Entertain the kids on a budget
Stimulating young minds with ease
It doesn’t have to cost the earth to keep the little ones entertained. England is packed full of museums, galleries, gardens and exciting activities, where they can let off steam and learn something new. And with the money you save on getting in, perhaps you can spoil them with a little something in the gift shop afterwards…
National Gallery , London
Get your budding Picassos down to the National Gallery’s Drawing Sunday. This weekly event is totally free, giving youngsters an opportunity to create their own masterpieces using a supply of colouring pencils, paper and copious amounts of glue. Best leave some space on the fridge at home for them to hang their creations.
Royal Armouries , Leeds
The Royal Armouries houses weaponry and armour from throughout Britain’s history. And there’s free admission to see some of the spellbinding 8,500 objects displayed over five galleries. With tours, craft activities and shows throughout the year the entire family will be guaranteed a fun-filled day out.
National Railway Museum , York
With 100 locomotives under one roof, the National Railway Museum is the ideal place for your little ones to let off some steam. During half term they can come and meet Paddington Bear too. Be sure to pack your marmalade sandwiches.
Pitt Rivers Museum , Oxford
Admission is free for you and the kids to come and explore the University of Oxford’s mesmerising collection of anthropology and archaeology. Pitt Rivers Museum simply houses one of the finest assemblages of curios and absorbing objects gathered from fascinating cultures all over the planet. They are thronged together and revealed in lovingly presented dynamic displays. A day here will be sure to leave you all astounded and enthralled.
At Jimmy’s Farm in Ipswich, kids can pet the resident rabbits, pigs and sheep, stroke a ferret or two and run around chasing butterflies. The farm is laid out over a 40-acre nature trail and woodland walk, and there’s an adventure playground and den-building sessions, which should tire them out before the drive home.
Roald Dahl Museum , Buckinghamshire
Kids and adults alike are encouraged to dress up as Roald Dahl characters and create their own stories at this exciting museum in the author’s home village. There are free story-telling sessions, too, which take place outside – or in Miss Honey’s classroom if it rains.
Go down to the woods today… , nationwide
Sounds simple doesn’t it? And it is. There’s so much that your kids and you can do in England’s glorious wooded glades, from tree climbing and puddle splashing to building a den or even making some woodland-inspired art. There were days before computer games and they were just as much fun, we promise.
Tamworth Castle , Staffordshire
Tamworth Castle has a history stretching back almost a thousand years – more than enough for your kids to get lost in. Hands-on displays, costumes and activities will keep your little princes and princesses riveted as they take an enthralling journey back through the mists of time in this historic motte and bailey castle.
UK Wolf Conservation Trust , Berkshire
Take your pack to see the resident wolves at this enormous enclosure. Kids can get close to these misunderstood creatures on the children’s wolf walk – or how about shadowing a wolf keeper for the day and watching the animals being fed? FYI: they’ll get mucky so old clothes are essential.
Alnwick Garden , Northumberland
Kids will have a great time dodging the water jets in the Grand Cascade, playing hide and seek in the Bamboo Labyrinth and getting a head for heights on the treehouse’s wobbly rope bridges. There are opportunities for them to learn stuff, too, with experts on hand in the Ornamental Gardens to answer questions about the exotic plants.