The best summer activities for kids
Summer is fast approaching, and with it the pressure to fill school-free days with endless distractions. Fear not, from fairytale castles to imagination-sparking museums and superb countryside, we've got our hands on a whole host of activities for kids that you'll want to add to the bucket list.Shop Holiday Essentials
Long summer days, spectacular scenery and a host of cultural epicentres make days out in Scotland a treat. Journey to the heart of planet Earth at Dynamic Earth (Dynamicearth.co.uk), Edinburgh, where with interactive exhibits, a 360° dome and school holiday hands-on activities, budding explorers can discover all about nature. Head to Highland Wildlife Park (Highlandwildlifepark.org.uk), near Kingussie, to meet Britain’s first polar bear club in 25 years, or Camperdown Wildlife Centre (Camperdownwildlifecentre.co.uk), Dundee, for European brown bears.
Harry Potter fans will love riding The Jacobite (Westcoastrailways.co.uk), the iconic steam train, and there are children’s shows galore at The Edinburgh Fringe (Edfringe.com). Kids go free to the Royal Highland Show (Royalhighlandshow.org), Edinburgh, on 21st to 24th June and for a taste of tradition, watch the Loch Lomond Highland Games on 14th July.
Kids will love the spectacular experience of Zip World Bounce Below (Zipworld.co.uk), Blaenau Ffestiniog, with slides and trampolines set in a cathedral-sized underground cave. For another day's trip, it's hard to imagine a holiday without going to the beach. Head to Barmouth beach, Snowdonia, for donkey rides and ice creams or one of the sandy beaches on the Gower Peninsula for surfing lessons. Be sure to check out Rhossili Bay, known as 'the supermodel of British beaches'.
Strike your own coin at The Royal Mint Experience (Royalmint.com), near Cardiff, and there’s history aplenty at Cardiff Castle (Cardiffcastle.com) and Caernarfon Castle (Caernarfon-castle.co.uk). Spot dolphins at Cardigan Bay and for a magical trip, explore Llanddwyn Island.
Hit the beach
See sweets being made at Aunt Sandra’s Candy Factory (Auntsandras.com), Belfast, and have a guided tour of linen mill Wellbrook Beetling Mill, (Nationaltrust.org.uk) in County Tyrone. Take a day trip to Castlewellan Forest Park (Discovernorthernireland.com), County Down, for one of the world’s largest permanent hedge mazes and explore the Mourne Mountains – the inspiration for C.S. Lewis’ Narnia.
A history fiend? Head to Titanic Belfast (Titanicbelfast.com) where you can discover the story of the ship in the interactive galleries. Hang out with seals at Exploris Aquarium (Explorisni.com), Portaferry, and, for those who are feeling daring, enjoy the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, County Antrim, with its spectacular vista.
North and The Midlands
Little ones will be enthralled by The National Space Centre (Spacecentre.co.uk), Leicester, with its 42m high rocket tower, planetarium and the chance to walk in the footsteps of many a famous astronaut. For history buffs, a trip to Warwick Castle (Warwick-castle.com) is a must. There are daily shows, such as a birds of prey showcase, and a Princess Tower, where kids can help solve a puzzle to unite the make-believe prince and princess.
Enjoy mountain biking, high ropes, archery and more at Kielder Water and Forest Park (Visitkielder.com), Northumberland, where the sky is said to be the darkest in England. Head to Blists Hill Victorian Town (Ironbridge.org.uk), Shropshire, to journey back in time, Chester Zoo (Chesterzoo.org), or base a day around Manchester with indoor skiing and snowboarding at Chill Factore (Chillfactore.com) and footballing like the pros at the National Football Museum (Nationalfootballmuseum.com).
Fit for a prince and princess
Plan a city day trip to London. Take kids to Dinosaurs in the Wild (Dinosaursinthewild.com), in Greenwich Peninsula until 31st July, for an immersive, prehistoric experience, while pilots-in-the-making will enjoy the Emirates Aviation Experience (Aviation-experience.com). The first open air cinema for children is heading to London during the summer (Lunakidscinema.com), showing family favourite films like Paddington 2 and Finding Dory.
It’s 100 years since Stonehenge (English-heritage.org.uk) was donated to the public so head there to marvel at the sight. For a swimming adventure, think Coral Reef Waterworld (Everyoneactive.com), Berkshire. The Portsmouth Historic Dockyard (Historicdockyard.co.uk) is ideal for an educational trip, as is the Eden Project (Edenproject.com), Cornwall, for giving an immersion into nature.