Looking for inspiration for free days out for kids in and around Milton Keynes? You’ve come to the right place! This is a personal guide to ten of the best free days out for kids in or a short drive from Milton Keynes. Do bear in mind that some of them you will need to pay to park at. You don’t need to book to go to any of these. This will mean that if the weather is good then the outdoor ones will be popular. My best advice is to go early! If you aim to get to places for around 9am i’ve found that you’ll generally have an hour or so before more people arrive so do the best bits first. Some of those on this list will have a limited capacity in their car parks so if they have social media pages then do check those before travelling. Some car parks do fill up and you’ll get turned away. If you have some excellent days out from reading this feature and save lots of money you otherwise would have spent then do consider buying me a coffee – all of the money goes toward the running of this website and the creation of content thank you. I’ve only included a brief bit of information about each place. If you click on the blue writing it’ll bring up my previous review. If you’ve been to all of these places already, do have a look at my map for further inspiration and please have a back up idea of somewhere to visit in case you rock up and can’t park. 

Irchester Country Park, Northamptonshire, NN29 7DL

Irchester Country Park is located in Northamptonshire about 30 minutes from Milton Keynes and you can easily spend a day here. Highlights include an excellent ants nest and eagle themed climbing frame in the woods, a lookout bridge, dinosaur bones and eggs as well as a big play area. There are toilets and refreshments. You pay to park. Their car park can get full so go early and check their Facebook page before travelling. 

Nene Wetlands, Rushden Lakes, NN10 6FH

There’s a fab play area and nature reserve which form part of the Nene Wetlands behind the shops at the Rushden Lakes retail and entertainment park in Northamptonshire. It’s free to visit and free to park for up to five hours. The Nene Wetlands are located about 35 minutes from Milton Keynes. We really like the otter play area, spider, birds nest as well as spotting sculptures around the lake. There are toilets and plenty of places to eat and grab a coffee as well as do lots of shopping if you want to. 


Rushmere Country Park, Bedfordshire, LU7 0EB

One of the country park’s we’ve visted the most, Rushmere is located about 20 minutes from Milton Keynes. There are lots of sculptures set in woodland including a giant chair, spider and fairy doors and benches. The Oak Wood area of Rushmere Country Park can often be quieter and there’s so excellent sculptures there too. There’s a small toddler area and giant slide although the slide is sometimes closed. There are loos and a cafe. You do pay to park. They are due to put up their parking prices at the time of writing this. Do check their Facebook page before travelling in case the car park is full. 

Willen Lake, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DS

Willen Lake is Milton Keynes’ biggest and most popular park. At the time of writing in May 2021 it was undergoing a lot of work to build a new play area and watersports centre so bear that in mind. There is still part of the original play area there. You can do a big walk around the lakes and spot the peace pagoda and Japanese Gardens on your way around. Do read my review for tips on where to find another play area. You do pay to park. There are toilets, a cafe and restaurant. If you want to spend a bit more money then there’s a splash park, pedalos, high ropes and other watersports which you can book in advance before doing. 

Emberton Country Park, Milton Keynes, MK46 5FJ 

Emberton Country Park is located in Milton Keynes and has an excellent green slide as well as pirate ship and some other good play equipment. There are toilets and a cafe. You can walk around the lake. You do pay to park. There is a smaller play area as you walk around the lake. People often camp here. You’ll need to check their website for details. 

Parks and stepping stones in Loughton, MK5 8DJ (pirate park) 

This suggestion combines a number of different places, all located in different places in the village of Loughton, Milton Keynes. So this a plan your own adventure jobby. There’s a Pirate park where there’s an excellent pirate ship set in sand, a large climbing frame and other play equipment. The Grumpy Cook cafe is there which has a toilet. Check their Facebook Page for opening hours. We enjoy the stepping stones which are great for jumping on. New for this year is the horse park. You can also do a lovely walk around Lodge Lake. Plan your adventure using my map to decide which route you want to take. 

Daventry Country Park, Northamptonshire, NN11 2JB

Daventry Country Park is located in Northamptonshire and about 40 minutes from where we are in Milton Keynes. There is a good size play climbing frame and equipment which is only a couple of years old. It’s one of the cheapest to park at. Make sure you take some change. There are toilets and a cafe. You can do a good walk around the reservoir and woodland area. 

Wendover Woods, Buckinghamshire, HP22 5NQ

Famous for it’s Gruffalo statue, Wendover Woods has gone under huge improvements in recent years with the addition of a woodland trail with some excellent equipment. There’s also a couple of play areas, and other trails. Check their website to see what’s on when you visit. There’s a cafe and loos. It can be expensive to park if you stay more than four hours. 

Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon, North London, NW9 5LL – BOOK IN ADVANCE

Ok this isn’t really near Milton Keynes, but it’s well worth the 50 minute drive if you’re looking for one of the best free indoor days out, of which there are very few locally. The Royal Air Force Museum is huge with loads of planes to see. There’s an excellent plane themed play area too. There are toilets and a cafe. YOU MUST BOOK IN ADVANCE on their website. You do pay to park. 

Sywell Country Park, Northamptonshire, NN6 0QX

One of the lesser talked about country parks in Northamptonshire is Sywell Country Park  which is free to visit, you just pay to park. Parking can get busy, so somewhere to head to early. There’s a large sand and water play area (good if the water is on!) as well as big slide and reservoir walk. There are toilets and a cafe. 

I'm Laura, mum to two boys aged nine and seven. I run this website independently and free from advertising in addition to my day job. If you have enjoyed this post and found it useful, here are some ways you can say thanks and support Milton Keynes Kids. 

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