Since moving to Tunbridge Wells almost ten years ago, lots of friends and family have come to visit! We really enjoy showing them around and sharing some of our favourite places with them.
Since many of our visitors have children now (us included), I have put together a blog post describing an ideal weekend for families coming to Tunbridge Wells. I hope it’s useful!
Brunch at Bills is a great start to the day! Located in central Royal Tunbridge Wells, Bills is relaxed and very welcoming for families, with a brilliant brunch menu
While up at the top of the town, pop in to the toy section of Fenwick’s in Royal Victoria Place. They have a magical selection of toys and my boys love checking out the lego, trains and popular merchandise when there.
Whirligig is a newish shop to Tunbridge Wells and offers traditional and creative toys. It’s a really unique shop and is definitely somewhere I would take the boys for a treat or to buy a special gift.
Kids are bound to enjoy looking in the children’s section at Waterstones, which has a great selection of books from British authors – this is particularly relevant for families visiting from abroad.
Popping in to Jeremy’s Home Stores is a must too! I have bought so many little gifts and accessories for the home in there and Harry always seems to persuade me to buy him something too – the latest purchase was a magician’s wand!
We all know that children can’t tolerate the shops for long, so why not pop into the Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery and take a look at their latest exhibitions, some of the vintage toys or use one of their free family explorer backpacks and take part in one of the trails?
Continue on down through the town to Grove Park where the children can burn some energy at the little playground, while Mum and Dad relax, perhaps with a glass of wine from The Compasses pub? They will give you plastic cups to take out onto the grass if you like.
The Pantiles is an absolute must for anyone visiting Tunbridge Wells – there’s a Food & Craft Market on the first and third weekend of each month for visitors to enjoy too – but if it’s not on, it’s still definitely worth the trip.
If you are feeling peckish grab something from the Food & Craft Market or have some lunch in one of the cafes which has a really tasty children’s menu alongside its regular menu. If you are still full from brunch, then a trip to Flossies ice-cream parlour is a good option too!
Continue on to The Spa Valley Railway Station at Tunbridge Wells West and treat your children to a trip through the countryside as far as Eridge Station. There are several places to stop off if you wish, including The High Rocks where you can purchase tickets to visit the rocks themselves, or the gorgeous village of Groombridge where you can stop for a drink at the local pub which has a playground opposite it, or if you are feeling particularly energetic, spend the afternoon visiting Groombridge Place and the Enchanted Forest which is an amazing day out in itself.
Alternatively, passengers can go directly to Eridge Station and enjoy a pit stop at The Huntsman Pub before boarding another train back to Royal Tunbridge Wells.
I find that Italian food generally goes down well with the family, so if you are looking for a family friendly Italian restaurant in Tunbridge Wells, then Il Vesuvio is the place to go!
This is a family run restaurant serving authentic Italian food at its restaurant on the eclectic Camden Road. If you are staying self catering and fancy chilling out, then Firezza is a fantastic place to order pizza delivery from.
The newly re-opened Bewl Water offers lots of outdoor family fun – hire some bikes and cycle around the lake. We visited last summer and it took us several hours to cycle half-way around with one child on the back of my bike and the other in a trailer! It was a super family day out and something I will always remember (despite getting stung by a wasp!).
The lake at Bewl Water is the perfect place to hire a boat for a family adventure too – there are lots of different options to try including pedal boats, rowing boats, Canadian canoes and paddle boards.
There are also mini go-karts, several playgrounds and entry is only £2 per car. It’s a delightful drive through the countryside to get there if you avoid the A21.
A good old traditional roast at a family friendly pub is essential after a busy morning. The Vineyard in Lamberhurst is one of our absolute favourites. It gets busy, so if you’re planning to have Sunday lunch there indoors, do book ahead. Alternatively they have a fantastic outdoor garden with play equipment and bar and grill. They don’t take reservations for this, so you can just turn up on the day and grab a table.
If you fancy heading back towards Tunbridge Wells then The Beacon is a beautiful place to have lunch. Set on seventeen acres with three beautiful lakes, the outdoor terrace has stunning views over the Kent countryside.
Soak up some culture at the sensational stately home and gardens of Penshurst Place – families can enjoy the gorgeous gardens, do a tour around the house, visit The Toy Museum and wind up in the Adventure Playground, which will keep the kids occupied for ages!
There’s also a woodland trail which takes visitors up to the maize maze. If you think you can eat something more, then enjoy some afternoon tea in the Garden Restaurant. We had membership to Penshurst Place for the last few years and never get bored of this beautiful place.
Have some Sunday night fun at the BowlPlex in Knight’s Park or if you can all agree on a film to watch, then a visit to Odeon Cinema is a good option too. There are several restaurants up there including the cheap and cheerful Hop House which has a soft-play section and Frankie & Benny’s New York themed Italian restaurant. If you have room for pudding, I can highly recommend anything from the dessert menu there!
Where to stay
As you can see, this is just a taster for some of the awesome activities to do as a family in and around Tunbridge Wells.
If you are planning to visit Tunbridge Wells, or have guests coming to stay, there are some good accommodation options. Some of our guests have stayed in The Royal Retreat (formerly Smart & Simple Hotel) which is central, good value for money and a good base for exploring Royal Tunbridge Wells.
Another family visiting us had a wonderful stay at Hollamby’s Cottages in Groombridge – set on a farm just outside the gorgeous village of Groombridge, these self-catering cottages are ideal for families.
There are many other accommodation options. Check out the VisitTunbridgeWells.com Accommodation page. We advise you to book in advance as Tunbridge Wells gets very busy!
For more ideas about places to visit read our family friendly attractions page.