Milton Keynes is relatively fresh on the block – last year marked 50 years since it was designated a "new city" and, just now, the best things to do in Milton Keynes are gaining notoriety. Technically of course, Milton Keynes is a town, and it’s one of the fastest growing ones in Britain. Built in the 1960s to ease London’s housing congestion, it is perfectly equidistant from London, Birmingham, Leicester, Oxford and Cambridge. It was estimated in 2013 to accommodate roughly 255,700 residents. So what’s the 411 on sometime-mocked Milton Keynes? Apart from the famous concrete cows, and arguably excessive use of roundabouts, this town has plenty to offer. Here’s our round up of the best things to do in Milton Keynes.
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Best things to do in Milton Keynes
What is it? Bletchley Park was the central site for British codebreakers during World War II.
Why go? Bletchley Park has a pretty fascinating history, once housing the Government Code and Cypher School. It played a significant role in World War II, breaking German, Italian and Japanese naval codes, as well as providing intelligence vital to the Allies’ land battles. Today, Bletchley Park hosts a variety of different exhibitions and events (many are free with admission). Whether you fancy throwing yourself into a swing dance competition or learning about cyber security, there’s a quirky itinerary to pick and choose from. Look out for their 1940s-themed Christmas Grotto, which takes over Bletchley Park’s library every December.
What is it? Located in Milton Keynes’s Willen Lake, Treetop Extreme is the UK’s biggest high rope adventure course in the UK.
Why go? With four zip wires, over 50 obstacles, and a 13 metre free-fall simulation, Treetop Extreme is the best way to enjoy the surrounding scenery of Willen Lake. Booking is recommended, though you can show up on the day - tickets cost from £16. For those water sport fans, the park also features an impressive wakeboard and waterski centre.
What is it? A real indoor snow ski slope.
Why go? You might not have thought that hitting the slopes would be possible in Milton Keynes, but thanks to Snozone, it surely is. If you’re limbering up ahead of a skiing holiday it’s a great place to practice. If you’re bored out of your mind on a drizzly Sunday, it’s a great place to cheer yourself up. Carb-heavy refreshments come courtesy of The Alpine Lodge. Prices start from £34.99 per person for ski/snowboarding lessons.
What is it? Another one for those thrill seekers, try indoor skydiving at iFLY.
Why go? Fancy bowling, catching a movie, or, um, skydiving? At Xscape those are all possibilities. We vote skydiving – iFLY currently has three locations across the UK, including this one in Milton Keynes. Open until 11pm every night, packages cost from £29.99.
What is it? Caldecotte Lake (famous thanks to the discovery of a fossilised dinosaur skeleton thought to be 150 million years old which was discovered during an excavation), is something of a sanctuary for wildlife in Milton Keynes.
Why go? Whether you fancy a lakeside picnic or a steak lunch at The Caldecotte pub nearby, this park provides a scenic escape from those roundabouts. The ‘MK Festival of Nature’ comprises different monthly events, like guided walks. Head to Milton Keynes Central Library afterwards if you want to see the dinosaur.
What is it? A museum recording the history of Milton Keynes.
Why go? In 1973 Milton Keynes residents started collecting valuable or interesting items found in the factories and farms being shut down to make room for new developments. These were stored in a Victorian farm, which later became Milton Keynes Museum. With a full programme of events, this museum is one for the nostalgia lovers – think themed Victorian, 40s, 50s or 60s weekends complete with live music and vintage clothing and car displays. Adult tickets are £9.
What is it? A flower farm and garden specialising in flowers you arrange yourself.
Why go? Any flower enthusiast enjoys sniffing out a good local florist, so being able to explore a cutting garden is pretty much as exciting as it gets. Owners Zoe and Neil offer tours and different workshops including – you guessed it – a DIY wedding flowers course. Prices start at £35.
What is it? MK Food Fest came about when three keen Milton Keynes-based food producers teamed up to promote local artisan fare.
Why go? Every September MKFoodFest offers places for local caterers, farmers market stall holders, craft food and drink producers and chefs to celebrate the local grub scene. Not for profit, the festival is generally held within the leafy grounds of Linford Manor Park, and there is no admission fee. What’s not to love? A wholesome day out, encouragement to eat locally and a decent lunch all in one.
What is it? MK Gallery is a public gallery with constantly changing contemporary, visual exhibitions.
Why go? Big things are happening for MK Gallery. Having recently partnered up with Tate, the space is set to reopen with doubled exhibition space, facilities for cinema, performances and events, dedicated education and community resources and a new cafe. Think Friday Film Nights, Saturday Live Music and ‘MK Geek Nights’ (for those who want to mull over web design, technology and ‘general geekery’ with a cold beer in hand). Better yet, admission is free.