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Ten good reasons to visit Maidstone

PUBLISHED: 11:52 24 August 2009 | UPDATED: 16:12 20 February 2013

The Archbishop's Palace on the banks of the Medway

The Archbishop's Palace on the banks of the Medway

There is so much to see and do in and around our historic county town, from lapping up its history, cuisine, art and theatre to taking a river cruise, going shopping and a enjoying a free multi-cultural festival at Mote Park this month...


There is so much to see and do in and around our historic county town, from lapping up its history, cuisine, art and theatre to taking a river cruise, going shopping and a enjoying a free multi-cultural festival at Mote Park this month...



Historic walks


Recapture the atmosphere of days gone by in Maidstone by taking one of the free guided Historic Walks around the town, held on the third Saturday of each month during the summer. Alternatively, guide yourself by using the informative walking tour leaflet available from the Town Hall visitor information centre, which leads you through 22 places of interest.



Works of art


The Maidstone Museum & Bentliff Art Gallery in St Faith's Street has an impressive display of local history items, plus one of the finest collections of Japanese art in the UK. On the other side of town in Mill Street, the Carriage Museum houses the Tyrwhitt-Drake collection of carriages and other transports. Housed in the medieval stables of the Archbishop's Palace, the collection is the best of its kind in Europe.



Cruising down the river


You can get a different perspective of Maidstone and the surrounding countryside by taking a cruise from the Millennium River Park down the River Medway aboard The Kentish Lady or Allington Belle. Stop off at Kent Life (no relation, formerly The Museum of Kent Life!), a family attraction based around the county's history. There are discovery trails, indoor and outdoor play areas and animals for the kids to cuddle. The river boats also offer evening picnic cruises.



Open spaces


Stroll along the six miles of riverside paths in the Millennium River Park or alternatively take advantage of the facilities in the 500-acre Mote Park. Here you will find walking and cycling trails, mini golf, a play area and café. There are also rowing boats for hire on a large lake. Mote Park hosts events throughout the year and from 11-13 September, it will be the scene of Mela, a multi-cultural festival including music, skills and international food. Entrance is free.



Water music


The River Medway flows like a lifeblood through Maidstone. In the past the river was used to transport goods to London and was also used in its former brewing, building stone, wool and paper making industries. Its historical significance is now celebrated during July with a family oriented River Festival featuring a fun fair, boat procession and a raft race, before finishing with a firework display.



Curtain raisers


The town theatre and former corn exchange have combined to form the Hazlitt Arts Centre in East Street. Between them they offer a vast range of drama, ballet and musical productions plus fringe festivals.



Drink in the atmosphere


Being a major town with a brewing tradition there is never going to be a shortage of places to eat and drink in Maidstone. There are plenty of pubs and bars to choose from plus an eclectic mix of restaurants and cafés with cuisines to satisfy all tastes and budgets. The area around Earl Street has become one of the popular centres for dining and two new restaurants have just opened offering Italian and Argentinean menus. At many you can enjoy the café culture of sitting outside and watching the world go by.




Trading places


Shoppers are spoilt for choice. Grab a bargain at one of the major chains based in the Broadway, Royal Star Arcade, Chequers or Fremlin Walk, built on the site of the old brewery, or go hunting for a special gift at one of the specialist and independent stores in places like Week Street and Union Street. Being a market town, there is a market every Tuesday and Saturday with more than 100 stalls at the Lockmeadow complex, which is also home to a cinema and nightclub.



Sporting life


Fishing, canoeing and other water-based activities can be enjoyed around the River Medway. And there are more water sports and swimming at the Mote Park Leisure Centre, which has a leisure lagoon, two flumes, diving pit and a 25m fitness pool. There's also a pool at the local David Lloyd Centre, but if you prefer to keep your feet dry, take advantage of the gym and spa facilities. For golfers there are numerous courses close to the town.



An Englishman's home...


Visitors to the Maidstone area should make time to visit Leeds Castle. The fortification, which dates back to 1119, is set on two islands and is surrounded by 500 acres of parkland. Inside there is a mixture of period features and art deco; outside, wander through an aviary, maze, special gardens and a play area, or try tree swinging adventure with 'Go Ape'.



Getting there


The M20 (Jct 6 exit) runs parallel to the A20 which passes through the town centre. From the south, use the A229. Southeastern rail stations are: Maidstone East and West, Maidstone Barracks and there are regular bus services.


Staying there: accommodation to suit all budgets in and around Maidstone, from B&B farmhouses to the Marriott Tudor Park Hotel in the satellite village of Bearsted, which also has its own golf course.


Sat nav for Maidstone:


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