Looking to venture off the beaten track and discover unusual visitor attractions in Kent?
The “Garden of England” boasts a treasure-trove of hidden gem attractions, from the labyrinth of the Shell Grotto in Margate to the expansive Chislehurst Caves.
So prepare to uncover the less travelled paths and some of the more unusual things to do in Kent.
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1. Experience the Shell Grotto, Margate
The Shell Grotto in Margate is an enchanting and mysterious attraction that invites intrigue and fascination from all who visit.
Discovered accidentally in 1835, the Grotto is a subterranean labyrinth decorated with approximately 4.6 million seashells, that coverimg an area of about 2,000 square feet.
The Grotto’s walls and roof are embellished with intricate patterns and figures, structured from cockles, whelks, mussels, oysters, limpets, and other types of shells.
Interestingly, the designs do not align with any identifiable culture or tradition, making the origins of the Grotto a mystery.
Some theorize that it’s a prehistoric astronomical calendar, while others suggest it might have been a secret place of worship or a rich man’s folly.
The Shell Grotto is open to the public and offers guided tours, allowing visitors to delve into the enigma and beauty of this remarkable piece of unknown history.
2. Visit the Dog Collar Museum, Leeds Castle
Nestled in the expansive estate of Leeds Castle, the Dog Collar Museum is one of those quirky Kent attractions that offers a unique diversion from typical historical exhibits.
The museum showcases a remarkable array of over 130 rare and precious dog collars, with a timeline that extends from the late 15th century to the late 20th century.
Each collar has a story, reflecting shifting trends and attitudes towards canines over the years.
The collection ranges from ornate metal collars from the Elizabethan era, to the stylish leather and brass designs from the 19th century.
Despite its eccentricity, the Dog Collar Museum offers an unparalleled lens into societal history via our relationship with dogs.
It’s also one of the most unusual things to do in Kent, as far as we’re concerned.
3. Explore the Chislehurst Caves, Chislehurst
The Chislehurst Caves present an intriguing exploration through a vast labyrinth of underground passages.
Covering a distance of over 22 miles, these human-made tunnels are steeped in enigma and allure, attracting plenty of visitors looking for quirky and unusual things to do in Kent.
The caves are actually the result of human efforts to mine for chalk and flint as far back as 1250 AD. Since then, they’ve served multiple purposes.
During the Second World War, the caves were repurposed to become a major air-raid shelter, offering sanctuary to over 15,000 souls.
Evidence of this is still evident, with signs pointing towards a makeshift hospital and church within the cave complex.
Adding to the caves’ mystique are tales of paranormal activity which attract ghost hunters from far and wide.
Tours of the caves are guided and illuminated by traditional lamps, contributing to an atmosphere of suspense and historical fascination.
The Chislehurst Caves offer a one-of-a-kind and unique Kent experience, inviting visitors to delve into the region’s subterranean past.
4. Step Back in Time at the Micro Museum, Ramsgate
Immerse yourself in the history of computing and gaming at The Micro Museum in Ramsgate.
This unique museum provides a nostalgic journey that encompasses the various stages of computing and gaming over the past sixty years.
It exhibits a remarkable collection of over 2,000 items, including retro computers, gaming consoles and related memorabilia.
Interactive displays offer the chance to engage with vintage gaming and programming, stirring nostalgia in some while imparting knowledge to others.
The Micro Museum showcases the ingenuity of British inventors and innovators during this transformative period.
Each artefact tells its own tale, from early valve radios and televisions, through the dawn of personal computing and the internet era.
The Micro Museum provides a moment to appreciate our journey through the digital age, honouring the innovations that have moulded our contemporary digital landscape.
So if it’s unusual historical sites in Kent that you’re looking to visit, this quirky museum is a must-visit.
5. Visit the Powell-Cotton Museum, Quex Park
Fifth on our list of unusual things to do in Kent is this fascinating museum, which serves as aportal into the realms of natural history and anthropology.
The Powell-Cotton Museum was established by explorer and conservationist, Major Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton.
Powell-Cotton amassed a diverse collection of fascinating objects and artefacts from his travels through Africa and Asia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The collection ranges from intricate textiles and exquisite jewellery to ceremonial masks and weapons, each with its own story to tell.
But the standout feature of the museum is its highly regarded dioramas, considered among the world’s best.
These displays portray wildlife in painstakingly detailed re-creations of their natural habitats, offering an immersive and educational experience for visitors.
The Powell-Cotton Museum presents a unique opportunity for visitors to embark on an engaging journey through natural history and human culture.
6. Enjoy a Mouth-Watering Visit to the Brogdale Collections, Faversham
The Brogdale Collections offers a unique insight into the world of fruit farming and its development.
It’s home to the National Fruit Collection which is recognised as the most comprehensive assortment of fruit trees and plants in the world.
Brogdale takes pride in its extraordinary variety, housing over 4,000 species of apples, pears, plums, cherries, cobnuts, currants and quinces.
The collection comprises ancient apple variants that graced orchards centuries ago, to rare and exotic fruit species, epitomising the vast diversity of the natural world.
Guests are welcome to explore this fruit-filled wonderland through guided tours, immersing themselves in the distinct attributes of each fruit variety.
During seasonal fruit festivals, visitors can sample an assortment of fruits, participate in fruit picking and enjoy a host of family-friendly activities.
An essential destination for nature enthusiasts those of you searching for novel Kent destinations to visit.
7. Edith May Trading Company, Lower Halstow
Well-suited to visitors in search of unconventional activities in Kent, the Edith May Trading Company, offers a unique nautical experience aboard a historic Thames sailing barge.
Named after the “Edith May,” a barge built in 1906, the company provides a rare opportunity to explore the waterways in traditional style.
Restored to her former glory, the “Edith May” stands as a testament to a bygone era of sail-powered transportation and trade on the River Thames and Medway.
Visitors can embark on relaxing river cruises, savouring stunning views of the Kent countryside from the water.
The company also offers traditional cream tea cruises and even the chance for more hands-on experiences where guests can try their hand at sailing.
What better way to enjoy some of Kent’s secret spots than to take a ride on such an historic craft?
8. Marvel at the Richborough Roman Fort, Sandwich
Positioned near the town of Sandwich, the Richborough Roman Fort serves as a historical gateway to Britain’s Roman past and is ideal for those of you looking for insightful and unique family activities in Kent.
This archaeological site bears witness to the changing face of the region from the time of the initial Roman landing in AD 43 to the ultimate collapse of Roman rule.
At Richborough, visitors can explore the imposing stone walls of the fort that once acted as a significant Roman stronghold.
The site encapsulates a diverse historical timeline, including remnants of the first Roman military base, the foundations of a triumphal arch and the remains of a Saxon shore fort.
The fort offers educational insight into the strategies and living conditions of the Roman legions that occupied Britain.
It also presents fascinating artefacts in its on-site museum, ranging from Roman coins to pottery fragments, further enhancing the historical narrative.
9. See the Museum of Kent Life, Maidstone
If you’re thinking of going off the beaten path in Kent, then a visit to this quirky museum certainly wouldn’t go amiss.
Located in Maidstone, the Museum of Kent Life presents a captivating journey into Kent’s agricultural past.
Spread across 28 acres, this open-air museum provides comprehensive insights into the county’s rural way of life from Victorian times to the post-World War II period.
The site includes an assortment of historical buildings including a quintessential Victorian farmhouse, a village hall and an oast house.
Through life-sized exhibits and interactive installations, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the lifestyle, work and customs of Kent’s citizens from times pasts.
The museum is also home to various farm animals and there are also interactive workshops, special events and educational programmes.
10. Visit the The Crampton Tower Museum, Broadstairs
Searching for unusual things to do in Kent? Then how about this fascinating museum.
Housed in a unique water tower built by Crampton himself, the museum offers an insightful journey into the history of railways and locomotion.
The museum’s collections include models of various trains, original blueprints, and an array of Crampton’s patents.
Among the most notable exhibits is a fully functioning replica of the “Curlew,” a Crampton steam locomotive that was once the fastest in the world.
Interactive displays invite visitors to learn about the principles of steam power and the development of railway technology.
Be sure to take a trip to the top of the tower from some fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.
11. See the Huguenot Museum, Rochester
The Huguenot Museum traces the history and legacy of the Huguenots – French Protestants who fled persecution in the 16th and 17th centuries and who found refuge in Britain.
The museum exhibits a diverse array of objects suc as historical scripts and artwork.
The Huguenot’s craftsmanship is also showcased via some fantastic examples of silk weaving, silver crafting and clock-making.
Guests are invited to trace the journey of the Huguenots, from their exodus from France, through their trials, to their eventual establishment in the UK.
Those looking for alternative sightseeing in Kent should direct their attention to this fascinating museum.
12. Embark on the Hawkhurst Gang Smugglers Trail
Situated in the scenic Weald of Kent, the Hawkhurst Gang Smugglers Trail offers an engaging exploration of the region’s notorious smuggling past.
The trail traces the paths used by the infamous Hawkhurst Gang – a formidable group of smugglers that operated in the area during the 18th century.
The trail takes visitors through picturesque villages, dense woodlands, open fields and many of Kent’s secret spots – areas that once concealed the illicit activities of the gang.
Detailed information boards along the trail delve into the gang’s history, their daring exploits and eventual downfall, giving visitors a vivid impression of this intriguing chapter in Kent’s past.
The Smugglers Trail not only offers a chance to immerse oneself in local history but also a delightful opportunity for discovering Kent differently.
13. Follow in the Footsteps of Nordic Marauders on the Viking Coastal Trail, Thanet
The Viking Coastal Trail, located in Thanet, offers a unique blend of stunning natural beauty and rich historical significance.
This expansive cycle and walking route traces the coastline of the Isle of Thanet, renowned for its ties to Viking invasions during the 8th and 9th centuries.
Spanning around 32 miles, the trail unveils a stunning panorama of sandy beaches, chalk cliffs and a thriving wildlife habitat, interspersed with charming coastal towns and villages.
Along the path, visitors can discover key landmarks tied to Viking history, including the site of the famous Battle of Thanet and the ancient Viking ship burial site at Pegwell Bay.
The trail also winds past historical attractions such as the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate, the Dickens House Museum in Broadstairs, and the medieval ruins of Reculver Towers.
One of the most unique Kent experiences listed here.
14. Immerse Yourself in the History of South Foreland Lighthouse, Dover
Talk about unusual things to do in Kent! Perched atop the iconic White Cliffs of Dover is South Foreland Lighthouse.
This Victorian lighthouse is a symbol of historical maritime safety and was once used to help ships navigate the perilous and congested Strait of Dover – known as one of the world’s most frequented sea passages.
Constructed in 1843, South Foreland Lighthouse wasthe world’s first lighthouse to employ electric light and also served as a testing site for long-distance radio communication from the likes of Guglielmo Marconi.
Visitors to the lighthouse can appreciate sprawling views over the English Channel.
Inside are informative displays and guided tours which provide insights into the daily life of a Victorian lighthouse keeper.
15. Enjoy a Family Day out at the Hop Farm Family Park, Paddock Wood
Located in Paddock Wood, The Hop Farm Family Park promises a splendid day out for visitors looking for unique family activities in Kent.
This popular visitor attraction is set within the largest collection of Victorian oast houses in the world. The park offers a rich variety of activities catering to all ages.
Visitors can interact with a range of farm animals at the Animal Farm or venture into the indoor soft play area.
There’s also plenty of outdoor activities such as crazy golf, a driving school, and a magic castle.
Music festivals, craft fairs and other events are held throughout the year as well.
The picturesque gardens and historical buildings provide a lovely backdrop for a stroll or picnic.