Kent's best parks and playgrounds including Cobtree, Jeskyns, Shorne Country Park and Mote Park

by Lauren Abbott

If you're keen to get the kids out and about this summer without dipping into the pennies too much throw the bikes (or scooters) into the back of the car, grab a ball and head for a park.

Here's the best places in Kent to pedal, play and picnic this summer...

Betteshanger Country Park

The vast park includes walking and running routes, one of the longest cycle road tracks in the UK, bike hire facilities and a play area with rope walks, slides, climbing frames, cradle swings, see-saws, swinging steps, stepping stones and a swinging rope snake.

Betteshanger Country Park, Deal
Betteshanger Country Park, Deal

There are also a number of bookable activities which take place regularly at Betteshanger including target archery and battlezone archery, forest school, shelter building and fossil hunting.

The park is open all year round from 8am, but bike hire and cafe opening times will vary. It's the perfect place for a family day out and a picnic.

Sandwich Road, Deal CT14 0BF

Cobtree Manor Park

On the site of the former Maidstone Zoo, the park is part of the Cobtree Manor Estate. There are a number of play areas to choose from, picnic benches, large swathes of open space for blankets and ball games and a cafe serving food, drink, snacks and ice cream.

And if you take a walk through the parkland you will find parts of the old zoo still standing, including the elephant house, and numerous information boards which tell you all about this former home to wild animals. Don't forget change for pay and display parking!

Forstal Road, Aylesford, ME20 7AG

Gravesend Promenade

For a cycle beside the Thames, head to Gravesend. There are plenty of flat paths and surfaces for learning to cycle and scooter and there are children's play areas and sports courts to enjoy too.

The promenade offers parking at a number of council-run car parks and the riverside area is also just a short walk from the town centre. There is also an on-site cafe on the riverfront selling drinks, food and ice creams.

Gravesend, DA12 2BS

Haysden Country Park

With a lake, natural play area with an aerial runway, things to climb on, slides, chimes, a bridge, roundabout, tyre and other toddler swings near the main car park, picnic areas and a cafe - there is plenty of fun to be found in this 160-acres park in the Medway Valley.

Parking is available in pay and display car parks.

Lower Haysden Lane, Tonbridge, TN11 9BB.

Jeskyns Community Woodland

Found just off the A2 at Cobham, this Forestry Commission-owned park includes two fantastic play areas, complete with sandpit and a tree house.

There is a secluded fairy and elf village of carved sculptures out of sight in woodland behind one of the play areas and the cafe is open for meals, sandwiches, snacks, drinks and ice cream.

Jeskyns is popular with dog walkers - with dedicated exercise areas for canine companions. The on-site car park is pay and display.

Henhurst Road, Cobham, near Gravesend DA12 3AN

Lower Leas Coastal Park on the edge of the beach
Lower Leas Coastal Park on the edge of the beach

Lower Leas Coastal Park, Folkestone

Overlooking the Channel, the Lower Leas Coastal Park is a secluded haven. Paths wind around the three play zones – wild, fun and formal - and the fun zone is home to one of the region’s largest adventure playgrounds.

There's plenty of places to try out new wheels and a National Cycle Route even runs through the area. The park is surrounded by places to grab an ice cream or other refreshments and there are plenty of picnic tables. What's more - the beach is just a stone's throw from the park giving an added dimension to your day out.

Lower Sandgate Road, Folkestone CT20 2EX

Lullingstone County Park

Get back to nature at this internationally important park thanks to its collection of ancient trees. It also has areas of grassland, wild flowers, circular walks, a visitor centre, cafe and children's play area with a selection of climbing equipment and slides aimed at toddlers and younger children. More adventurous youngsters can also head for the Discovery Trail where you will find a cradle swing and zip wire nestled in amongst the trees.

Castle Road, Eynsford DA4 0JF

Milton Creek Country Park

Sittingbourne’s newest green space is a tranquil oasis for wildlife. The 128 acres of former landfill site now offers a large natural play area, a community events space, as well as an extensive network of paths and the park is now home to hundreds of animals.

One of its biggest events - Art in the Park - takes place on Saturday, August 10.

Grovehurst Avenue, Sittingbourne ME10 2DE

There is new equipment at Mote Park
There is new equipment at Mote Park

Mote Park, Maidstone

Mote Park has undergone a multi-million pound refurbishment and now has a new playground and skate park as well as an Outdoor Adventure Zone where Segway hire, a crazy golf course and high ropes climbing is available for an extra charge. It's also a great place to cycle and scooter with plenty of paths and trails to follow. There's also a lake, cafe and plenty of open space for ball games.

Mote Avenue, Maidstone, ME15 7SU

Pegwell Bay Country Park

Pegwell Bay forms part of the Sandwich and Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve. The park boasts stunning views of Sandwich and Deal to the West and the cliffs of Ramsgate to the East and is a great for a walk or cycle. There is also a play area, picnic area and mobile refreshments - the perfect combination for a family day out in the great outdoors!

Sandwich Road, Ramsgate, CT12 5JB

Shorne Woods Country Park

You can keep the family busy all day at this park near Gravesend.

There are extensive play areas, excellent family walking trails, picnic spots, a sensory garden and an eco-friendly visitor centre and cafe serving everything from sandwiches to ice-cream. You may even be lucky enough to grab a pizza from its outdoor oven!

There are plenty of places to pitch up and spend the day - just don't forget change for the parking machines.

Brewers Road, Shorne DA12 3HX

Among attractions at The Strand is an outdoor pool
Among attractions at The Strand is an outdoor pool

The Strand

The Strand Leisure Park has been a firm favourite with families in Medway for many years. Children's play areas, crazy golf, picnic spots, a cafe as well as inflatables, a miniature railway and outdoor pool during the summer months make this a popular choice for families looking to spend a few hours burning off some energy by the river.

Strand Approach Road, Gillingham ME7 1TT

Scroll down for more on Kent's other outdoor pools and best beaches

Tankerton Slopes

The pathways in Whitstable can sometimes be a little busy for young cyclists but head further along the seafront to Tankerton and there is far more room to ride both at the top and bottom of the slopes and parking is free in many parts of Tankerton. It can be a bit windy so having extra layers to hand is advisable. There is a lovely sea-themed play area within Whitstable Castle (and a cafe!) if you get that far.

Tankerton Road, near Whitstable

Toddler's Cove

Small scooters and children's bikes are perfectly suited to the picturesque pathways and surroundings of the Westgate Gardens. And nestled at the back of the Gardens is the fantastic Toddler's Cove play area enabling children to ride or scooter to a great place to play. Alongside the large adventure play area is a large riverside picnic site together with nearby parking and toilets.

St Peter's St, Canterbury CT1 2BQ

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