Top Bank Holiday fun days out!
The August Bank Holiday is a chance for one last blow-out trip before the (whisper it) return to school. Why not have an extraordinary day out? We’ve got some ideas for you, from the South West to the Scottish Highlands.
- Part of Bristol’s excellent collection of harbourside museums and galleries, We The Curious is billed as an ‘indoor festival’ of science, art, people and ideas. Children are encouraged to touch, push and laugh their way through an exploration of our world and beyond. Gaze into space in the planetarium, walk into kitchens, greenhouses, giant installations and labs, and watch science displays, join in with workshops and join in with growing and cooking. The passionate, friendly staff are a particular highlight in this colourful, fun-filled place. Photo by WeTheCurious.org
- Dover Castle’s iconic main fortress is, of course, huge fun to visit – the vivid medieval interiors, the climb up the Great Tower, and the views across the channel. However, there is so much more to explore at this place that has been at the heart of history for centuries. Medieval and Napoleonic tunnels wind under the castle itself, and deep in the cliffs you’ll find a huge network of Second World War tunnels – an underground hospital, operations rooms, all brought to life with special effects and projections. There is so much to see here, you’ll return – it’s definitely worth thinking about investing in a yearly English Heritage pass. Photo by English-Heritage.org.uk
- Yes, Belton is a sumptuous Lincolnshire country house to explore with formal gardens bursting with lakes, summerhouses, orangeries, but there are also 1300 acres of gorgeous, wilder grounds that are home to deer, wild kites and deserted medieval village. Nestled in those grounds is a huge outdoor playground, with dens, sand pits, slides, walkways, and even its own miniature train and dedicated kiosk. It’s a place where children can run wild for hours and hours – take a picnic and watch them go. Smaller kids will love the indoor play area too. If you’ve got a National Trust membership, it’s a no-brainer of a place to visit. Photo by Nationaltrust.co.uk
- South East London’s Horniman Museum is a fantastic place to visit at any time of year; its hilltop grassy spaces, tropical gardens and animal walk are airy and provide incredible cityscape views, while inside an oddball assortment of treasures from around the world includes an over-stuffed walrus and a real-life Lagos market stall. This Sunday, enjoy the weekly farmer’s market, crazy golf, and the butterfly house in the gardens, or head indoors to catch Helena Hunter’s surreal Falling Birds exhibition. Photo by Horniman.ac.uk
- The Highland Folk Museum is a living history museum, bringing to life the domestic and working conditions of earlier Highland peoples. Visitors learn how Scottish Highlanders lived, how they built their homes, how they tilled the soil and how they dressed, in an exciting learning environment. An award winning visitor attraction (they won a Silver Green Tourism award amongst others), the museum not only encapsulates human endeavour and development in Highland life from the 1700s to the present day, but offers an opportunity to explore a beautiful natural setting, home to red squirrels and tree creepers. Photo by Highlifehighland.com
Oxford’s museums make for a fun and brain-expanding day out. Their buildings alone will make you gasp. The gothic, Harry Potter-style central court of the Museum of Natural History is dominated by huge dinosaur skeletons; explore the galleries to find fish, reptiles and birds, as well as ancient rocks, fossils and touchable evolution exhibits. Head next door to the gloriously eccentric Pitt -Rivers Museum for more esoteric wonders (prm.ox.ac.uk) It’s a Harry Potter-esque building packed densely with strange artefacts from around the world. Find shrunken heads and totem poles, masks and rich, bejewelled clothing, all accompanied by descriptions hand-printed in tiny type. The museum is dimly lit, and there are antique draws to pull open and discover collections of tiny, beautiful relics, laid out like jewels. On Saturdays the museum holds family activities including object handling, crafts and storytelling, or pick up a backpack full of activities. Photo by Morethanadodo.com
- Situated at the southern tip of Lake Windermere, the water-side Fell Foot Park not only has knockout views of the surrounding mountains, but is a family-friendly action hub. Hire kayaks, paddle boards or rowing boats, safe in the knowledge that there are state-of-the-art, warm changing facilities on the shore at the Active Base. If you’d rather keep your feet on solid ground, you’ll find yoga sessions, family fit sessions, workouts and park runs scheduled on shore. The park is admirably geared up for disabled visitors, with a Changing Places facility for visitors with complex care needs and a free-to-hire all-terrain wheelchair. Photo by NationalTrust.org.uk
The huge, free Discovery Museum in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne has something to prick every child’s interest. Find vast interactive playing and learning spaces; a science maze, a design centre for kids, a play area for under-7s that features a miniature model of the River Tyne to splash in. See relics from the city’s industrial past; a huge steamship, steam engines, a replica of the first ever lightbulb. Or take a tour through Newcastle’s social history from Roman times to the early millennium. The museum’s temporary exhibitions are pitched perfectly at families; past shows have included a history of circuses, and huge LEGO versions of some of the city’s most famous inventions. Photo by Discovermusuem.org.uk
- A water-powered railway will take you into the Centre for Alternative Technology, Snowdonia, a world-renowned eco hub that researches and supports greener ways of living. With seven acres of hands-on displays, examples of green buildings, renewable energy, a "Gaiascope" cinema, and organically managed gardens, this is an inspirational place to visit, and lots of fun too. Learn about eco-friendly ways of living with interactive displays, visit the underground world of Megan the Mole, and try activities from broom making to storytelling. If the rain eases off, there’s plenty to do outside; a quarry trail with stunning views and an adventure-filled playground. Photo by cat.org.uk
A stone-cold classic place to visit, The National Museum of Scotland is home to enormous dinosaur skeletons, interactive science galleries, aeroplanes, and the extraordinary Millennium Clock - a timepiece that springs to life on the hour with figures, music and lights. The newly refurbished Art, Design and Fashion galleries host gorgeous designer clothes, cutting-edge new commissions from contemporary artists, and design classics. It’s truly a place where every member of your clan will find something to absorb and astonish. Be sure to check out their family events online before you visit. Photo by nms.ac.uk
- What could be more dreamy – a place that combines getting out in the open air and enjoying some thought-provoking, large-scale art. Just down the road from The Hepworth, near Wakefield, you’ll find Yorkshire Sculpture Park, home to a shifting programme of works by some of the world’s leading artists. Check online to find a series of events suitable for children as well as walks, mindfulness sessions and even outdoor yoga. Photo by ysp.org.uk
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