND STEAM TRAINS
Run by a team of dedicated volunteers, the Bluebell Railway operates between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead. This is a paradise for the railway enthusiast as there is a stunning collection of vintage carriages in the main station museum. There’s also a host of interactive screens and games to entertain the kids. The Bluebell Railway will prove to be an unforgettable day out for kids and grown-ups alike.
MAP OF ATTRACTIONS
Find all of the fantastic places to visit listed above, as well as our favourite family days out in Kent, featured in our handy map below and discover where you can go near you!
Inspired by our list of family-friendly days out and activities in Sussex? Take a look at our collection of family cottages perfect for a staycation to remember.
For even more fantastic ideas of things to do with the family, why not hop across the border and experience the best family attractions and days out in Kent too.