Family days out don’t need to cost the earth. We’ve put together a list of free things to do in Herts with kids. From art to animals, here are some fun things to do with your family that won’t leave you feeling the pinch.
Free Events for Children at Hertfordshire Libraries
In addition to book loans, libraries throughout Hertfordshire run a number of family and child-centred activities that are completely free of charge. These include Baby and Toddler Rhyme Times, Story Sessions, Craft Sessions, and Coffee Mornings.
To see the free events taking place at your local library visit hertfordshire.gov.uk
Free Outdoor Play Spaces and Country Parks
Love the great outdoors? We’ve put together a list of top Parks and Open Spaces in Hertfordshire, many of which are free to visit (but be aware that some locations may charge a small fee for car parking).
Here are some more great options:
Aldenham Country Park, Elstree
Aldenham Road, Elstree, Hertfordshire WD6 3AZ
Aldenham Country Park is home to Winnie the Pooh’s 100 Aker Wood, which you can visit for free. There are also free adventure playgrounds near the farm, as well as walks and picnic areas to enjoy. Just remember to take your wellies if you visit during the winter months as it can get very muddy. If you have a bit of cash to spend, you can visit the farm to see the animals (£3 per person) or take a pony ride (£10 per person – kids must be over 3 years and weigh no more than 8 stone). Car parking charge applies.
Opening times: Open daily 9.00am – 6.00pm
Cassiobury Park, Watford
Watford, Hertfordshire, WD18 7LB
This very big park offers lots of space to burn off all that extra energy. It has two well-equipped play areas, as well as paddling pools that are being refurbished for Easter 2017. If you have a little bit of money to spend, there is a miniature railway, bouncy castle and bungee trampolines which are available in school holidays and weekends (see website for details). Fancy a stroll in the woods? The 165 acres Whippendell Wood is just a short walk away along a public footpath.
Scott’s Grotto, Ware
Between Nos. 28 and 34 Scotts Road, Ware, Hertfordshire SG12 9JQ
Get ready for an underground adventure! Built between 1761 and 1763 by the Quaker poet John Scott, Scott’s Grotto extends for 20 metres into a chalk hill. It is made up of six underground chambers that are linked by passages and air tunnels, with walls and ceilings decorated with shells, coloured glass and flints. Above ground you’ll find a garden with a Grade II listed summerhouse and portal. Visitors are advised to wear flat shoes and take a torch as the tunnels are uneven and unlit. For the same reason, it’s best to leave the buggy at home for this trip. Free Entry is offered, but there is a suggested donation of £1 per person.
Opening times: April to Sept – Saturdays and Bank Holiday Mondays 2.00pm – 4.00pm
Verulamium Park Splash Park, St Albans
St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL3 4SW
A great place to visit in the summer, the Verulamium Park Splash Park is made up of 12 water features to run and play in. The area is surrounded by a fence to provide a safe area for children aged 12 years and under. Remember to take swimwear and pack swim nappies for children under 3 years.
Opening times: Open daily from early May until mid-September, 10.00am – 6.00pm (see website for exact dates)
Free Animal Attractions
Cedars Nature Centre
Cedars Park, Theobalds Road, Cheshunt, Herts, EN8 8RU
Cedars Nature Centre is a small FREE to enter community zoo located at Cedar Park in Cheshunt. Opened as a place where anyone can learn about animals and the natural world, the zoo hosts daily talks, meet and greets, and school holiday activities. Animals at the zoo include meerkats, owls, armadillos and pythons,
Opening times: Daily from 11.00am-3.00pm
North Orbital Road, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL2 1DL
Maidenhead Aquatics is a garden centre that doubles as a fun venue to while away an hour or two. The centre is home to one of the largest fish rooms in the country, with an impressive collection of water life for you to gaze at; you can even by fish food to feed the koi. There is also a coffee shop and a soft play centre that children can use for FREE.
Opening times: Monday – Saturday 9.00am-6.00pm; Sunday 10.00am-4.00pm
Free Museums and Attractions
Bishops Stortford Museum
South Road, Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, CM23 3JG
Housed in the Victorian building that was the birthplace of Cecil Rhodes (1853 – 1902), the Bishop’s Stortford Museum attracts visitors interested in the history of Rhodes and Bishop’s Stortford in general. Children are allowed to play with the African instruments, use the dressing up box, light up the rooms of the Victorian dolls house, do some brass rubbing and explore local history with the interactive touch screens. The Stortford Museum also has free trails to help children discover the museum and free guided tours for the whole family on the first Saturday of the month!
Opening times: Monday – Friday 10.00am – 5.00pm; Saturday 10.00am – 4.00pm
18 Bull Plain, Hertford, Hertfordshire SG14 1DT
Hertford Museum houses over of 80,000 objects representing the history of Hertford and the surrounding area. The collections range from archaeology and natural history, to childhood toys and the largest collection of toothbrushes in the UK! On the first Saturday of each month the museum holds free stay and play sessions for families to enjoy. On sunnier days, you might enjoy the Jacobean style Knot Garden at the rear of the museum. They also have a play shop, gallery discovery toys, family toilet, baby changing, fully buggy accessible.
Opening times: Tuesday – Saturday 10.00am – 5.00pm
Lowewood Museum, Hoddesdon
High Street, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire EN11 8BH
Located in a grand Georgian building in Hoddesdon, Lowewood Museum displays historical items from local area ranging prehistoric times to the present day. The museum hosts exhibitions, talks, activities, and gallery trails. There is also a gift shop selling local history books, gifts and souvenirs. Toilets are located on the ground floor and baby changing facilities are available.
Opening Times: Wednesday – Friday 10.00am – 4.00pm; Saturdays 10.00am – 5.00pm
Natural History Museum at Tring
The Walter Rothschild building, Akeman Street, Tring, Hertfordshire HP23 6AP
A celebration of all things natural, the museum houses a huge collection of stuffed/mounted animals, bequeathed by Walter Rothschild in 1937. From birds and reptiles to polar bears and even the first T. rex fossil ever discovered, you’ll find a little bit of everything here to amuse all ages.
Opening times: Monday-Saturday 10.00am-5.00pm, Sunday 2.00pm-5.00pm; Closed 24-26 December
5 Lower King Street, Royston, Hertfordshire, SG8 5AL
Explore the history of Royston through a variety of objects, arts and craft items, and photographs. See local artefacts originating from the Ice Age through to the 1950s. Royston Museum also hold regular activities for kids, including a free Toddler Music and Dance class twice a month on selected Mondays and Fridays. Check the website’s what’s on calendar for more information.
Opening times: Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays 10.00am – 5.00pm
St George’s Way, Stevenage, Herts SG1 1XX
Stevenage Museum reveals the story of the Stevenage from the Stone Age to the present day. Located beneath St. Andrew and St. George’s church on St George’s Way, the museum has items ranging from unearthed coins to domestic objects. Facilities include a disabled toilet with baby changing, a small coffee area and gift shop. General admission is free, however a small charge may be made for some events for children, families and adults.
Opening times: Wednesday – Friday 10.00am – 4.30pm; Saturdays 10.00am – 5.00pm; Closed on Bank Holidays
Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton
London Road, Luton, LU1 4LX
Located just across the border in Luton, Stockwood Discovery Centre is a gem of an attraction that caters to all ages. Explore the artefact-filled galleries, with exhibits ranging from prehistoric times to the modern day; take a seat inside the collection of carriages and vehicles; join in an activity; or wander through the themed gardens, including the sensory garden and the dig for victory garden. On-site there is also a children’s playground, café, gift shop, and baby changing facilities. What’s more there is plenty of FREE parking.
Opening times: (14 Feb-31 Oct) Monday – Sunday (including Bank Holidays) 10.00am – 5.00pm
Winter Opening: (Nov-Early Feb) Monday – Sundays (including Bank Holidays) 10.00am – 4.00pm;
Tring Local History Museum
The Market Place, Brook Street, Tring, Hertfordshire HP23 5ED
Small enough to cover in half an hour, this museum would be a quicker alternative to the bigger Natural History Museum in Tring. The exhibits cover several time periods, including prehistoric and the World Wars. There are also plenty of activities for children, such as puzzles, a ‘dig’, straw plaiting, and dressing up. The little gift shop sells inexpensive pocket money toys. Car parking next to the museum is free for 1 hour.
Opening times: March to October – Friday & Saturday 10.00am – 4.00pm
Winter opening: November to February – Friday & Saturday 10.00am – 3.30pm
Van Hage at Great Amwell
Van Hage, Great Amwell, Pepper Hill, Hertfordshire, SG12 9RP
Another garden centre with a difference, Great Amwell has a small zoo that is free to look around. At the time of writing it is closed for a full refurb, but should be open again by spring/summer 2017. The venue hosts occasional family events (like an undercover ice skating and a circus) and has a miniature railway that runs every weekend and on Tuesdays and Thursdays in school holidays (£1 per person, under 2’s free). There is also a farmers’ market on the first Thursday morning of every month.
Opening times: Monday – Saturday 9.00am-6.00pm; Sunday 10.00am-4.30pm
The Priory Lodge, 89 High Street, Ware, Hertfordshire SG12 9AL
Ware Museum is a small independent museum containing a number of important items from Ware’s past. Exhibitions include a room dedicated to ancient history, a medieval well that you can walk on, and a fascinating World War II bunker that was refurbished in 2010. There is also a tranquil herb garden to enjoy on sunnier days. Activities for children run during the summer holidays.
Opening times: Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday 11.00am – 4.00pm; Sunday 2.00am – 4.00pm