I know I love a good list and I’m sure you do too. Here is a mega list of thirty free days out to help you survive the summer holidays, half term breaks and weekends with the kids. You do pay to park at some of them. They are all within a one hour drive of Milton Keynes give or take a five minutes or so. Please use this list as a guide only. I’m a mum of two children and have a day job – I don’t keep an eye on the latest information about these places all of the time. If you’re visiting a museum check the opening hours before travelling. If you’re going to a country park check their social media for any updates about car parking or play equipment problems. Some places do get very busy at popular times so I advise you to go early to save disappointment. Take cash wherever you go in case parking machines don’t take cards. Pack picnics to save money at the cafes. There is only a small amount of information about each place. Click on the blue writing for my full review to see videos and pictures. I have put this all together in my own time for free. It’s not a business. All that I ask is that if you visit any of them please do post your pictures and tell everyone what you enjoyed in the Milton Keynes Kids discussion group and do share any of your tips for free and cheap days out too. If you have any questions then you can post them in there too. This list contains a mixture of places – bear in mind residential parks don’t have loos!
- Stanwick Lakes – With a huge climbing frame, sand and water area and obstacle course, Stanwick Lakes in Northamptonshire remains one of the best cheap days out for kids. You can easily spend a whole day there. Arrive early on hot days – they do close the car park once it’s full. Take bikes and scooters too if you want a bigger adventure. Just pay to park. NN9 6GY. Up to 2 hours : £3.80, Up to 3 hours : £4.80, Over 3 hours : £5.80 (July 2019) – TAKE CASH. There are loos. Do NOT park in the nearby village if the car park is full.
2. Wendover Woods – It’s undergoing a £4.5 million makeover and now Wendover Woods in Buckinghamshire is well worth a visit with the kids. There’s an excellent play trail with some fab wooden equipment. There’s also the Gruffalo Orienteering trail and a Zog trail too. Take bikes if you fancy a long cycle. HP22 5NQ. Just pay to park. £2.20 for up to two hours, £4.30 for 2-4 hours and £8 for over 4 hours – so leave just before your four hours are up to save money. You can pay by card. There are loos. It’s about 40 minutes from MK.
3. Stanton Low Park – This is the biggest park in Milton Keynes that you don’t pay to park at, but in turn lacks some of the facilities that the country parks have. Stanton Low Park is set behind a residential area in Oakridge Park very near to Asda. There’s a zipwire, bike / scooter track and lots of wooden play equipment in a big area. There’s the canal too and the remains of one of MK’s oldest churches. It’s big so you do need to keep an eye on the kids and there’s no loos. MK14 6FQ gets you there – but park at the local centre to avoid annoying residents and you can walk from there. Free and free to park. Take a picnic and drinks. There are no loos.
4. RAF Museum, Hendon – This is the museum in North London that most people can’t believe is free to enter. Loads of planes to see as well as an indoor play area with interactive displays. There’s a new outdoor play area too that wasn’t there when we last visited. Just pay to park. £3 for up to 3 hours and £4 thereafter. (July 2019) They take cash and card. NW9 5LL. There are loos. About 50 mins from MK.
5. Winnie-the-Pooh park – The Winnie-the-Pooh park in Browns Wood, Milton Keynes opened in 2019 and is now one of the best parks locally. There’s some lovely sculptures for little ones, a big climbing frame and a pump track – so take scooters and bikes. There’s a big playing field too with lots of space to run around. Completely free and free to park. MK7 8DX. It’s set in a residential area. There is a car park and room for about ten cars. Don’t park on grass verges if it’s busy. There are no loos.
6. Emberton Country Park – With a big pirate ship, two big slides, sandpit and stones area, there’s plenty to do at Emberton Country Park in Milton Keynes. You can take bikes – just watch for the road that runs through it. MK46 5FJ – Pay to park – £4.50 (July 2019) – there are loos.
7 – Daventry Country Park – With a brand new castle-themed play area for 2019 and at only £2 to park, Daventry Country Park in Northamptonshire is probably the cheapest country park we have visited. There’s a lake and sensory garden too. More work needs to be done and the loos need to be improved but that’s in the pipeline apparently. NN11 4FP – about 40 minutes from where we live in Milton Keynes.
8. Barnwell Country Park – Not on the scale of Stanwick Lakes but this country park has a lovely little sand and water area, big climbing frame and cute toddler play area. Barnwell is in Oundle, Northamptonshire. You only pay to park. Take cash. PE8 5PB. About 50 minutes from MK. There are loos.
9. Leighton Buzzard splash park – If the weather is hot you could easily spend a whole day at Leighton Buzzard splash park – it’s the closest to Milton Keynes. There’s also a beach and a play area and it’s completely free to visit. Best to go early on hot days. LU7 1SD for Duncombe Drive car park. If it’s full park in the town centre and walk. Pay to park, free to enter. There are loos. It’s about 20 mins from MK.
10. Pirate park in Loughton – With a cool wooden pirate ship set in sand and big climbing frame for older children, the pirate park in Loughton, Milton Keynes is great for all ages. It’s set behind a residential area although there’s a car park nearby. Free to visit and free to park. The address is Linceslade Grove, Milton Keynes, MK5 8DJ. Look on google – the stepping stones over the stream are just a short walk from there – or the nearest postcode is MK5 8EP. There are no loos.
11. PYO Grove Farm – The nearest Pick Your Own farm to Milton Keynes is Grove Farm in Great Gap, near Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire. It’s great fun to pick your own fruit and vegetables. Open June – October and depending on when you go it will vary as to what’s there. Free to park. You pay for what you pick… so ok it’s not quite a completely free day out but you could just spend a few quid. The site is huge. Portable toilets but take extra wipes just in case. LU7 9DZ. Check their website to see what’s available and how much it costs. Be careful if you go on a Sunday they close at lunch. About 25 minutes from Milton Keynes.
12. Centre MK Beach – just for the summer – it’s not there all year round – but there’s a beach again in the Centre MK shopping centre in Milton Keynes for the summer. It’s there from 20th July – 1st September. The beach is free to use. You do pay for the rides. MK9 3BE. There are excellent loos in the shopping centre.
13. Rushmere Country Park – Huge woodland area in Bedfordshire with a giant slide, spider, fairy doors and a giant chair. Great for good walks and shaded areas. Just pay to park. LU7 0EB. There are loos and it’s about 20 mins from MK.
14. Natural History Museum in Tring – This place in Tring, Hertfordshire always completely divides people – you either love it or find it completely odd. Known as ‘the dead animal museum’ this building houses 4000 taxidermy specimens of almost every animal you can think of. It’s completely free to visit and free to park. HP23 6AP – about 40 minutes from Milton Keynes. There are loos.
15. ROCLA art trail – There’s a lovely free art trail and park set in the Redhouse Park estate in Milton Keynes. There is a fairy bench, bugs on lampposts as well as a pretty butterfly mosaic. Start at the play area MK14 5FD – free to park and do but please park considerately as it’s a residential area. There are no loos.
16. Irchester Country Park – This country park in Northamptonshire is great fun to visit and about 35 minutes from Milton Keynes. There are a few dinosaur bones in the woods as well as a big play area and trails. Free entry. Just pay to park. Take cash. NN29 7DL. There are loos.
17. Wind in the Willows – There’s a lovely themed free park in the residential area of Great Holm in Milton Keynes. There are Wind in the Willows characters as well as lots of fun wooden play equipment. More aimed at younger children. It’s in Petworth in Great Holm. If you put the street name into your GPS then you’ll come down Holyrood then you need to turn left and you’ll see the entrance to the park. Alternatively the closest postcode we’ve found is MK8 9DH. Do bear in mind this is a residential area so do park considerately.There are no loos.
18. Poplars Garden Centre – This garden centre in Bedfordshire has a small pretty outdoor play area, sandpit and a hidden nature reserve. Good for younger children. Free to visit and free to park. LU5 6HE – about 20 minutes from where we live in Milton Keynes. There are loos.
19. Rushden Lakes – There’s a big retail park at Rushden Lakes, but there’s also a fab play area and lake with sculptures dotted around it. There’s a splash area too. Free and free to park for five hours. NN10 6FH – about 35 minutes from where we live in Milton Keynes. There are loos.
20 – Bletchley Library – Need somewhere fun and free indoor to go with the kids? There’s a few fab libraries in Milton Keynes. Bletchley is one of our favourites as it has an excellent brightly coloured children’s area. MK2 2RA. Westcroft is smaller but also lovely.
21. Houghton Hall Park – Cool wooden play equipment, beautiful gardens, den building and a lovely walk – Houghton Hall Park is a lovely big park in Houghton Regis in Bedfordhsire. Completely free and free to park – although in their main car park you now need to display a ticket. We park near LU5 5FU and go to the village green play area too. There’s a loo in the play area cafe. About 25 mins from MK.
22. Dragon park and Little Free Library. This is a lovely little mini adventure. Park at Great Linford Local Centre where there’s a Little Free Library that you can either donate books to or take some home. Then buy a massive bag of duck food for 30p at the council office where you can feed the ducks. Take a walk then 5 minutes away to the dragon park. MK14 5HA – click on blue words above for full feature on how to find the park. Free and free to park.
23 – Sywell Country Park. This country park in Northamptonshire has an excellent sand and water play area as well as sculptures and a big slide in the woodland area. There’s a big reservoir to walk, cycle or scoot around too. About 40 minutes from where we live in Milton Keynes. NN6 0QX. There are loos.
24 – Bancroft park – A lovely play area in Milton Keynes that was revamped in 2019 – there’s a cool wooden climbing frame which is great fun – then walk around to explore the remains of a Roman villa as well as the concrete cows. MK13 0QB. No loos and it’s a residential area.
25. Peterborough Museum Probably one of the furthest places on this list to visit but an excellent free museum – this one is in Peterborough in Cambridgeshire. There’s an excellent display of prehistoric underwater creatures, a Victorian operating table and a Napoleonic prison. Combine it with a visit to Peterborough Cathedral which is also free and walkable from the museum – or take a drive to Ferry Meadows Country Park – see below. Pay to park in a city centre car park. Admission to the museum is free. PE1 1LF – about an hour from MK. There are loos.
26. Ferry Meadows Country Park – Huge country park in Peterborough with three play areas. There’s an excellent miniature train which you do pay extra for. Take cycles or scooter. About an hour from Milton Keynes. PE2 5UU – there are loos.
27. Russell Park – This big park in Bedford is brilliant with a couple of big climbing frames. It’s set next to the embankment in a fab location. Free to visit. We parked on George Street MK40 3SG and walked up – the park was easy to find. About 25 minutes from Milton Keynes.
28. Stockwood Discovery Centre – A totally free place to visit in Luton, Stockwood Discovery Centre houses a big collection of wagons and other historical exhibits. There are beautiful gardens and a play area. Free to park. About half an hour from Milton Keynes. Luton LU1 4LX
29. Dunstable splash park and play area – There’s now a big adventure play area open at Bennett’s Rec in Dunstable, Bedfordshire. There’s a free splash park too. Pay to park. LU6 3SN – about 25 minutes from Milton Keynes.
Want more ideas?
I hope you’ve found this list useful. If you looking for even more ideas please do like the Milton Keynes Kids Facebook Page where I’m always posting lots of pictures and videos. Do follow me on Instagram as well. There are loads more parks you can visit on the parks section of this website. Please do remember to post any photos of places you visit in the Milton Keynes Kids discussion group.
I'm Laura, mum of two boys - aged six and four. I started this website at the end of Sept 2015 whilst on maternity leave. I now work four days a week and do this blog late at night once the little boys are sleeping. It's won several awards over the last four years and I continue to run it for free and mostly focus on free, cheap, and good value days out. Do drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to contact me. Don't forget to follow all of our latest adventures on facebook, instagram and twitter and have a look at all of the videos of the places we visit on the Milton Keynes Kids YouTube Channel - subscribe to it for notifications every time I add a new place. And remember... you may been reading this post months after we visited, do check with the destination you're visiting for up to date opening times and prices. If you find this blog useful then please do comment on my posts and leave me a Facebook review - it makes doing this all the more worthwhile.