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20 things to do in Sussex with kids

20 things to do in Sussex with kids

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As a little girl I loved visiting castles, historic houses and forests. I still do! That’s why I particularly love trips to Sussex. Here’s what we got up to during our last visit, as well as some extra ideas for things to do in Sussex with kids to add to your bucket list.

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Our top tips for days out with kids in Sussex including castles, walks in the paw prints of Winnie the Pooh, family attractions & beaches! #UK #daysout #England #thingstodo #TinBoxTraveller #ideas #travel

Find more days out in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in my big round up of 101 UK attractions for families.

Days out in Sussex for families

Whether you want to relax on the beach, discover some of the south coast of England’s most historic sites or experience its best family attractions, here’s some inspiration for top days out with kids in Sussex:

1. Sussex Beaches for families

Beach hunts on West Wittering Beach in West Sussex
West Wittering Beach

We do enjoy a day at the beach and Sussex has some wonderful choices for families. One of our absolute favourites is the Blue Flag West Wittering beach in West Sussex. Grassy dunes make way for a golden sandy shore line that is perfect for sand castle building.

Just be aware that it’s a hot spot for sun seekers in the summer months and the roads in the area are notorious for snarling up. My advice is to get there early!

If you’re looking for similar golden sands but on the East Sussex coast then you have to visit Camber Sands near Rye. There’s five miles of picture-perfect beach to enjoy.

Of course you can’t talk about Sussex beaches without mentioning Brigton’s – it’s where you will experience the full British seaside experience. Grab fish and chips on Palace Pier, hire a deck chair and have a stone skimming competition.

Things to do in East Sussex with kids

Here’s some days out in East Sussex for families:

2. Lewes Castle

Lewes Castle, Lewes, East Sussex, England

During our last trip to Sussex we were staying in Lewes, so a visit to the Castle was a must.

Lewes Castle was one of the first to be built following the Norman conquest of 1066 and it’s said to have one of the best surviving examples of a machicolation defence feature. If your kids like gruesome details, that’s holes through which stones and hot liquids could be poured onto attackers below.

The castle keep has brilliant views of the town and surrounding countryside, as well as beautifully kept gardens.

We found the steps up to the Keep were steep, so Tin Box Tot’s pushchair was left with reception.

Find out more about visiting Lewes Castle.

3. Urban Jump

If the weather fails you head to Urban Jump in Heathfield, East Sussex, where your kids will find 25,000 square feet of trampoline fun from foam pits to climbing walls and dodge ball.

Find out more about Urban Jump.

4. East Hill Cliff Railway

East Hill Cliff Railway or lift is a funicular railway located in the english town of Hastings in Sussex. A funicular is cable car operated by cable with ascending and descending cars counterbalanced

For something a bit different go for a ride on the UK’s steepest cliff railway to Hastings Country Park.

East Hill Cliff Railway opened in 1902 and is a fun way to visit the country park which sits within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and overlooks Old Hastings.

This funicular operated by cable with ascending and descending cars counterbalanced.

Find out more about riding East Hill Cliff Railway.

5. Anne of Cleves House

Four poster bed in bedroom in Anne of Cleeves House
Bedroom in Anne of Cleves House

Also in Lewes is Anne of Cleves House. It was given to her as part of her settlement from King Henry VIII when their marriage was annulled. But she never lived there. It now tells the story of Tudor life in Lewes and the history of the town.

It’s just a short walk from Lewes Castle and you can get a combined attraction ticket to visit both.

Find out more about visiting Anne of Cleves House.

6. Ashdown Forest

sandy heathland in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, England: a sprawling nature area & fictional home of A. A. Milne children's book character, Winnie the Pooh
sandy heathland in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, England: a sprawling nature area & fictional home of A. A. Milne children’s book character, Winnie the Pooh

If your kids, or you, love Winnie the Pooh then you must visit Ashdown Forest and play Pooh Sticks.

The original Pooh Sticks bridge is about a 10 minute down hill walk from the car park. When we visited it was a lovely day and we were not alone in our quest to play Pooh sticks. I’d recommend collecting a few twigs along your way as when you get to Pooh Bridge they become a rarity!

There are two walks on the Forest website that help you pick out landmarks from A.A.Milne’s iconic stories. 

Find out more about visiting Ashdown Forest.

7. Drusilla’s Park

Drusilla’s Park is an animal and family theme park in East Sussex with attractions and rides for all ages. Meet Hello Kitty in her toddler-friendly secret garden or jump on some of the safari-themed rides. 

For older kids there’s adventure playgrounds and a climbing wall to test their nerves. If animals are more your thing then take a wander around the park’s small zoo, which has more than 60 different specifies and three walk-through enclosures.

Find out more about days out at Drusilla’s Park.

8. Battle Abbey

The gatehouse of Battle Abbey at Hastings at dusk
Battle Abbey

Take the kids to Battle Abbey at Hastings for a history lesson of national importance. The Abbey, which is managed by English Heritage, stands on the site of the Battle of Hastings.

You can walk the battle field to find sculptures of soldiers from 1066, explore the Abbey ruins and find out about life and warfare in Norman Britain in the visitor centre.

During school holidays there are battle reenactments and extra activities to bring the extraordinary history of the place alive.

Find out more about visiting Battle Abbey.

If you enjoy visiting historic places then why not also check out National Trust places in Sussex..

9. Brighton SEA LIFE Centre

Father and son looking at fish in a tunnel aquarium.

If you are looking for things to do in Brighton with kids then the SEA LIFE Centre is a must.

Step inside the world’s oldest aquarium for close encounters with more than 5,000 sea creatures. The Victorian building, purpose built as a marine life attraction in the 1870s, has seven zones and experiences including a glass bottom boat giving you a surface view of the sea life below.

Find out more about visiting and the creatures you can meet at Brighton SEA LIFE Centre.

10. Woods Mill Nature Reserve

Woods Mill Nature Reserve is a compact haven offering families with the smallest of tots the chance to enjoy the wildlife living within its 19 hectares.

During the summer months activities like pond dipping are laid on for families. In the winter the reserve wardens run nature ‘tot sessions’ so little ones can learn basic woodcraft skills and explore their natural surroundings. 

There’s an all-weather, pushchair-friendly path around the lake or and a bird hide.

Find out more about this day out in Sussex for families on the Wildlife Trust website.

11. Newhaven Fort

This 150-year-old fort was one of 72 commissioned by Palmerston in response to the threat of invasion by Napoleon in the 19th Century. Its design was unique at the time as it was built into a cliff.

New Haven Fort continued to play a role in the defence of the UK until the 1950s.

Today you can sit inside the air raid shelter and listen to a simulated World War Two air raid, as well as finding out how soldiers lived and worked here. Exhibitions at the fort also tell the story of the site’s defensive role dating back to pre-Roman times. 

From the ramparts you have panoramic views of the South Downs and Seaford Bay, and within the fort there are 10 acres of space for kids to run around, plus an adventure playground.

Find out more about visiting Newhaven Fort.

12. British Airways i360

The British Airways i360 viewing tower on Brighton seafront in Sussex
i360 Brighton

For the very best vistas of the Sussex coastline take a ride up in the British Airways i360 viewing tower.

The super adventurous among you can try to iDrop experience. This zip line starts in the i360 pod, 450ft in the air and lands you on Brighton beach. It’s the highest descent in the UK.

Find out more about visiting the i360 in Brighton.

13. The Bluebell Railway

Steam train pulling haulage on the Bluebell Railway - one of the many days out with kids in Sussex
Bluebell Railway

Hands up steam train fans! The volunteer-run Bluebell Railway is right up your street. It travels along part of the old London to Brighton and South Coast Railway route stopping at four vintage stations between Lewes and East Grinstead.

Each of the stations has its own attractions from children’s play areas, to museums and engine sheds. Fans of Downton Abbey will recognise Horsted Keynes Station as a filming location for the series.

Find out more about Bluebell Railway days out with kids in Sussex.

14. Rampion Visitor Centre

Family around globe at Rampion Centre
Photo credit: Rampion Centre

Learn about the Rampion wind farm at the free and accessible Visitors Centre, which tells the story of offshore wind energy and global climate change.

It houses exhibitions, videos, VR experience, and other interactive displays so that visitors can learn more about wind energy and discover the whole Rampion story since its inception over ten years ago.

Find out more about visiting Rampion Visitor Centre.

15. Knockhatch Adventure Park

If you’re looking for an all weather attraction where there’s cute and cuddly animals as well as exciting adventure play for kids of all ages Knockhatch is the place to go.

This East Sussex theme park has indoor play areas and rides as well as farm animals, a splash park, water coaster and adventure playgrounds outdoors.

Find out more about things to do at Knockhatch Adventure Park.

Things to do in West Sussex with kids

Here’s some of the top things to do in West Sussex:

16. Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle in West Sussex
Arundel Castle in West Sussex

A castle has stood high on this hill overlooking Arundel since Medieval times. However the fairy tale-like structure you see today is not original – the castle has been rebuilt and remodelled over the centuries.

You might recognise the stately home you see today from its big screen appearances in the 2009 film The Young Victoria and the 2017 DC film Wonder Woman.

Visitors can tour the state rooms, bedrooms, chapel and garden as well as the castle keep. This day out is best suited to older children with an interest in history who will be able to learn about the castle’s links to the Dukes of Norfolk, Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Victoria.

Find out more about visiting Arundel Castle.

17. Fishbourne Roman Palace

Detail of the Venus and Gladiator floor mosaic in the Roman villa at Bognor, West Sussex, England.
Detail of the Venus and Gladiator floor mosaic

For a taste of Roman Britain and a chance to see the largest mosaic floors still in place in the UK, head to Fishbourne Roman Palace.

The impressive mosaics are all that remain of this grand home that would have been timber built. Spot mythical creatures in among ornate patterns that were created by master craftsmen from Rome.

As well as walking above these historic artworks there’s lots of other artefacts to discover and gardens restored to how they would have looked 2,000 years ago.

Find out more about Fishbourne Royal Palace.

18. Huxley Birds of Prey

Close up of falcon's eye

This rescue and rehabilitation centre is open to the public so they can learn about buzzards, owls and falcons native to Britain. 

The centre is able to release many of its rescue birds back into the wild. It also has feathered residents who visitors can see up close and runs extensive falconry displays to give you an insight into their natural behaviour. 

Find out more about visiting Huxley Birds of Prey.

19. Out of Bounds

Clip n climb climbing walls in the Out of bounds centre in Sussex
Picture credit: Out of Bounds

For an action-packed day out near Brighton head to Out of Bounds. This activity centre has fun things to do for pre-schoolers through to teens and adults. 

Take your pick from clip ‘n climb, ten pin bowling, multi-level soft play, adventure nets, jumping pillows and laser tag inside the centre. Or venture outdoors for a round on the 18-hole adventure golf course with a safari theme.

Find out more about kids activities at Out of Bounds.

20. Go Ape at Tilgate Park in Crawley

Swing, slide and climb through the trees on one of the two high ropes trails at Tilgate Park. There’s a Treetop Challenge for adults and older kids as well as a small person-friendly Treetop Adventure.

Find out more and book Go Ape.

More things to do in England

If you are looking for more things to do close to Sussex check out these posts about places that you can visit within a few hours:

Find more days out in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in my big round up of 101 UK attractions for families.

Can you recommend any other things to do with kids in Sussex, England? I’d love to hear about them.

Planning days out with kids in Sussex? Why not use Pinterest to save this post.

Our top tips for days out with kids in Sussex including castles, walks in the paw prints of Winnie the Pooh, family attractions & beaches! #UK #daysout #England #thingstodo #TinBoxTraveller #ideas #travel

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Tuesday 30th of March 2021

Hello Claire! Not sure how I ended up on your site from my google search, but it got me planning my next trip to finally get out of my lockdom time in Paris! That West Wittering Beach looks absolutely amazing, and looks like you guys had a fun time there. Hopefully I can visit soon :)

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Tuesday 20th of January 2015

It was a busy long weekend, but that's how we like it. I remember grabbing a nap in the car with Tin Box Tot after our visit to Heaven Farm :)

Ting Dalton

Sunday 18th of January 2015

Oh what gorgeous photos. You managed to pack so much in. Lewes is gorgeous, I'd always rather head there than Brighton.

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