22 Great Places to Take Kids This Summer to Keep Them Entertained
Teachers and Preschool leaders up and down the country are gearing up for a summer rest. For parents the fun is just beginning. Whether the summer holidays stretch ahead of you with fears of boredom or sibling bickering, or you simply want to use these non-school weeks and fine weather to create memories and explore, you’re going to need places to go. We’ve scoured the country from top to bottom, east to west, to bring you our 22 great places to take your kids this summer to keep them entertained.
1. The Beach
It wouldn’t be a British summer without a trip to the beach. With a bucket and a spade, a 99 ice cream, and a windbreak, beach days are the memory-makers. To locate the best beaches in reach of you, check out The Beach Guide.
2. Crazy Swimming
If the weather is against you, or you’ve got a water-baby or thrill-seeker on your hands, then head to an indoor waterpark. Sandcastle Waterpark in Blackpool is the UK’s largest, and Waterworld in Stoke-on-Trent is justifiably popular. If it turns out that the weather is in your favour, then big and little kids alike will love a splashtastic day at either of the two outdoor Splashdown Water Parks in Poole and Paignton.
3. Inflatable Water Fun
Staying with the water theme, a new event on the UK summer scene are inflatable waterparks. We’re particularly keen on the New Forest Water Park and Rutland Aqua Park as they have special sessions or equipment for littlies.
4. Embark on an Adventure with the National Trust
Famed for its 50 Things to Do Before You Turn 11 ¾, the National Trust this year has a fantastic list of 50 Activities For Adventurous Families including such childhood gems as climbing trees and making mud pies. Check out their list for ideas and inspiration, as well as where to head to do them.
5. Step Back in Time with a Castle Conquest
With our country steeped in well-preserved history, we’re never too far from a castle. Let your little ones enter the world of dragons and princesses as they storm their local castle. If you need inspiration, then this list of the National Trust’s Top 10 Castles includes such fortresses and ruins as Bodium, Castle Drogo, Chirk, Corfe, and Dunstanburgh.
6. Enter the Joust with Your Young Knights
English Heritage has a huge number of sites to visit in England, but they also put on some fantastic summer holiday activities. Top of the class are their jousting experiences. Check out where to go, here.
7. Head Down to the Woods
If you go down to the woods today… The Forestry Commission do an amazing job of nurturing many of the nation’s finest woodlands and forests. Head to your nearest forest for walking, cycling, and play trail fun. If you’ve got pre-schoolers in your party, then make sure you check out the interactive Gruffalo Trails: Just make sure you download the app before you go! For bigger monkeys who have a need to climb, then many Forestry Commission sites have Junior Go Ape high ropes courses.
8. Fuel Their Adrenaline
Staying on the Gruffalo theme, this year Chessington has opened its doors to a new Gruffalo ride. Scottish Sitters readers should head to M&D’s in Lanarkshire for the impressive Giant Condor, whilst Peppa Pig fans should consider Paultons Park in Hampshire. The littlest thrill-seekers and construction fanatics will have an incredible time at Legoland, whilst littlies and adrenaline-junkies alike with love Alton Towers with CBeebies land and the likes of VR ride Galactica. To combine all the fun of the fair, with the Great British Seaside, then Blackpool Pleasure Beach is the place to go.
9. Put a Spring in Their Summer Step
The craze that has taken the country by storm over the last year is trampoline parks. If you haven’t got one down the road, you can bet that you soon will. They are great for burning off some pent-up steam on rainy days, or keeping young ones out of the midday sun whilst still having fun. Flip Out is one of the larger UK providers with trampoline parks in a range of places including Kent, London, Cheshire, the South West, and Scotland.
10. Monkeys Climb
A slightly newer trend hitting the country are climbing centres geared for kids. These may be harder to find in your area, but plenty are planned for the near future. Clip n Climb have venues around the country, such as Clip n Climb Cambridge, home to multiple themed climbing walls that entertain and challenge even the youngest climbers. Move over soft play…
11. Get Up Close and Personal in Nature
There’s nothing more sublime than a little child being utterly absorbed in the wonder of the world around them. A sure fire way to do this is with a mini beast adventure at an RSPB wetland or nature reserve. Even better, this summer, the RSPB are putting on a range of activities ranging from boat trips to bug hunts. If that’s not enough adventure, then sign up for the RSPB Big Wild Sleep Out for an overnight camping experience with some nature activities thrown in.
12. Discover and Explore with a Treasure Hunt
Even if you think you know your local town or city like the back of your hand, we guarantee that you don’t! Buy and download a themed Treasure Trail and embark on a summer exploration which will have you solving clues and enjoying a challenge together. These are self-guided trails, themed on all sorts, and with over 1200 trails covering the nation, there will definitely be one near you.
13. Bring History to Life at a Free Museum
In the UK we are spoiled with over 50 free incredible museums. From the National Football Museum in Manchester, to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, or the V&A Museum of Childhood in London, to St Fagans National History Museum in Cardiff, and Coventry Transport Museum, there really is something for everyone. To find out which museums in the UK are free, click here.
14. Curtain’s Up at Kid’s Week
Wow your kids, whatever their age, by joining in with Kid’s Week at the London theatres. More accurately described as a month spanning the whole of August, this is a chance for kids to go free to see many of the best London shows. With tickets on offer to big name shows such as Wicked, Horrible Histories, Paw Patrol Live, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Annie, Fantastic Mr Fox, and The Wind in the Willows, you don’t want to miss out.
15. Meet Animal Friends at the Zoo
Surely a British summer holiday wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the zoo. Little ones and big ones alike both love watching their favourite animal, whether that’s a gorilla, tiger, giraffe or penguin. Enjoy Chester, Bristol, Howletts, London, Whipsnade or Edinburgh.
The Single Places Worth Mentioning
All of the above ideas will pack your summer full of excitement and adventure, wherever in the country you live. However, if you’re looking for an extra special day out, then we really recommend the following unique gems:
16. Visit a Victorian Sweet Shop at Iron Bridge Gorge
Iron Bridge Gorge is a World Heritage Site. It is, in fact, 10 museums and more, all rolled in to one. There’s a Victorian town – watch out for the horses and carts, but have old-fashioned fun at the fairground, before indulging in a quarter-pound of your favourite sweets. The China Museum is also a big hit with the kids, with a chance to make their own.
17. All Aboard at Portsmouth or Chatham
If you’ve got a budding sailor, or simply a child who loves to explore, and loves big open spaces, then both Portsmouth Historic Dockyards and Chatham Dockyards are the places to be. At Portsmouth don’t miss the chance to explore the Mary Rose and HMS Victory, whilst at Chatham your kids get the chance to make rope whilst you indulge your Call the Midwife fandom.
18. Step in to the Rainforest or Space at the Eden Project
Check out if your kids can handle the heat of the rainforest dome before heading on a space adventure at the Eden Project. Once you’ve explored the different ecosystems, budding astronauts can join a training academy or take a solar system safari. Once again, the bigger kids aren’t left out as Hangloose are an adventure company offering a huge zip line ride over the entire site - in fact, it is England’s longest and fastest.
19. Head Underground with a Difference at Bounce Below
Zipworld has recently opened an awesome zip wire experience in London, but it’s best known for Bounce Below – a former slate mine in North Wales where you can bounce and jump your way through six whopping levels of bouncing fun.
20. Be Entertained at the Edinburgh Festival
To give your kids a boost of culture, and all round good experiences, make this the summer you take them to the Edinburgh Festival. There are usually around 180 child-centred shows to enjoy, and it’s all finished off with an incredible firework show at the Castle.
21. Go on a Wild Fairy Tale Adventure at Bewilderwood
If you live in East Anglia, or are in the region visiting for the summer, you have to spend a day at Bewilderwood. Will you go this way? Or that way?...As you embark on a day of pure adventure with tree houses (including Toddler Wood!), drop slides, giant swings and zip wires (including baby-friendly ones!) as well as a fabulous three dimensional maze and marsh boat ride. All this is bound up in a magical but gentle tale of marsh Boggles and tree-dwelling Twiggles.
22. Cast a Magic Spell at the Harry Potter Studio Tour
Little witches and wizards will love the chance to taste Butterbeer, step aboard the Knight Bus, or knock on the door of Number 4 Privet Drive at The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour. Not to be missed is trying to push a trolley through the wall of Platform 9 ¾ with the Hogwart’s Express steaming in the background. Newly opened this year is the Forbidden Forest experience.
Rain or shine, make this a summer to remember, and definitely not one of boredom. Choose from our comprehensive list of Great Places to Take Your Kids This Summer to Keep Them Entertained.