A beautiful, yet underrated countryside town, Luton lies on 30 miles (48.2 km) north of the capital city, London. Instead of crowded streets bustling with tourists and endless traffic, you instead get the quiet bliss of this countryside town. Overcome with beautiful parks, such as Wardown Park with its enriching history, or Whipsnade Tree Cathedral with its fascinating architecture, you’ll truly feel like you’re in another world when you come to this quaint town. Priding itself on its beautiful natural havens, you can still enjoy a fun evening out at the Luton Library Theatre where you can watch high quality performances, on a romantic date or as family time with your children! Check out the best things to do in Luton for a fun and memorable trip.
1. Barton Hills National Nature Reserve
The first on the list is Barton Hills National Nature Reserve, situated near Barton-le-Clay, approximately 5.5 miles (8.8 km) north of Luton. This natural haven provides ample hiking opportunities across its vast 291.5 acres (118 hectares)! This place has lush greenery, fauna, particularly the rare pasque flower, and great photography spots! Home to natural springs that you can drink from, and some beautiful horses, it is best to come in spring and summer, as everything is in bloom. On a clear, sunny day, you’ll be able to get stunning views across Bedfordshire! The parking can be tricky, but you should be able to find free parking close by.
Address: Barton le Clay SG5 3JN
Website: Barton Hills
2. Wrest Park
A perfect place for dog walkers and families with small children, Wrest Park covers 92 acres (37 hectares) in the Bedfordshire countryside and is run by English Heritage, as the country estate encompasses the gorgeous Grade I listed building at its centre. With plenty of wildlife to interact with and photograph, the gardens are a beautifully maintained haven that you can spend the whole day exploring, with its various pathways, and burn off some energy! The house itself is beautiful, and puts on various events such as live re-enactments, crafting fairs, storytelling, food fairs, and house tours, having something for everyone!
Address: Wrest Park, Silsoe, Bedfordshire MK45 4HR
Prices: 10.40 GBP (13 USD) and 6.20 GBP (8 USD) for children under 15
Opening hours: Mon to Sun: 10 am to 6 pm
Website: Wrest Park
3. Wardown Park
Seen as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Luton’s parks, Wardown Park is a spectacular park, with its lush greens, boating lake, and fountains. It also has an interesting history, with a rare combination of Victorian and Edwardian features; it has been listed as a Grade II Historic Park under the English Registry. Not only is the scenery stunning, but it has its own museum and library that you can go to, plus a wonderful cafe to relax while the kids take advantage of the well-maintained play area! Completely free to enter and open all day, you can easily spend a day out at this gorgeous and historic park!
Address: Luton LU2 7HA
Opening hours: 24 hours
Website: Wardown Park
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4. Stockwood Park
Once a stately home (1740- 1964), this beautiful period garden today is a fascinating park open to public use. It was once a walled vegetable garden and has been strikingly transformed into a lush green paradise. This entire space is occupied by the Victorian garden, a knot garden and also a mesmerising cottage garden. The landscape has been tastefully done by Ian Hamilton and it consists of a sculpture which makes it the main attraction in Stockwood Park. He has also designed an Improvement Garden which is a classic beauty with sculptures as its integral part.
Address: London Rd, Luton LU1 4LX
Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 7 am - 7 pm
Website: Stockwood Park
5. Shaw's Corner
The home belongs to the famous George Bernard Shaw, an Irish playwright, political activist, and one of the first writers to ever use satirical humour to challenge the inequalities and injustice in society. By the end of his life, he had written nearly 60 plays and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1926. He was said to have been the most photographed man in the world during his lifetime from 1856-1950. Now protected under the National Trust, you can come and explore his beautiful Hertfordshire house at an affordable rate. Almost perfectly preserved, you can see what it was like to live in the early 20th century, with the added decoration of priceless artefacts!
Address: Bibbs Hall Ln, Ayot St Lawrence, Welwyn AL6 9BX
Prices: 7.75 GBP(10 USD) for adults and 3.85 GBP(5 USD) for children
Opening hours: Wednesday - Sunday: 12 pm - 5 pm
Website: Shaw’s Corner
6. Luton Library Theatre
Originally opened in 1962 as a lecture theatre, it gradually changed into a performance theatre. Known for being a small, intimate theatre, it has provided an amazing range of high-quality performances, from small amateur groups to nationally famous companies! Under-going a major refurbishment in 2009, the Luton Library Theatre now has more modern seating, improvements to the front and an entirely new cafe! Showcasing traditional plays like The Tempest by William Shakespeare, to unique performances like ‘The Wind in the Willows: A Folk Opera’, it has something for everyone and has constantly impressed visitors with its amazing shows!
Luton Library Theatre
Address: Luton Central Library, St George’s Square, Luton LU1 2NG
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 11 am - 6 pm
Website: Luton Library Theatre
7. Someries Castle
This Scheduled Ancient Monument is situated near Luton and was built in the 15th century. Apparently its creator, Sir John Wenlock, still haunts the ruins of Someries Castle to this day. What makes Someries Castle special is that it is regarded as one of the first brick houses in England! After setting up an appointment to see this ancient (and possibly haunted) castle, you can easily catch a train from Luton, as there is restricted park, and only partially wheelchair accessible as you have to walk down a farm track to reach it. The extra effort is worth it to see the inside of this spooky abode!
Address: Someries, 81 Someries Cottages, Someries, Luton LU2 9PL
Opening hours: Open through appointment bookings
Website: Someries Castle
8. St. Mary's Church
Although it has been restored and refurbished many times over the centuries, St. Mary’s Church is over 850 years old and is considered one of the finest examples of medieval architecture in England! Other parts of the church have been added later, such as the bell tower being added at the beginning of the 20th century. Many visitors have praised it for its beautiful stonework and warm and friendly atmosphere. The church does not have any official opening hours, but a look on their website will show you what days it is available to enter.
Address: Church Office, Church St, Luton LU1 3JF
Website: St.Mary’s Church
9. Woodside Animal Farm
Woodside Animal Farm is one of the best attractions for young kids in Luton. Coming here you can interact with a wide range of animals, such as owls, pigs, lizards and monkeys! If you go onto their website you can even see cute little biographies of some of their most popular furry residents! They also sport a nice cafe and a farm shop, where you can go and buy fresh eggs straight from the chicken coop, handmade jams and chutney, cakes and biscuits! An amazing day out here will only set you back. Don’t miss out on the fun play areas, the lovely gardens and best of them all, the cute animals!
Woodside Animal Farm
Address: Woodside Rd, Slip End, Luton LU1 4DG
Prices: 7 GBP (USD 9) for adults and children over 2
Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 9 am - 5:30 pm (high season), 9 am - 5:00 pm (low season)
Website: Woodside Animal Farm
10. Whipsnade Tree Cathedral
The Whipsnade Tree Cathedral is one of the more unique sites on this list. Although it may not look like it from ground level, the Whipsnade Tree Cathedral was designed in such a way as to resemble a medieval cathedral. The idea was formed by a WW1 veteran, Edmund Blythe, who wanted to commemorate the friends he lost in the war. Inspired by the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral in the 1930s, Blythe said he looked at the light coming through the trees on his drive him, and the image of the Tree Cathedral formed in his mind. Although delayed by the Second World War, the Whipsnade Tree Cathedral has been beautifully maintained since the 1950s and many find it a unique experience!
Whipsnade Tree Cathedral
Address: Sallowsprings, Whipsnade, Dunstable LU6 2LQ
Opening hours: October - January: 9 am - 4 pm, March - October: 9 am - 7pm
Website: Whipsnade Tree Cathedral
The English countryside
Luton is the perfect place for a quiet weekend away, if you’re the kind to unwind with a nice stroll through the beautiful gardens, admiring the architecture of the past, or seeing what its like to live on the other side, then Luton will hold a special place in your heart. Although many people find their fun in loud concerts, or packed cities, the astounding beauty of the natural world can also have a profound effect on your well-being. You’ll come away from this holiday feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world!
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