Looking for some ideas for family days out this year?
Ones that cater for the whole family, are based in the UK and create memories that last a lifetime? Then you’ve come to the right place!
With the middle one about to start school for the first time his preschool days are fast running out, and like I did with the oldest I’d like to make the most of the time before his life is governed by school hours and term time.
This got me thinking about the days out we’ve had since he’s been born, and the ones that have really stayed with us long after the day itself ended.
In this collaborative post I’ve rounded up 5 of the best UK family days out we’ve been on as a family, ones I think are worth every penny and well worth a visit if you haven’t been before.
5 must-do family days out before they grow up
1. Sensational Butterfly Exhibition, Natural History Museum
If you’ve got a little explorer on your hands the butterfly house on the East lawn of the Natural History Museum is perfect, bringing the jungle to London with more than 500 tropical butterflies all flying freely under one roof.
The trip is not only a feast for the eyes but a feast for the senses too with temperatures kept at an average of 27 degrees and 100% humidity. The butterflies don’t mind landing on you either – especially if you’re wearing bright colours – fascinating and delighting big kids and little kids at the same time.
Running throughout the spring and summer every year for the last 10 years you can chart the life of the butterfly from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly, and collect stamps along the way.
My top tips:
The butterfly house gets hot. And when I say hot, I mean tropical hot, so be prepared to peel off. Oh, and be prepared to duck too – the butterflies and moths fly freely and don’t mind landing on humans!
2. Thomas Land
The only one of its kind in Europe, Thomas Land at Drayton Manor Park in Staffordshire boasts all the famous Thomas the Tank Engine characters. You can ride on Thomas, Rosie and Percy; fly in Jeremy Jet at Sodor Airport and fly in the sky with James and the Red Balloon.
From gentle train rides for babies and toddlers to the faster Troublesome Trucks Runaway Coaster, you’ll find rides for kids of all ages, plus the attraction is set within the wider Drayton Manor theme park meaning you can really make a weekend of it.
If it’s too far to travel there and back in one day the Drayton Manor Hotel is a four-star, family-friendly hotel right by the gates. You’ll find Thomas-themed rooms and kids entertainment and while it’s a bit manic – think hundreds of over-excited kids and over-wrought parents – that’s to be expected.
My top tips:
If you’re staying at the Drayton Manor Hotel, take your Thomas trains with you. They have a train track in the restaurant, but you have to hire trains from reception in order to use it. And check your child’s height on the height chart at the start of each ride – otherwise you’ll end up queuing for 45 minutes only to discover one of them is too small to ride.
3. Chessington World of Adventures
If you’re looking for a fun-packed family day out with attractions to suit all ages Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey has it in spades. The award-winning theme park and zoo not only features some of the world’s most spectacular – and endangered – animals but more rides than you possibly cram into one day.
From the charmingly magical and gentle Gruffalo River Ride, a dark water ride through the Gruffalo’s famous wild woods in which scenes from the book are brought to life, to Land of the Tiger, home to Chessington’s four endangered Amur tigers, this is a day out they’ll remember – and talk about – for years to come.
Like Thomas Land you can stay overnight: Chessington boasts two resort hotels, a Safari Hotel and its Azteca Hotel with themed rooms featuring characters including the Gruffalo and Penguins of Madagascar.
My top tips:
Invest in fast track tickets to beat the queues and height restrictions range from 0.9m to 1.4m, so it’s worth checking them out before you go in order to manage expectations.
Of all the family days out we’ve been on LaplandUK remains without a shadow of a doubt the best – and we’ve been three times! If you haven’t heard of LaplandUK before where have you been? Dubbed the Christmas experience in the UK it’s an immersive experience nestled in the heart of Crown Estate forest near Ascot, bringing the magic of Christmas to life.
Think real pine trees, snowy pathways and a Father Christmas who knows exactly what the kids have been up to because you can personalise your visit before you go. It’s so realistic our kids actually think we go through a magic portal to get there owing to the fact we get a ‘GPS signal lost’ announcement on Google maps seconds before turning into the car park.
It’s one of the most expensive days out you’re likely to come across (more than £500 for a family of five) but I genuinely think it’s worth every penny and a must while they still believe in the man in red. They can make toys in Santa’s toy factory, help Mother Christmas decorate gingerbread in her kitchen and make memories that will last a lifetime on the ice rink.
My top tips:
Wear layers – it gets very hot in the toy factory and Mother Christmas’s kitchen but very cold on the ice. And if you like celeb spotting keep your eyes peeled – last year we spotted the Beckhams!
5. London’s Christmas lights
Christmas lights of some sort are a must when they’re little and if you’re looking for a family friendly Christmas day out that won’t break the bank seeing London’s lights from the top of an open-top bus is an adventure they won’t forget in a hurry.
Hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour company The Original Tour runs 45 minute and 90-minute Christmas lights tours from the end of November until new year taking in the likes of Trafalgar Square and its famous Christmas tree, Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus.
You get to see the shop window displays from a view you won’t get from street level – including Hamley’s – and the looks on the kids’ faces is priceless.
My top tips:
Like Lapland UK, wear layers! And take an umbrella – as we discovered it can get rather wet on the top of an open-top bus in December!
Have you been on any of these days out? Are there any you’d add to the list? I’d love to hear your recommendations!
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