The 6 years of January is over! Hip hip hooray! Now we’ve all got over Christmas, New Year, back to school and the first pay of 2020, its time to look forward. Well, I’m prepared to look as forward as February half term anyway. If, like me, you’ve been so focused on getting through the shit-show that is January, you haven’t even noticed half term is a fortnight away. Don’t panic! Here’s a load of great things to do in West Sussex.
West Sussex is such a unique and wonderful place to live or spend time in. We’re very lucky to have the beautiful South Downs and the South Coast at our disposal. But there are also loads of hidden, unique and really cool places to go and things to do.
To be honest, a lot of these I hadn’t heard of, until I started researching for this post. But we’re definitely going to be giving them a go.
The places we have visited, Emily (10) and Ruby (8) have written their own blog posts about them, which you can read here.
Have you ever wanted to go for a walk with a difference? Do you love Alpacas? I’ve found a place where you can do both! Dunreyth Alpacas in Funtington (near Chichester) offers this really unique activity. Definitely not something you’d ever forget! Dunreyth Alpacas were actually the first in the country to offer walks with Alpacas to the public.
Every walker gets their own beautiful Alpaca to lead on a trek lasting around an hour. Then you get to see how the Alpaca fleece is processed before it can be turned into finished garments. Walks take place at 10.15am Wednesday – Sunday, and must be booked in advance. Suitable for children over the age of 6. See their website for more details, and how to book.
Whether you’re looking for a one-off hacking experience, regular lessons or a 3 hour workshop at a weekend, Willowbrook Riding Centre in Hambrook (near Chichester) offers it all. Suitable for children aged from 2 1/2 years up to max rider weight of 16st. This family run riding centre is open all year round, approved by the Association of British Riding Schools and licensed by West Sussex County Council. They even have an onsite bed and breakfast! Check out their website for prices, booking and anything else.
Wakehurst is part of Kew Gardens, but right here in West Sussex. I can’t believe I’ve got to the ripe old age of approaching 40 rapidly and I’ve never been here! Wakehurst has over 500 acres of gardens, woodlands and a nature reserve to explore. There is a tree trunk trek, where you can crawl and climb on an adventurous log trail. There are natural play spaces scattered across the site, just waiting for children to explore. Woodlands of the World, is where you can walk through trees from South America all the way to Australasia!
Wakehurst is also home to the Millennium Seed Bank. It contains over 2.3 billion seeds from over 40,000 different varieties of plants. And it’s the largest wild plant species genetic resource in the whole world! Although the public can’t access the actual storage facility, you can view the scientists working away through windows.
As if that (and all the other things Wakehurst has to offer) wasn’t enough, there are also some special events running during February half term. The one we’ll be attending is Test your Nettle, where children will forage for ingredients, and take part in an outdoor cookery workshop. Where they will make nettle soup, tea and cheese whilst listening to stories around the campfire. This activity is suitable for children aged 5-16 and costs £15 for 3 hours. You can find out more about this activity and book here.
Wakehurst is in Hayward’s Heath.
This is one of our favourite things to do in West Sussex. Calling it a park is a little misleading, because there is so much going on here, you could easily spend a couple of days exploring it.
At Tilgate park, you’ll find stunning lakes, woodlands, lawns and gardens to walk round and explore.
There really is something for everybody to do here!
If you enjoy water based activities, check out Tilgate Park Water Sports. There’s rowing boats, kayaks, stand up paddle boards and canoes or you could try out raft building.
Or how about trying out some tree top adventures at Go Ape ? Times and prices for all these activities vary depending on what activity you want to do.
There is also a huge unsupervised play park that children of all ages will enjoy.
But our personal favourite bit of Tilgate, is the Tilgate Nature Centre. It’s very reasonably priced, at £4 for adults, £3 for children aged 2-16, and free for under 2s. Our favourite animals are the meerkats, the serval and the raccoon dogs.
It’s more of a mini zoo than a nature centre, and you’ll find animals from all around the world, from otters to guinea pigs to wallabies to Terry the talking raven. Terry will actually say ‘hello Terry’ if you say it to him first.
You will find Tilgate Park in Crawley.
Fishers Farm Adventure Park
It’s no secret that we love Fishers Farm in Wisborough Green. We’ve been a fair few times now, and my girls still haven’t got bored. Nor have we managed to try everything out yet!
It’s the perfect combination of animals, adventure, and play opportunities both indoor and outdoor.
They have daily farm shows, that you can take part in. And run lots of different activities throughout the year. February half term has an “Out of this World” theme to it, which includes space themed story telling in the barn theatre, make your own alien pal in the craft area, magic shows and spaceman family disco. And that’s on top of all the other attractions on site.
From tractor rides to sky fall, stroking Highland Cows to Shire Horses, climbing walls to squirrel run and well equipped soft play areas, there is something for young to old.
You can save £1 per person by booking online in advance. Check out their website here.
Let’s be honest, this is the UK, and it’s more than likely going to be pretty crap weather during half term. We would still do the outdoor activities, because that’s what wellies and raincoats are for, but that’s not for everyone. So here are some great indoor things to do in West Sussex.
There are quite a few pottery painting places located across West Sussex, but our absolute favourite is Art-Ful in Worthing. It’s a fabulous blend of great coffee and cakes, funky music, quirky decorations and really lovely staff. (We love you Nina and Caroline!) Art-Ful has a friendly, welcoming, relaxed and cosy vibe about it, and there genuinely isn’t a nicer place you can be on a rainy day. (Or a sunny one actually!)
There are so many different techniques you can use to paint the ready-made bisque ornaments. All the staff are friendly and knowledgeable and will help and guide you to make your finished piece. Or you can try your hand at slime making, building a stuffed toy or working with clay. There’s a UV light disco room at the back, for children to have a boogie in too.
Art-Ful often run special events during school holidays, or you can just book a table and do your own thing.
Butlin’s Day Pass
Do you know you could get a day pass to Butlin’s at Bognor Regis? (And the others, but this is about things to do in West Sussex remember).
A day pass is actually quite good value for money. You can use it between 10am – 8pm, and the pass includes;
- Unlimited rides in the Traditional Fairground
- Unlimited rides at the tot’s Little Stars Fairground
- All the live shows and entertainment (until 6pm)
- Entry to Splash Waterworld
- Indoor softplay
- outdoor play areas
Day passes are free for under 2s, children go from £10 and adults from £17. There are discounts of up to 25% available on selected dates in the February half term too.
The ticket prices are worth it for the amount of fun you can have in the various pools for hours!
Jumpin Fun in Burgess Hill is an inflatable theme park containing 25,000sq feet of inflatable fun. Including; toddler areas, jelly mountain, wobble forest, gladiator zone, obstacle courses, football, giant wipe out balls, 5m slide, cargo nets, beams and loads more.
They do also hold SEN, toddler and adult only sessions, so they really cater for everybody. Children must be aged over 5 to gain access to the inflatable theme park. Children under 5 get access to the soft play areas only.
Each session lasts 2 hours and costs £10 for 5yrs+ or £5 for under 4s. Or buy a group ticket for any 4 people for £30.
Most go karting places are outdoor, but there is one in Crawley that’s indoor, called TeamSport. It has 2 multi-level tracks, custom designed by professional racing engineers so both old and new karters get the most from their visit.
There is a minimum age limit of 8 years old for this activity.
Child karts are provided to those aged 8-12 years, and adult karts are provided for those aged 13+. There are a variety of different types of race you participate in; from family races to individual ones.
Check the TeamSport’s website for special school holiday offers.
I’m not sure if these are a new thing, or whether I’ve just noticed they exist, but there are quite a few escape rooms dotted about in West Sussex.
It’s a kind of completely immersive game, where players enter a room, and then have 60 minutes to solve clues and puzzles to escape the room.
Escape rooms usually have a theme to them, and a theme related story that your team becomes a part of.
They are perfectly safe, staff are always on hand, to offer clues to help you solve the puzzles and escape.
Lots of escape rooms allow children, but an adult must be present in the room.
If you enjoy mystery, problem solving, team work, puzzles and logical thinking, this could be the activity for you.
There’s one in Worthing called Time Lock Escape Rooms. Although I haven’t been myself, I know a few people who have visited, had a really great time and haven’t stopped talking about it since.
Other things to do
I was looking for ice rinks in West Sussex, but apart from temporary ones like Worthing Ice rink, the closest one is probably at The Spectrum Centre in Guildford, which isn’t in West Sussex, but just over the border with Surrey. Although it’s a little bit further away, you can ice skate, bowl, swim and get something to eat, so could easily spend the whole day here.
Upside down house
If you’re a fan of things topsy-turvy, you could try out the Upside Down House in Brighton. This is a kind of art installation that you can walk around, that takes place inside a house that’s completely upside down. It’s a great place for taking unusual photos and having a giggle. It’s quite hard to get your brain around the ceiling being the floor and vice versa, and a teeny bit disorientating, but lots of fun. The upside down house is situated right on the seafront just underneath the i360. Tickets are £5 each.
Lots of places are holding specific events in February half term, so if you have a place in mind, it’s worth checking out their website to see what’s on offer. Local leisure centres often hold day camps for children, where they can be dropped off for a few hours or all day. Even places like Hobbycraft and Pets at Home often run special school holiday events, so definitely check them out too.
Which activity would you like to try out? Have you any favourite or hidden gems that aren’t on the list? Any places you’d love people in West Sussex to know about? Feel free to leave your suggestions or questions in the comments box.