Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dover, England for Families

A stop in Kent in southeast England was my husband's idea.

That's not a sentence you'll read very often on this blog. I consider us true partners in most aspects of life. But travel planning is almost entirely my domain. (Hauling bags and children, map reader, and suitcase packer? All him.)

He had traveled to Kent a few months prior for work and thought it seemed like a fun area (even though all he saw was a hotel conference room). And once we had decided to drive to Belgium over Easter, he suggested it as a way of seeing more of England while also breaking up our drive home. Made sense to me, so I worked with the folks at Visit Kent to figure out logistics for a 24-hour visit there. (Ok, so the trip was his idea, but true to form, I still executed the planning.)

I wrote about our stay in Dover over at Anglotopia, too.

This was the portion of our Easter trip that surprised me the most. I frankly thought we'd pass through, see the sights, give the kids a break from the car, and then be on our way. In the end, it was a real highlight of our long holiday weekend and I'm really glad we carved out the time for this stopover.

Dover Castle kicked things off. I feared my kids would be a little burned out on the historical sights, after doing some of that in Belgium for the previous four days. Not so. Boosted by the promise of a children's festival that totally lived up to the hype, they enjoyed running down ancient pathways and examining drawbridges and catapults. (And you might remember this video I shared of Big Arrow tackling his fear of the drill sergeant!)

It was refreshing to two road-weary parents to visit an attraction like this and not have to put much effort into entertaining them (or containing them... there's lots of room to move about at Dover). While we may have timed our visit right and got a bit lucky with the festival, it was clear from their calendar of events that focusing on family fun is a regular occurrence here.

And if Dover Castle delighted us, the White Cliffs of Dover stole the show, left us a bit speechless, and sent us on our way home wanting more time in Kent. There was a moment when I looked out at that water and tried to imagine all the sights those majestic cliffs and choppy waves have seen. Countries warring. Ships in transport. Chunnels built. Swimmers attempting crazy feats of endurance.

(And then I turned my attention back to my own family... for fear that those Cliffs might see a 2-year-old tumble down into the water.)

I think the pictures tell the story of this beautiful place quite nicely without me waxing poetic about it any further, anyway.


As tempting as it is to frequently cross the Channel and explore more of the European continent, I'm so grateful we've carved out time to experience more of England, too. Its beauty seems to be endless, from coast to coast and points in between.

So where should a family stay in Dover to enjoy all this beauty and fun? Check out my review of Wallett's Court.

Disclosure: Visit Kent helped to arrange our stay in Dover, including passes to Dover Castle. All opinions are my own.