18 fab day trips
Exhausted all your local entertainment options? We've scoured far and wide beyond Wilts and Glos for some great day trip ideas for the autumn
Fancy crossing county lines for the day and heading off on a further flung adventure than your local park? Load the car up with snacks, bundle the kids in the back and try one of these – all doable within a day for Wilts and Glos dwellers.
Longleat safari park is celebrating its newest Australian residents (the clue’s in the picture) with an Australian Summer event, until 2 Sept. From 1 August The Longhouse will transform into an indoor beach, fully loaded with real sand, perfect for building masterpiece castles, deckchairs, crafty activities and surf-style wobble boards. The Main Square will also transform into the outback, staging daily performances from high tempo dancing, to live didgeridoo music and acrobatic break dancing.
The Base in Greenham Common, Berkshire
Don’t want to fork out £100 on Legoland tickets? Muddy Award-winning The Base in Greenham Common is putting on some brilliant exhibitions, the latest is Brick City, a mini collection of iconic Lego brink buildings by artist Warren Elsmore, from New York’s skyscrapers and gondolas in Venice to medieval Japanese castles and Las Vegas. Pop to the Brick Den afterwards to to the Brick Den and create your own masterpiece.
Zip Now London, Southbank London
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope it’s a human torpedo whizzing down a 738ft wire, 100ft above Archbishop’s Park at 50mph. Beats the tube any day of the week. What we’ll do to avoid our faces been wedged in someone’s sweaty armpit. Get yourself down to South Bank, climb to the top the tower and wheeeeeeee. Book online.
National Diving & Activity Centre, Gloucestershire
Surrounded by a jaw-dropping quarry and slightly terrifying cliff edge, the National Dive Centre has a whole host of wet and dry fun to keep any adrenaline-junkie family happy. Soar through the water with fly boards or go deep below in diving classes. If you fancy keeping dry, the giant 3G swing or zip wire will get your heart pumping. And if you want to stay over, there are fab glamping pods to hole up in.
Warwick Castle, Warwickshire
This spectacular castle just over the border is always a winner with Muddy and they are very good at luring us back. This summer you can see live action show War of the Roses (more stunts and tricks than you can shake a stick at), as well as largest birds of prey show in the UK and the castle dungeon (spooky!). Round off the day with the castle’s live projection show Dragon Slayer – epic battles, stunts, actors, jousting and loadsa fireworks. (Top tip: if it’s a sunny day it might be worth your while to bring a picnic, you can queue for ages for food).
Underbelly Festival, London
There’s loads going on between Southbank Centre, Jubilee Gardens and the London Eye this summer, part of Underbelly Festival, including comedy, circus, cabaret, family fun and one of the biggest outdoor bars in London (oh hello!). The big draw for the little people is CBeebies’ Twirlywoos first ever stage show (3 – 31 Aug) featuring your 1+ year old’s favourite spherical characters Toodloo, Great BigHoo, Chickedy and Peekaboo (nope, me neither), plus live puppetry and songs. It will be nice for them to watch something on stage, rather than the telly, right?
You have to hand it to Legoland for continuing to come up with ways to sell the Lego dream to under-10s in ever-inventive new ways. This year’s attraction is the fangtastic Haunted House Monster Party, a brand new rotating ride and that’ll turn your world upside down (Best before lunch) There’s also the Ninjago World and Lego Miniland, which took three years to complete.
Wistow Maze, Leicestershire
Set in eight acres of living maize and sunflower crop, Wistow Maze is one of the country’s largest maize mazes and is peppered with high level bridges and viewing towers with panoramic views. This year, to celebrate 50 years since the moon landing, the maze has been designed in the shape of an astronaut, and the quiz trail hidden amongst the 3 miles of pathways, will be themed on other Historic First Achievements.
The Making of Harry Potter, Watford, Hertfordshire
This WB Studio Tour company never runs out of new reasons to get families back to this paean to the boy wizard. A new special feature dedicated entirely to the Harry Potter costumes and for the first time ever fans can enter the set of Gringotts Wizarding Bank, the Studio Tour’s biggest addition to date and has been designed and built by many of the original crew who worked on the award-winning films.
Beasts of London, Museum of London
This looks amazing- a fully immersive, digital installation (see above for a sneak preview) exploring the role animals have played in the shaping of London, from the Roman era all they way up to present day. The interactive show uses video projection mapping to bring the beasts, from rats to lions, to life as they narrate a virtual tour of London. There are some major British celebs involved too, with Kate Moss, Brian Blessed, Pam Ferris and more voicing the beasts.
Cotswold Wildlife Park, Oxfordshire
Cotswold Wildlife Park, nr Burford, is a guaranteed hit with kids who love all things furry, creepy and crawly. It has the little fellas – penguins, lemurs and reptiles – as well as the big guns, including lions, rhinos (FYI Aug is Rhino month with daily talks) and giraffes (try out the Giraffe Walkway where you can stroll up to eye-level with the animals). There’s also a cute railway, adventure playground and children’s farmyard.
Fancy a seaside jaunt?
Although living in Glos or Wilts you basically couldn’t get further away from the coast, a one-day jaunt to the seaside is still doable if you get an early start. Check out these seven beaches that are all 2 hours away by car. Grab a wind-breaker and soggy sandwiches and let’s go!
Roald Dahl Museum, Buckinghamshire
The Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden, Bucks, piling on the activities to keep the ankle biters entertained over the summer holidays all themed around James and the Giant Peach – loads of tongue-twisting events including Buzzwangling Bug Pots, Phizzwhizzing Insect Portraits, Hunky-Dory Insect Homes and more.
The Warehouse Climbing and Caving Centre, Gloucestershire
This cleverly transformed Victorian warehouse contains a climbing wall and indoor man-made cave so if you’re harbouring a young Ranulph Fiennes, who knows what you might trigger as she or he scales the impressive 13m wall here or ditches the ropes and goes bouldering in the lower levels. There’s also a dedicated kids’ room for anyone who’s a bit too small for the big wall. And a cave, built with tunnels and chambers, which feels like you’re really caving somewhere deep down below.
Science Museum, London
If you’re heading into the Big Smoke, check out the Science Museum‘s cool new interactive gallery- Wonderlab, with over 50 exhibitions including hands-on, live experiments at the Chemistry Bar and daily shows. The Space and AI tech exhibitions are also worth seeing. The Space and AI tech exhibitions are also worth seeing.
Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth
The rather striking Mary Rose Museum has a packed schedule of fab exhibitions to keep kids (and adults) amused over the long summer break. Along with the Many Faces of Tudor England, the kids can also take part in the Shipwreck Explorerschallenges, including Savvy Shipwrights until the 1st Aug and then onto Tasty Tudors from the 2nd until the 16th August. If you’re lucky you might even meet old King Henners VIII himself.
Windsor Castle, Berkshire
The Queen’s weekend hangout, Windsor Castle is often neglected by Berkshire peeps but has lots of activities running throughout the summer, including its Stars and Banners: Knights and Ladies of the Garter. Kids can try on armour and make a Garter star to wear around the home of Britain’s oldest and most senior band of knights. It’s advised to arrive at the castle after midday so no early wake up call – result!
Hatfield House, Hertfordshire
Hatfield House is one of those places that has it all, Jacobean gloriousness, gorgeous gardens with space to play and, erm, goats! Bring a picnic and sit in the gardens amongst the modern sculptures, explore the house (last year’s big hitter The Favourite was filmed here) or head over to the 25 acre Park Farm where you can walk amongst the paddocks and see all the usual farmyard crew. The house and gardens are open on weekends only this summer, the farm is open every day.