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10 Good Reasons to Visit Maidstone

PUBLISHED: 16:35 14 December 2010 | UPDATED: 17:52 20 February 2013

10 Good Reasons to Visit Maidstone

10 Good Reasons to Visit Maidstone

From the bustle of its shopping centres to the peaceful parks and restaurants, Maidstone is a town steeped in political history, crowned with splendid medieval buildings whose beauty can rival any in Britain

10 Good Reasons to Visit Maidstone


From the bustle of its shopping centres to the peaceful parks and restaurants, Maidstone is a town steeped in political history, crowned with splendid medieval buildings whose beauty can rival any in Britain


The River Medway


Popular with fishermen, wildlife, walkers and sports people, the Medway is the life flow of Maidstone. Stroll along the banks and enjoy watching swans and moorhens glide past. See canoeists, rowers, divers and river cruise boats all using the waterway. For a laid-back river experience, the Kentish Lady cruise boat (01622 753740 or 07973 866971) meanders from the Archbishops Palace to Allington Lock and glimpses of historic Allington Castle are a highlight. The annual river festival attracts hundreds of boats with live entertainment and market stalls lining the river. The Sandling to Teston Millennium Park River Walk takes in all the sights over 10km and as you walk, the town gives way to stunning countryside culminating at beautiful Teston Country Park. Join the walking trails at several spots including the Malta Inn and Archbishops Palace. If starting at the centre of town, park in the Lockmeadow complex.


Medieval Maidstone


Maidstone has the largest collection of medieval buildings in one place in the whole UK. All Saints Church, Archbishops Palace (ME15 6YE), Priests College, Corpus Christi, Bank Street and Gabriels Hill are just some of its historic jewels and with many buildings still standing from the 1600s - surviving the Battle of Maidstone in 1648 - local tour guide Carol Vizzards advice is Always look up! When you do, you see past the shop fronts and take in beamed buildings, date plaques and carved statues. Nearest car park is in Palace Avenue.


Fremlin Walk


Opened in 2005, Fremlin Walk (01622 356580) has created a whole new shopping experience for Maidstone, providing our county town with some of the best high street and designer shopping, headed up by House of Fraser store and including a new Apple store. We hear that designer jeweller Pandora also has plans to open at the Walk. The shopping parade often holds Italian and French food markets, childrens entertainment and events such as catwalk shows. With several coffee shops and onsite parking for 750 cars, the relaxed, pedestrianised area is a firm retail favourite. Enter the multi-storey car park from the A229 or park in Earl Street.


Mote Park


Well known for its boating lake and swans, Mote Park (01622 602169) is popular destination with families. It boasts a miniature railway, childrens play area, pitch and putt, caf and vast expanse of parkland with picnic tables. Every year it is the venue for many family events and Cancer Researchs Race for Life and in 2008 BBC Radio 1 held its 1 Big Weekend, featuring stars like Madonna, The Kooks and Lily Allen. The leisure centre (01622 672462) next to the park includes a gym, fitness and swimming facilities. Entrance on Mote Avenue. On-site parking available.


Maidstone Museum


One of only a handful of typeholding institutions in Britain, the museum (01622 602 838) is housed in a beautiful Elizabethan manor house currently being extended. Once finished, there will be room for ethnic art pieces, Napoleons chair and, among others, a collection of Anglo Saxon fluted metal bracelets. The Museum runs educational programmes and tours of the town. Discover ancient Egypt, fine art, biology, ethnography, costume and archaeology in the current exhibitions. Based in St. Faith Street, nearest car park is Fremlin Walk. Free entry.


Whatman Park.


This 188-acre site run by the Maidstone Borough Council boasts a riverside open air performance area. The park is part of the Millennium River Park and links up to the river walks, creating easy access to both sides of the river. A popular place for picnics, it has a woodland and wildflower meadow, treetop walkway, skate park and activity play areas and is open from dawn to dusk. Off of St. Peters Street, the park is easily accessible on foot from Brenchley Gardens via the ring road overpass. For drivers, park in the town centre or James Whatman Way, by The White Rabbit pub. The Kentish Lady stops at Whatman Park by request.


Earl Street


For dining out in Maidstone, there is no other street which gives you such choice. Whether you want Italian, Mexican, Spanish or American food this is the place to come. Restaurants include Zizzis, La Tasca, Prezzo and Nandos, delivering good food at reasonable prices. The street itself is aesthetically pleasing with a number of cultural buildings including The Hazlitt Theatre and Broughton House, former home of Andrew Broughton, clerk of the court at the High Court of Justice during the trial of King Charles I. Broughton delivered the death sentence for the doomed King. Earl Street is a turning off of the A229 ring road.


Hazlitt Theatre and Arts Centre.


Opened in 1955, the theatre in Earl Street is a traditional proscenium arch seating 353. Named after the essayist William Hazlitt who lived locally, the theatre and arts centre have joined forces and offer a variety of entertainment. Octobers diary includes Pete Firman, Marty Wilde and the Wildcats, Mark Maier and Sean Walsh, Bon Jovi Experience, Sherlock HolmesThe Last Act and the Hazlitt Youth Theatre present Thirteen. This elegant theatre is a part of the community well worth a visit (01622 758611).


Fortify Caf


As the first vegetarian and vegan eatery in Maidstone, Fortify Caf (32 High Street, ME14 1JF, 01622 670 533) has created a buzz since it opened in April 2009. A finalist in the Kent Restaurant Awards 2009, it has a reputation for good home-cooked food loved by everyone not just vegetarians! Founded by Simon Hooper, Fortify is an independent coffee shop rivalling the big names and it also supports local independents by selling their produce including Biddenden wines and Chegworth Valley juices. Nearest parking off Union Street.


Leeds Castle


Leeds Castle (01622 765400) is a beautiful local landmark set within 500 acres that includes mazes, falconry shows, an aviary, knights of the realm play area, woodlands, vast gardens, a craft centre, shop, restaurant, golf course, dog collar museum, hot air balloon rides and Go Ape, where you get to zip through the tree tops. The 900-year-old castle grounds play host to a series of events, from live music to firework displays. Having been lovingly restored by Lady Baillie, the castle is open to the public to enjoy. Just off junction 8 off of the M20. Open all year round with parking on site. Coach shuttle service available from Bearsted train station.


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