DSC 7494 3
Josh Carter
29th May 2024

Leaf-crunching walks, vibrant views, auburn leaves and gorgeous sunsets, take one look at our Instagram feed come 1st October and you’ll soon see that an autumn weekend break in Kent is absolutely glorious. If you’ve seen our manor house grounds and rolling gardens in summer, allow us to present the equally Insta-worthy autumn in Kent, which promises scarlet Boston Ivy climbing castles, food festivals celebrating our culinary credentials and vineyards ready for harvesting.

Whether your autumn staycation plans have you dreaming of autumn walks, cosy pubs, or fantastic food and drink, allow us to share some of Kent’s best loved fall locations, and a few hidden gems along the way. Plus, with HS1 links from London and travel through the county with Southeastern, making a weekday or weekend break of it has never been easier. 

Events

Canterbury Festival

Over the last few weeks of October, Canterbury is ready to fling into full swing with the highly anticipated Canterbury Festival. Perfectly timed, the jam-packed diary will fill those half term days, with everything from classical music performances to circus acts, captivating theatre to fascinating science. All in the heart of the historic city, and where better?

Salute to the 40s

Travel back in time as you take a Salute to the 40s at the Historic Dockyard Chatham’s highly anticipated annual event. On the 14th-15th September, dive into all things 40s – music, classic cars, military vehicles, re-enactments, and jaw-dropping displays. Plus, as they celebrate their 40th year since closing their doors as a working dockyard, book in a day and get stuck into their fascinating history.  

Eating autumnal in Thanet

Feasting on locally grown and produced food is vitally important and as we’ve mentioned, the autumn is pretty special, and that applies to the season's fayre too. At the beginning of autumn is the Broadstairs Food Festival which runs 27th-29th September and showcases many local producers and their products – from cheese to internationally inspired cuisine. If you’d rather go out and find your own goods, then consider a foraging course with Doctor Forager which involves identifying and collecting natures harvest right on our doorstep. Keep an eye on their Instagram page for future dates through September and into October!

Dreamland

Vintage rides, great Instagram snaps, roller skating, and more live music events than we could ever hope to list. Yes, a visit to Dreamland has got to be on the cards this autumn. Whether you fancy taking a spin on the Big Wheel, screaming your way along the Rock 'n' Roller, or bagging yourself tickets to see anything from Nile Rodgers to Jess Glyne, Dreamland is the place to go. 

Explore our heritage

Coastal castles

Kent’s coast has seen its fair share of defences and without them the history of county could be vastly different. If you’ve yet to take a trip to this White Cliffs area of Kent, then ticking off three of our most beautiful castles is a weekday or weekend trip for the books, especially with the autumnal views in each of their settings. Proudly atop the cliffs over the English Channel is Dover Castle with its rich history from Roman conquests to WWII. And with Good Journey, you can save 20% off when visiting car-free, so discover how you can make your next day out in Kent unforgettable. 

Sitting a little further around the coast is Deal Castle, with its Tudor rose shape that was built for Henry VIII. But it doesn’t just have been to history, as while Walmer Castle has its own varied history and brushes with plenty of royalty, it is known locally for having one of the most beautiful gardens and the autumn is not exception!  

An outdoor gallery

Oh, you didn’t think we’d stop there with our autumnal castle boasting, did you? Head to Leeds Castle this autumn and you’ll have the chance to wander the famous gardens transformed into a golden paradise. For the ultimate experience, spot the Sublime Sculptures throughout those colourful gardens, before turning in for the night in the Maiden's Tower bed and breakfast within the castle walls. 

Stories to tell

Penshurst Place boasts Grade I listed formal gardens circling a 14th century manor. The gardens alone are worth visiting for, but the estate walks through the expansive parkland are another favourite (just look at our Instagram, it appears quite often!). Round off your wanders with a hot chocolate and cake in the Porcupine Pantry and you’ve got the perfect Penshurst Place visit. 

Countywide heritage

Our county's National Trust properties sure do shine throughout the autumn, and we can't wait to get out to see some of our favourites. For those family days out, Chartwell not only gives the history-buffs in the group something to look forward to, but the play area will also keep the little ones entertained. And Sissinghurst's beautiful gardens will provide the ideal backdrop as you wander the grounds and discover local history.   

Autumn colour

Remember when we mentioned that scarlet Boston Ivy creeping across the front of a castle? Yes, Hever Castle has long been one of the faces of autumn in Kent and, after a visit to the grounds in October, you’ll soon see why. Don those wellies, crunch those leaves, and discover trees adorned in gold, glorious displays of red, and a castle that can only be described as at its romantic best, right at the heart of the grounds. And speaking of romantic, take one peek at the luxury rooms in The Anny Boleyn Wing and we know you’ll swoon. Here you’ll be guaranteed countryside views, a delicious breakfast and rooms fit for royalty.

Back to Nature

Wonderful wanders

Sevenoaks offers some real hidden gems, so if you haven’t had the chance to visit Great Comp Garden, you’ll be in for a treat come autumn. Seven acres of rare plants can be found here, with ornamental grasses, a myriad of colour and beautiful borders found in the garden, and the welcome of tea and cake in the Old Dairy tearooms.

Mindful moments

Reconnect with nature and yourself in a session with Tansy in the Wild. Surrounded by those stunning autumn colours, you’ll feel instantly immersed in the landscape as you’re taken through an afternoon of forest bathing, mindfulness techniques, Qi-Gong, and more. It’s oh-so-important to prioritise your mind and body’s wellbeing, so put it top of the list and get out there this autumn break to do just that.

Set sail

The maritime adventure continues in the county – not to our surprise, really, with such a beautiful coastline and wonderful waters to hand. This autumn, set sail with Tiller & Wheel on one of their unique experiences. This family-run business could hold in its palm your next day out, with tidal cruises, estuary exploration, and much more to choose from along Kent's north coast.

Dreamy gardens

If it’s good enough for Jane Austen, it’s certainly good enough for us! Visit Goodnestone Park Gardens this autumn and witness for yourself what is said to be one of the best gardens in the South East. Explore the 14 acres of woodland and walled garden, before settling down in The Old Dairy Café, snacking on some delicious homemade treats as you take in the views.

Treetop time!

Turn up the adrenaline as you head to the treetops with a day out at Go Ape. You can’t get much closer to the autumn leaves than this, swinging and stepping your way through one of their wonderful courses. And with two locations across the county, you can decide whether you want to embark on a historically backdropped adventure at Leeds Castle, or dive right into nature at their site on Bedgebury Pinetum.

Colours galore

And while you’re at the pinetum, take part in one of their wellbeing walks, taking a couple of hours of your day to put yourself first. Join a group and head off as your guide leads you through the stunning collection of conifers, showing off the best of the season’s colours. Accessible for all ages and abilities, get this in your diary – you won’t regret it!  

Bobbing along

With the temperatures still holding out in the mild to even warm climes, breathe in the autumnal scenes along the River Stour with a trip on a canoe, kayak or paddleboard with Canoe Wild. This is a great day our for all ages and abilities, with the inclusion of a lift service (for trips only), equipment and a safety briefing including paddle techniques. For the true romantics, we recommend their Wildlife Sunset Tours, experiencing the river by nightfall and potentially seeing the resident River Stour beavers along the way. 

Port Lympne

Award-winning accommodation in the heart of Port Lympne - honestly, with views of giraffes, tigers and lions wandering the hundreds of acres of parkland - who really needs to set foot on a plane this autumn? From panoramic bubble pods, to luxurious lodges, these breaks are simply unforgettable. Hungry? Be sure to check out Garden Room Restaurant with its exceptional seasonal menu. Psst... for last minute availability and special packages, be sure to take a look at those midweek stays. 

Seasonal produce

The Wine Garden of England

Vineyards in autumn? Now that’s a sight worth seeing. Tour some of our favourite vineyards and you’ll see a spectacle of autumn colour, harvesting and vines laden with grapes. If you don’t know where to start (Kent has quite a few vineyards), allow us to introduce you to some of our favourites...

Locally brewed

Get a taste of the season in Canterbury where, tucked away amidst cobbled streets, you’ll find award-winning whisky at The Foundry. With a distillery on-site, you can delight in their drinks, knowing they were made just a stone’s throw away. Head along for the afternoon to sip and sample, enjoying the wonderful atmosphere of the brewpub, and why not add a bite to eat as the perfect accompaniment to your drink?

From garden to fork

Belmont House just outside of Faversham has a kitchen garden that epitomises our title as the Garden of England. With fruit trees laden in autumn colour, beds of vegetables and even a nuttery, its spoils are both beautiful and delicious. With 3000 acres to explore, the farmland and woodland grounds of the estate are more than enough to keep you busy, but the elegant 18th century house is a must-see while you’re here. Just a short drive away, the original site of Macknade is the culmination of all that lovely Kent produce, offering up fresh fruit, cheeses, veg, cakes and more, in the South East’s leading food hall. Tuck in to everything from tacos to pizzas at the Macknade Food Village, or head into Faversham and dine and stay at Shepherd Neame’s The Sun Inn and enjoy a fireside drink of their freshly brewed ales.

Stay the Night

Keepers Cottages

Wherever you find yourself in the county, there’s a Keepers Cottage property to tick all your overnight stay boxes. So, what will you choose? Tennis courts and wood burner for your party of 12 at the beautiful Stone Hall Farmhouse? Your own pizza oven, and just seconds from the beach at intimate The Drift? Or maybe your own private garden nestled away in the seaside town of Broadstairs at Liberty Cottage? Your Kentish staycation just got an upgrade.

Bridgewood Manor

If you're heading to Medway, Bridgewood Manor is a great reason to extend your stay. With a relaxing spa, indoor pool, fireside afternoon tea, and seasonal a la carte dining, it's the perfect spot to get that cosy autumnal feeling. 

Romney Marsh Shepherds Huts

The Romney Marsh is famous locally for being the home to hundreds of sheep, with the fluffy animals being spotted across the south east of Kent. If you’re looking for a stay to truly connect with the local area, then consider the Romney Marsh Shepherd Huts whose accommodation provide peaceful surroundings in rural space close to the coast. Take time to venture into the local area,  before warming up around the fire pit under the night sky.

Elmley Nature Reserve

Where else could you think of to appreciate the autumn and its bounty of colours than being outdoors? Nowhere! So, visiting Elmley Nature Reserve, the only national nature reserve in the country where you can stay overnight, is the place to head for an autumnal break. It is somewhere to really connect with nature and slow down, and staying overnight is equally as easy with a selection array of accommodation from Farmhouse bedrooms to shepherd's huts and cabins. If you’re only able to make a day of it, make sure you visit to recharge and boost your serotonin with some golden hues and wildlife, watch out for migrating birds such as Whimbrel and Green Sandpiper pass through en route to Africa and listen out for barn owls who breed late in Elmley’s boxes.

Boys Hall

Another spot that will tick the box for great food and drink and splendid overnight accommodation is Boys Hall. A stunning refurbished 17th century house, this is one of the cosiest spots in the area where you can settle down and enjoy the stunning natural landscape of Kent, all while being just down the road from the vibrant Ashford. Tuck in to a delicious, seasonal, and locally sourced meal, before heading back to your very own luxurious room for a great night's sleep. 

Bloom Stays

Weekenders, gather your friends for a stay at the luxurious Bloom Stays’ Hockley House in beautiful Alkham. Sleeping 12 in the wing of a manor house, this is the ultimate country living experience. For smaller groups, former Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage, West Cottage in Dungeness, sits at the foot of the Roundhouse and provides those vast views Dungeness is so famed for. While Raspberry Cottage in Ripple, near Deal (how cute is that name, by the way?) is a stunning thatched cottage with quirky decor made fo Instagram. 

Hythe Imperial Hotel

While the autumnal warm weather might not stay around forever, we certainly don't think that being by the seaside is for summer only! Being situated right on the coastline in the south of Kent, the grand Hythe Imperial Hotel is steps from the beach and moments from the sleepy town of Hythe, meaning you've got the choice to switch off totally and escape it all. Plus, throw in a spa and wellness area, including a pool no less, and you've got a swimmingly good winter break. But we're not done yet, as through the winter of 23/24, you can get a room at a reduced rate with their Sea, Sparkle and Stay offer which also includes a bottle of sparkling wine, a discounted dinner rate, breakfast for two - and free use of the aforementioned leisure facilities! 

Travel with Southeastern

Visiting the Garden of England couldn’t be easier by train – just sit back, relax and enjoy the Kent countryside as you travel. Just a short hop on the train and you can explore the beautiful Kent countryside, historic buildings and stunning coastal views – not forgetting plenty of pit-stops for an ice cream! Plus, with Southeastern's list of favourite spots for a relaxing stroll that are all just a hop away on the train, we recommend lacing up your walking boots and discovering Kent's autumnal countryside, from coast to rural locations for a real local escape.