School is out, and family time is in! With any luck, you’ll have a few weeks to spend with your little ones over the summer, but even if you’ve only got a few days, that’s plenty of time to have some fun family days out. The summer sun is here – for now – so why not seize the opportunity to plan a special weekend trip? Whether you’re into the great outdoors or prefer to get creative at the local art gallery, there’s something to suit everyone.
The UK is full of hidden treasures and unique heritage sites where you can relax and have fun, and many of them are as educational as they are exciting. It’s a great opportunity to spend some quality time with the kids, not to mention treating yourself to a day (or two) away from home. There might be a little gem right near you that you never knew about, but if not, don’t be afraid to travel a little; it’ll definitely be worth it.
Action & Adventure
If you’re looking for a thrilling day trip, look no further than the UK’s amazing selection of theme parks. Scattered around the country, they offer enough rides and games to entertain everyone, and will leave little ones truly tired out! For theme parks in the south, try Legoland Windsor, situated right next to London, or Surrey’s Thorpe Park. If you’re based in the north, check out Flamingo Land near the North York Moors, or Lightwater Valley, which is currently offering half price entry! Theme parks are well-equipped to cater to children of all ages, but it’s a good idea to bring your own food, as meals can get pricey.
If you want something even more extreme than a roller coaster, why not try a high ropes course? These tree top obstacle courses involve being strapped into a harness and then climbing up into the trees, where you undertake a variety of challenges. Perfect for adventurous kids (and adults!), this will certainly be a day out to remember. UK high ropes courses include High Ropes Adventure in Lincolnshire, Beamish Wild in the North East and Tamar Trails Centre in Devon. If you have a fear of heights, you might want to sit this one out!
Dry slope skiing is another way to get active and adventurous this summer. There are dry ski slopes all over the UK, and a quick Google is bound to help you find one nearby. Even if you’ve never skied before, this is a great opportunity to try something different and have a lot of fun with your kids. If you prefer real snow to dry slops, try out Snozone in Castleford, Chill Factore in Manchester or Skiplex in London. It’s the perfect alternative to a full skiing holiday and will create some fantastic photo opportunities!
If your kids have a creative spark, why not nurture it this summer by taking them to some cultural hot spots? There are plenty of galleries and literature festivals around that will inspire them to try new things and build their confidence. Seven Stories in Newcastle is a national centre for children’s literature, and regularly holds special exhibitions of authors such as Jacqueline Wilson. The Northern Children’s Book Festival is another great opportunity to treat bookworms to a fun day out, where they can meet their favourite authors and listen to books being read, while you get to relax with a cup of coffee!
Museums are another excellent way to engage kids in some extracurricular learning. There is such a wealth of local history in the UK, and wherever you go you’ll find a range of fantastic free museums designed to inspire, excite and educate. The Royal Armouries in Leeds is probably the best place for any budding pirates or soldiers to spend a day, with enough swords and battle axes to excite even a grumpy teenager. The Kelvingrove museum in Glasgow also boasts a fascinating and exciting collection of relics, as does Newcastle’s Great North Museum. Enough to keep their brains occupied all summer!
If you want to get the best of both worlds, local castles offer a fantastic mix of adventure and education. As well as having an outdoor setting, they provide opportunities for games, discovery and learning, as well as some family walks in the countryside. For historic castles in the north, try Edinburgh Castle, Bamburgh Castle or Alnwick Castle, all of which have well maintained and beautifully built exteriors. If you’re looking for something a bit further south, check out Warwick Castle or the Tower of London, both of which are brimming with historical links and awe-inspiring views.
The Great Outdoors
If you’d rather spend the day outdoors, but aren’t that into adventuring, there are plenty of ways to get all the fresh air you need. For a mild and beautiful day out with the little ones, try a botanical garden, such as Alnwick Gardens in Northumberland. If you’re based further north, Glasgow’s Botanical Gardens have plenty to offer in the way of flowers and fountains, and if you’re in the south you must check out the Oxford Botanical Garden. All of these locations allow you to take the day at your own pace and, weather permitting, relax in the sun with a cool drink while the kids play.
For those who have a soft spot for furry friends, zoos and farms are an excellent choice for a family day out this summer. To see some truly spectacular animals from around the world, try Chester Zoo or Edinburgh Zoo, both of which boast impressive facilities and family events that should not be missed. If you’d like something a bit more low-key, take a look online to find a local farm you can visit. The advantage of these is that you can often pet the animals, making it a much more interactive (and cute!) day out. Whitehouse Farm in Northumberland offers excellent activities for kids of all ages, as do Hall Hill Farm in Durham and Odds Farm Park in Buckinghamshire. These are especially appropriate for younger children, and activities are planned with this in mind.
If you want to get wild and experience a taste of the outdoors without going too far, why not take a trip to the beach? As simple as it might seem, Britain’s beaches are becoming increasingly popular attractions for tourists and residents alike, and there’s good reason for this. Cornwall and Devon are perhaps the best known locations for beach goers in the UK, offering a surfing culture that is unrivaled throughout the country. There are just as many beautiful beaches to visit in the north, though, with Northumberland being one of the most picturesque and quiet places to visit. If you’ve got a weekend to spare, why not take a tent and camp at a nearby campsite? It’ll certainly be a family trip to remember, and little ones will love building sand castles and fishing in rock pools.
Have you got any ideas for fun family days out this summer? Let us know in the comments!