With a long summer holiday ahead, don't miss our essential guide to the best free days out around Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings.
There's so much to do in a day at the South Downs National Park – walking, cycling, hunting for geocaches and exploring nature. There are more than 3,000km of footpaths and over 1,000km of car-free cycle paths to enjoy. Or try the South Downs Geotour and earn a souvenir GeoCoin.
Brighton's central park boasts a brilliant new children's play area, along with a skate park and pretty fountains. You can use the free table tennis tables, and there's even a petanque area so you can try a family game of Boules. It's won a Green Flag in the Keep Britain Tidy campaign thanks to volunteers.
Spend a day in the ancient town of Arundel on the river Arun. Its 19th-century cathedral is free to visit, while the Wey & Arun Canal Trust have a series of short walks along the pretty canal path. At the Arundel Wetland Centre you can take a free boat trip or try pond dipping, and the town also hosts a monthly farmer's market of local produce.
The award-winning beach at St Leonards is ideal for a traditional family day out, playing on the shingle. Follow it up with a stroll to the old fishing quarter in Hastings.
Explore from the boardwalks of West Park and hunt for a rich variety of wildlife. From marshy areas to woodland, it’s the perfect place to try one of the Random Acts of Wildness from Wildlife Trusts.
Escape the modern world by retreating to the seclusion of Leechpool and Owlbeech Woods near Horsham. Leechpool is mostly trees, while Owlbeech is heathland that’s now used for grazing by cows, sheep and llamas to help manage the land. There’s also a free sculpture trail.
Head to Eastbourne for the best views of the Seven Sisters – the chalk cliffs between Seaford and Eastbourne – and take a walk around the UK’s highest chalk sea cliff. There’s a lighthouse that’s featured in TV programmes, and at various times throughout the year runners and cyclists race past the cliffs. The free visitors’ centre provides information about the history and geology of the area.
Get some exercise and enjoy the views around this ancient hillside carving. There’s a free car park nearby and footpaths guide you to the man’s feet or to his head.
This family-friendly arts trail includes a stop at the Towner’s art gallery for a free drop-in session at weekends and in school holidays, and a chance to play in the water fountains at Bexhill. Then head past the site of the 1066 Battle of Hastings, or head further afield to Margate.
Ashdown Forest is the home of Winnie-the-Pooh, and lies in the heart of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It boasts a varied history encompassing use as a medieval hunting ground and for training troops during WWII, and there’s a programme of events that includes a festival of sheep, and nature walks.