We love a family day out! There are so many places to choose from in the UK, so for days out with the kids how do you know what the best family attractions and child-friendly places are, especially if you have children under 12? You are spending your hard earned money and precious time so you want to choose somewhere that will delight, inspire and entertain all the family and create magical memories for your family. So here are our recommendations for 18 UK attractions you must take your kids to before they turn 12; from all around the UK and for all tastes and pockets!
A huge, award winning forest of family fun for days out with the kids and outdoor adventure. With treehouses, zip wires, jungle bridges, storytelling, boat trips and marsh walks; it’s the exact opposite of the commercial theme parks – no special effects, rides or fast food outlets; just lots and lots of outdoor fun and adventure!
2. Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
At first impression outside it’s busy, full of tourists (who are only visiting to get the picture!) and expensive, but get inside and for the true Harry Potter fans it’s an absolute treasure trove of amazing-ness! It suggests most people are there for 3 hours – we were there 7 hours with a 7 and 9 year old (and a very pregnant mummy!)
Once inside it didn’t seem as busy or full of bustle as we first thought. And the audio guide although additional cost is well worth it!!
3. Warwick Castle
As much as it is a very commercially created castle attraction (operated by Merlin Entertainments then it wouldn’t be anything else, but in fairness it is done tastefully and in keeping with the castle theme. The activities are on theme and you can still marvel at the castle structure itself. The thing that Warwick Castle does really well is the interactive activities; we did a workshop in the witches tower, a cross-bow workshop, watched storytelling and jousting! Great for all ages!
4. A day out at Blackpool
There is often an impression of Blackpool that it is all about stag and hens and the pleasure beach! And as much as there are parts that are a bit tired and undesirable, it is still a great family weekend or day out for some traditional seaside fun. The recent regeneration of the promenade area has made the beachfront attractive, clean and brilliant for families. The tower and circus are brilliant – with the tower 4D show well worth it and show-stopping stunts at the circus! Sandcastle water park is one of the UK’s best water parks, the piers and pleasure beach you can simply have fish and chips, build sandcastles and stroll on the pier or you can have a thrill and action-packed weekend for the whole family!
5. Ironbridge Gorge
Ironbridge Gorge is a heritage site which is not only beautiful but has some amazing museum and family experiences, away from the commercial nature of a lot of the attractions in this list but with the same level of interactivity and ability to create magical memories!
At Blists Hill Victorian Town, costumed actors give an insight into life in the valley as they go about their daily lives in their cottages, shops and places of work. You can change your money into Victoria Money and spend it in the shops. There’s a Victorian fairground, an old-fashioned sweet shop, and horse and cart rides.
The nearby Enginuity science and technology centre, children can learn about locomotives and robots, while the Coalport China Museum and Jackfield Tile Museum run craft workshops where they can try out their pottery and painting skills
6. Eureka the children’s museum
A visit to Eureka! is unique, interesting and FUN! Eureka! is a great, inclusive day out for families with children aged 0-11, in Halifax, West Yorkshire.
Explore the six zones, extensive grounds, creativity space, children’s mini village with bank, shop, garage and post office, or join in the regular workshops and creative activities. It’s a complete day out; and what’s even better is your admission ticket gives you annual admission meaning you can visit for free all year!
7. The Forbidden Corner
The Forbidden Corner is a unique labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies and surprises created within a four acre garden in the heart of Tupgill Park and the Yorkshire Dales. A tourist visitor attraction unlike anywhere that you have been before, ideal for the adventurers and those young at heart!
There are paths and passages that lead nowhere, extraordinary statues, with decisions to make and tricks to avoid. This is a day out with a difference which will challenge and delight adults and children of all ages.
8. Camera Obscura
This is one of Britain’s oldest attractions, having started in 1835 and is now six floors of puzzles, special effects, games and other interactive craziness.
Step into a world where real-life collides with technological trickery. Here, impossible doesn’t exist.
Tour Edinburgh’s streets without moving. Pitch your brain against mind-bending illusions. It’s all part of the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions experience
9. Bounce below
Housed at a Breath-taking site, in a former slate mine in Blaenau Ffestiniog, North Wales you can play, slide, jump and bounce from net to net in a cavern the size of a cathedral!
Great for all ages and to enjoy together as a family.
One of our favourite days out – a real traditional day out at the seaside. With a lovely, pebble beach, traditional pier and gorgeous beach front buildings. You also have to do the trip up the Great Orme (recommend cable car up and train down!) for the kids to go on the slide with the best view! With fantastic fish and chips, ice cream shops and an old fashioned vibe you truly feel like you are away from the 21st century in a lovely way (espevcially if you go into the girft shop at the top of the Great Orme!)
11. Greenwood forest park
Another attraction in North Wales and another great one!! A theme park with a difference! With a non-electric rollercoaster and a whole load of sustainable rides and outdoor activities all set in the woods this theme park has a great feeling to it; outdoor fun with a few thrills and a good lot of exploring, climbing and imaginative play. Fantastic for under 10’s!
12./ Kidzania, London, England
This is the ultimate playground for the child who wants to be a doctor/chef/ballerina when they grow up. This indoor city is created to scale for children, with job roles for them to try out, including fire fighter, photographer and journalist with international sponsors giving the zones an extra sense of reality.
A great way to introduce your child to all the different ideas of various jobs and how the world of work works! And fantastic imaginative play!
13./ Cadbury World
Who doesn’t want to visit a Chocolate Factory?! And this isn’t an ordinary factory visit! You can discover the secrets behind Cadbury’s Dairy Milk launched in 1905, and have the chance to add your own extras like jelly babies, or mint chips to warm liquid chocolate to make your Cadbury creation.
It has 14 zones, where you can play in chocolate rain and have warm liquid Cadbury Dairy Milk poured over your favourite treat.
See the Cadbury pack-and-wrap process on the new 3D cinema screen and then meet ‘Flex6’ the robot at the factory as he shows how he wraps those famous Cadbury bars. A great whole family chocolate treat!
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” Charles M Schulz (of Peanuts fame)
14. Chester zoo
One of the best zoos in the UK; they do a huge amount for animal conservation and research as well as having an amazing zoo. The recent creation of the multimillion pound ‘Islands’ development takes you to the islands of South east Asia and is wonderfully done complete with a boat ride. The animals are well taken care of and the whole site is clean and well maintained with children in mind throughout; important when you are planning days out with the kids.
With a load of new play areas and playgrounds recently created too the children will be happily exhausted on the way home after a day out at Chester Zoo!
15./ Manley Mere Adventure Trail
Manley Mere Adventure Trail meanders through woodland, alongside a stream with obstacles and challenges on the way…it’s a great way of having fun and spending quality time with friends and family and all ages can enjoy the obstacles!
All equipment is self-propelled and cleverly fits into the surroundings. It is a country walk as well as an adventure so there is always an easy way around – just walk past! Wherever possible obstacles are made from recycled material and re-used agricultural equipment – see if you can guess what things were in a previous life!
The trail is about 1½ miles long and there is no set route – discovering hidden things is part of the fun! There are changing rooms (a change of clothes is advised!) and a cold water hose to get any mud off hands and face before getting into your car, as you are likely to get muddy, so don’t wear your best clothes and heels!!
16./ Dinosaur Roar Adventure
A monster family day out! Norfolk’s biggest visitor attraction and one of the UK’s best for days out with the kids! Armed with your Adventurers’ Guide, explore and play in 85 acres of woods and parkland containing over 100 static dinosaurs, two life size puppet dinosaurs and animatronic dinosaurs. Not forgetting “Dippy” Dinosaur Adventure’s Park Mascot.
On arrival set off to explore the Dinosaur Trail Meet the animals and Creepy Crawlies in the Secret Animal Garden, with educational activities and demonstrations. In Dinomite, Norfolk’s largest indoor adventure play area has 3 levels of fun and adventure for all the family, with a two-level area totally dedicated to the under 5’s. Inside you will find everything from climbing nets, bridges and ball pools right up to the three massive slides which go from gentle slopes to a terrifying vertical drop. With everything Dinosaur inside and outside, what’s not to give you a stomping good time?!
17. Clip ‘n’ Climb
There are dozens of Clip n Climb centres around the UK; with a lot of them existing within other entertainment centres. It’s a really unique climbing activity and kids from 4 years and upwards can try their hands (and feet!) at the different walls and challenges! Brightly coloured, exciting and active; what’s not to like for days out with the kids?
My kids love the centre at Chester near us and would happily visit every weekend!
18./ Fairy Glen, Wigan
I had to throw this in the list as even though it’s not so much an attraction; as no one ‘runs’ or ‘operates’ it and there is no café or gift shop! What there is, is an amazing walk through the woods where Fairies are known to have their habitat! You will come across fairy dust and fairy doors at various points! With a stream for paddling, open meadows for picnic and rope swings it’s the ultimate low cost, low maintenance, low tech day out with the family – for family time together and connecting with nature it’s a winner!
We hope you enjoy your days out with the kids!
If you are considering taking the kids to a family friendly festival this summer see our round up of best family festivals in the Uk and tips for surviving a festival with the family here
Have you seen the Elf Advent Challenge? 24 days of fun Elf tasks to children to take part in December.