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A Family Road Trip From London

From beautiful towns and vibrant gardens, to historic castles and amazing places to eat and drink, come with us on a family road trip from London.

We’ve just returned from a lovely three-day family road trip through the south of England. It was one of our first UK road trips since our little boy Cooper arrived in March. To be honest, we absolutely loved road trippin’ before, but now we’re appreciating the ease and convenience even more! Not only do you get to see a whole range of amazing places, but you can pack the car full of home comforts.

Family road trips are the ideal way to bond with your little ones and create lasting memories. They also allow you to disconnect from daily routines – something that I always think is good for mental health. Even though Cooper is only a baby, we still think immersing him in a world of adventure is great for his development. He gets to be out in nature, with lots of stimulation all around.

Wisley Gardens
Soaking up nature at Wisley Gardens

For this trip we partnered with Days Inn by Wyndham, a popular hotel brand that has lots of affordable, comfortable, family-friendly properties around the country.

Days Inn by Wyndham
You’re probably familiar with Days Inn by Wyndham

We created a three-day itinerary that was full of experiences. We spent a day strolling through the spectacular gardens at RHS Wisley. Then, we drove to Kent and enjoyed a day at Leeds Castle. We also spent time in the pretty town of Rochester, visited an English vineyard and tracked down plenty of amazing local food along the way.

So, if you’re thinking of planning your own road trip from London, hopefully this post will give you a lovely dose of inspiration!

A Family Road Trip From London

Where To Stay: Days Inn by Wyndham

As mentioned, we stayed at a couple of Days Inn by Wyndham hotels on this road trip from London. With more than 1,500 locations across 20 countries, Days Inn by Wyndham is one of the largest and most familiar hotel brands in the world.

They’re also wonderfully affordable – ideal for times when cash is tight or you’d rather save your pennies to spend on experiences. When I looked you could book a room for under £30 – a price you’ll struggle to find at any other hotel near London right now!

Days Inn Maidstone
Days Inn by Wyndham in Maidstone was a great base for our time in Kent

We stayed at Days Inn by Wyndham Fleet and Days Inn by Wyndham Maidstone, both of which are conveniently located within service stations, close to an array of great family attractions. As we hired an electric car for our sustainable road trip, we loved how convenient it was to be able to charge up on site too, with electric charging stations moments from the lobby. More on that coming up!

Rooms have all the essentials you need for an easy stay, and they even provided a cot for Cooper. We also enjoyed being able to nip into the service station to pick up a strong coffee and a bite to eat from places like Costa and Pret.

What To Drive: An Electric Car

With our aim of being more climate conscious travellers, we hired an electric car for our sustainable road trip from London. It was the first time we’d driven one and we were really impressed with the whole experience. I’d wondered if we’d constantly be watching the battery tick down, sweating over whether we’d make it to the next charging point in time! In reality, one charge will take you a long distance – almost 200 miles in the car we had (a Renault Zoe).

Charging our electric car
Charging our electric car right outside the Days Inn by Wyndham hotel

One of the big perks of staying at Days Inn by Wyndham hotels on this road trip was that there were electric charging stations in the car park. We loved how convenient it was to be able to charge up each evening.

The process was super simple too. You just have to plug the car in, tap your bank card, and the battery starts charging. It’s just like charging up your phone!

Charging our electric car up
Macca charging up our electric car

There’s no denying that electric cars are the future of travel. With zero emissions, they’re eco-friendly and are helping to reduce our carbon footprint. It felt great to enjoy an amazing road trip adventure, while being kinder to the planet.

7 Great Stops On A Family Road Trip From London

I could tell you about so many wonderful places to visit in the south of England, but for this trip, we focused on just a few key areas. If you’re looking for more places to add to your road trip itinerary, I’ll give you a few extra suggestions at the end of this post.

Spend a day at RHS Wisley, Surrey

We spent a gorgeous afternoon exploring the world-class gardens of RHS Wisley. They’re divided into lots of areas, each with different design elements and plant varieties to see. I always think gardens are a great place to visit with kids, big kids and adults too! There’s something for everyone to enjoy. Plus, there’s always a great cafe with a huge slice of cake to keep kiddies happy!

Dahlias at Wisley gardens
We loved the dahlias at Wisley gardens

One of the highlights at RHS Wisley is the glasshouse, filled with exotic plant varieties, orchids and even a waterfall. We also loved the world food garden, where we had the chance to see lots of interesting fruits and vegetables – in particular courgettes, chillies and beans! Personally, I adored the area close by with tall sunflowers and gigantic pumpkins. The yellows and oranges gave a lovely sunny appeal, even if the skies were saying otherwise.

Sunflowers at RHS Wisley
I loved the sunflowers at RHS Wisley
Overlooking Wisley
Overlooking Wisley’s World Food Garden

One of the most wonderful things about visiting gardens like this one, is that they are constantly changing. The experience in spring is very different to seeing the bright summer blooms or the rusty colours in autumn.

If you’re thinking of visiting on a family road trip, don’t forget to take the kids to the huge playground. There’s lots of fun to be had there. Gardens are an amazing place to encourage a love of nature from a young age. Cooper was constantly reaching for the vibrant dahlias and the leafy foliage all around.

Family day out at RHS Wisley
Our family day out at RHS Wisley

Dine at Heron On The Lake, Fleet, Surrey

Close to Days Inn by Wyndham Fleet is this pretty lake-side pub, The Heron on the Lake. We visited on a weekday evening and couldn’t believe how busy it was! Everyone was sat out on the terrace, enjoying the balmy evening accompanied by serene views over the lake. It’s a great place to spot birds, including the resident heron himself.

Dinner at Heron on the Lake
Dinner by the water at The Heron on the Lake

The menu is everything you’d expect from a gastropub, with decadent burgers, hearty pies and sophisticated fish and shellfish dishes. Macca ordered the lamb rump, which was packed full of flavour and served with a Mediterranean salad. Meanwhile, the chicken, ham and leek pie I tucked into was like a hug in a dish! Yum!

Spend a day at Leeds Castle, Kent

We’ve wanted to visit Leeds Castle for years, so when we discovered it was just a four-minute drive from Days Inn by Wyndham Maidstone, we hopped in the car and drove straight there! It’s a stunning castle, with a rich history dating back over 900 years. The interiors are lavishly decorated, with lots of features from the 1930s when owner, Lady Baillie, hosted several impressive parties there.

Visiting Leeds Castle in Kent
Visiting Leeds Castle in Kent

We loved exploring the grounds, which include 500 acres of parkland and gardens. There’s a moat surrounding the castle, and a lake on which you can catch a boat. There’s even a maze with a grotto – somewhere we spent a lot of time (mainly getting lost!)

Leeds Castle is an ideal place for a family day out in Kent. While adults will love marvelling at the history and architecture of the castle, kids will relish running wild in the adventure playgrounds, digging in the sandpit, playing adventure golf or seeing the birds of prey in one of the daily displays.

As we were keen to keep this road trip as affordable as possible, it’s worth noting that if you buy tickets for Leeds Castle online, you’ll get access to return for an entire year free of charge. How great is that?!

Explore Rochester, Kent

Rochester is one of our favourite towns in Kent. We’ve been several times before and we’ve always been huge fans of its high street. While many towns are losing its stores, Rochester has a thriving independent shopping scene. There are vintage stores, gift shops, a record store, delis, clothing boutiques, toy shops and more!

Rochester, Kent
Rochester’s charming high street

There’s also a plethora of restaurants and cafes to choose from – a decision we found difficult when it hit lunchtime! We ended up going to The Cheese Room, which has two branches on the high street. We ordered two platters – one cheese and one charcuterie, and feasted on a selection of amazing local produce.

The Cheese Room, Rochester
The Cheese Room, Rochester

After a spot of lunch and a bit of shopping, we went for a wander to see Rochester’s impressive Norman castle and its spectacular cathedral. It’s lovely having so much to see in a town. Cooper seemed in awe of the castle! We can’t wait to return in a few years so he can fully appreciate it! 

If you’re spending some time in this town, don’t miss my guide to the best things to do in Rochester.

Visiting Rochester Castle
Visiting Rochester Castle
Rochester Castle, Kent
Rochester Castle is an impressive Normal castle in Kent

Stop for a drink at Mereworth Wines, Kent

A short drive from both Maidstone and Rochester is Mereworth, a winery producing world-class English Sparkling Wine from grapes growing in their own vineyards. I’ve been for tours and tastings at many wineries in the south of England and as a result, developed a huge passion for a glass of English bubbly! I love the crisp taste and vibrant fizz. In fact, don’t tell my French friends, but I’d often choose it over a glass of Champagne!

Mereworth has a large bar area where you can swing by for a little taste, or bed in for a lazy afternoon session. They often host foodie events too, with a current line-up of Fish & Fizz on a Friday, pizzas on Saturdays and live DJs on Sunday afternoons.

We stopped by for a pre-dinner drink and enjoyed a glass of Mereworth’s best-seller ‘white from white’. It was vibrant and fresh, with citrus flavours and a slightly toasty note from the chardonnay grapes. I had to restrain myself from bringing a whole bottle home…!

Go for a walk at Hucking Estate, Kent Downs

One of our favourite things to do on an English road trip is find a picturesque countryside walk. With a bubba to carry around, we decided to search for a short-ish route which offered some lovely views. Just a 15-minute drive from our hotel was the Hucking Estate Landscape Trail. This four-kilometre circular route takes you through a mix of ancient woodland and open fields.

Amazing view of the Kent Downs from the Hucking Estate
Amazing view of the Kent Downs from the Hucking Estate

The Hucking Estate also has one of the best scenic views over the Kent Downs. Visit in April and May and you’ll be in for an extra special treat. The woodland here is covered in beautiful bluebells!

The walk took around an hour and Cooper snoozed in the carrier throughout. We loved the variety of terrain and the beautiful vista halfway.

Stroll through Aylesford, Kent

When you see photos of quintessential English villages, no doubt a view like Aylesford comes to mind. This idyllic spot is located along the River Medway and has a rich history dating back to Roman times. With a picturesque bridge, ancient church, a couple of pubs and a high street filled with wonky cottages, it oozes charm.

Aylesford in Kent
Aylesford is one of the prettiest villages in Kent

It’s also home to Aylesford Priory, a former Carmelite monastery, which has been turned into a spiritual retreat. We only stopped in Aylesford for around an hour, but absolutely loved it! It’s a very photogenic place, and ideal for a little stretch of the legs on a road trip.

Dine at The Square Fish Cafe, Lenham, Kent

Food is a huge part of why we love travelling – I often say we travel for food! It’s not just an essential, it’s a huge part of our enjoyment. While staying at Days Inn by Wyndham in Maidstone, we discovered a couple of incredible restaurants close by.

The Square Fish Cafe is a smart restaurant in the centre of the quaint village of Lenham. It feels like a focal point for village activity, with the church and a few pubs and shops surrounding it. The menu here is centred around fish and shellfish. With a top French head chef at the helm, there are some excellent-quality dishes on offer.

I enjoyed a generous monkfish steak, which was accompanied by a lemon mash, a Mediterranean salsa and a rich buttery sauce. Macca tucked into a huge bowl of fresh mussels, which arrived swimming in a creamy bacon and white wine sauce. It came with a bowl of Jenga-sized chips too! They had all the flavour of a classic chip shop chip, but were super-sized!

Dinner at The Square Fish Cafe in Kent
Dinner at The Square Fish Cafe in Kent

The Square Fish Café offers a high-end dining experience, while still feeling relaxed and unpretentious. Service was warm and friendly, just as you’d expect in a charming village in the Kent countryside.

Dine at The Ringlestone Inn, Harrietsham, Kent

On our final night, we ventured to The Ringlestone Inn, a country pub nestled in the village of Harrietsham. It dates back to 1533, and as you enter through the heavy front door, you feel like you’ve turned back the clock. The bar loops around the middle with some wonky rooms held up by ancient beams, each with a cosy fireplace.

Despite the appearance that it’s an ancient boozer, this is actually a gastropub specialising in gourmet cuisine. Chefs here have a huge passion for artisan techniques too. They smoke their own salmon and produce their own items of charcuterie too.

Considering we visited on a weekday evening, it was fantastic to see the dining room completely full. This is clearly a pub with a steller reputation!

We struggled to decide what to order as there were so many delicious sounding plates. There was the guinea fowl with pancetta, Jerusalem artichoke velouté, spiced loin and belly of pork, nori steamed cod loin and plenty more to pique our interest! I told you this was a gourmet menu!

Dinner at The Ringlestone Inn Kent
Fine-dining at The Ringlestone Inn – one of the best gastropubs in Kent

In the end, we couldn’t resist the roasted duck breast, which was cooked to perfection with a blushing pink centre. It came with an indulgent potato dauphinoise, quenelle of mushroom duxelles and a tangy blackberry jus. It was utterly divine… we pretty much licked the plates clean!

The service was jovial too, with personal recommendations, anecdotes about the area and a relaxed style, which made us feel wonderfully at home (even while grappling a 6-month-old baby!)

Other Places To Visit On A Road Trip From London

I’ve mentioned the places we visited on this three-day road trip from London, but if you fancy a slightly different route or would like to extend your trip, here are a few other spots I’ve loved exploring in the south of England.

Folkestone, Kent – Arty and vibrant seaside town with plenty to see, great food and drink and a sandy beach.

Whitstable, Kent – Fishing town with pretty beach huts, art galleries and a great reputation for fresh seafood, in particular oysters.

Herne Bay – Pebbly seaside town with an old-fashioned pier, selection of restaurants and options of watersports.

Hastings – Quirky Sussex town with a real mix of old and new. Ride the funicular, see some modern art at the Jerwood Gallery or explore the town’s independent shopping scene.

Ditchling Beacon, Leonardslee and Bolney, Sussex – A beautiful area of rolling countryside, fantastic botanical gardens and award-winning vineyards.

Canterbury to Dover, Kent – A gorgeous route heading along the North Downs Way, starting in the pretty town of Canterbury, and heading toward Dover.

South Downs National Park – From learning about space at Winchester Science Centre, to wandering Kingley Vale’s ancient yew trees and exploring Arundel’s magnificent castle, the South Downs is an amazing region to explore on a road trip from London.

Five Quick Tips For Planning A Family Road Trip From London

Plan pit stops: Make sure to schedule regular breaks along your route. You’ll need them for letting little ones burn off some energy, for you to grab your caffeine fix, or just to break up the many “are we neaaaarly there yet?” questions!

Pack snacks: Let’s face it, rumbly tummies are never fun to deal with on the road… although that goes for us adults too. Pack a selection of snacks and drinks to keep everyone happy.

road trip
These tips will help you have the best family road trip

Think about entertainment: Bring books, games, and music. Or, if you have a baby on board, hang some fun toys from their car seat so they’re nice and occupied. Hopefully then the miles will fly by.

Ensure everyone is safe: Check and double check that car seats are all fitted and buckled correctly. We love using an Isofix base with ours to ensure Cooper is safe and secure in his baby car seat.

Look for the scenic routes: Sometimes the prettiest spots are off the beaten track, so don’t just pick the most direct route. Keep an eye for little detours that will spice up the journey!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our fun and sustainable road trip from London. A big thanks to Days Inn by Wyndham for inviting us to explore one of our favourite parts of the UK. It was great to try out an electric car too – we’re converted and would absolutely love our next car to be electric!

If you want a bit of help planning your adventure, I’d recommend downloading the Wyndham Hotels and Resorts App. There’s a handy ‘Road Trip Planner’ which helps you find stops, book accommodation and gives you some special offers too.

Also, if you’re staying at a Wyndham hotel on your trip, don’t forget to sign up to Wyndham Rewards. It’s the world’s most generous rewards programme in the industry with over 103 million enrolled members the opportunity to redeem points at thousands of hotels worldwide!

This content was produced in partnership with Days Inn by Wyndham, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

With a passion for food, fun and adventure, Chloe is the content creator behind one of the UK's top travel blogs Wanderlust Chloe. From volcano boarding in Nicaragua, to sailing around Sicily and eating her way around Japan, her travels have taken her to some of the coolest spots on the planet. Named Travel Influencer of the Year in 2022, Chloe regularly works with a number of tourism boards, producing inspirational travel content across multiple platforms. Find out more about Chloe here.

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