Why Maidstone?

Maidstone has the perfect combination of unique urban attractions and magnificent countryside, where you can breathe and unwind. This impressive town boasts wonderfully preserved English heritage, fantastic shopping, exciting attractions and delicious food and drinks proudly crafted from local produce. Here are 10 experiences to explore on your microgap to Maidstone:     

1. Enjoy the taste of authentic English wine at Hush Heath

You don’t have to travel to the South of France to taste great wine, it’s skilfully crafted right here in the heart of the Kent Countryside. Hush Heath Estate, renowned for their award-winning Balfour Brut Rosé, have expertly cultivated over 40 acres of vineyards comprised of three classic sparkling wine grapes; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The rich Wealdon clay soil, unique to Kent, enriches the fruit and gives them a colourful acidity. Self-guided tours of the vineyards and orchards are available all year round, followed by a complimentary sample of wine, cider or beer.

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To learn the true secrets of English viticulture, take a complete tour of the Hush Heath estate. A member of their expert team will guide you through the immaculate vineyards, orchards and ancient woodland before heading to the onsite Winery to discover how these outstanding English wines are expertly crafted to exuberate the perfect balance of delicate flavours and acidity. The tour finale is a tutored tasting of 6 fine wines, beer or cider from the estate.

2. Make some furry friends at Buttercups Goat Sanctuary

For an animal encounter of a different kind, Buttercups Goat Sanctuary is the only registered charity in the UK whose sole aim is to care for goats rescued from abuse and neglect. Take a leisurely stroll through the sanctuary, which is home to over 140 goats at a time, and enjoy the brilliant personalities these loving creatures have to offer. A visit to the café on site is always a treat, whether you stop to enjoy a coffee or a mouth-watering slice of cake. Don’t forget to pick up a bag of feed and enjoy the gentle tickle of goats nibbling from the palm of your hand.

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Dog walking is so last century, taking a goat for a walk is where you want to be! Available to book every Saturday between April and October, you will lead your own personal goat on a leisurely stroll through the woodland, with plenty of stops for the goats to munch on their favourite leaves and plants and for you to admire the idyllic surroundings with your new bearded friend.

Enjoy food made with Kentish produce at The Potting Shed

Termed as ‘The Garden of England’, Kent is lavish with fresh produce, from award-winning alcohols to seasonal fruits and vegetables and locally sourced meat. The Potting Shed, a sophisticated gastropub in Langley village, source as many local ingredients as possible for their vibrant seasonal menus. Whether you’re looking for a delicious hearty meal, something healthy and wholesome, exciting international cuisine or an imaginative vegan or vegetarian dish, the Potting Shed is sure to have something that takes your fancy.

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The Potting Shed’s burger shack makes for sumptuous alfresco dining, from classic to more eccentric burgers as well as a brilliant vegan range, you can relax in the stylish outdoor dining area soaking up summer rays of sunshine. There’s an extensive drinks menu to quench your thirst with selection of cocktails, spirits, ales or soft drinks and over 25 gins to take your pick from (Parma Violet anyone?)

To be or not to be? At the Hazlitt Theatre

Where can you find the best pantomime in town? At the Hazlitt Theatre of course (oh yes you can!) Dick Wittington and Cinderella not your thing? Fear not ladies and gentlemen, this small but charming theatre hosts a number of events from comedy shows, dance and music acts to dramas and magic performances.

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If you’ve got feet that just can’t sit still, why not head along to a dance class and learn a wide range of fun dances from Square Dancing, Barn Dancing, Contra Waltzing to the Polka! Or if you need some headspace, why not find your Zen with a spiritual hatha yoga class where you’ll learn how to breathe and let go, whilst aligning and energising your body.

Sleep under the stars in style at Rankins Farm Glamping

Camping often seems like a good idea, but the cold, wet tent, hard floor and bathroom facilities (or lack thereof) sometimes leaves a lot to be desired. The alternative? A fairly new phenomenon called glamping (aka glamorous camping) and Rankins Farm is the perfect place to experience it. Set on a 400 year old farm harvesting from its apple, pear and plum orchards, are 6 newly built luxury pods that provide all the joys of sleeping alfresco, without all the faff (and arguing about putting up the tent).

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Each pod sleeps up to 4 people and features all the mods for luxury camping. Underfloor heating will keep your toes warm, an en-suite with toilet and shower means no making a dash for the loo at 3am and a cosy kitchen area with fridge, sink, hobs and microwave is everything you need to make pancakes in the morning. Each pod has a miniature lawn, carpeted with verdant green grass and accessorised with a campfire pit, perfect for toasting marshmallows under the stars.

Recreate the scene from ‘Ghost’ at Aylesford School of Ceramic

If the notion of pottery throwing takes your mind to that classic scene in Ghost where Molly and Sam embrace around the wheel… now you can experience it for yourself (although we can’t promise Patrick Swayze or Demi Moore unfortunately). Tucked away in the serene landscape of Aylesford Priory is a quintessential pottery where pieces are created by hand by Alan and Mark, combining traditional ceramic methods with the occasional modern twist to create truly stunning works of art for you to admire and purchase from their showroom.

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Aylesford School of Ceramics offers fantastic courses for you to explore pottery and learn some new techniques. If you’re new to pottery or want to improve your skills, take the one day crash course, laid back and engaging, you will be guided through the process of making your own gorgeous piece. If you’ve had more experience, why not try Raku, an ancient Japanese pottery technique that allows you to create unique and delicate designs.

Be royalty for a day at Leeds Castle

Visit the magical Leeds Castle, nestled within beautiful gardens and shielded by a crystal clear mote. Walk through the halls of this historic fortress, having over 300 years of royal occupancy, and admire its Medieval and Tudor influenced décor. Then, take on the maze, and, when you reach the centre, you will take a journey back to civilisation through an underworld cave patterned with gothic features and mythical beasts made from stone and minerals.

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With over 500 acres of beautiful parkland and gardens, there is plenty of history, culture and nature to explore at Leeds Castle. From the magnificent castle itself to the mystifying maze and grotto, falconry displays, punting on the moat, adventure golf and much more. Don’t miss some of Leeds Castle’s annual spectacular events such as Motors by the Moat, Jousting and the renowned Leeds Castle Classical Concert (just remember to bring your candelabra).

A private river cruise and lunch at a different kind of ‘drive-through’

Ever wondered what it would be like to cruise down a river in you a private boat? Now you can with the Self-Drive Boat Rental on the river Medway in Maidstone. Whether you take 6 seater Lady Gillian or 8 seater The Medway Belle, these quirky little boats are super easy to drive. As you journey down the river admire the tranquil water, glistening in the sunshine and watch out for river wildlife like swans and geese and if you’re lucky, a glimpse of striking sapphire from a Kingfisher. Travel up towards Allington or perhaps take a longer journey to East Farleigh before negotiating the lock.

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All that relaxing can work up an appetite and the Old Boat Café is one of the most intriguing places to satisfy your hunger. This historic 1911 former horse-drawn narrowboat with strong connections to Maidstone has now been restored into a cosy floating café. From a boat or canoe, pull up alongside the hatch where you can purchase an ice-cold drink, Kent huffkin or even a delicious slice of homemade cake. If you’re visiting from dry land, there is ample outdoor seating or cosy up on board the boat overlooking the water.

An adventure fuelled afternoon at Mote Park

Mote Park boasts gorgeous landscapes formed of woodland and grassland which surrounds a stunning 30 acre lake. There are plenty of things to do at this award-winning park, whether you wade across the water in a pedalo, take a tour on a Segway, feed the ducks, or simply sit and appreciate the diverse wildlife. On a sunny day, you can cool down with a freshly whipped ice cream. Yum!

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Fulfil your craving for adventure and take to the open water in a kayak or canoe and enjoy the wealth of wildlife from a different perspective. There is also Mote Park’s new Outdoor Adventure Zone where you can challenge yourself and face your fears on the 10ft sky trail or climbing wall.

An un-fur-gettable, paw-some experience at the Big Cat Sanctuary

Prepare to be stunned by an extraordinary encounter with some of the world’s most magnificent felines at the Big Cat Sanctuary. The secluded reserve, normally closed from public admission, is the ideal haven to successfully breed and rehabilitate endangered big cats. The charity works tirelessly to continue the conservation and protection of these phenomenal animals as part of a larger project within the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme.

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The Big Cat Encounter offers an exclusive opportunity to be taken on a private tour of the park by a big cat professional. You will be introduced to all the felines whilst you learn about the conservation work the charity provides and how it’s helping to save some of the most endangered species of cat from extinction. At the end of your memorable trip, you’ll get a once in a lifetime opportunity to hand feed one of the lion or tigers.

Related

Hush Heath Winery
Vineyard
Hush Heath Winery

Hush Heath Estate has been producing England's most exclusive pink fizz, Balfour Brut Rosé, since it's award winning 2004 vintage

Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats
Animal Collection
Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats
The Potting Shed
Restaurant
The Potting Shed
Hazlitt Theatre
Theatre
Hazlitt Theatre

The Hazlitt Theatre in Maidstone provides a great variety of entertainment events from comedy and drama to dance and music productions. The theatre has seating for around 350 people and a licensed bar offering refreshments.

Rankins Farm Glamping
Alternative Accommodation
Rankins Farm Glamping

Brand new camping cabins, close to the village of Linton in the Kent countryside, bounded by plum orchards and beautiful views towards the Weald. The pods are well insulated and offer a double bed and a sofa bed, as well as your own private en-suite bathroom with conventional flushable loo.  The kitchen has a mini freezer, fridge and electric hob, as well as lots of useful utensils, plates, mugs and everything you need. There is even a little fold away table.  Underfloor heating makes it cosy on cooler evenings if its chilly outside.

Aylesford Pottery
Craft Workshop
Aylesford Pottery

At Aylesford Pottery, Alan Parris, and Mark Byles are producing fine pottery to suit all tastes. Everything is created by hand, combining traditional methods with the occasional modern twist.

Leeds Castle
Castle / Fort
Leeds Castle

Visitors never forget their first breath-taking vision of Leeds Castle in Kent, rising majestically from the moat as it has done for over 900 years.

The Old Boat Cafe
Café
Happy customers aooard The Old Boat cafe on the River Medway

The Old Boat offers the most fantastic range of coffees and locally sourced, organic food. Uber child-friendly too! The original boatman's cabin offers a tantalising glimpse into the fascinating life of the family who once worked this horse-drawn boat. Kids will love it!

Hire Cruisers - Self-Drive Boat Rental
Boat Trip
Hire Cruisers - Self-Drive Boat Rental

Hire Cruisers Ltd offer self-drive hire boat rental on the River Medway.  Boats can take up to 6 or 8 passengers and are beautifully appointed with nautical themes.  Instructions on safe handling of the boat and the rules of the river are explained and buoyancy aids, fuel and on-site parking are available for 1 vehicle.  They can be hired for 3 hours for either the morning or the afternoon or for a 6 hour all day trip.

Mote Park
Parkland / Woodland Garden
Mote Park

Mote Park is an award-winning park with 450 acres of mature parkland and a 30 acre lake, providing a wide range of recreational activities. Children's play area, cafe open all year, miniature railway.

The Big Cat Sanctuary
Animal Collection
Lion

The Big Cat Sanctuary… “Protection is our Passion” Providing a future for some of the most beautiful and endangered cats in the world...

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