Top ten rainy day activities for kids in Kent and Sussex

Days out, Fall into Winter, Family, February Half Term, October Half Term

Girl in rain umbrella mother

It is every parent’s holiday nightmare – planning a lovely day at the beach, only to find out that it’s going to rain. While some activities can be enjoyed whatever the weather, some are simply meant for sunny days only. With this in mind, we have put together a selection of fun things to do on a rainy day, just in case you have to divert your sunshine-filled plans to another day. Most of our top ten are completely inside although some will need you to wait for a break in the rain to enjoy all that they have on offer. So grab that brolly and head to an attraction where you will have a great time whatever the weather!

Smugglers Adventures, Hastings, East Sussex

People think of Hastings as just a traditional seaside town with a beach and fair but there is so much more to do, especially in wet weather. The town is home to an amazing assortment of places to visit, including the Fishermans Museum, the Shipwreck Museum and the Smugglers Caves. Here you can discover the secrets of the smugglers as you are led through acres of underground caverns, passages and tunnels with over 70 life-size characters, eerie lighting and dramatic recreations, led by the notorious smuggler Hairy Jack. You won’t be able to resist the smell of fish and chips, burgers and candy floss and there are lots of places to enjoy all of these, just pick somewhere you can sit inside! Make sure you don’t leave without visiting one of the little seafront shops for sticks of rock and postcards to send to friends at home – children can write them while waiting to be served instead of wishing they were out on the beach.

How wet will I get? Hardly at all, just walking between attractions. The museums and caves are inside and there are lots of places to eat nearby.

Weather report: Perfect for heavy rain.

Battle Abbey, Battle, East Sussex

If your children love history, a trip to Battle Abbey will go down a treat. The amazing abbey, built on the site where the 1066 Battle of Hastings took place is brilliant for mini historians as they can wander around the ruins with an audio headset bringing the past alive – some of the abbey is under cover but not all so you will have to wait for a break in the rain to see all of the ruins. You start off with a short film telling the story of the great battle and then you can wander around the abbey to bring it alive. Children can stand on the very spot where William the Conqueror defeated King Harold and then go up to the roof to see the battlefield and imagine what took place there! Not only are the interactive displays and exhibitions brilliant, little ones can find out if they are strong enough to carry a shield and sword into battle. Spend time in the shop where you can browse among medieval-themed souvenirs, swords, helmets and other dressing-up things and then head to one of the restaurants or coffee bars only seconds away from the abbey.

How wet will I get? Much of the abbey is covered but there are outside parts which you will quickly need to head for if the rain stops. The museum is such an integral part of the experience that it is worth going for that alone.

Weather report: Perfect for rain with sunny spells.

The Canterbury Tales, Canterbury, Kent

Head to this award-winning indoor attraction which brings Chaucer’s tales to life in a fun and exciting manner. Go back in time with not only the sights and sounds of years gone by but also the smells (which children will love) as guides in costume show you around – there is also an audio guide to accompany you on your ‘journey’ from The Tabard Inn in London to Canterbury Cathedral. There is a commentary for little ones to explain what is happening and a chance to dress up in medieval costume. This fun attraction is in the centre of Canterbury so you can then head to have something to eat in one of the city’s many eateries and finish off with a spot of shopping.

How wet will I get? Not at all as it’s all indoor. You will just need a brolly when you go out to eat.

Weather report: Perfect for heavy rain.

White Oak Leisure Centre and Treasure Island, Swanley, Kent

Though this experience will not be a dry one, at least it’s indoor! Full of brilliant rides such as the 94 metre Dophin Glide, the amazing Shark Shocker and the Whale Whirler, kids will have so much fun. There is a diving area for the braver children although it does start at 1 metre so no need to worry too much. Under 12’s can head to Treasure Island where they can play on the slides and ball pools and tiny tots can enjoy the safe soft play area. There is also the possibility to try out other sports on site and a health food café so the only time you will need to venture out is to get back to the car.

How wet will I get? You’ll stay extremely dry as a spectator but once you’re in, you’re in!

Weather report: Perfect for heavy rain.

The Wartime Tunnels at Dover Castle, Dover, Kent

Discover your inner historian on the White Cliffs of Dover where wartime comes alive for all ages. The tunnels under the castle were used as protection from invaders and have served a strategic military role for centuries. You can trace the history of these tunnels with interactive games, original wartime film footage and stories and images; the history is wartime but the effects are really modern! Make sure you go to the Underground Hospital which is very moving – bear in mind age appropriateness here and go with what your children feel comfortable with. Teenagers who have already studied this period at school will find it fascinating and smaller ones will enjoy exploring the winding tunnels below the castle.

How wet will I get? Not at all as the tunnels are of course underground. However, if you want to visit the castle too it may be best to take a brolly just in case.

Weather report: Perfect for rain with light showers.

Expression Interactive Art Studio Café, Canterbury, Kent

There’s nothing children love more than getting creative and this studio café has an amazing array of unfired mugs, plates and picture frames for them to paint and take home, perhaps as a gift. It’s not only pottery, but also tiles and glassware for older children or ambitious younger ones! The lovely staff will give children a hand and are full of ideas if they run out of inspiration. Once you have finished, your masterpiece will be glazed and fired ready for you to collect to take home with you.

How wet will I get? Not at all.

Weather report: Perfect for heavy rain.

Toy and Model Museum, Brighton, East Sussex

Who can resist a visit to a toy museum? Children and adults alike will delight in the thousands of toys on display in a secret underground train station on the Sussex coast. Over 10,000 toys spread over 4000 square feet come to life in front of your very eyes including spectacular model railway collections – many are behind glass as they are so precious but some are easier to see and interact with. Browse amongst the puppets and galleries, soft toys and dolls and finish off at the museum shop before heading out for a bite to eat only minutes from the station.

How wet will I get? Not at all as the museum is situated underneath Brighton Railway Station.

Weather report: Perfect for heavy rain.

Bluebell Railway, Uckfield, Sussex

The spectacular Bluebell Railway operates a 22-mile return trip between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead and is run by a dedicated team of volunteer railway enthusiasts. You can view the stunning collection of vintage carriages in the main station museum and then hop aboard a carriage for your trip on the vintage steam locomotive. There is also a host of interactive screens and games to entertain the kids although games such as spot the animal are a great for tiny tots as you tour through the beautiful English countryside. Perhaps leave the picnic for a sunnier day and take advantage of the snacks available on board or have something at Sheffield Park before you go.

How wet will I get? Not at all – watch the rain outside as you snuggle up under a warm blanket.

Weather report: Perfect for rainy days with sunny spells.

Cranbrook Windmill, Cranbrook, Kent

This working windmill which majestically looks down on the town of Cranbrook is a wonderful experience for little ones who can not only see the mill, but find out how it works. Children can even mill their own flour – they are given a handful of grain as they go in, they then watch how the milling process works and finally take it away as flour in a little bag to show their friends back home. They are also given a certificate and badge to take away so they will really feel that they have done something special. Afterwards, head to one of the cafes only seconds away from the windmill which serve scrumptious milkshakes and cakes, then head home via some of the other beautiful windmills in the area, stopping to take photographs for the children's holiday journals.

How wet will I get? Not at all, just put the umbrella up in between the windmill and cafes.

Weather report: Perfect for rainy days with light showers.

Bewl Water, Lamberhurst, Kent

Now bear with us on this. You may wonder why when it’s raining, we want to send you out to lots more water. But we are an island with island weather and rain is something that we are very much used to! Children are great in that they love to splash around in puddles and get wet so why not just go for it and let the children have fun? If you know it’s going to be wet and you are prepared, rainy days out can be a great adventure. You can’t beat Bewl Water for this - the largest stretch of open water in the South East and surrounded by 800 acres of field and woodland, you can sail and windsurf (if you are already experienced) or take a trip across the lake on the Bewl Belle ferry if you prefer your action out of the water. There are lovely long walks but also shorter ones that you don’t have to commit to if you are not sure how bad the rain is going to get. There is bike hire available which is great fun but you might want to give it a miss if it’s muddy or too wet. If you find that you do need to warm up, there is a restaurant and café on the shoreline which has amazing views across the lake and is the perfect place for a lovely hot chocolate and yummy piece of cake!

How wet will I get? We won’t lie to you. You will get wet. Very wet. But wrap up in waterproofs and wellies and have fun. Just make sure that little ones are wrapped up and warm and that you promise them lots of lovely treats when you head inside to the café afterwards!

Weather report: Perfect for rainy days with sunny spells.

Map of attractions:

Plan your family holiday in Kent and Sussex by finding your favourite indoor family attractions from the list on the map below.

If these rainy day activities sound too good to be missed, why not have a browse through our Kent and Sussex cottages for somewhere to stay during your adventures?

*Prices are correct at the time of publishing; however, they are subject to change.

Posted by Elianne Reed on 12th October 2017