If you fancy getting out of the house with your little one, or need some ideas for things to do with toddlers on a family weekend away, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of England’s best hands-on attractions.
London Transport Museum
Step back in time at this world-famous museum, packed with 450,000 objects celebrating the rich history of London’s transport. And the best part of all? Your ticket allows you to come back all year for free! Hop on horse-drawn Victorian buses and speak to costumed actors who’ll tell you all about working and travelling in London. Budding engineers can try their hand at driving a tube train, and the All Aboard playzone (with its own dedicated baby area) lets little ones transform themselves into mechanics or boat captains. Twice a week you can also pop along to special sessions for under 5s with singing and storytelling.Find out more
Paultons Park, Hampshire
Pull them away from the telly box and take them to meet their heroes in the flesh at Paultons Park. Built on the edge of the New Forest National Park, this amusement park is packed with over 70 rides and attractions aimed specifically at little visitors. It’s also home to the planet’s first Peppa Pig World where little ones can immerse themselves in Peppa’s daily routine, complete with character meet-and-greets and themed rides – like driving Daddy Pig’s Car, or taking the helm on Grandpa Pig’s Boat Trip. And when it’s time to cool off, they can enjoy splashing about in the Muddy Puddles water playground.
The rest of the theme park – split into multiple zones – has plenty of interactive rides too. Let them harvest the crops on the Trekking Tractors ride, or put their construction skills to the test on the Digger Ride. Your little explorers will also love searching for fossils in the dinosaur-themed playground!Find out more
Eureka! The National Children's Museum
Credit: Eureka! The National Children's Museum via Yorkshire Attractions
Do your children love asking you questions that you don’t have all the answers to? Well you’re sure to find them at family-friendly Eureka!. Split across multiple zones, with 400 hands-on exhibits, there are plenty of things to do for toddlers and school-age children. The ‘All About Me’ zone is focuses on the human body – you can scan a pregnant lady’s belly, or even look up a giant nose – while Desert Discovery allows pre-school kids to experience the sounds and smells of the wilderness. Or head to the sensory SoundGarden to dress up, listen to lullabies and design your own butterfly.Find out more
Mattel Play Liverpool
Let imaginations run wild at the Albert Docks in Liverpool. Meet Thomas & Friends, help drive trains and meet Rosie in the meadow on the Island of Sodor, or assist Bob the Builder on site. If Fireman Sam is more their thing, then Pontypandy’s Fire Station is the place to be – grab a helmet and learn what it takes to be a firefighting hero! The venue also holds special autism-friendly sessions on the last Wednesday of each month that have a calmer and more relaxed atmosphere.Find out more
Head to Diggerland in Cullompton to get your hands on over 100 larger-than-life toys. This family-friendly attraction is home to an impressive collection of construction-themed rides, from the Dig-a-Round (a JCB-branded merry-go-round), to the Skyshuttle, which raises you 50 feet into the air to give you a bird’s eye view of the rural countryside. On top of that, there are loads of opportunities to get behind the wheel of diggers and dumper trucks – to play skittles or hook ducks – and there’s even a special zone for toddlers, where they get behind the wheel of Little Tikes toys. You’ll also find Diggerland in Kent, Yorkshire and County Durham.Find out more
V&A Museum of Childhood
From board games to dolls houses, this museum in Bethnal Green holds the nation’s collection of childhood memorabilia. However, it’s not all about vintage toys – there are lots of fun, free activities for children of all ages. Take part in art and craft sessions, embark on educational trails or settle down to watch a slapstick Punch and Judy show. Every Saturday, under 5s can get stuck in with sensory play sessions to help boost their imaginations. And pop by to a Play at the Museum event where the children can get their hands on an array olde wordle playthings – all of which are usually on display in the museum.Find out more
York Theatre Royal
Operating for over 250 years, York Theatre Royal is one of the oldest theatres in the English speaking world – so it definitely knows how to entertain. The theatre hosts child-friendly productions throughout the year, like pantomimes and live-action versions of their favourite story books. There are also lots of workshops for toddlers to attend, like Crafty Tales which encourages creativity through crafts and multi-sensory story time. And once children reach 5 years of age, they can join the Youth Theatre, where they’ll get top-notch drama training from acting experts.Find out more
The seven-storey National Centre for Children’s Books is a haven for learning through words and pictures. Each themed floor is full of wonderful books and play zones designed to spark imaginations. Twice a week the centre hosts Sensory Story sessions, where they feed the curiosity of little ones through props, sounds and textures to help them engage with books. There is also traditional storytelling for the whole family three times a day, and The Studio – a place for families to draw, paint, write, doodle and build.Find out more
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