Britain’s 40 best days out (perfect for half term)

February half term is finally here and Britain is bursting with brilliant ideas for family days out. From stately homes with sprawling grounds to immersive museums and nature reserves, and even a couple of theme parks, there’s no shortage of options to fill your calendar with, wherever you are located. Opt for adventure with zip wires in Cornwall and trips down an old mine in Midlands, try a scavenger hunt in one of the country’s best museums or simply head out on a historical walk. Note that half-term dates differ around the country, but most schools will be out either the week beginning February 14 or February 21.

If you’ve not had time to plan any day trips and are searching for inspiration, look no further. Here are 40 of the UK’s best days out.

The Midlands

1. Black Country Living Museum, West Midlands

A 26-acre, open-air site onto which more than 40 buildings have been moved from various parts of the area. Exhibits include a pub and chapel, as well as a Twenties cinema and Thirties fish and chip shop. Trolley buses and trams link the site, and you can take a 35-minute tour into a drift mine to experience the life of an 1850s miner. 

Contact: 0121 557 9643;

2. Ironbridge, Shropshire

The birthplace of the Industrial Revolution now houses 10 museums alongside the famous iron bridge over the River Severn. Of these the most popular with children are Enginuity, a science and technology centre full of hands-on activities and interactive exhibits, and Blists Hill, a lively reconstructed Victorian town with old-style shops (taking old-style money) and fairground.

Contact: 01952 433424;

Family day out school holidays half term

The famous iron bridge over the River Severn

Credit: Getty

3. Bekonscot Model Village & Railway, Buckinghamshire

This Thirties creation, the world’s oldest and original model village, started as a hobby and developed into more than an acre of meticulously made houses, farms, fields and lakes, connected by a model railway that wends its way through well-kept gardens. Profits go to charity. 

Contact: 01494 672919;

Northern England

4. National Media Museum, West Yorkshire

Interactive galleries are located on seven floors of this museum in Bradford which explores the world of photography, cinema and television. Family events take place every weekend and throughout the school holidays, including drop-in sessions and guided tours. 

Contact: 0844 856 3797;

5. Honister Slate Mine, Cumbria

One of the Lake District’s last working slate mines where visitors will find the “Infinity Bridge” – a gorge traverse at 1,200ft up – and mountain activities, along with stunning views, on the Via Ferrata; there’s a choice of the Classic or – newer and more nerve-wracking – “Xtreme” route.

Contact: 01768 777230;

Family day out school holidays half term

Honister is one of the Lake District’s last working slate mines

Credit: Getty

Top rides include the Avalanche, Big Dipper, Grand National and The Big One (Europe’s tallest roller coaster at 235 feet). The ‘Flying Machines’ were built in 1904 but still pull in crowds. 

Contact: 0870 444 5566;

7. Beamish Museum, County Durham

A 300-acre area containing reconstructed houses, shops and heritage buildings contrasting life in north-east England in 1825 with the post-industrial period nearly a century later. One highlight is the colliery village with pit cottages. A hop-on, hop-off tram dating from 1913 takes visitors around and demonstrators also bring their skills and crafts alive. 

Contact: 0191 370 4000;

Family day out school holidays half term

A hop-on, hop-off tram dating from 1913 takes visitors around Beamish Museum

Credit: Getty

8. National Railway Museum, North Yorkshire and County Durham

One of the best free museums in the country, across two sites, in York and at Shildon. Highlights include a Japanese bullet train, a Chinese locomotive, Queen Victoria’s railway carriage and Mallard, once the fastest steam trains in the world. There is also a model railway, outdoor play area and train-ride simulator. The Shildon site has a Stirling Single from 1870 and family train rides. 

Contact: 08448 153139;

9. Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland

The best Roman forts and museums along the 150-mile wall are between Brampton and Hexham. Highlights include finds at Vindolanda (shoes, party invitations and jewellery), Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum (full scale reconstructed bath house) and the Roman Army Museum. 


Family day out school holidays half term

Pick a section of Hadrian’s Wall to explore

Credit: Getty

More than 11,000 animals housed in 110 acres of gardens. The Islands are fairly new, recreating the habitats of six south-east Asian islands. 

Contact: 01244 380280;

Eastern England

11. Whipsnade Zoo, Bedfordshire

One of Europe’s largest wildlife parks, with more than 2,500 animals. Attractions include Lemur Island, Cheetah Rock and an indoor gym (chimpnasium) for acrobatic chimpanzees. One of the zoo’s newest additions is Zhina, a baby rhino.

Contact: 0344 225 1826;

Family day out school holidays half term

Credit: Getty

12. Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire

Five hangars show historic aircraft including a Battle of Britain Exhibition and a Land Warfare Hall with giant tanks and military trucks. Flights over the surrounding countryside in an original vintage aircraft can now be pre-arranged. The museum’s 1940 Operations Room is currently closed for redevelopment but will be reopening in Summer 2020.

Contact: 01223 835000;

13. Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure, Norfolk

Follow a wooded trail to find life-size dinosaurs, with Tyrannosaurus rex and vast Brontosaurus, and audio equipment used to create prehistoric grunts and roars. There’s also adventure play areas and a farmyard. 


14. Sutton Hoo, Suffolk

An Anglo-Saxon burial ground in 91 hectares of grounds overlooking the Deben estuary with woodland walks and plenty of activities for families, including an adventure playground, tracker packs, dressing-up and activity trails.

Contact: 01394 389700;

Family day out school holidays half term

Credit: Getty

15. Anglesey Abbey, Gardens and Lode Mill, Cambridgeshire

There is plenty of room to let off steam in the spacious gardens containing a wildlife discovery area with two-storey tree house and a 150-year old, working mill. Families can explore the woodland trails and pick up an activity pack for exploring house and grounds on entry. House highlights include a collection of clocks and silverware. A recently renovated “domestic wing” allows access to the kitchen, butler’s pantry, brushing room and servants’ hall.

Contact: 01223 810080;

16. Snettisham Park, Norfolk

Friendly 320-acre farm-turned-family-attraction where children can feed orphan lambs and collect eggs. A large adventure playground, deer safari, walking trails and ride-on tractors provide all-day fun. 

Contact: 01485 542425;

Family day out school holidays half term Snettisham Park, Norfolk

Snettisham Park is a 320-acre farm-turned-family-attraction

Credit: Getty

Southern England

The scavenger hunts at the British Museum are a wonderful way to get children to really examine the art in front of them. The animal masks in the African galleries are particularly popular with young children; youngsters keen on counting will enjoy comparing Buddhas in the Indian galleries. The museum regularly runs craft projects at half-term.


18. Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London

A great day out for all Harry Potter fans of all ages. Allow around three hours for this tour, which gives you an opportunity to browse at your own pace through the vast hangars where the films were made. Highlights include the Great Hall, Hagrid’s hut, the Gryffindor common room, the original Hogwarts Express steam engine and a recreation of Platform 9 ¾. Wander along Diagon Alley, learn the secrets behind the special effects and find out what butterbeer tastes like (buy a glass to share – it’s an acquired taste). 


Family day out school holidays half term

Explore Hagrid’s Hut on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Credit: Getty

Thousands of small plastic bricks used to create “Miniland”, with London landmarks such as the Millennium Bridge, Canary Wharf and Tower Bridge. Also Lego-themed rides and adventure films within the 150-acre park. 

Contact: 00871 2222 001;

20. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Hampshire

Ships include HMS Victory, HMS Warrior 1860 and the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s warship, for which a £27 million museum opened in 2013. Single-attraction tickets are available, but best value is the annual admission, which covers all of the exhibits. Recent changes have been made to the HMS Warrior and visitors can now have conversations with historic figures, try their hand at sword-fighting and create secret signal flag messages.

Contact: 023 9283 9766;

Family day out school holidays half term Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Visitors to HMS Warrior can now try their hand at sword-fighting

Credit: Getty

21. Osborne House, Isle of Wight

Swiss Cottage, the small two-storey wooden play chalet in the gardens of Queen Victoria’s seaside palace, was reopened in 2018 with hands-on displays portraying the life of a royal Victorian child, while the grounds contain a trail and play area. A short walk from the house is the Queen’s private beach with her 1840s bathing machine, deck chairs and great ice cream. 

Contact: 01983 200022; 

22. Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, West Sussex

About 50 historic buildings, including barns, a Victorian school, timber-framed farmhouse, market hall and water mill, all rescued from demolition and reconstructed on a grassy site. Authentically dressed staff add further atmosphere by demonstrating traditional crafts in situ. 

Contact: 01243 811363;

Family day out school holidays half term

Authentically dressed staff add atmosphere at Weald & Downland Open Air Museum

Credit: Getty

23. Hampton Court, Surrey

There is masses to see here, including the Great Hall, Tudor kitchens, William III’s state apartments and the gardens with maze and 240-year-old grape vine. Don’t miss the Cumberland Art Gallery with paintings by Rembrandt and Caravaggio, or the Georgian chocolate kitchens.

Contact: 0844 482 7777;

Family day out school holidays half term Hampton Court

Hampton Court is a clasic family day out

Credit: Credit

The South West

24. Slimbridge Wetland Centre, Gloucestershire

Children can get soaking wet in Welly Boot Land, where they’re encouraged to build dams, jump in puddles and mess around with water. Also 4×4 safaris, toad demonstrations and canoe safaris at this bird conservation trust founded by Sir Peter Scott in 1946. 

Contact: 01453 891900;

This ancient prehistoric monument is enhanced with audio-visual displays, hands-on exhibits and a café. Reconstructed huts show how life would have been for Neolithic children. 

Contact: 0870 333 1181;

Family day out school holidays half term Stonehenge

Stonehenge is enhanced by audio-visual displays and hands-on exhibits

Credit: Getty

Tour the game reserve to see giraffes, zebras, rhinoceros, camels, lions, tigers and wolves. The day ticket also covers the 16th-century house, miniature railway and Adventure Castle playground for younger children. Stingray Bay and Penguin Island are are among the attractions. 

Contact: 01985 844400; Note the house and its attractions will not open until April. For safari opening times, see website.

27. Eden Project, Cornwall

Children and adults love the walk-through “biomes”, one with a rainforest ecosystem, the other with Mediterranean trees and plants. There is a rainforest canopy walkway with a nest platform, a zip wire, gardens and a great range of educational (and fun) play areas.

Contact: 01726 811911;

Family day out school holidays half term Eden Project Cornwall

Children and adults love the walk-through “biomes” at the Eden Project Cornwall

Credit: Getty

28. Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall

Restored after years of neglect, this 100-acre area contains glasshouses, walled gardens, pleasure grounds, a “jungle” of ferns with boardwalks, and peaceful woodland. 

Contact: 01726 845100;

29. Battle Abbey, East Sussex

Audio guides bring the blood and gore of this 1066 battle ground alive and you can see the spot where King Harold died. An introductory film tells the story in the visitor centre. 

Contact: 01424 775705;

Family day out school holidays half term

A well-preserved common room at Battle Abbey

Credit: Getty

30. Paignton Zoo, Devon

Opened in the Twenties by an eccentric millionaire, the zoo covers an 80-acre area containing a crocodile swamp and six habitats, including savannah, forest and wetland, plus botanic gardens. Daily events include animal talks, bird shows and feeding times.

Contact: 0844 474 2222;

31. Wookey Hole Caves, Somerset

Designed for families with younger children to explore themed areas such as Dinosaur Valley, Monster Mill and Fairy Garden. You can also join a 35-minute tour of the prehistoric caves. A circus show includes unicycling, tight-rope walking, and juggling. 

Contact: 01749 672243;

Family day out school holidays half term Wookey Hole Cave

Credit: Getty


32. The Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre, Stirling

Opened to mark the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn in 2014, this centre recreates the sights and sounds of medieval battle using 3D technology. Visitors can watch or participate in the Battle Game, an interactive test of strategy, and Battle Show, a demonstration of how the battle was won.

Contact: 01786 812 664;

Family day out school holidays half term

Crathes Castle and Gardens has superb gardens

Credit: Getty

33. Culloden Battlefield, Highlands

The site of a bloody clash between Jacobites and Hanoverians in 1746, where more than 1,200 died in less than an hour of fighting. A hi-tech visitor centre uses film, models and hand-held electronic guides to convey the stories surrounding the event: the animated battle table uses vivid narration to bring the drama of this brutal conflict to life. 

Contact: 0844 493 2159; Note the visitor centre is closed, but the battlefield is open for half term.

34. Culzean Country Park, Ayrshire

An 18th-century castle on a rocky promontory by the Firth of Clyde, with Robert Adam interiors and castle armoury. Waymarked paths run through woodland and a deer park. Young Naturalist Club events, with nature themed games, trails and crafts, run during school holidays.

Contact: 0844 493 2149; Unfortunately, the castle is closed during half-term but the Country Park, the Adventure Cove play park and Wild Woodland play park are open.

Family day out school holidays half term

Waymarked paths run through woodland and a deer park at Culzean Country Park

Credit: Getty


35. Anglesey Sea Zoo, Isle of Anglesey

Highlights at Anglesey Sea Zoo include the Shark Pool, Big Fish Forest and Shipwreck using huge tanks stocked with marine life found in the waters around the local coastline. Also an “Octojump” bouncy castle, adventure playground and radio-controlled boats. 

Contact: 01248 430411;

36. Big Pit Mining Museum, Torfaen

You really get a feel of what life was like underground on a guided tour of the mine, which starts with a 300ft descent by pit cage down the mineshaft, equipped with helmets and cap lamps. Or you can opt to take a virtual tour of a modern coal mine. The original winding engine house, blacksmith’s forge and fan house are open to visitors.

Contact: 0300 111 2 333;

Family day out school holidays half term Big Pit National Coal Museum

Experience what life was like underground on a guided tour of Big Pit Mining Museum

Credit: Getty

37. Llancaiach Fawr Manor, Caerphilly

A Tudor house restored to its mid-17th century condition, with resident Puritan family, the Pritchards. Characters are bought to life by actors, and set in the context of the English Civil War. Children’s activity days are planned throughout August. 

Contact: 01443 412248;

38. Bodnant Garden, Conwy

Explore eighty acres of terraces, informal lawns, river valley and wild gardens with plants from all over the world at Bodnant Garden. Enjoy family trails with puzzles, activity sheets and questions, plus the newly opened Yew Dell, which has rare Bodnant hybrid rhododendrons.

Contact: 01492 650460;

Family day out school holidays half term Bodnant Garden

Explore eighty acres of terraces, informal lawns, river valley at Bodnant Garden

Credit: Getty

39. National Slate Museum, Gwynedd

The National Slate museum has an atmospheric location set next to Dinorwig quarry in Elidir mountain. Original Victorian workshops include foundries and forges, which are now used for slate-splitting demonstrations. There are also reconstructions of four quarrymen’s cottages and the Chief Engineer’s House. 

Contact: 0300 111 2 333;

Family day out school holidays half term

National Slate Museum is set next to Dinorwig quarry in Elidir mountain

Credit: Getty

Northern Ireland

40. Mount Stewart House, County Down

Set in a scenic spot on the shores of Strangford Lough, this neo-classical house has spectacular gardens with Mediterranean-style planting and woodland areas. There are wildlife tracker packs, swans on the lake and red squirrel trails to encourage children to explore the grounds. 

Contact: 028 4278 8387;

For more travel inspiration, read Telegraph Travel’s guide to the best family hotels in the UK.

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