20 Muddy-approved attractions in Bucks
From the big-beast tourist destinations to our cool insider alternatives, read on for our pick of 20 unmissable attractions in Buckinghamshire.
Headliner: Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes
You’ll know Bletchley as the home of the code breakers in WWII, which means there are plenty of on-site museums, exhibitions and codebreaking huts to explore. Have the littlies with you? There’s an outdoor playgrounds for kids, plus you can pick up a Top Secret Mission Pack at the front desk for an extra quid. Pre-booking is essential.
In-the-know intel: Claydon, near Middle Claydon
There aren’t many places where you can lay on a bed owned by Florence Nightingale, but Aylesbury locals are lucky enough to have the 18th century grandeur of Claydon on their patch. As well as admiring the jaw-dropping interiors and rolling lawns, you can find out more about Florence Nightingale’s involvement with the Verney family (she had her own suite of rooms at Claydon) and explore the museum rooms for a little local history. The house hasn’t yet been reopened, but we have our fingers crossed for next year.
Headliner: Odds Farm Park, High Wycombe
There’s so much on at this High Wycombe farm that you might struggle to get round it in one day! There are animals galore, naturally (to the tune of pigs, cows, goats, sheep and more), as well as a mini golf course, outdoor play area, a Halloween pumpkin patch for autumn and drive-in movie nights. Pre-booking essential.
In-the-know intel: Kew Little Pigs, Amersham
Prepare yourself for mega-cuteness. Micro-pig breeder Olivia and her team are the geniuses behind Kew Little Pigs, a farm in Amersham that gives you hands-on experiences such as Pet and Play and Mini-Pig Keeping. You can even (whisper it) buy your own pig. Pre-booking essential.
Headliner: The Hand and Flowers, Marlow
You can’t mention foodie haunts in Bucks without Tom Kerridge’s name popping up – to be expected when you run the country’s only pub with two Michelin stars. Surprisingly unfussy and down-to-earth, The Hand and Flowers draws gastropub-loving tourists from far and wide. One drawback is that reservations often get snapped up months in advance, but if you’re stuck head to Kerridge’s other pub The Coach, down the road – still a Michelin star and, refreshingly, a walk-in policy.
In-the-know intel: Artichoke, Amersham
For a Michelin-starred alternative to Kerridge’s Marlow stranglehold, Artichoke in the heart of Old Amersham is a worthy alternative. Ranked in the Top 50 UK Restaurants Good Food Guide 2020 and with Raymond Blanc as a fan, it’s still strangely under the radar – lucky you, you might get a table!
Headliner: Cliveden, Taplow
Did you know that Bucks has more National Trust properties than any other county? Buckinghamshire and Berkshire fight over who ‘owns’ Cliveden (it’s right on the border – we’re taking it!), but either way it’s worth a visit to this stunning country house hotel and spa. There’s a stunning walk that takes you from a National Trust car park up to Cliveden via the Thames, that little legs can do too,
In-the-know intel: West Wycombe Park, High Wycombe
Fancy a country day out? Hotfoot it to West Wycombe for a Palladian stately home, 45 acres of landscaped parkland, a 16th century village and an Iron Age hilfort overlooking it all. While the house and park haven’t yet reopened (*sob*), you can still explore this untouched, much-filmed village for quaint shops, pubs and eateries, or pack a picnic and trek up to the top of West Wycombe Hill for excellent views and a nose around the Dashwood Mausoleum.
Headliner: Bekonscot Model Village, Beaconsfield
There’s something strangely alluring about a model village (I think it’s all the tiny miniature trees lined up in neat rows), and Bekonscot in Beaconsfield is the oldest and arguably the best around, having opened in 1929. There are 200 teeny buildings to peek into, 450 metres of working miniature railway and a tea room for when the excitement gets too much.
In-the-know intel: Rush Trampoline Park, High Wycombe
With 100 wall-to-wall trampolines, Rush is the perfect spot for wearing out energetic children. There are dedicated areas and sessions for toddlers and a soft play area that opened this year, while bigger kids can blitz through the assault course, wipeout zones and extreme dodgeball courts. And yes, there’s a mezzanine café for you to sit sedately while the madness unfolds around you!
Headliner: The Spa at Stoke Park, Stoke Poges
This five-star spa ranked as one of Vanity Fair‘s Must-Visit Spas in the World as well as being the Muddy Award winner for Best Day Spa in 2019, so it’s well worth a day trip if you’re in South Bucks. Take a load off and lounge in the indoor heated swimming pool, Italian marble steam rooms and outdoor Scandinavian sauna and hot tub (perhaps with a glass of fizz for afters). The state-of-the-art gym has just had another facelift too and looks mighty pretty.
In-the-know intel: Bodhi Tree Spa, Chalfont St Peter
Squirrelled away in the leafy village of Chalfont St Peter, this day spa proves that glamorous things can come in small packages. Treat yourself to an Elemis facial or body treatment, a CND mani/pedi and then finish off with a spot of fine dining at on-site restaurants, The Lytton and The Langton. From November when it reopens a strong contender for local-intel champ will be the marble-laden Langley Hotel spa in Iver, South Bucks.
Headliner: Willen Lake, Milton Keynes
This Milton Keynes must-do is packed with family activities, from wakeboarding and water sports to treetop adventures and archery. In the mood for something slightly more sedate? While away a Sunday afternoon with their 4-mile figure-of-eight walk, or enjoy the views from their brand new Willen Observation Wheel, which stands at a whopping 36 metres tall.
In-the-know intel: Longridge Activity Centre, Marlow
For water sports on the banks of the Thames, Longridge has you covered. This outward bounds charity specialises in canoeing and kayaking, but there are activities for kids on dry land too such as bushcraft and laser mazes. If you’re after school holiday helpers, this is a Muddy go-to.
Headliner: Stowe, nr Buckingham
This is unmissable! With 750 acres of parklands, ornamental lakes and over 40 temples and follies of all shapes and sizes, Stowe is gardening on the grandest of scales. You might not be able to visit the house quite yet, but the landscape more than make up for it. Pack and picnic and take the dog. Pre-booking essential.
In-the-know intel: Turn End, Haddenham
These gorgeous gardens hold a special place in our hearts, as it’s where the first-ever Muddy Awards drinks were held! Designed and built by world-famous architect Peter Aldington, Turn End’s garden is small but beautifully-formed, with courtyards, pools and garden rooms around every corner. While the visiting season is over for 2020, keep your eyes on their events page to see when you can drop by in 2021.
Headliner: thecentre:mk, Milton Keynes
There are plenty of shopping centres in Bucks, but thecentre:mk is one of the biggest. The massive courtyards (both inside and out) are often home to displays, fairs and food markets – at the moment you’ll find global street food – and after your retail therapy you can always pop over to the Theatre district over the road for a spot of culture.
In-the-know intel: Marlow
If you prefer a traipse up and down a traditional high street rather than a shopping centre, then get thee to Marlow for an excellent mix of high street hits and indie boutiques. If you get worn out flashing the credit card, there are plenty of coffee shops and eateries to recharge in too. Amersham is a 15 minute drive and a worthy contender too – it lacks the river but just nicks it for fashion boutiques over its more famous rival.
Headliner: Roald Dahl Museum, Great Missenden
Buckinghamshire is Roald Dahl county, as the pretty village of Great Missenden is where the author lived and wrote many of his best-loved books (fun fact – granddaughter Sophie Dahl is still in the area, along with husband Jamie Cullum). The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre is a must-visit for those with 6 to 12 year-olds, and the three galleries and original writer’s hut are more than enough for an afternoon’s diversion.
In-the-know intel: Amersham Museum, Amersham
If you’re staying in the area (or you’re a local with a little free time on your hands), then Amersham Museum gives an intriguing insight into the history of the town. After its recent overhaul a few years ago, the museum is more welcoming than ever, and features a peaceful herb garden packed with medicinal plants. Pre-booking advised.