Days Out in and Around Milton Keynes
If you’re looking for inspiration for new places to go, days out and things to do, either with the family or without, check out our ideas list here. Find ideas if you’re planning a day out with the kids, something to do at the weekend, or during the next school holiday.
And if you’ve been on a great day out we haven’t listed, please let us know all about it!
These are the categories we’ve listed:
- Parks and Lakes
- Country Parks and Estates
- Woods and Forests
- Animals (Farms and Zoos)
- Swimming and Splash Parks
- Family Cycling
- Adventure Golf
- Cinema for Less
- Further Afield – theme parks and attractions outside MK
- Restaurants with play areas
Parks and Lakes
There’s a great local Facebook page for parks at Parks In and Around Milton Keynes – loads of information, reviews and opinions on our many parks, with a useful interactive map to show you what you can find at each place.
The Parks Trust also has great outdoor activities all through the year: http://www.theparkstrust.com/
Caldecotte Miniature Railway
Situated next to a lovely play park, Caldecotte Lake and the landmark windmill, the miniature railway opens Saturday & Sunday from April to October, Bank Holidays & Special Event days (weather permitting). If in doubt please telephone to check on the day. (They have even been known to entertain children’s parties!)
Beautiful lake to walk, cycle or scoot around, and there’s often lots of water sports going on to watch. There are some great play areas for all ages, and the new splash park (summer 2017) offers another option. Pay for parking, and enjoy it all day with a picnic!
Country Parks and Estates
Emberton Country Park (Olney)
There are 200 acres of parkland and lakes to explore at Emberton, and there is only a £4 charge to pay for parking. With some fantastic kids’ play areas, it is brilliant value for a day out.
Irchester Country Park (near Northampton)
This former ironstone quarry has a wonderful children’s play area as well as a network of long and short trails through 83 hectares of mixed woodland. The park is home to the Quarryman’s Rest Cafe, Jungle Parc UK, and the Irchester Narrow Gauge Railway Museum.
More info at the Irchester Country Park website: https://www.northamptonshireparks.co.uk/irchester-country-park/Pages/default.aspx
Stanwick Lakes (Northamptonshire)
“Stanwick Lakes is a unique 750acre countryside attraction and nature reserve in the heart of Northamptonshire’s beautiful Nene Valley and is widely considered to be one of the region’s most imaginative outdoor activity destinations. It offers the best of both worlds: extensive play areas to keep adventurous families entertained for hours, and for nature lovers, walkers, and cyclists, acres of wide open spaces and paths, where blue skies are reflected in tranquil waters.
And if the weather is less than perfect? Head indoors to the visitor centre, with its host of facilities and activities”.
Waddesdon Manor (near Aylesbury)
A National Trust property about 45 minutes from MK, Waddesdon Manor was designed in the style of a French chateau, and has so much to explore, indoors and out – plus there’s a great adventure playground too.
Acres of beautiful parkland, lakes and woodland walks await you at Stowe near Buckingham, another local National Trust property. It’s very buggy-friendly (and it’s quite a trek from the car park, so we’d recommend one for smaller legs) and they often have different trails and events on offer to spark the kids’ interest.
Into the Woods…
Salcey Forest (near Northampton)
With three walking trails and a cycle trail to follow, Salcey Forest is a wonderful place to visit all year round. Pay a car park charge only. Visit the Forestry England’s Salcey Forest website: https://www.forestryengland.uk/salcey-forest
“Come and explore Wendover Woods. If you’re feeling energetic, try Go-Ape! Tree Top Adventure, orienteering, or our fitness trail assault course. There are also plenty of spots to admire the view or enjoy a picnic.”
Situated in the heart of the Chilterns with fantastic views and stunning walks, there is something for everyone at Wendover Woods, near Halton, Buckinghamshire. There’s fun to be had for the family with an all-ability trail suitable for buggies and wheel chairs. Walk through the sun drenched pines and enjoy a lunch at the Café in the Woods.
For the more adventurous, try the adventure playground (something there for all ages), the forest fitness trail and Go Ape’s amazing high wire adventure course.
The Café is open all year round, with hot meals, drinks and snacks are served 9am – 5pm weekdays, 9am – 6pm weekends & bank holidays.
Visit the Forestry Commission’s Wendover Woods website: https://www.forestryengland.uk/wendover-woods
Rushmere Country Park
With loads of woodland walks and comprising 400 acres, the Rushmere Estate has an interesting history dating back to medieval times. Rushmere includes Stockgrove and Oak Wood – and it was the location for filming Sky 1’s family favourite, Wild Things!
Rushmere Country Park’s new café is now open, and with a fairy doors trail, a giant wooden chair and a super-long slide – among many other surprises – there is loads to keep the family entertained.
There are often special events and trails to follow – keep up to date with the Rushmere Country Park Facebook page.
Thrift Farm (close to MK, near Whaddon)
“I have been to Thrift Farm many times with my four grandchildren (now aged between 2 and 5). We all love it! It’s a great day out with the children able to touch, hold and feed the animals, play in the outside activity/picnic area and spend their money in the little shop. All the staff are really friendly and the food at the cafe is delicious. Very reasonably priced too”
There are often events and trails to follow (such as an Easter animal hunt) going on at Thrift, so check to see what’s coming up on their website: https://www.thriftfarm.co.uk/
Mead Farm (near Leighton Buzzard)
Bottle feed the lambs, stroke the rabbits at the Bunny Hop, win at sheep racing and have a ride on a tractor trailer – there’s so much to do at Mead Open Farm, and with lots of it under cover, with indoor and outdoor play areas too, it doesn’t matter what the weather’s doing.
Rookery Open Farm (Stoke Bruerne)
* Cash Only Venue * Lots of indoor & outdoor fun to be had here for all ages but especially under 5’s.
Green Dragon Eco Farm (Buckingham)
Open 10am to 4pm. Daily Programme of farm animal feeding, including bottle feeding the lambs, and pet handling. Messy Play Barn with sand pits, soft play and ride-ons. Pedal carts in the Farmyard & a lovely cafe and shop.
Whipsnade Zoo (near Dunstable)
A great day’s adventure awaits you at Whipsnade, with a huge variety of animals from around the world to meet.
Woburn Safari Park
So much to see and do at Woburn, on the vehicle safari trail, and the walking safari, which in many cases allows you to walk among the animals in their enclosures.
Swimming and Splash Parks
Outdoor Swimming Pool – Woburn Lido
Leighton Buzzard Splash Park
At Parsons Close Recreation Ground: https://www.leightonlinslade-tc.gov.uk/parsons-close-recreation-ground/
Trip Advisor – Reviewed 2 October 2014
“Lovely little park with plenty of room for adults and kids alike. Plenty of green space for play and relaxation as well as the splash park for kids and skatepark/park for bigger kids. In summer there is a ‘beach’ put on by the council. A lovely addition. Sunday afternoons are the best time to visit, especially when a local brass band is there”
Because it’s free, it gets busy during peak summer holiday times, but it’s very popular with the kids!
Dunstable Splash Park
Local Swimming Pools
Pools can be found at:
- Buckingham (one of the warmest toddler pools)
- Oasis Beach Pool (Bedford)
Family Cycling in Milton Keynes
Redways – these are a network of over 270 km of safe paths that criss-cross the entire city of Milton Keynes used by cyclists and walkers. They allow you to ride away from the traffic and discover the hidden treasures Milton Keynes has to offer. They are ideal for children or novice cyclists to ride safely and build their confidence.
Free Redway guides are available from the Council Offices, The Parks Trust and many local cycle shops.
Destination Milton Keynes is also a great source of information for using and navigating your way around the redways: http://www.destinationmiltonkeynes.co.uk/
Milton Keynes Museum
Find out what it was like to sit in a Victorian school room; explore toys from down the decades; experience an air raid shelter; visit a smith in his forge; and try some of the dozens of telephones from across the last century (this room is great!). There is so much to learn at MK Museum, and when you’ve paid once with GiftAid, you can return all year free of charge. There are so many special events happening too, so check the website to see what’s coming.
“Brilliant! We loved all of it! The volunteers were really friendly and made the museum come alive and the cake was delicious! We will definitely be returning”
The home of the code breakers, it’s one of Milton Keynes’ biggest claims to fame. Learn about how the Second World War was won from this corner of Buckinghamshire, and the incredible minds behind the code breaking. When you’ve paid to enter once, you can return free of charge for the next 12 months.
Tring Natural History Museum in Hertfordshire (30 mins from MK)
5 of 5 stars ***** Reviewed July 28, 2015 on Trip Advisor
“Fairly small museum, but packed full of just about every type of animal. From fleas to elephants (stuffed animals), all collected by the famous Rothschilds. Only by standing so close, do you realise how big some of the exhibits are, amazing. Highly recommended for everyone.”
Miniature golf, with all the added fun of pirates! Get discounts with your MumsRates card too: https://mumtomumvip.com
Cinema For Less
- The Odeon Cinema @ MK1 also has a ‘Soft Play’ area in the Screen Zone if you have a ‘mixed age group family’ – selected movies are much cheaper at weekends & School Holidays.
- Cineworld @ Xscape: movies for Juniors at reduced rates for all tickets are shown at weekends
Hitchin Lavender Farm
“I would really recommend Hitchin Lavender for a trip. It is about 45 mins away but it’s £5 an adult with bag and scissors, £1 per child (under 5s free). Fill a bag of lavender, let the kids explore and run wild, get lost in the sunflowers and have a picnic in the picnic teepees after!”
Space Centre – Leicester (only 1 hour away)
Something for the whole family – discover over 150 interactive challenges. https://spacecentre.co.uk/
Fantastic family day out, and only an hour’s drive from MK. So much to see and do, including live displays and re-enactments.
Lots of theme parks are within a day trip distance of MK:
- Thorpe Park (Gruffalo experience)
- Drayton Manor (Thomas the Tank Engine Land)
- Paultons Park, Bournemouth (Peppa Pig World)
- Alton Towers (CBeebies Land)
Restaurants with Play Areas
- The Galleon, Wolverton – also by the canal to feed the ducks
- Or a short drive to Kempston: www.facebook.com/pages/Maypole-Farm-Kempston. Large indoor play area for under 5s
You can find small play areas with cafes here:
- Frosts Garden Centre, Woburn Sands
- Woburn Emporium, Woburn Sands
- Thrift Farm Cafe
- Xscape Snozone cafe
Soft Play Centres
- 360 Play: https://360play.co.uk/miltonkeynes/
- Safari MK
- Big Mama’s Soft Play
- Riverside Hub, Northampton
Have fun, and if you have any suggestions to add to this list, let us know!