We visited in November as a family. It was a bit chilly but still great fun visiting the site. We stayed at a B&B in town and could easily walk to the castle, saving on the car park fee. The castle has a number of offers if you buy online, have vouchers from the tourist office or supermarkets, or are English Heritage members, so check before you visit.
We chose to get tickets to just the castle and grounds, as we have a small child and didn't think that the added attractions were child appropriate. The castle itself is gorgeous and very photogenic, especially upon arrival. There is a nice playground on the left as you enter. It's not ideal in rainy weather but would be nice with slides and climbing areas in fairer weather.
Inside the castle, we visited the great hall room, which had interesting armor and staff who would let us try holding swords and the like for a fun photo. We could also visit several rooms, which had a vast array of paintings and portraits, as well as furniture and even some wax sculptures (after all, this castle is owned by Madame Tussaud's group).
There is a tower for children which has periodic story readings. We queued for the reading, which was up a spiral staircase and in a specially designed room. The story lasted just 15 min and was designed for small children. Our son seemed to enjoy. It was a mix of fairy tales and had a 'talking picture' which was a clever touch. Everyone could take a 'pea' home to test under their mattresses.
We climbed the castle walls, which were indeed a lot of steps with no early exit, so be forewarned. It's not for anyone with limited mobility. But the views are excellent and worth the effort. There is a particularly nice view of the Tudor houses just outside the castle. We also climbed the mound area, which had fabulous views of the gardens. We didn't stroll through the gardens as the weather was damp, but it looks like it would be lovely in the summer. There is also a trebuchet on display.
All in all, we spent just over 3 hours at the castle. If you want to add on the extra fee areas and the gardens, as well as lunch, it would be easy to spend all day here. We enjoyed the visit and would recommend it.
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