16 Muddy approved attractions in Cambs
From the big-beast tourist destinations to our cool insider alternatives, read on for our pick of 16 unmissable attractions in Cambridgeshire.
Headliner: Wimpole Hall and Home Farm
Fancy taking a look round the largest house in Cambridgeshire? Wimpole Hall is an absolute stunner of a stately home in Wimpole between Cambridge and Royston. It’s a National Trust house now, and it has recently had a real facelift with new visitor facilities, car parks and toilets, so it’s a guaranteed good day out. It’s not just the house that’ll impress. Make time to explore the stunning and vast gardens and kids will love the Home Farm, where you can get up close and personal with pigs, chickens, horses, sheep, cows and bunnies, plus enjoy regular farming demos.
In-the-know intel: Oliver Cromwell’s House, Ely
Here’s a good quiz fact for you: Oliver Cromwell was born in Huntingdon, attended Sidney Sussex College at Cambridge Uni and lived for a large part of his life in Ely. His family home is still standing proud in Ely and is a lovely place to visit. There’s a Civil War Exhibition, you can try on costumes and play games from the period, and take part in an augmented reality trail.
We’re very lucky to have our very own IWM in Cambs, which is home to some incredibly historic planes and regularly hosts impressive air shows. Not content with just looking at these magnificent machines? You can get a slice of the action either in the simulator or up in the skies with a whole range of different airborne activities, from on site flight experience provider Classic Wings. If you’ve got a head for heights you can choose anything from a flying lesson in a Tiger Moth to a passenger flight experience in an actual Spitfire. The sky is the limit!
In-the-know-intel: Ride Leisure Aqua Park
Just south of St Neots, on the border with Beds is Ride Leisure Aqua Park in Wyboston. This action-packed activity is all about making a complete fool out of yourself on an inflatable course,Total Wipeout style – this one can accommodate up to 100 people at a time, so you’re guaranteed a captive audience too. If you’d prefer not to look like a right wally, you can try your hand at some more skill-based water sports here too – water skiing, wakeboarding, jetlev, jet surf and jet skiing.
Headliner: Midsummer House, Cambridge
Cambridge’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, but it’s a good’un. Chef-owner Daniel Clifford has run this beautiful two-Michelin-starred riverside restaurant for over 20 years, but keeps moving with the times, so no visit is ever the same. Dishes are inspired by his travels and vegetarians will be delighted to know that meat-free dishes are given just as much thought and creativity as the rest of the menu. The setting is divine too, perfect for a post-lunch or dinner stroll along the Cam.
In-the-know-intel: Cambridge Cookery
This is a local favourite tucked down a side street, so tourists don’t often just stumble across it. It’s not simply a restaurant, although you can just head here for lunch for a taste of the modern and mouth-watering food, which is all home-made from the finest, locally-sourced and sustainable ingredients, all with a strong Scandinavian and Italian influence. Cambridge Cookery is also an award-winning cookery school, and on Friday evenings you can enjoy a tipple or two in the wine bar, while Saturday evenings often see acclaimed chefs hosting pop-up supper clubs, where tickets sell out faster than hotcakes.
Headliner: Elemis Spa at The Varsity Hotel
A spa with a riverside view? Don’t mind if we do. While Cambs doesn’t have any large destination spas to write home about, The Varsity Hotel’s offering is a perfect place to while away a day, with Elemis treatments and relaxation spaces including this lovely hot tub overlooking the River Cam and the historic colleges. Spa days here include lunch in the panoramic SIX restaurant and you can finish the experience off nicely with cocktails at the stunning rooftop bar.
In-the-know-intel: Sandpiper Pool & Private Spa, Somersham
Now this spa suggestion really is an in-the-know number, and we’re almost reluctant to let on about it. Sandpiper is a private spa in Somersham. Yes, you heard right – a private spa. Meaning when you book a treatment or spa day you get the entire place, including this pool, an outdoor jacuzzi, a snow room, a sauna etc. all to yourselves. Sounds like you need an A-lister bank balance to afford such luxuries right? Not so, the prices here are incredibly reasonable. Ssssh don’t tell everyone.
Headliner: Linton Zoo Conservation Park
Cambs is home to rather a lot of wild animals when you consider we have Shepreth Wildlife Park, Hamerton Zoo and Linton Zoo to choose from. All are great days out, but Linton is the largest and has some really standout wildlife sights like snow leopards, lions, tigers and giant tortoises. There’s even a section for dinosaur lovers (not the real things obvs!). You can also book in for keeper experiences when you get to feed to animals and feel like a real zoologist for the day.
In-the-know-intel: Skylark Maize Maze & Fun Yard
Skylark Garden Centre is so much more than just a place to buy plants. In summer the gardeners create an amazing Maize Maze to get lost in with a design that changes every year (think The BFG, a giant T Rex and in 2020 a massive deduction to the NHS). There’s also an impressive play area, tractor rides, pig racing, go karting, a jumping pillow, bouncy castle, den building and a beach area complete with food outlets. After September there’s a halloween themed maze and lots of activities to match like pumpkin carving, a grotto at Christmas and lamb-feeding at Easter. Phew, that’ll wear them out.
Headliner: Punting on the River Cam with Rutherfords
Have you even been to Cambridge if you haven’t been punting? This is the most popular activity and for good reason, the river is the best and only place to see the most beautiful sides of the Cambridge Colleges. There are loads of companies to choose from, but we love Rutherfords for their partnership with nearby Parker’s Tavern Restaurant, which means you can order freshly made sourdough pizza and drinks to enjoy as you glide down the river.
In-the-know intel: Fox Narrowboats
No need to navigate your way through the tourists on a punt in peak season if you’re happy to head out the city. The fens have mile upon mile of waterways to enjoy and narrow boating here is almost as popular as cycling is in the city centre! You can hire a canal boat for a day or longer if you want to experience sleeping over in one of these beautiful boats. Prefer to have someone do the hard work for you? CamBoats offer guided tours and public trips, skippered by an expert!
Headliner: Sacrewell Farm
Sacrewell Farm and Country Centre, just outside Peterborough has plenty to keep the kids entertained, with friendly farm animals to meet, outdoor spaces to discover, an area dedicated to all things tractor, a restored eighteenth century watermill and every parent’s nightmare, but every child’s dream – a large soft play centre! The farm also hosts lots of interesting workshops for older children like willow weaving, and wood work.
In-the-know-intel: Museum of Zoology, Cambridge
Don’t tell your kids you’re taking them to Cambridge University for a day out, as you’ll be met with groans. Little do they know how cool our amazing Uni can be though, especially the Museum of Zoology, which is the city’s slightly smaller answer to London’s Natural History Museum. The galleries showcase all the coolest animal skeletons and tell the story of the evolution of everything from marsupials to monkeys, mammoths to manatees.
Headliner: The Botanical Gardens, Cambridge
Cambridge’s Botanical Gardens are gorgeous at any time of year, although it has to be said they are particularly stunning in spring and summer. Lots of events take place within the grounds throughout the year too. The gardens feature more than 8,000 species of plants and trees including a descendant of the apple tree that helped Sir Isaac Newton develop his theory of gravity. There are also a couple of glass houses that are beautifully toasty on a cold day and are home to all sorts of exotic species.
In-the-know-intel: Chippenham Park Gardens
The best time to visit this stunner of a garden on the Cambs/ Suffolk border is in late winter when there are carpets of snowdrops and aconites in every direction. The gardens are award-winning and you can see why, they’re perfectly manicured and well kept with canals, park, woodland and formal gardens. There’s also a Potting Shed tearoom and plenty of walks to enjoy. Check when the gardens are open though, as there are only selected dates throughout the year.