Those six weeks of the summer holiday can be daunting when you’re facing down an empty calendar. When you’ve got three kids with three very different personalities, finding an activity that suits the whole family can be even more of a feat. Luckily the UK is bursting with activities fit for kids, ones that’ll get them outdoors, learning or just having a bit of unadulterated fun.
To make sure you don’t miss any of the UK’s best family-friendly activities, I’ve whipped up the ultimate summer holiday bucket list that you and the kids will want to get cracking on right away.
Anything that gets the family outdoors and playing in nature, has my interest. Go Ape is celebrating its 15th birthday this year, which means they must be doing something right – there are more than 30 Go Ape locations spread across the UK, too. Depending on which one you visit, there’s everything from off-roading Segways to ziplines and high-flying rope courses – the likes of which will enable you to set your inner primate free.
Harry Potter Studios
Set off on a Warner Bros Studio Tour and you’re entering Harry Potter-palooza, where magic comes to life. There’s the chance to spot original props and sets like Diagon Alley and mini mock-ups of Hogwarts straight from the films, all in one massive warehouse. This summer, Warner Bros even has a new exhibit featuring Wizarding Wardrobes, where you can see robes, cloaks and more made famous by The Boy Who Lived and his wizarding pals.
LEGOLAND Discovery Centre
The LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Manchester is part museum, part theme park and part creative, set-your-mind-free studio. You get the picture. There’s even a 4D cinema and a new Ninjago exhibit, where the kids can pick up a few tips on how to polish their ninja skills.
Warwick Castle is the perfect place to disguise a history lesson with fun activities. The medieval castle is choc-a-bloc with historical activities, including a Horrible Histories Maze that takes you backwards and forwards through time. Enjoy jousting tournaments and animal shows, while they’re even adding a War of the Roses live show to the ranks this summer.
The Natural History Museum
London’s Natural History Museum isn’t your average museum – it’s more like a kids’ dream. Between the dinosaurs and the tropical butterfly house, there’s also a science discovery centre where kids can get behind the microscope and do a little hands-on science for themselves. If you really want to be Dad of the Year, you can even book a sleepover in the gallery for kids aged 7 to 11.
Bewilderwood isn’t your average theme park, and that’s why I love it. The magical forest here is where families can climb up to treehouses and take the zipline back down, take a boat ride through the marshy swamps or listen to a bit of storytelling. It’s set in the Norfolk Broads, too, which is a beautiful landscape in its own rite, so two birds, one stone, I say.
This one’s brand new to London and based on the family-fun Shrek films that are just as much fun for parents as they are for kids. Shrek’s Adventure is a totally new adventure experience, as far as I can tell. You board a ‘DreamWorks Tours’ bus and embark on a 4D ride through 10 live shows straight from the Shrek universe, accompanied by the wise-cracking Donkey, of course.
To close out my UK summer bucket list, I had to include what’s widely recognised as the best zoo in England. Chester Zoo is not only massive, but it’s also a place where the animals have room to roam. There are gorillas and giraffes, elephants and sloths and everything in between. Beginning this summer, Chester Zoo will also have added on its Islands experience, where visitors can explore six tropical environments and learn about conservation.
On your marks, get set, tick away! What’s on your summer holiday bucket list?