More than just an airport

This is a guest post from one of our readers:

Gatwick Airport may not at first sound like the most promising base for a family, but in fact there are a number of excellent attractions within easy reach. Here are five ways to have fun with the kids.

Go back in time

Edenbridge, around 12 miles from the airport, is the home of the mighty Hever Castle, which dates back to the 13th century. Once home to Anne Boleyn, in the early 20th century it was owned by the Astor family, who turned it into the tourist attraction it has been ever since. The beautiful gardens incorporate a boating lake and two mazes, one of which is equipped with fun water hazards, as well as an adventure playground. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a jousting tournament!

Go to the beach

There can’t be much more of an antidote to the regimented atmosphere of an airport than a freewheeling trip to the seaside. Brighton is just half an hour away by train and, thanks to some generous discounts, a family of two adults and two kids can visit for less than £20. While you’re in the town, make sure you check out the Mechanical Memories Museum: this wonderful time warp is packed with working vintage slot machines and other fascinating contraptions.

Visit the animals

Godstone Farm and Playbarn, near Caterham, is – as its name implies – very much a place for young families. As well as feeding the ducks and pigs or giving the cute, fluffy rabbits a stroke, children can let off steam in the multiple play areas. Don’t expect a sanitised experience with your kids coming home spotlessly clean, though: the three huge sand pits will see to that! A tractor ride around the farm grounds is also a very popular option.

Have a laser battle

A good way to burn up energy if the weather is not co-operating, Laserhub in Crawley is a gaming arena with an excellent reputation. All players must be at least seven years of age, but there’s no upper limit, so intrepid parents can join in the fun. There is a café on the premises with a five-star food hygiene rating. Note that Laserhub is closed on Wednesdays and most Mondays and that it can get full at peak times, so phone the venue first to check availability.

Get wacky

The Wacky Warehouse in Horley is just a mile from the airport but – except for the roar of planes overhead – it feels like a different world. Kids can play to their hearts’ content in a safe environment that includes overhead runs and cargo nets for the adventurous and soft play areas for younger children. Meanwhile, mums and dads can relax with a drink in the adjoining pub. Horley is within walking distance of many Gatwick Airport hotels, so this is a good option if you’re pressed for time.


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  1. says: Cathy

    There is heaps to do near Gatwick airport clearly. I am looking forward to exploring Brighton more and will make sure that we take in the Mechanical Memories Museum. We also want to take out kids to the Pavilion. They had a ball and made our pockets a lot lighter when we visited the Pier 🙂

  2. says: Balanced Melting Pot

    And here I thought you’d discovered an airport that actually made you forget how stressful air travel can be 😉 In any case, it’s true that most airports are far from anything fun, so if I ever make it to Gatwick I’ll know where to go.

  3. Great ideas, Sam. Laserhub sounds good even without kids. On my travels, I’ve whiled away many an hour in airports desperate for something to do. The exception has to Singapore, where you’ll find days of entertainment without even leaving the airport terminal.