We’ve said it before, and we’re about to say it again: finding affordable activities for you and your kids to do in the school holidays is challenging. However, with help from the RadioTimes.com Going Out team, your worries of searching for exciting activities without spending too much money will disappear, and all you’ll have left to concern you are things like the great British weather and whether a trip to a theme park is a recipe for a paper bag in the car ride home…
In our best list of the top family days out, we’ve thought of all ages and interests; there are National Trust and English Heritage sites for those who like to be amongst nature and learn about history, alpaca walks and donkey picnics for the animal lovers amongst us, plenty of theme parks like Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures for fearless teenagers, and — what did we say about the weather? — we’ve also considered indoor activities, too, like KidZania and Shrek’s Adventure.
Plus, plenty of attractions have special summer holiday discounts, such as English Heritage and Alton Towers, so you can save on your special day out — who said making memories has to be expensive?
A quick top tip from us to you before we crack on with the best days out list: be sure to check the expiration date on the activity you purchase. For example, sites like Virgin Experience Days and Buyagift often give you up to a year or 18-months to use the voucher, so if you don’t get a chance to do the activity this summer holiday, don’t sweat, simply use it on your next available weekend.
Best family days out in the UK at a glance:
- The Blackpool Tower Dungeon, from £16
- Cadbury World, from £18.95
- The York Dungeon, from
£23£19 (save £4 or 17%)
- Paintballing for four,
£49£20 (save £29 or 59%)
- Shrek’s Adventure, from £30
- Thorpe Park, from
£64£32 (save £32 or 50%)
- Chessington World of Adventures Resort, from
£60£36 (save £24 or 40%)
- Alton Towers Resort, from
£68£36 (save £32 or 47%)
- Family Steam Train Experience, £39
- Drayton Manor, from
£45£40 (save £5 or 11%)
- Chelsea Football Club Tour for two, £46
- Lucky Tails Alpaca Farm Entry with Alpaca Walk for four, £49.99
- English Heritage membership, from £51.75 a year
- LEGOLAND Windsor Resort for two, £86
- National Trust family membership, from £91.20 a year
- KidZania London for four, £100
- Sea Life London for four, £112
- Diggerland for Four, £129
- Donkey Picnic for four, £139
Best UK family days out to try in 2023
Chelsea Football Club Tour for One Adult & One Child
If this doesn’t get the summer holidays off to a cracking start, we don’t know what will. If your little one is a fan of Chelsea FC, then this stadium tour is just the ticket; you’ll both get to visit iconic spaces inside Stamford Bridge, such as the dressing rooms, press room, player’s tunnel, and manager’s dugouts, and you’ll also get the opportunity to go pitchside, too. Although players such as Thiago Silva and Raheem Sterling won’t be present (unless they fancy a behind-the-scenes tour of their own club), the atmosphere and excitement definitely will be.
After the tour, you’ll head to Chelsea FC Museum, then receive a free Chelsea FC gift to remember this special day with.
Here are the best stadium tours to take in 2023.
Visit to Sea Life London for Two Adults and Two Children
Was Little Mermaid’s Sebastian right when he said life under the sea is better? Well, there’s only one way to find out: take a trip to Sea Life in London. Inside the centre, you’ll see sea creatures like sharks, stingrays and starfish, and as you walk through the glass tunnel, a variety of fish and other swimmers will glide over your head. There’s also Penguin Point, where you’ll meet the Gentoo penguins, a graceful underwater penguin which can swim up to 22 miles an hour — faster than any other diving bird!
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A good thing about this experience, too, is that it’s indoors, so is suitable for all weather conditions, as we know you can’t always trust the great British summertime.
Visit to LEGOLAND Windsor Resort for Two
LEGOLAND is one of the UK’s most popular theme parks, and it’s easy to see why: the park boasts over 55 rides, as well as live shows and attractions dotted across 150 acres of land. This experience gift card will get the two of you all-day entry to LEGOLAND, and some of the highlights include the LEGO City Driving School where your little one can get their very first driving licence — perhaps they can drive the two of you home after your day out? — Ninjago The Ride, Miniland, and LEGO Mythica, a mythical world which features three exciting rides.
Diggerland Family Ticket for Four
The Diggerland theme park centres around, you guessed it, mechanical diggers. The parks in Durham, Kent, and Yorkshire include rides such as Land Rover Safari Ride, Spin Dizzy, Dump Trucks, and Skyshuttle — an exhilarating ride which takes you 50-feet into the air — as well as soft play areas, arcade games, and computer digging games. There’s also some Land Rovers and go-karts to test your driving skills on, too.
The York Dungeon
This next family day out activity comes with the following warning: it may cause nightmares! Once upon a time, York was declared by The International Ghost Research Foundation the most haunted city in Europe, and it continues to reign amongst the most haunted cities in the UK. The York Dungeon pays homage to York’s grizzly and gruesome past, with live actors, spooky scenes, and special effects in rooms such as The Plague Doctor and Curse of the Witch.
Although The York Dungeon is a mix of scary and fun, kids under five aren’t allowed in the dungeon, and the recommended minimum age is eight. This is because it’s a dark environment with some loud noises.
Entry to KidZania London for Two Adults and Two Children
KidZania is essentially an indoor city built for four to 14-year-olds; spanning an incredible 75,000 feet, the London-based centre includes a makeshift theatre, supermarket, TV studio, hospital, and more. The idea of KidZania is to encourage youngsters to explore interests and opportunities, such as learning about being a pilot with the British Airways Aviation Academy and animal well being with PDSA.
The four of you will get four hours in KidZania, and children will be handed 50 KidZo’s (currency) upon entry, which they will work to earn and save more.
The Blackpool Tower Dungeon
Blackpool isn’t all seaside, slot machines, and delicious fish and chips, you know, it also has a spooky side. Like The York Dungeon, The Blackpool Tower Dungeon also has a mix of live actors, terrifying scenes, and special effects in areas such as The Labyrinth and The Dark Chapel, plus, it has a ride, too. The Drop Dead Ride is sure to get your heart racing if the blood-curdling rooms haven’t already.
A trip to Cadbury World seemed to be a right of passage when we were youngsters, so we’re happy to see the chocolatey paradise is still going strong. At Cadbury World, you’ll discover the history of Cadbury confectionery through rides, a 4D cinema, chocolate tasting, workshops, and more, plus you’ll find out top secrets about the making of the sweet treat.
Paintballing for Four
Are you and your family competitive? Then paintballing could be a great activity to see how well you work together as a team, and see if that competitiveness can be channelled into making your team victorious.
Your experience will begin with a safety briefing, target practice, and a full kit of head and body protection, before you’re unleashed in one of two games, either the Tomb Raider game which includes trekking through the jungle to find an ancient stone pyramid, or a mission to protect the President on his tour of the UK. To help you in your quest, all four of you will use a rapid-fire semi-automatic machine gun with a hip-mounted 400-shot battlepack, and you’ll start with 100 paintballs each.
Family Steam Train Experience
All aboard your next family day out! Whether you and your family are interested in steam trains or just fancy a wholesome day out, the steam train experience will transport you to a simpler time as you’ll roll through acres and acres of untouched countryside. At the various stop-off points, you’ll be given a rover ticket, which means you can hop on and off to explore the local areas, with the chance to visit a train museum, too.
For more like this, here are the best steam train experiences in the UK.
Whether you’re planning a day out for a little one or a teenager, Drayton Manor has you covered with exciting things to do for all ages. For teenagers who crave thrilling rides, there’s Thor, Shockwave, and Maelstrom which are sure to get hearts pumping, and for youngsters, Drayton Manor is home to Europe’s only Thomas Land: an interactive park for Thomas the Tank Engine and all his friends. There’s also Drayton Manor Zoo, a 15-acre zoo which boasts over 500 animals from red pandas and capybaras to tigers and monkeys.
National Trust locations
Picture this: you and your family have just walked around a stately home rich with hundreds of years of history, you’ve sauntered through beautiful gardens with flowers, lakes, and more, and now you’re enjoying a coffee and sandwich in a National Trust cafe. Sounds idyllic, right? Well, this summer, with a National Trust membership card, you can get free entry to over 500 National Trust properties, free parking at most National Trust car parks, as well as a copy of the National Trust Magazine three times a year, and a National Trust handbook.
Family memberships start from £91.20 a year, and there’s also the option to buy individual junior and adult memberships, plus joint memberships and lifetime memberships, too.
Donkey Picnic for Four at Dashing Donkeys
This Donkey picnic does exactly what it says on the tin: your family of four will enjoy delicious food and beverages on some green grass, while being surrounded by adorable donkeys. After the picnic, all four of you will stroll through the field with a donkey, and there will be plenty of photo opportunities during the day as well.
Check out the best animal experience days up and down the country.
Chessington World of Adventures Resort
If you’re local to Surrey, Chessington World of Adventures is a brilliant theme park to take youngsters to this summer holiday. Not only does the resort have over 40 rides, including Tiger Rock and Croc Drop, and areas such as the world’s first Jumanji World, but Chessington World of Adventures also boasts a SEA LIFE centre and a zoo, with animals like iguanas and rhinos.
At the moment, daysout.com has a special offer on the theme park, taking tickets from £60 to just £36 — it’s almost like the site knew you’d be looking for things to do during the six weeks’ holiday!
Alton Towers Resort
Another theme park to test even the most fearless of riders is Alton Towers. There’s so much to do and to see at Alton Towers: there’s over 40 rides, including The Smiler and Wicker Man, as well as CBeebies Land, Sharkbait Reef with real-life sharks and rays, as well as a dungeon… Luckily, Alton Towers Resort offers short breaks and there are plenty of hotels nearby, too, so you can make a couple of days of it if you’d prefer.
English Heritage locations
English Heritage is so determined you’ll have a great summer, that it’s offering 25 per cent off the annual membership with the code YORE25, meaning you can join from just £51.75. The membership will give you unlimited access to over 400 hundred historic sites up and down the country, as well as free entry for up to six children. Plus, that’s not all, at participating English Heritage cafés across the country, members’ children can eat free, and you can also get discounted tickets to many of the English Heritage events such as knights' tournaments.
Lucky Tails Alpaca Farm Entry with Alpaca Walk for Two Adults and Two Children
Another day out for the animal lovers amongst us: alpaca farm entry and an alpaca walk for four people. Situated in the stunning Warwickshire countryside, which is also home to giant bunnies, pygmy goats, chickens, and ducks, as well as alpacas, this experience encourages you and your family to learn all about alpacas before you harness up and take your own alpaca on a soft stroll through the grounds. It’s the perfect family day out for photo opportunities, too, and some of the alpacas on the Buyagift website look like they have their cheesy grins at the ready.
This summer holiday, Shrek is inviting you into his swamp. Located at London’s Southbank (sorry, we mean Far Far Away), you and your family will enjoy an interactive and immersive walkthrough experience, which includes embarking on the DreamWorks Tours magical flying 4D bus, meeting characters like Puss in Boots, the Muffin Man and Pinocchio, and enjoying up to 12 fairy-tale themed live shows.
The weather might not have delivered, but Thorpe Park is on hand to ensure you have a sizzling summer with this red-hot saving: save up to 50 per cent on Thorpe Park tickets, with prices starting from just £32. Featuring the much talked-about rides, Stealth, SAW, Nemesis Inferno, and more, Thorpe Park will test even the most fearless of teenagers. Plus, there’s live entertainment and circus-themed street snacks at this year’s Carnival event: an annual event at Thorpe Park which takes place from 21st July to 28th August 2023.
Stay up to date with our Going Out section for top tips on how to get cheap tickets, such as Barbie and Oppenheimer cinema tickets deals, how to get cheap cinema tickets, and how to get cheap concert tickets.