I know how lucky we are in Bucks, we’re surrounded by loads of great days out, both indoors and outdoors. I’ve got three kids (9, 7 and nearly 2) and finding things to keep them all entertained and active, without breaking the bank can be a bit of a challenge at times. I’d like to share with you our favourite places to visit as a family;
Wendover Woods, Wendover – Free Entry
If you haven’t been to Wendover Woods recently then you’re in for a big surprise (sorry I couldn’t help myself). They have almost completed a multimillion pound investment in the main visitor area and it’s transformed from what it used to be like. There is now a much larger car park, a revamped cafe area is nearly open and the toilets have been ripped down and replaced! The existing Go Ape has been joined by a new Go Ape junior as well.
The highlight has to be the new play trail. It’s fantastic and has got a mud kitchen, climbing frames, a fort and more. There is also a new toddler’s play area that is due to be open soon. Have a look at my blog post for lots of photos. Because of the deal that Julia Donaldson has with the Forestry Commission they permanently have one trail or another related to one of her books. The current trail is all about Zog.
There are miles and miles of family friendly walks and trails, for varying levels of accessibility. There’s a hill fort, fitness trail, den building areas and a giant Gruffalo. Pre-bookable private BBQs will be available again soon, but there are also five free BBQ’s available. Just make sure you arrive early on busy days as they go really quickly.
I know that some people complain about the cost of a day’s parking, but it is much better now you pay on exit so no more rushing back to the car from the other side of the woods so your ticket doesn’t run out!!!! The costs is £2.20 (up to 2 hours), £4.30 (up to 4 hours) or £8 all day.
This year is the first year that all of the new facilities have been open so I’m guessing it’s going to be very popular this summer. You can ready my full review of Wendover Woods here
Cliveden House and Gardens – Free for NT members, admission charges apply for non-membersCliveden may well look familiar – it’s where Meghan Markle stayed the night before her wedding so there were a LOT of photos of the main entrance! The house itself is an exclusive hotel now and so there are minimal opportunities to have a look around but the grounds are the real star of this place!
The grounds are huge and there are loads of different areas to explore. There are woodland areas, secret houses, a riverside walk, rose garden, parterre and more. Dotted around there are some epic climbing trees, for kids of all ages and abilities. There are also the amazing water gardens. This is where families seem to spend most of their time. There’s a maze (which is more difficult that you’d think for its size), a large with lots of very inquisitive Koi carp, a pagoda, lots of space for running around and the Storybook Playground. This is an amazing playground area full of wooden play equipment all themed around children’s stories. There’s Rabbit’s house from Winnie the Pooh, the Very Hungry Caterpillar, Captain Hook, the Crocodile from Peter Pan and Charlotte’s web. It’s right next to a little cafe and some toilets so it’s a great place to set up camp for the day.
One of the things that I love about Cliveden is that, because of its size and variety of the grounds you can have a totally different day out each time you visit. I’d recommend getting a copy of the map from the visitor centre to make sure you fully explore the grounds if you’re repeat visitors and don’t just stick to the same spots.
You can see more details, prices and the full review of Cliveden House and Gardens here.
Green Dragon Eco Farm – Family ticket £34
I know that there are quite a few open farms in and around Bucks, but Green Dragon is definitely my favourite. I don’t know about you but I’ve always been a bit disappointed by a lack of animals, farm or otherwise, at several open farms. They seem to be more about the added extras and less about getting up close to animals, and have a price tag to match. If I wanted to go to a theme park, then I’d go to a theme park! Anyway, rant over, but I do think Green Dragon has got a really good balance between a variety and abundance of animals and things to do to make it into a full day out. There’s been continuous development and investment since they opened and they’ve recently opened their wildlife zone as part of that. They now have resident Red Squirrels, Silver Foxes and Reindeer. There are also lots of new animals that are going to be moving-in soon. During our many visits we have spoken to most of the staff and they are such an asset. They’re knowledgeable, friendly and clearly all love their jobs. They share this enthusiasm with the kids and it’s infectious.
To me it seems that Green Dragon Eco Farm is actually about caring for the animals and protecting wildlife and rare breeds, and not just about making money. That’s not the main thing that the kids love about a visit here, they just think it’s a fantastic day out!
Have a look at lots more pictures and find out more about the numerous activities and things to do at Green Dragon Eco Farm in my review here
Bekonscot Model Village – Family ticket £34.80. Blue Peter Badge Holders get in free
This such a quirky little attraction that it had to be included. Where else can you get to be a giant for the day? Model Village is something of a misnomer though – it’s actually 6 different small towns all recreated in a truly impressive level of miniature detail. As you wonder around you’ll find a marina, zoo, multiple railway stations, an archaeological dig, churches, cricket pitch and even a Scout camp. There is also a complex train networkwith various stations throughout the village. It’s a perfect recreation of 1920‘s life. It’s not the biggest place that you’ll visit and I don’t think it’s actually a full day out for the family but it is unique and it is worth a visit.
Read my full review of Bekonscot Model Village here.
Milton Keynes Museum – Family ticket (up to 4 kids) £30.00 – Tickets valid for 12 months
This place is wonderfully a eclectic mix of Buckinghamshire’s history. There is so much to do here, and each area is very different from the next. You can play a pianola, see what life was like in a WWII air raid shelter, learn about our agricultural history (in a way even young kids enjoyed), look at modes of transport as varied as a Sinclair C5, a tram, a Romany caravan and a Penny Farthing and visit an entire high street complete with grocers and pub! As well as this there’s a school (including live science demonstrations), printers workshop and the fascinating Connected Earth exhibit which is all about human communication. A highlight for my boys were the telephones; anyone remember the Chameleon phone???
I didn’t really expect this place to be that good but actually it was fascinating. We spent the entire day there and the kids loved it. There’s lots of hands-on areas which is always key to keep the children entertained.
For the full Milton Keynes Museum review here.
What other family days out in Buckinghamshire would you recommend?
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