One of England's finest castles, this storybook medieval stronghold commands two small islands on a peaceful lake. Dating to the 9th century and rebuilt by the Normans in 1119, Leeds (not to be confused with the city in the north of England) became a favorite home of many medieval English queens. Henry VIII liked it so much he had it converted from a fortress into a grand palace. The interior doesn't match the glories of the much-photographed exterior, although there are fine paintings and furniture, including many pieces from the 20th-century refurbishment by the castle's last private owner, Lady Baillie. The outside attractions are more impressive and include a maze, a grotto, two adventure playgrounds, an aviary of native and exotic birds, and woodland gardens. The castle is 5 miles east of Maidstone. All tickets are valid for a year and there's a 10% discount if you buy them online.
A20, Maidstone, ME17 1PL, England