Due to the cost of living crisis, I get quite a lot of requests for suggestions of free days out and attractions. Many of the free things to do in Staffordshire are historical attractions such as museums and old buildings. There’s also plenty to do outdoors, including the incredible Cannock Chase forest. Here, you’ll find activities for the whole family including the dog! You can also check out cost-free items in neighbouring counties in the following free activities guides:
Free things to do in Staffordshire: Burton Upon Trent
Branston Water Park (Burton upon Trent)
Part of the National Forest, Branston Water Park is a former gravel pit that now provides a home to many animals and plants. It contains Staffordshire’s largest reed bed. A small visitor centre, children’s play area and toilets make it an ideal place for a family day out and a picnic. A cafe is also available. The site is accessible for wheelchairs due to a level path around the whole area. Full information is available on the National Forest website.
Stapenhill Gardens (Burton upon Trent)
The woodland, open grassland and formal gardens of Stapenhill Gardens make it a community focal point and regular events are held there. Facilities include a play area, toilets (including accessible toilets), tarmac paths and picnic benches. Dogs are welcome and refreshments can be purchased from nearby shops. Full information and summer and winter opening hours available on the East Staffs council website.
Free things to do in Staffordshire: Cannock
Cannock Chase Forest (Cannock)
Generally accepted to be one of the best Free things to do in Staffordshire, Cannock Chase Forest Forestry England site is popular with walkers, dog owners and mountain bikers. There is a charge for parking but it is otherwise free to visit. There are additional activities that cost money but you can easily spend a day there without paying for more than parking, especially if you bring a mountain bike and a picnic. A children’s play area, dog activity trail, mountain bike skills courses and cycling tracks are just a few of the free activities on offer. Plenty of picnic areas are dotted around the place and there’s a cafe if you do want to buy food. Further information is available on the Forestry England website and you can read my review of a dog friendly family day out at Cannock Chase Forest.
Castle Ring (Cannock Chase)
The Iron Age Hill Fort at Castle Ring is over 2000 years old and forms the highest point on Cannock Chase. From the car park, the top of Castle Ring can be accessed up some steps. As well as boasting views across Beaudesert Old Park and Trent Valley, this makes a great starting point for longer walks around the area. Visitors are asked to keep to main paths to avoid disturbing rare species of dragonfly, butterfly and lizard. Full information is available on the Cannock Chase council website.
Chasewater reservoir and country park offer everything from adventurous water sports to nature trails and bird watching. Barbecues and picnics are allowed and there are some great cycling routes. Chasewater Innovation Centre is a source of visitor information and also hosts exhibitions of local artwork and children’s activities. A café serves light refreshments. Fees apply for water sports and to ride the heritage railway. Full information is available here.
Free things to do in Staffordshire: Leek
Cheddleton Flint Mill (Leek)
Cheddleton Flint Mill is a water mill that once ground flint to make pottery. These days, visitors can learn about the water mills and look around a museum period cottage, canal and other exhibits. Admission is free and donations are welcome. There is a charge for group visits when arranged by appointment outside of standard opening hours. The site is operated by volunteers so opening times vary. They try to make sure they’re open from midday to 4pm on Mondays and Wednesdays. Full information is available on the Flint Mill website.
Deep Hayes Country Park (Leek)
Located in a former industrial area, Deep Hayes Country Park now consists of woodland and meadows with pathways and pools. A visitor centre with information boards details walking routes and a bird hide is located near feeding stations and bird boxes. Free parking and toilets are available onsite. Full information is on the Woodland Trust website.
The Roaches (Leek)
The Roaches nature reserve is managed by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. It’s a popular place for walking and climbing and it’s dog friendly. Hillsides covered in heather, vast rock faces and an abundance of wildlife draw in thousands of visitors every year and it’s free to visit. The Roaches is a SSSI and a conservation area. The best panoramic views of the area are available from the top of the stone steps to the left of the stone cottage. Look out for the legendary mermaid of Doxey Pool or find an area where you won’t see a soul in the woodlands at the northern part of the estate. Look out for peregrine falcons, red grouse and hairstreak butterflies. Full information is available on the Wildlife Trust website.
Rudyard Lake (Leek)
Two and a half mile long Rudyard Lake is set amongst dramatic scenery and owned by the Canal and River Trust. It was the place where Rudyard Kipling’s parents first met and where channel swimmers and tightrope walkers have demonstrated their skills. These days, a narrow gauge railway runs alongside the lake. The lake is free to visit and walk or cycle but there are charges for additional activities such as fishing and launching boats and SUPs. A visitor centre has plenty of information about the area and its history, as well as toilet facilities. There are plenty of picnic tables for visitors to use and a cafe is located at the activity centre. There’s lots more information about visiting the lake on their website.
Tittesworth Reservoir (Leek)
Tittesworth Reservoir is free to visit but there is a charge for parking. The cost is £3 for two hours or £5 all day. There are two footpaths for walking near the reservoir, one is 1.5 miles long, the other is 5 miles. It is also a lovely place for bird watching and there’s a children’s playground for 2-15 year olds including a sand pit. A wild play area is located near the Churnet river where children can build dens. Picnic spots are dotted around and toilets and a café are available on site.
As long as you can cope with the parking charge, this is one of the best free things to do in Staffordshire as a family. Dogs on leads are welcome. There is a water sports centre at Tittesworth with a fee to hire or launch vessels. The cheapest option is launching a vessel of your own, which costs £6 per vessel per day. Further information is available on the Severn Trent website.
Free things to do in Staffordshire: Lichfield
Beacon Park (Lichfield)
The formal part of Beacon Park, Museum Gardens, features beautiful floral displays and avenues of trees. A fountain is the centrepiece and several statues are also located in the park. For children, there are two playgrounds full of equipment. Pond dipping, woodland walks and a community garden are also featured. Additional events and activities take place on particular dates. Pay and display parking is available nearby and food can be purchased from the park’s kiosk and bistro. Full information is available on the Lichfield Parks website.
Guildhall Prison (Lichfield)
At the back of the Lichfield Guildhall, visitors will find a small display relating to the building’s history as a prison from 1548. Information tells tales of law, criminals and what happened to them from the prison’s inception to the its close in 1848 when it continued to be used as a police custody area until 1900. Learn about the last criminals to be hanged in Lichfield’s gallows during 1810, martyrs who were burned on the market square during the 17th century and many between. The cells are open 10am to 4pm on Saturdays from April to September. Full information is available on the city council website.
Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum (Lichfield)
Samuel Johnson was best known for writing a dictionary of the English language. He spent his first 27 years living in the townhouse that is now a museum dedicated to his life and times. Admission is free but at present it is important to book online before you go. Head to the museum website to check seasonal opening times and book your visit.
Stowe Pool (Lichfield)
Stowe Pool is a hub for sports and leisure activities. Visitors can have a picnic or a family game of football or rounders on Stowe Fields. Children enjoy the play area with its swings, slides, climbing frames, fireman’s pole and zip line. Fitness fans will enjoy the outdoor, all-weather gym and mile-long walking and running loop. Further information is available on the Lichfield Historic Parks website.
Wall Roman Site (Lichfield)
Once located on the Roman military road to north Wales, Wall was a staging post that played an important part in Roman control of the empire. Here, Roman messengers, officials and soldiers could rest themselves and their horses. Nowadays the remains of a public baths and an inn are visible. A museum educates visitors about life in the area and numerous excavated finds are on display. The site is managed by English Heritage and owned by the National Trust and free parking is available 50 metres from the entrance. Check opening times on the website before visiting because they vary between summer and winter. Toilet facilities are available when the museum is open but it is closed throughout 2020 due to covid. Dogs on leads are welcome. Full details are on the English Heritage website.
Free things to do in Staffordshire: Rugeley
Elmore Park (Rugeley)
Not far from Rugeley Town Centre, Elmore town park has a play area, flower beds, grassed landscape features and skateboard facilities. Adjacent to it is Hagley Fields, with a larger skate park and a popular pet’s corner with chickens, guinea pigs, rabbits and birds. In the centre of Elmore Park is a pool with a horseshoe shaped. Trees around the pool offer some shade. Look out for fish, ducks and even terrapins in the pond. Further information is available on the Cannock Chase Council website.
The Wolseley Centre (Rugeley)
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust refer to the Wolseley Centre as “a hidden oasis”. It boasts a visitor centre overlooking the lake with a cafe, gift shop, toilets and learning pod. The centre is Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s headquarters and has recently undergone a refurbishment. Events take place throughout the year and there are 26 acres of grounds for visitors to explore. Accessible footpaths weave across the area, great for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Visitors can feed the ducks, walk along a boardwalk and look out for nature sculptures around the grounds. Sensory and wildlife gardens are fascinating for children. Dogs on leads are welcome. Full information on the centre and events taking place there can be found on the wildlife trust website.
Free things to do in Staffordshire: Stafford
Ancient High House (Stafford)
Built in 1595, the Ancient High House Tudor building was visited by Charles I in 1642. These days it’s a museum containing extensive period furniture which is also home to the Staffordshire Yeomanry Museum. Visitors can also learn about how the house was built and exhibitions by local artists are hosted in two separate galleries. The museum is free to visit with the exception of certain events. More information is available on the Staffordshire Borough Council website.
Doxey Marshes (Stafford)
Doxey Marshes wetland is considered one of the best bird watching sites in the country. It’s free to visit but there is no dedicated car park. The below website gives a few options of where to park. Dogs are welcome with on and off lead areas well marked across the reserve. Look out for grazing animals. Most paths across the reserve are surfaced but access may be restricted if there is flooding. Bird hides and pond dipping platforms offer the opportunity to get up close to wildlife. A wax rubbing trail can be downloaded from the website and you’ll need to bring crayons with you. Full information is available from the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.
Stafford Castle (Stafford)
Thought to be one of the best examples of a Norman earthworks within the UK, Stafford Castle has revealed its secrets to archeologists who have excavated it in recent years. These days, a visitor centre tells the castle’s history using audiovisual displays. Armour, costumes and exhibitions uncover another layer of local history and visitors can even try brass rubbing and coin minting. A gift shop sells cold drinks and ice cream and various events take place throughout the year. More information is available on the Stafford Borough Council website.
Wildwood Park (Stafford)
The pretty canalised location of Wildwood Park makes it a popular place to visit and a haven for nature. Facilities include a car park, toilets, skate park, play area and an outdoor gym. Tennis courts and football pitches are available to hire for an additional charge but the park itself is free to visit. Further information is available on the Staffordshire council website.
Free things to do in Staffordshire: Stoke on Trent
Burslem Park (Stoke on Trent)
Burslem Park contains ornamental fountains and a Victorian terrace garden. A lake, rockery, mosaic and sculpture are also of interest and the site is accessible for wheelchairs. There is an onsite café and children’s play area as well as a sports court and playing field. Toilets and baby changing are available. Further information is available on the City of Stoke-on-Trent website.
Central Forest Park (Stoke-on-Trent)
Located in the city centre, Central Forest Park is a popular green space for cycling, walking, skateboarding and other sports. Loose shale in a pit mound is a good place to find carboniferous fossils. The largest street skate park in Europe is within the park, as well as an adventure play area and climbing boulders. Wheelchair access and free parking are both available. The park is dog friendly and has public toilets and free parking. Full information is available on the Visit Stoke website.
Hanley Park (Stoke on Trent)
One of Stoke-on-Trent’s Heritage parks, Hanley Park is near to the train station and city centre and has free parking. It boasts a floodlit, all-weather sport zone that can be use for tennis, hockey, basketball, cricket and football. A Bowling green, bandstand, lake, fountains, children’s play area, sensory play and sculptures make it an ideal place to visit with the whole family. Dogs and children are both welcome and there are picnic areas and toilets. The park is accessible for wheelchairs and has accessible toilets. Full information is on the Hanley Park website.
Longton Park (Stoke-on-Trent)
Known also by the name of Queen’s Park, Longton Park is renowned for lakes, horticulture and its trees. One of the city’s heritage parks, it is home to three bowling pavilions and a clock tower. Skate boarding facilities make it popular among children and teens and there are also tennis and multi-use sports courts. The park is accessible, has free parking and public toilets and dogs are welcome. It is open from 8am until dusk each day. Full information is available on the Visit Stoke website.
Mow Cop (Stoke-on-Trent)
Often known as Mow Cop Castle, Mow Cop is actually a Folly. It lies right on the border between Staffordshire and Cheshire, the car park postcode is in Staffordshire but the folly is on Cheshire’s southernmost outcrop. The tower was built to be a summerhouse for local Lord of the Manor Randle Wilbraham in 1754. The location has a small car park and there are no toilets or other facilities. Start at the car park to follow the Mow Cop trails and learn about the history of the area. Full details are available from the National Trust.
Parkhall Country Park (Stoke-on-Trent)
Idyllic Park Hall Country Park is a National nature reserve with sandstone canyons, lakes, woodland and heathland. It is a beautiful place to walk with free parking and light refreshments sold on site. Further information is on the Visit Stoke website.
Westport Lake (Stoke-on-Trent)
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Westport Lake is popular for walking and bird watching. It’s an ideal day out for families and nature lovers. The visitor centre cafe has a balcony with panoramic views across the water. Visitors can walk around a mile-long level footpath beside the water or venture into the conservation area on the ‘health walk’. Family activities take place throughout school holidays and the lake has lots of local and migratory wildlife. A children’s play area is located by the visitor centre. Parking is free and toilets are available. Full details and opening times are on the wildlife trust website.
Free things to do in Staffordshire: Tamworth
Elford Hall Garden (Tamworth)
The free to enter, wheelchair friendly Elford Walled Garden is a volunteer-run project to provide a community amenity. Within the area are allotments, flower gardens, an orchard, sensory garden and many historical features. Toilets are available and refreshments are sold on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays by volunteers. A bothy is always open for shelter and a drink-making area can be used for a donation. Picnic tables and boules game areas are free to use and fruit and vegetables can be purchase from the produce table in exchange for a donation. A library houses books for visitors to swap or buy. Full information is available on the Elford Hall Garden website.
Middleton Lakes (Tamworth)
Middleton Lakes is an RSPB managed nature reserve in the Tame River Valley with woodland, wetland and meadows. Trails cover several kilometres with a variety of birds to spot including kingfishers, lapwings and herons. Hides are available for watching the birds and binoculars can be hired. A small visitor centre sells some refreshments and picnic areas are available.
There is parking for 50 cars which can fill up quickly. The car park is open from dawn to dusk. There is no mention on their website as to whether there is a parking charge. A children’s play meadow has a small trail for children with opportunities for wild play such as den building. You can hire equipment for bug hunting and pond dipping. Toilets are in the Middleton Hall courtyard, about 250 metres from the RSPB car park. They also have a cafe that serves hot and cold drinks and meals. Full information is on the RSPB website.
Tamworth Castle Grounds (Tamworth)
Floral terraces and open grass areas lead from Tamworth Castle down to the River Anker. At the top of the terracing is a bandstand where free concerts take place during the summer months. An adventure play area and skate park keep children entertained and a cafe and toilet facilities are available. An outdoor gym, tennis courts, pleasant river walks and a water refill station make it a great place to visit for all ages. The grounds are free to visit but there is an additional charge for some activities on site such as cycle hire, tennis court booking and crazy golf. Further information and opening times are available on the Tamworth Borough Council website.
Free things to do in Staffordshire: Around the county
Apedale Country Park and Heritage Centre (Knutton)
Apedale Country Park was an open cast mine up until the 1990s. These days, it is Staffordshire’s newest Wildlife Trust Country Park and has been reclaimed by wildlife. Follow a family nature trail, go pond dipping or take part in guided walks, educational activities or other organised events. Further information is on the Wildlife Trust website. Apedale Heritage Centre is located within the Country Park. Here, you can learn about the industrial heritage of the area. The museum is free to visit and there is a café onsite. There is an additional charge for mine tours that take place at weekends and bank holidays. More information is available on the Heritage Centre website.
Biddulph Grange Country Park (Biddulph)
Explore the Victorian landscape of Biddulph Grange Country Park with spectacular views, natural features and pool with a stone boat house. The visitor centre showcases a century old hydroelectric scheme. Easy access paths for wheelchairs are provided as far as the main pool. Beyond that the site is on a hillside. Toilet facilities are open from 7am to dusk each day and there is an onsite café. Dogs need to be on leads due to grazing animals. Full information is available via Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.
Brampton Museum, Gallery and Park (Newcastle-Under-Lyme)
Brampton Park boasts beautiful gardens including a rose garden and sensory garden. There’s also plenty of open space and lots of trees to enjoy. Families will enjoy visiting the aviary and small mammal area, children’s play area and sand pit. Even the miniature railway is free to ride although the volunteers who run it do appreciate donations. Sculptures are dotted around in the park and there’s also a café and toilets available. The museum and gallery located in the park are both free to visit as well. Various activities and exhibitions take place during the year. Head to the Brampton Museum website to see what’s on and for full information.
Croxden Abbey (Uttoxeter)
The free entry English Heritage site at Croxden Abbey once housed 70 Cistercian monks. Its ruins include fragments of the 13th century church and infirmary and the 14th century lodging for the abbot. Visitors can learn about the history of the abbey through information panels on site. Access is from Croxden Lane where you can park in a lay-by but there is a very limited amount of parking available. There are no onsite facilities. Full information and opening times are available on the English Heritage website.
Managed by Forestry England, Dimmingsdale is regarded as the hidden beauty spot of North Staffordshire. A variety of walking trails take in rolling countryside, streams, ponds, woodlands and lakes. The Rambler’s Retreat serves snacks and parking is free. Dogs are allowed and there is a picnic area at Dimmingsdale. Further information is available on the Forestry England website.
Downs Banks (Oulton Heath)
Downs Banks comprise a landscape of heath and woodlands with a stream running through its length. Head up to the highest point to spot distant landmarks including the Long Mynd and the Wrekin. Look out for a kingfisher by the stream and the friendly cattle grazing in the area. Paths may be uneven and dogs are welcome. Parking is available and a mile and a half of surfaced paths provides access for rugged wheelchairs and buggies. Benches are available at regular intervals. Full information is available from the National Trust.
Greenway Bank Country Park (Brindley Ford)
I am struggling to find much information about Greenway Bank Country Park. A few websites mention it and it seems to be a 100 acre area containing formal gardens, woodland, the Serpentine Lake and Knypersley Reservoir. Enjoy Staffordshire mention a visitor’s centre and children’s adventure playground. I can’t find any opening hours or information on parking but it looks like a beautiful place to visit. If you head to the Woodland Trust website and click on the photo, there are 15 photos you can scroll through to see the playground, lakes, woodland and a beautiful looking waterfall.
Highgate Common (Swindon)
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust manage Highgate Common, a lowland heath that is full of rare wildlife. There are eight car parks on the common and toilet facilities including accessible toilets are available at the Cory Community Centre. Paths across the heathland and woodland may be muddy or uneven. Dogs are allowed. Look out for holes in the sandy paths where ground nesting bees and wasps have made their homes. 140 types of solitary wasps and bees are thought to live on the common and many are rare in the UK. For that reason, the common is a SSSI. Look out for dragonflies, glow worms, butterflies and beetles too. There’s a miniature monsters trail for families to spot the creepy crawlies on the common. Grass snakes, lizards, cuckoos and other birds can also be seen and heard in the area. Full information is available eon the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust website.
Museum of Cannock Chase (Hednesford)
The Museum of Cannock Chase is a free attraction with lots of fun and learning for the whole family. Interactive toys and games are available for children and visitors can find out about Cannock Chase itself as well as visiting a 1940s room, coal mining gallery and miners cottage gallery. A coffee shop sells to and cold drinks and snacks. There’s also a visitor information area, gift shop and children’s quizzes. Lots of local walks start at the museum and additional events and exhibitions take place throughout the year. Admission times change according to the season so do check the website before visiting.
National Memorial Arboretum (Alrewas)
The National Memorial Arboretum is a national centre for remembrance. Developed on a reclaimed gravel work area, the arboretum is next to the Tame and Trent rivers. Volunteers planted trees in the area and it is regarded as a place of joy to remember people in an environment full of trees. The first memorial was the polar bear memorial, a tribute to 49th West Riding Infantry Division. Since then, the armed forces memorial has been added and new memorials are dedicated each year. A remembrance centre now tells the story of remembrance as well as providing facilities for visitors.
The arboretum now hosts events including remembrance services. Entry is free, donations are appreciated and at present, booking is essential. A dog walking route is available for people visiting with dogs. Regular family activities take place and a children’s play area and picnic areas are available. For more information and to find out what’s on when you visit, head to the National Memorial Arboretum website.
Potteries Museum and Art Gallery (Hanley)
The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery is free to visit, although they do charge to see certain exhibitions and events. The museum holds a vast collection of Staffordshire pottery as well as items of natural science, decorative arts, archaeology and social history. The Potteries Museum is also home to some artefacts from the Staffordshire Hoard. A cafe and toilet facilities are available. There is also a separate area to eat food that you bring with you. Further information is available on the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery Website.
Red Lion Farm (Haughton)
Red Lion Farm is free to look around but visitors are expected to eat and drink in their tea room or buy some ice cream. The farm has cows, sheep goats, rabbits, guinea pigs, alpacas, a donkey and some horses. For an extra fee you can visit the owl sanctuary. There is also a caravan park and dog grooming room on site. Full information is on their website.