Winkworth Arboretum, Godalming
Whatever the season, Winkworth Arboretum is a feast for the senses, and is a perfect chance to refresh, recharge and enjoy natureÍ›s finest displays. Created in 1937 by Dr Wilfrid Fox, cultivated over 15 years, this unique beauty spot is made up of over 1,000 different species of shrubs and trees. In spring there are spectacular carpets of bluebells, clouds of frothy cherry blossom and the wonderful ÍšAzalea StepsÍ› beside the boathouse, giving an abundance of colour and scent.
Well-behaved dogs on short leads are welcome all year round. There are three different routes to help you find your way: a blue 'Access for All' walk, a yellow 'Taste of Winkworth' walk and a red 'Challenging' walk.
Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey
Hampton Court is a venue that is not only mightily impressive but really does cater to any age and taste. What started as a simple riverside manor house in the 15th century became one of Britain's most lavish palaces, first in the hands of Cardinal Wolsey, then under a succession of kings, beginning with Henry VIII, who spent the equivalent of £18m developing immense kitchens, a sumptuous chapel, tennis courts, bowling alleys, formal gardens and, somewhat eccentrically, a communal loo with room for 28 noblemen. Not forgetting William
III's puzzle maze, which is now renowned as the oldest of its kind in the world. It doesn't require much imagination to imagine yourself away to a Wolf Hall-esque time where dark plots were hatched, lovers held clandestine trysts and servants scurried hither and thither.
The Magic Garden is a recent addition, meaning that your kids can come face to face with mythical beasts, storm the battlements, besiege the towers and explore a secret grotto. Hampton Court also hosts year-round family activities, such as an Easter Lindt Bunny Hunt, Tudor chocolate making, and even a season of the popular Horrible Histories shows.
Local Farmers Markets
Perfect for getting to grips with the tastes of your locale. Celebrate the very best of British produce, explore the stalls, watch cookery demonstrations, and of course make sure to sample lots of the fabulous products at the monthly (and some weekly) farmers' markets around Surrey and Hampshire including Camberley, Guildford, Thames Ditton and Winchester.
Guildford's Farmers Market, held on the first Tuesday of every month is particularly special; the whole of the townÍ›s famous granite cobbled high street is closed for the stalls, these ranging from organic produce, a curry van, butchers, fishmongers, bakers and local artists. Be sure to come with an empty stomach and a healthy appetite!
Hindhead Commons and Devil's Punchbowl, Hindhead
Managed by the National Trust, Hindhead Commons and the Devil's Punchbowl are famous for their magnificent uninterrupted views – some reaching as far as the London skyline on a clear day. For the brave at heart, the views from Gibbet Hill (approx. 900ft) offer stunning views across the Weald. This is a perfect day out for budding wildlife explorers and those in need of an adventure.
Maps and walks guides are available from the shepherdÍ›s hut, as well as handy tracker packs, compasses and binoculars. Smooth level paths are perfect for bikes, trikes and skates. Resident wild ponies and highland cattle keep the grasses in check, and donÍ›t forget to look up; the skies hold many soaring kestrels and buzzards, watching out for a tasty meal below.
Pay a flying visit to Birdworld and come face-to-face 2,000 creatures, including many exotic species (to date, 800 birds and 180 species). Birdworld also includes all kinds of hands-on activities, including the Jenny Wren Farm for Animal Encounters, penguin and pelican feeding times, keeper for a day experiences, and the brand new Terry Pratchett Owl Parliament – named in honour of the late author. Created in collaboration with the World Owl Trust, the beautifully crafted aviary aims to educate and raise awareness of the owls, with a Discworld style twist. The full diversity of owls can be seen here; from the magical snowy owl, to the sage long-eared owl – visitors can learn all sorts of interesting facts about these fascinating creatures within an interactive space.