Our top gardens for children

Gardens are great places for children to explore and let their imaginations run wild. Our younger visitors can play hide and seek, climb trees and go wildlife spotting. They'll also love getting lost in mazes, playing in treehouses and building dens in some of our natural play areas. Here’s our pick of the best gardens to enjoy some family fun.

Looking for newts at Acorn Bank

Acorn Bank, Cumbria 

This beautiful garden at the heart of the Eden Valley is renowned for its herbs and fruit orchards. But there's also a wild play area in the woods and secret places for children to discover.

Children playing at Hoe Fen, Anglesey Abbey

Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire 

Kids can play, explore and discover in Hoe Fen Wildlife Discovery Area, with its tree house and willow tunnels. There's also a working watermill where you can find out how grain is turned into flour.

Children enjoying some outdoor play in a den

Belton House, Lincolnshire 

The adventure playground is a favourite with young visitors. There are I-spy trails, a miniature train ride, geocaches and pop-up hides in the garden – can you and the kids find them all?

Children running through the gardens at Blickling Estate, Norfolk

Blickling Estate, Norfolk 

Blickling’s gardens are an ideal natural playground, with 55-acres of perfect hide and seek spots as well as rounders and old-fashioned games to play. Follow the winding paths and the secret tunnels or see if you can find the secret garden.

Visitors in the Parterre garden at Cliveden, Buckinghamshire

Cliveden, Buckinghamshire 

Find your way through the giant yew tree maze, set your imagination free in the storybook play den and explore the wild woodland play trail. There’s plenty of space at Cliveden for a good run around as well as lots of family-friendly events.

Child enjoying the rope swing at Colby Woodland Garden

Colby Woodland Garden, Pembrokeshire 

With rope swings, picnic areas, duck racing and plenty of places to try out 50 things activities, Colby Woodland Garden is packed full of family fun. Get wet and muddy in the streams and ponds and go hunting for tadpoles and bugs.

Visitors pond-dipping in the burn at Cragside, Northumberland

Cragside, Northumberland 

When you've finished spotting red squirrels, look for wildlife in the pond or head to the labyrinth. Cut out of a rhododendron forest, it's perfect for a family game of hide-and-seek.

Children cooling off under a sprinkler at Dyffryn Gardens, South

Dyffryn Gardens, Vale of Glamorgan 

With gardens the size of 28 football fields there is plenty to keep the kids entertained at Dyffryn. Play the world’s biggest game of hide and seek in the garden rooms, or hunt for fish, frogs and newts in the many ponds and pools dotted all around the grounds.

 Visitors in the children's play area at Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire

Dyrham Park, near Bath 

Dyrham’s gardens are perfect for little explorers with its balancing beams, stepping stones, mini maze and a much-loved tractor to play on. Build dens in the wood, or take the Journey of Discovery trail and see what you can find.

Three children running and laughing on the lawn

East Riddlesden Hall, Yorkshire 

There’s no end to the games you can play in the garden at East Riddlesden Hall. Get your hands mucky in the mud pie kitchen, make some wild art from twigs and leaves, or have a game of hide and seek in the hobbit house. You can also try to find your way to the centre of the grass maze, or skim stones from the river bank. Don’t forget to check out ‘Pest Western’ - the best hotel around for bugs of all shapes and sizes.

Children playing skittles at Emmetts Garden, a National Trust property in Kent

Emmetts Garden, Kent 

Explore the new wild play area at Emmetts Garden and scramble through branches, balance across beams, climb over logs and hide out in the den. Play a game of skittles or giant dominoes on the meadow and relax afterwards with a picnic.

A girl and boy admiring a flower in the garden at Erddig, Wales

Erddig, Wrexham 

What better way to travel than on a horse-drawn carriage? Take a ride through Erddig's beautiful woodland, and then take the kids to meet the working horses at grooming time.

Children running in the garden at Killerton

Killerton, Devon 

With space and freedom to explore and play, the gardens here have wide open spaces and winding paths through shady woodlands. Walk, run and cycle in the parkland, woods and orchards.

Family building a den in the woodland at Kingston Lacy, Dorset

Kingston Lacy, Dorset 

Play pooh sticks from Eyebridge and try out some lawn games in the garden. Or why not fly your kite on the ancient Iron Age hill fort, build a den, or go hunting for bugs?

Children playing on the dodo terrace at Mount Stewart, County Down

Mount Stewart, County Down 

Voted one of the world's top ten gardens, there are lots of different areas to explore with your family. Don't miss the mythical animals on the Dodo Terrace - see if you can count them all.

Young girl sat in a beehive at Packwood

Packwood House, Warwickshire 

Make magical discoveries at Packwood House. Play hide and seek amongst the ancient yew trees or discover the unique follies to fire up the imagination.

Have fun at Rowallane Garden

Rowallane Garden, County Down 

Rowallane Garden is the perfect place to go on a wildlife safari. Ladybirds, butterflies, bees, hedgehogs and much more live here, so search up high in the trees and down below under rocks and you’re sure to find some friendly creatures.

Using a mirror in the garden at Sheffield Park, East Sussex

Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex 

Challenge your senses on Sheffield Park and Garden’s sensory trail. Use the periscope to get a bird’s eye view of the garden, play with textures underfoot on the barefoot stepping stone challenge and replicate the garden’s famous lake reflections using mirrors.

 Boy climbing a tree in the grounds at Wallington, Northumberland.

Speke Hall, Liverpool 

Why not lose yourself in the Victorian maze, get stuck into building a den or climbing trees, or ride the zip wire in the woodland play area?

Children jumping off a log at Tyntesfield

Tyntesfield, nr Bristol 

Test out your balancing skills in the orchard play area. Or hunt for the enchanted tree house in this gothic mansion's garden. There's a sculpture trail to follow and a small play area to keep little ones busy while you take a break in the cafe.