If you’re looking for a fun family day out in Kent for all ages, then Cobtree Manor Park in Aylesford, Kent is an excellent choice.
Cobtree Manor Park is a large park made up of open grounds and woodland. There is an excellent playground for children (keep reading for more details on this!) as well as a Cafe. The open grounds are absolutely beautiful with an arboretum of around 160 species of trees. The main trail around the grounds is made up of a proper path, meaning it’s easy to push a buggy around and a great option for wheelchair users, although please note there is a slight incline in places.
There is also a horse route, 5k Run England route and sculpture trail around the grounds.
Cobtree Manor Park is best known as formally being the site of Maidstone Zoo – yes, you read that right, there was once a Zoo in Maidstone in Kent! The Zoo was actually a private collection of animals, open to the public in the Spring to Autumn months of the year back in the mid twentieth century. From 1934 to 1959, visitors could see animals such as bears, camels, kangaroos, zebras, wolves, birds, fish and plenty more – even elephants and lions!
Eventually, there were about 120 cages and paddocks across 10 acres of land, with a small ‘pets corner’ area for small children as well as elephant and pony rides available for a charge. The zoo remained open throughout the Second World War and Princess Elizabeth even visited in 1946.
There is a lot more to the history to Cobtree Manor Park – if this interests you, I definitely suggest checking out the Cobtree Manor Park website for more information. It’s quite interesting and fascinating to walk through the grounds wondering what it must have been like as a zoo.
The children’s Cobtree Manor Park playground is one of the absolute highlights of this park – it’s amazing. An important thing to note is that the playground is right next to the car park – meaning your children will spot it almost immediately, and no doubt beg to go and play. If you’re anything like us, dragging your child away from a park to go for a walk can sometimes be a little challenging, so do keep this in mind!
The playground is themed on the history of Maidstone Zoo and is almost like a fortress. You can climb up inside the wooden structure at various points, climbing across ropes and nets, and up and down ladders. There’s various slides, swings and climbing structures, as well as a large see-saw and some interactive sensory boards. There’s also an accessible swing, the harness for this is available from the Visitor Centre.
There’s also more play equipment dotted around the park including a small climbing frame and slide, see-saw, wooden car on springs, a ‘dragon swing’, and more.
One thing I absolutely love about Cobtree Manor Park is they very much encourage natural play, meaning you’re welcome to use sticks, stones and whatever else you find to play within the grounds. As long as you don’t damage any living trees or shrubbery, your children can play to their heart’s content!
If this sounds like a bit of you, you might be wondering: ‘where is Cobtree Manor Park!?’. No worries. Cobtree Manor Park is centrally located being just off the M20 and A229, near Maidstone in Kent. The full address for Cobtree Manor Park is Cobtree Manor Park, Forstal Rd, Aylesford, nr Maidstone, Kent ME20 7AG.
Cobtree Manor Park is very close to other excellent locations in Kent for family days out such as Kent Life and Leeds Castle.
Google Maps should take you right to the Cobtree Manor Park car park, which is plentiful, and costs only £2 for a full day parking. Please note that there is a 2m height restriction.
If you visit regularly, you can buy an Annual Parking Permit for £50 per year. This is great value for money if you live locally and visit a couple of times a week.
There are 9 disabled parking bays, and Blue Badge holders need not pay the parking charge.
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The gates for the Cobtree Manor Park car park are open everyday (apart from Christmas Day) from 7am until dusk.
The gates close at the following times:
We all know I love a good cafe – there are few things better than being able to grab a coffee whilst your child runs wild in a safe playground! Anything for a few minutes of bliss when you’re a mum – am I right or am I right?! I was quite impressed with my coffee from the cafe – they had sugar free syrup, and that’s always 5 stars from me.
The cafe had a good selection of drinks, snacks, cakes, ice creams and hot food and drinks, with the option to sit indoors or outside on picnic benches surrounding the Cobtree Manor Park Cafe. They also had a small children’s pre-packed picnic box. The cafe did seem quite pricey – £3.75 for a small dinosaur biscuit! – but also about what I would expect from a location like this that of course has to take into consideration they need to make money somehow to upkeep the beautiful grounds.
There are toilets and baby changing facilities available in the Cafe.
The Cobtree Manor Park Cafe is open from 8:30am-5pm every day.
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It’s safe to say that we absolutely loved visiting this park – being only a twenty minute drive from our house I’m not entirely sure why we didn’t visit sooner. It’s great!
Arthur spotted the large, fortress-looking playground from the car park, meaning our plans of going for a nice walk before he played were foiled. This actually ended up working in our favour – we had the park all to ourselves! The playground itself is great, although we soon discovered that it was a little more suited towards older children. Unfortunately the playground was in minor disrepair at our visit – one of the smaller slides was boarded up, one of the baby swings missing and some cones over missing equipment in the baby/toddler area, but the remainder of the park was brilliant. Arthur enjoyed climbing up high inside the walls of the fort and challenging himself across the nets.
We eventually managed to drag Arthur away from the playground for a walk around the grounds which we throughly enjoyed – it’s only a small walk, taking us about half an hour to do the loop around, but with plenty of beautiful trees and sculptures to look at on the way round. It was great to visit somewhere new, and the benches dotted around the trail were welcomed when we needed to stop and feed our baby.
Overall, I would highly recommend visiting here for a family day out – it would be lovely in the Summer months as there is plenty of space for a picnic.
PS – If you visit off the back of my recommendation, please tag me in your photos on Instagram and use the hashtag #JodetopiaInKent
Are you looking for recommendations of other parks to visit or full days out? Why not try visiting the Bluewater Nature Trail which is a great outdoor area at a local shopping centre in Kent – don’t forget to visit Dinotropolis whilst you’re there, too!