In the wake of summer, there’s no reason to forgo weekend breaks or holidays in half term. With the summer crowds taking their leave and the heat of the sun diminishing to make way for the beautiful autumnal scenery, it is the perfect destination to keep families busy with so many activities and attractions. So, pack up the car and discover a whole host of half-term things to do in Kent and Sussex for your half-term break.
Plan a day trip to a top family attraction
If you're wondering what to do in the half term, Kent and Sussex benefit from an array of leading family attractions from the small but popular Drusillas Park, rated one of the best zoos in Europe, to a fascinating insight into Roman Britain at Canterbury Roman Museum. With tons of farm parks, zoos, amusements and museums, you won’t find it difficult to keep the kids entertained during half term in Kent and Sussex.
Take a look at our guides to family days out in Kent and family days out in Sussex.
Visit the beach out of season
Out of season, beach walks are a great opportunity to discover the natural beauty of the coast and perhaps spot some wildlife too. With most dog restrictions lifted from England’s beaches by early October, your canine companion can enjoy a run on the sand and a paddle in the sea while you and the kids splash in your wellies. Discover 10 of the best Kent beaches to visit this autumn.
Enjoy spook-tacular events at top Kent & Sussex attractions
Throughout both Kent and Sussex, there are several historic castles, each with plenty of spooky tales of ghosts and ghouls. Catering for families, most of them hold special Halloween events, outdoor trails, arts and craft activities and other great things to do during October half term. You could be following the scarecrow scavenger hunt around the grounds of Leeds Castle or hunting for black cats at Bodiam Castle. Discover the romantic castles of Sussex and dramatic castles of Kent.
For a whole week of haunted happenings, visit Drusillas Park during their Halloween Shriek Week, which includes creepy crawly encounters, a mummy maze and adventures in the Haunted Heights towers.
Explore enchanting National Trust properties
Awash with ancient houses and beautiful gardens, the National Trust properties of Sussex and Kent cater for families well during October half term. There are Halloween trails and spooky stories to crafts, games and competitions to keep the littlest members of the family well entertained, while you soak up the beautiful gardens and gain an insight into the heritage of the property.
See the autumnal colours in the gardens of Kent & Sussex
Kent is known as the ‘Garden of England’ with Sussex not far behind it on the horticultural front. The two counties promise to show you some of the most beautiful gardens you will have ever seen, especially under a canopy of autumn colours. A key time for harvesting fruits and nuts, you’ll be sure to stumble across apple picking festivals, conker collections and forage walks for horse chestnuts – the perfect outdoor activities for half term.
Spot wildlife in the country parks & nature reserves
Autumn is one of the best times of the year for outdoor adventures. As the leaves begin to turn and the landscape takes on a pretty auburn glow, the country parks and nature reserves come alive with wildlife and scenery that will be sure to take your breath away. Why not pack up your bikes and your walking boots and enjoy some of the stunning routes through natural attractions such as Hastings Country Park or Arlington Reservoir and Nature Reserve?
Save the pennies with free activities in Kent & Sussex
Keeping the kids busy during half-term can get expensive. Why not mix up the activities with a few free things to do? Visit the Fisherman’s Museum and Towers in Hastings where you can learn about the local history or Union Windmill which dominates the medieval town of Cranbrook. Walking trails and hikes through country parks are great for a free day out too.
Head off on two (or four) feet
A brisk autumnal walk followed by a cosy pub lunch. Sound like the perfect October half term day out? There are many trails and walks that meander along the coast and through the countryside from those in the grounds of National Trust properties to country park walks and routes that take in stunning Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Take a look at some of these walks in Kent to inspire your half-term rambles.
Where to stay in Kent and Sussex this autumn with the family
Great for large family get-togethers:
This beautiful Grade II listed Oast House offers boutique-style accommodation in a quiet location in rural Kent. With plenty of space for a large group to spread out, it is the perfect base for a big family holiday, with multiple generations and mixed families. A packed games room with pool table, table football and dartboard will be sure to keep teenagers and older children entertained. While you gather in the kitchen or relax in front of the open fire in the lounge, little ones can burn off some energy on the outdoor swings, slide and trampoline.
Wave Crest - Pevensey Bay, sleeps 10
Not only is this property easy on the eye, but it is located right on the beachfront, with direct access to the beach! Beautifully decorated with a Scandinavian-style interior throughout, the Edwardian house is stylish and spacious, perfect for a big family gathering. The painted and natural wood décor creates a calming coastal feel to help you unwind during your stay. There is a bunk room that has been specially decorated to give little ones their own space too.
Perfect for young families
Little Tern - Rye Harbour, sleeps 4
This pretty old fisherman’s cottage exudes charm and style and offers a comfortable base for a small family to call home. Outside in the trendy garden room, the games room is sure to be a big hit with every member of the family. A huge appeal of Little Tern is that the harbour’s pubs and shops are within walking distance so on the days you’d rather ditch the car, you can. Head slightly further afield and discover the cobbled streets, boutique shops, and chic cafes in the historic town of Rye.
This lovingly restored former hop house enjoys a rural location, but you can also jump in the car and easily reach Royal Tunbridge Wells and nearby attractions such as Sissinghurst Castle, Groombridge Place and Scotney Castle. Young children will love running around in the garden, burning off energy and exploring the handcrafted treehouse, playing on the swings, and they can test their football skills with the shooting goal. One of several cottages on this complex, you have the option to extend this break to the wider family by booking more than one cottage.
You can search our full collection of family-friendly cottages in Kent & Sussex to find the perfect base for your half-term break.