Try a few twists on tradition
Camp out in the garden
Younger children find this the most fun (good luck getting teens involved, unless your wifi reaches the bottom of the garden). Setting up the tent and making it comfy with pillows and blankets is half the fun and will keep everyone busy for a couple of hours. Instead of a campfire, fire up the barbecue (a disposable will do) for sausages, jacket potatoes – whatever you fancy (and don’t forget the marshmallows!). As the sun goes down, everyone pile into the tent and get cosy, then you can do things like telling spooky stories by torchlight or listening to an audiobook of your funny tales or poems.
Choose a farm over the zoo
We have some great zoos and wildlife parks here in the UK, but they can sometimes be expensive days out (and, depending where you are, a bit of a trek to get there). Instead, look for farms in your local area that are open to the public. It could be a city farm, or a working farm that welcomes visitors. In either case, what farms may lack in exotic creatures they make up for in educational value (lots of farms let children get hands-on with the animals), entry fees are likely to be a fraction of the zoo (if they exist at all), and the journey there could be a lot quicker too.
Have an indoor picnic
If the Great British weather lets you down (and, let’s face it – it will), come out victorious by hosting an indoor picnic. Just push back the furniture in your biggest room, cover the floor in colourful tablecloths, rugs and cushions and the scene is set. Search YouTube for ‘countryside sounds’ and you’ll even be able to hear the outdoors.
Go back in time
Like the Robson family in the recent BBC TV series ‘Back in time for dinner’, why not recreate a well-known day from history to recreate in your own home? Pick, say, the first moon landing or the Queen’s coronation. You could dress up, cook a popular recipe from the same period of history, watch vintage TV footage or listen to old radio broadcasts online. It’s a great way to learn without it feeling like a school day.
Days out – three weird and wonderful attractions
Teapot Island – Maidstone, Kent
Fancy a brew? With over 7,600 teapots on display, the Guinness World Record-holding ‘Teapot Island (opens in a new window)’ boasts the biggest collection of teapots in England. Not only does this quirky, family-run attraction have earthenware in all shapes and sizes, there’s also a café and a pottery painting workshop – all alongside the picturesque River Medway.
Tickets: adults £2.50, kids £1.50
The Forbidden Corner – Middleham, North Yorkshire
Labelled ‘the strangest place in the world’, The Forbidden Corner (opens in a new window) is four brilliantly bonkers acres of labyrinths, tunnels, chambers and sculptures. Along with the ‘temple of the underworld’ and glass pyramid, there’s a café, gift shop and herb garden featuring a host of fabulous frogs.
Tickets: adults £11.50, kids £9.50
The Fairy Walk – Aberfoyle, Stirlingshire
Grown-ups who don’t believe in fairies are in for a surprise. The Doon Hill Fairy Walk (opens in a new window) leads you past tiny treehouses all the way to the fairy tree (remember to bring a wish letter and ribbon to tie it on with!). The walk starts in the village’s main car park, where there’s also a small soft-play area and café. Call into the Tourist Information Centre (opens in a new window) for a guide leaflet before you set off.
Tickets: FREE for everyone
Looking for more ideas for family days out around the UK?
Check out the ‘Day out with the kids’ website (opens in a new window). It has tons of suggestions (search by town or postcode) and also tells you admission prices and opening times. Have fun!