With an abundance of history and a landscape that encompasses both chalk hills and charming coastlines, Sussex certainly offers a lot to adventurous families who want to make the most of their break together. You could explore Chichester’s Roman history, meet a shark or even take to the skies in a genuine Spitfire – or just take it easy with an ice cream on one of the county’s fantastic beaches. Our luxury cottages in Sussex are here to give you and the family the perfect place to stay, and our list of the best family activities in Sussex is the only inspiration you need for some unforgettable things to do!
1. Go on a family cycling tour with Brighton Bike Tours
Why go: Touring on foot can make kids grumble and groan, but give them a bike and they’re usually more than happy to whiz around. On a Brighton Bike Tour you and your kids will not only cover lots of ground in one of England’s most exciting cities, but you’ll also keep fit and active while doing it. These guided expeditions take you to some of the city’s top attractions, including the iconic Brighton Pavilion, a beguiling piece of over-the-top Orientalist architecture that was once a royal holiday home but is now a museum. Cycle through the streets and along the promenade of this lively seaside resort, perhaps heading out onto the long pier or cutting down the narrow alleyways of the Lanes. Children are welcome on the privately booked expeditions; these will allow your family to adopt a pace to suit even the littlest legs and stop for toilet breaks, which – let’s face it – can be surprisingly frequent when kids are in tow.
Location: Meet Infront of the Unitarian Church on New Road, Brighton BN1 1UF
Book: Online at Brighton Bike Tours
2. Explore a medieval city with Chichester Tour Guides
Why go: Chichester is an ideal destination to bring your children to soak up some culture; this compact city is bursting with heritage sights – all within a short distance of each other so you won’t have to listen to the kids whine about walking. Chichester Tour Guides know exactly where to take families, and how to make it as interesting as possible for everyone involved. Pick a theme for your guided walking tour and set off: the company offers explorations based on ecclesiastical history, Roman sites, art and architecture and many others. For an overview, take the Chichester City Highlights tour, which takes you around sights like the spectacular cathedral (where the kids should be on alert for the rather impressive peregrine falcons that nest among the turrets) and Fishbourne Roman Palace, famous for its immaculately preserved mosaics. Take a camera to get shots of these beautiful landmarks and to remember your fun family day out.
Location: East Lavant, Chichester
Book: Call 01243 850533
3. Ride the Rainforest Carousel at Drusillas Park
Why go: Largely regarded as the best small zoo in Europe, award-winning Drusillas Park in East Sussex offers a fun finding-out day out for all the family. With over one hundred different animal species, there’s plenty to keep your entire brood entertained. Think sloths and penguins to lemurs and monkeys! And that’s only the beginning. We know your little ones won’t be able to tear themselves away, but the animals are only half the fun! They’ll also adore all the themed adventure play areas. Watch as your little ones make like a monkey and swing, jump and climb across Go Wild!, Go Bananas! and Amazon Adventure. Very excitingly, 2019 welcomes the mesmerising Rainforest Carousel (opening the 6th April) – the first of its kind in the UK! Taking a classic and upping the ante, choose your favourite animal and be enchanted by the wonders of the forest. Sign us up!
Location: Alfriston Rd, East Sussex, BN26 5QS
Book: Online at Drusillas Park
4. Wakeboard and windsurf with Lagoon Watersports
Why go: The sheltered harbour of Hove Lagoon is the ideal place for children to have their first try at water sports. This company are well geared for kids (as long as they can swim!) with a variety of lessons for youngsters to try out. The most independent form of expedition is probably windsurfing: it will just be an instructor, your family, a sail and a board as you all try and harness the power of the wind. You’ll have a lot less control but a lot more speed when wakeboarding, where you’ll take it in turn to be pulled behind a speedboat. The whole family can also take part in sailing lessons where you can control a dinghy or perhaps even try paddleboarding. The family water sports day, for kids aged eight and up allows you to try three of these activities in one exhilarating session.
Location: Hove Lagoon, Kingsway, Hove BN3 4LX
Book: Call 01323 726665
5. Fly through the air with Boultbee Flight Academy
Why go: What child – or adult, for that matter – hasn’t looked at a Spitfire and longed to fly in one? With Boultbee, that dream becomes a reality. Join one of their experience flights and zoom through the air over the English Channel, along the white cliffs and above the South Downs in one of these legendary war planes. Make the day even more special and book a joint flight where you can fly in formation with a second Spitfire. It costs more than many other Sussex experiences, but the feeling of sitting in a cockpit as you soar in the skies is unrivalled.
Location: Hangar 8, Goodwood Aerodrome, Chichester PO18 0PH
Book: Online at Boultbee Flight Academy
6. See a shark in Blue Reef Aquarium
Why go: While aquariums are undoubtedly good places to learn and engage with big issues, the biggest thrill is always seeing some kind of strange but utterly fantastic creature swimming right in front of you. Living in the sizeable tanks of this marine life centre in Hastings are Stonefish, the world’s most venomous fish; angel sharks and porcupine puffer fish. There’s also an area that houses reptiles such as bearded dragons and royal pythons – both guaranteed to catch the eye of curious kidlings. Information about these awesome creatures’ habitats and diets accompany the tanks, and there are daily displays and feeding sessions. The strangest and most compelling of feeding session is that of the archerfish; these scaly denizens shoot water form their mouths to ensnare their prey.
Location: Rock-A-Nore Rd, Hastings TN34 3DW
Book: Online at Blue Reef Aquarium
7. Let the kids play at Treasure Island
Why go: The ball pools and soft play areas of Treasure Island are a no-go area for adults, which works well for both parents and children. Youngsters can wear themselves out running along the gang planks and plunging down the slides of the outdoor park or dodging the obstacles in the indoor area. Adults can take some much-needed time-out from parental duties and relax, knowing that their kids are having a great time imagining themselves as pirates.
Location: 5 Royal Parade, Eastbourne BN22 7AA
Book: Call 01323 726665
8. Choose your activities at Fisher’s Farm Park
Why go: Children of every age and persuasion will find something to enjoy at Fisher’s Farm Park and adults are likely to have a blast, too. As you might expect at a farm, one of the main attractions is meeting the various animals that live there, among them cheeky goats and adorable piglets. Many kids will jump at the chance to then ride some of the ponies they keep in the barns, while others might rather plonk themselves in the big red tractor and play farmer for a day. Some more unusual side activities, including an off-road bug safari and an underground ghost tunnel, are also available. Quad and pedal bikes and outdoor play areas of many different kinds bulk out the family-focused offerings.
Location: Newpound Lane, Wisborough Green RH14 0EG
Book: Call 01403 700063
Sussex’s charms must be all the more appealing now you know there’s so much on offer there – so why not talk to our helpful concierge service about renting some great accommodation for your trip? Our blog is also home to some great articles and travel inspiration if you’re looking for more info – why not have a read of our articles on the five most comfortable weekend getaways from London, 10 villas with boat moorings if you’re a fan of getting out on the water or 10 UK party houses that make the ideal venue for a celebration!