My top 7 free kids activities

Farnham Park, Surrey, Sam and Thomas enjoying the playground

My top 7 free kids activities

Looking for some holiday inspiration? Here are my top 7 free kids activities / places to take kids in the summer holidays. 

The summer is my favourite time of year and I completely adore the freedom of no school, no coats and bare feet in the park 🙂 With 6 long weeks of activities to find, it can get really expensive!! This is why I have put together my hit list of summer freebies.

Being in nature makes life simpler; no tantrums, no arguing over toys or possessions, fresh air and freedom. This simplicity is so good for the soul and massively encourages creative thinking. It is the absolute BEST antidote to computers, TV and screen time. Head to the park and leave games, balls, racquets and equipment at home. All you really need is a picnic blanket and lots of yummy food. Here are my top 7 outside places to visit in summer:

1) The Pheasantry, Bushy Park 

A perfect blend of wild and manicured. There are paths to wander along so it’s easy to bring buggies but also plenty of fallen trees for climbing. Boggy ponds for bug hunting and multiple, looped routes so you can walk a different way each time you go. They also offer free kids activities in the half term and holiday breaks so keep an eye on the website for those. Beware!! The food is blindingly expensive, so definitely remember to pack a picnic!!

2) Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park

Isabella plantation holds a special place in my heart as I spent a huge amount of time there as a child. We would take hours making camps and playing 40/40, or building ‘shops’ to sell our sticks and stones and flowers. I have since passed this tradition down to my children and love teaching Sam and Thomas how to make their dens look cool. Isabella is full of rhododendrons which are absolutely stunning, but also make for perfect climbing trees as they weave in and out and always stay quite low to the ground. I can literally spend all day at Isabella. Friends, picnics, sunshine and happy children; what more could you ask for?

3) Southsea, Portsmouth 

A bit further afield Southsea is a lovely quiet beach just over an hours drive from London. You can park right on the beach front all day for about £8! The beach is stony but when the tide goes out there is some sand also. My boys love collecting stones and shells so it’s perfect for us. You can walk along to the pier for ice creams or fish and chips and there is an old school arcade too! A bit further along there is a park with playground and a splash pad, plus a zoomy thing. My highlight is the boating lake where you can get swan and duck pedalo’s AND it is full of crabs which are pretty easy to catch (even for this squeamish mummy!!) For me this place beats Wittering hands down. No queues and mobbed beaches here. Lovely, old fashioned, peaceful and so close to home!

4) The Magic garden, ** Hampton Court 

Staying local is nice and we’re SO lucky to have this gem on our doorstep. I like to get there first thing and enjoy it before it gets too busy. The Magic Garden is epic on so many levels and really has something for all tastes, climbing, sliding, digging, splashing. Despite having every kind of activity there, Sam likes to spend his entire time damming up the sandpit and will not leave that area for our full 2 hour slot! Thomas is more into scaling the rocks so it’s not the most restful place for me these days (!!). Afterwards we like to sit in the garden of the Tiltyard, have a picnic underneath the Horse Chestnut tree and watch the world go by; Bliss J

5) Esher woods, Esher

An amazing natural playground in the forest. Great for those days which are either too hot to be out in the open, or have a high chance of rain! They have used all the fallen trees to create balance trails and lookouts and all kinds of magical woodland fun. A great place to go with a big group and play a game of sharks and swimmers in amongst the trees. I love the lack of order and the randomness of the ‘playgrounds’ you just kind of stumble across them and they feel like they’re your little secret.

6) Farnham Park, Guildford 

Another playground, set at the bottom of the hill in Farnham Park, with free parking. It has a huge wooden fort, swings, balancing trails, loads of ropes and climbing frames and a giant spider! All set amongst a woodland background so there are loads of natural building materials scattered around or den building (another fave in my household)

7) RHS Gardens, ** Wisley

Wisley is a beautiful landscaped gardens which actively encourages young families over the summer months by putting on extra activities such as crafting, storytelling, pot planting etc., but even without those you have some great den building areas which encourage team work and help the children to make friends; the forest section; the dinosaur trail; the Japanese rockery; the playground and the ducks in the lake. There is so much there it would take you all week to thoroughly enjoy each area so I find we go again and again.

I hope I have given some of you some fresh free kids activities ideas for the break. If you have any hidden gems of your own please share them too 🙂 

If you liked this article please register to my blog to read more. Future posts include creating the perfect outdoor kids party, A review of Children’s singing exams and How to help your child through performance anxiety. 

Happy holidays,

Claire Bender signiture

** Although these are not strictly free kids activities, membership is very reasonable if you use it enough and I would thoroughly recommend both 🙂 

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