20 unusual family days out in the UK to book this spring
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: finally, the family outing in all its glory is once more allowed, and we can get the children out of the house and entertained by someone else at last.
Theme parks, castles, and nature trails and adventurous locations of every kind across the country are gearing up to reopen this spring, with many adding new and exciting activities to keep children – and adults – entertained.
The most obvious big-name attractions are already becoming well booked up, so we have looked beyond the usual suspects to bring you 20 out-of-the-ordinary family days out. Opening days vary, so do check websites before you travel and…enjoy!
Best family UK days out
Wookey Hole, Somerset
This magical site was designed for families with younger children. Take a walk through various themed areas – Dinosaur Valley, Monster Mill and Fairy Garden – that will delight even stubborn teenagers. Afterwards, there’s also a 35-minute tour of the prehistoric caves.
Located next to the historic Cholmondeley Castle, in South Cheshire, BeWILDerwood is a 50-acre woodland play area designed by Tom Blofeld, a local children’s author. Children will love climbing trees, crossing rope bridges, building dens and new The Curious Treehouse Adventure – plus, there’s arts, crafts and live storytelling.
Open from April 12; cheshire.bewilderwood.co.uk
Butser Ancient Farm, Hampshire
A true gem in the rolling countryside of the South Downs National Park. This experimental archaeology site is home to reconstructions of ancient buildings from the Stone Age, Iron Age, Roman Britain and the Anglo-Saxon period. Plus, you can visit, and possibly stroke, rare breeds of goats and sheep.
Family and friends will be bamboozled with more than 100 illusions here. Try to keep your balance on the Vortex Tunnel or attempt to make it to the other side of the Mirror Maze. It’s also worth seeing Camera Obscura, one of Scotland’s oldest tourist attractions, for unbeatable views of Edinburgh.
Discover the secrets of the post-industrial North at this 300-acre site containing reconstructed houses, shops and heritage buildings, from sweet shops to Pockerley Old Hall. There’s a hop-on tram (built in 1913) that takes visitors around the site, and the colliery village has cottages and demonstrators in period clothing.
Children can take a walk with monsters on the wooded trail with life-size dinosaurs including Tyrannosaurus rex and Brontosaurus: all fitted with audio equipment to recreate realistic roars and grunts. Afterwards, take a dip in Dippy’s Splash Zone or enjoy the adventure play areas and on-site farmyard.
Whether you’re zipping across an aerial runway stretching 490 metres over a flooded quarry, go-karting or trying open-water swimming, there’s something for everyone at Adrenalin Quarry. For the daring, there’s a swing that flies 150ft over a cliff edge, or The Blob, a giant inflatable that catapults visitors into the lake.
A forest bursting with bluebells is one of the greatest sights of spring. Thankfully, there are plenty of locations to choose from in the UK. The Woodland Trust has several suggestions, including Ashenbank Wood, Cobham; Costells Wood, Scaynes Hill; Hackfall, Grewelthorpe; and the Warriner’s Wood in Kendal.
This digger-themed adventure park has four main sites in the UK, in Kent, Devon, Durham and Yorkshire. Children can have a go at riding their own at the dirt digger and crazy kart area, while rides like Sky Shuttle will hoist visitors 50ft in the air for spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Plus, there’s on-site food and drink for hungry parents.
Set in 50 acres of glorious Surrey countryside, Hobbledown is paradise for children who love the great outdoors. Explore Hobbledown village with its vast wooden towers, underground tunnels and aerial walkways, or try to save Fern, resident fairy, from the dragon at Fern’s Castle, a brand new attraction with tunnels, towers and slides.
This family theme park is one of the largest of its kind in the South West, featuring water-park rides, a large zoo and stomach-churning fairground rides for adrenalin junkies. Don’t skip the Cyclone Canyon Zone – there’s a water roller coaster and toboggan ride, and a mini Wild West-themed village.
It’s rumoured that JRR Tolkien may have considered Puzzlewood and the Forest of Dean when he created the Old Forest, Mirkwood, Lothlórien, and other places in Middle Earth. It’s easy to see what captivated him; this deep, tangled, mossy forest has a mile of other-worldly paths, bridges and lookout points.
Designed for up to 600 military and civilian personnel, possibly even the prime minister, this pre-Cold War nuclear bunker was once an RAF station and regional government headquarters. Now it is privately owned and families can take a tour. Plus, there’s zip lining on offer, too.
Spend an afternoon in The Forbidden Corner’s vast labyrinth of tunnels, chambers and follies created within a four-acre garden in the heart of Tupgill Park and the Yorkshire Dales. Tuckered out from exploring? Refresh yourself with a visit to the on-site Corner Café for a well-deserved cuppa.
Is one of your family a Sherlock Holmes fan? Book a visit to 221b Baker Street and make their dreams come true. Once over the threshold, visitors step back in time into the private quarters of London’s iconic fictional detective and his late-Victorian/Edwardian surroundings. In normal times this intriguing attraction is a magnet for international tourists; it may be marginally more peaceful at present.
Take advantage of the spring sunshine with a visit to this ancient monument. After a tour with the Stonehenge Circle Experience, families can learn from hands-on exhibits at the nearby exhibition, where you’ll find more than 250 archaeological treasures including the reconstructed face of a 5,000-year-old man.
This 100-acre area has plenty for children to explore and is best visited on a sunny spring day. Families can choose from a walk in beautiful woodland, a visit to the glasshouses and walled gardens, or a “jungle” of ferns with boardwalks, and much more. Be prepared to be lost for hours.
Take a step back in time with a visit to this open-air museum and Norman village. This 10-acre site is the only medieval castle and village reconstructed on its original site in the world, and visitors can also hand-feed the friendly (or at least hungry) fallow deer that freely graze around the motte and bailey and surrounding grounds.
Open from April 12; mountfitchetcastle.com
Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Lancashire
The Pleasure Beach is always going to be a winner. The most popular rides include the Avalanche, Big Dipper, Grand National and The Big One (the UK’s tallest roller coaster). Kids will also love Nickelodeon Land, where characters like SpongeBob SquarePants make a guest appearance.
Set high on Cornwall’s rugged coast, Tintagel, the fabled seat of King Arthur, is a must-see for its 13th-century castle, stunning views and surrounding medieval houses. Braved the 140-step walk before? We have good news. For the first time in 500 years, a cantilevered bridge connects the mainland to the rocky headland.