Traveling in the South Downs with kids

Kids can't fail to be energised by all those springy-topped hills, dappled woodland paths and sparkling sea views.
Perhaps it’s the long hours of sunshine, perhaps it’s the knowledge that the seaside is never too far away – there’s something about the South Downs National Park that puts you in a vacation mood, even if you’re just dipping in for a weekend. It’s a great place for old-fashioned fun, from pond-dipping, blackberry-picking or leaf-collecting to just galumphing along a peaceful river bank with the family dog. There are more than enough museums and attractions to keep everyone smiling on rainy days and the school vacations bring a host of organised activities such as craft workshops and wildlife-watching adventures.

See our health & safety advice for families.

Activities for families in the South Downs National Park

The Seven Sisters Sheep Centre

The Seven Sisters Sheep Centre in East Dean is a working farm which welcomes young animal lovers. In March and April, kids can have a go at bottle feeding lambs; on late night visit you’re likely to witness one being born. Year-round, there’s fun to be had meeting ponies, ducks and other animals, or watching the sheep shearing. Treat kids to the views from the top deck of the open top City Sightseeing tour bus or the scenic buses between Brighton and Eastbourne which stop outside.

Arundel Wetland Centre

The network of reed-lined waterways at the Arundel Wetland Centre attract dragonflies, water voles and flocks of migrant birds. There are boardwalks to explore, bird hides to hunker down in and boats to take you out on a wildlife watching safari. After all that, energetic kids can let off steam in the woodland play area.

Drusillas Park

Drusillas Park in Alfriston has plenty to keep youngsters entertained, with a climbing wall, paddling pool and rides featuring Hello Kitty and Thomas the Tank Engine. Best of all is the well-kept mini zoo featuring child-pleasing animals such as penguins, lemurs and meerkats. Kids who’d like to help out behind the scenes can sign up to be a Keeper for the Day.

Our top South Downs family Vacation

Wheelchair accessible vacation cottages, South Downs

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Traveling in the South Downs National Park with kids

June Zaft of Country Walks, our supplier, says:
“If you’re visiting with kids, I would suggest staying in the beautiful downland village of Alfriston, which has easy access to the Cuckmere Valley and Seven Sisters, for gentle country walks and the chance to go paddling in the sea. It’s also close to Drusillas Park, which is really popular with families.”
Our partner Sandra Barnes-Keywood of Old Chapel Forge thinks the South Downs National Park is a great destination for families: “There’s everything here, from mountain biking for adrenaline junkies to boat rides for wildlife-watchers. The Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve near Chichester is an enchanting place for all ages, with ancient yew trees, green woodpeckers, nightingales and owls.”

Alex Evans from our partner Wriggly Tin has a personal tip: “Choose a place to stay that allows campfires. Everybody, young and old, enjoys building them, cooking over them, chatting around them, just staring at them! Campfires seem to turn life into an adventure, especially at night time.”
Written by Emma Gregg
Photo credits: [Page banner: GlennD] [Intro: © Richard Perry] [The Seven Sisters Sheep Centre: © SDNPA/Phillippa Morrison-Price] [Arundel Wetland Centre: © WWT Arundel] [Drusillas Park: Dzp] [Responsible travel recommends: © SDNPA]