Are you looking for the top family days out in the UK to treat the little ones in your life? These are the best family UK attractions you need to visit.
There are so many UK attractions for families. With theme parks, castles, petting farms, and museums, the things to do in the UK with your family are varied, often educational, and always fun.
It’s difficult to choose between the top family days out in the UK, but here are my top 8, based on experience.
Want to know the top 3 attractions in the UK for families?
- Best free attraction in London and the UK: The Natural History and Science Museums
- Best family day out in the UK: Warwick Castle
- Most unique family attraction in the UK: The National Showcaves of Wales
1. Warwick Castle
- Visit: warwick-castle.com
- Location: Warwick
- Entry fee: From £24 per person (online discount)
- Good for: English history
There are a swathe of great castles to visit for a day out in the UK, but one stands out as more of an overall family attraction than others – Warwick Castle. Owned by Merlin Entertainment, the same company responsible for Alton Towers and Madame Tussaud’s, Warwick Castle has all the trappings of a top attraction as well as being a historical site with over a thousand years of history.
Anyone with an interest in kings and knights will enjoy a day at Warwick castle, which boasts a real trebuchet, falconry display, and jousting competitions, as well as a beautiful castle in impressive grounds to explore.
- Great for a bit of English history
- Jousting exhibitions are a rare, very fun attraction
- Plenty to do for all ages
- Reasonable entry fee
- A more commercialised castle than others
2. Paulton’s Park / Peppa Pig World
- Visit: paultonspark.co.uk
- Location: Romsey, The New Forest, Hampshire
- Entry fee: £41.75 per person, children under 1m are free (online discount)
- Good for: Rides
Selecting just one theme park for this list of UK days out was very difficult, as the UK has plenty to offer, including the larger Alton Towers, and seaside-fronted Blackpool Pleasure Beach. However, for a family that includes younger children – often relegated to nothing more than basic teacup rides in the more teenager-oriented parks – Paulton’s Park is the finest all-round experience.
For younger kids, the draw of Peppa Pig world cannot be ignored. With a range of smaller rides for under-10s, Peppa Pig world is colourful and exciting. Paulton’s Park has a lot more to offer though, with multiple themed areas, some great rollercoasters and rides for older kids, beautiful grounds, animals to see, and more. This is one of the best family days out in the UK to enjoy.
- A wide range of modern rides
- Good for all ages
- Reasonable pricing
- Older teenagers might argue for one of the larger roller coaster parks
3. National Showcaves of Wales
- Visit: showcaves.co.uk
- Location: Near Swansea, South Wales
- Entry fee: £18.95 adult, £15.50 child, under 2s are free
- Good for: Natural wonder, dinosaurs
Until you stand in the mind-blowing Cathedral Cave at Dan Yr Ogof (the Welsh name for the National Showcaves), it’s hard to comprehend just how majestic a natural rock formation can be. The National Showcaves of Wales comprises three main caves to explore. The aforementioned Cathedral Cave which features an internal waterfall and is occasionally booked out for weddings, the main cave, a series of tunnels lined with stalactites and stalagmites that are so huge that they resemble angel’s wings or massive strips of streaky bacon, and a third smaller cavern that once housed roman soldiers.
Not limited to the caves, though, there’s one of the finest exhibitions of full-sized animatronic dinosaurs lining the path, a delightful shop and café, and even a talking tree. As part of your ticket, you are also invited to enjoy the farm animals who live on the other side of the car park. Here you can pet sheep and llamas, mingle with friendly goats, and witness first hand the sheer size of a working shire horse, plus enjoy the themed playgrounds.
- A unique experience
- Perfect for kids who love dinosaurs
- Additional farm area is a full attraction in its own right
- Located in South Wales, it’s quite far for many
- Poor public transport
- Can be disappointing in bad weather
5. Cadbury World
- Visit: cadburyworld.co.uk
- Location: Birmingham
- Entry fee: £21 adult, £15.50 child
- Good for: Chocolate
Ah, chocolate! A visit to the home of the most famous British manufacturer of chocolate is a fun day out for all the family. The tour is well designed and takes you through all the stages of the chocolate-making process, allowing you to sample in multiple places, before letting you out in an adventure-playground themed picnic area to give the kids a chance to work off all that sugar.
There’s plenty to see here, and while there are no Willy Wonka-esque experiments to turn kids into giant berries, there is a river of chocolate to ride on, among other fun set pieces. Plus the gorilla playing Phil Collins’ In the Air Tonight from the old advert – remember him?
Don’t forget the shop, of course… expect to come back feeling a little over-saturated with chocolate and with bags of more for weeks to come. It’s definitely one of the best day trips from Birmingham there is.
- Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate
- A good and somewhat unusual educational experience
- The tour is quite long and younger children may tire
- Not really enough to fill an entire day
- Is too much chocolate a bad thing?
6. Pennywell Farm
- Visit: pennywellfarm.co.uk
- Location: Buckfastleigh, Devon
- Entry fee: £18.95 adult, £14.95 child (advance booking essential)
- Good for: Animals
Of all the petting zoos in the UK, Pennywell Farm is perhaps the finest. For children (and grown ups) who love cute, fluffy animals, Pennywell Farm offers a hands-on experience that fills the day and leaves you wanting to come back for more (or to take your new little friends home).
Here you can stroke bunnies while they sit on your lap, play with guinea pigs, cuddle a miniature pig, and take friendly goats for an afternoon walk. Definitely one of the cutest family days out in the UK!
There are plenty of play areas, with indoor soft play, bouncy castle, tractor rides and more – plus cafés and coffee stands just where you need them.
Plus, pig racing!
It’s the perfect stop on a Devon road trip.
- Animals are all loved and well-cared for
- Staff are passionate and helpful
- A great hands-on experience
- Not much for teenagers who don’t love animals
- Affected by poor weather
7. Wild Swimming
- Visit: wildswimming.co.uk
- Location: Across the UK
- Entry fee: Free
- Good for: Outdoor enthusiasts
One of the finest attractions across the UK is the countryside itself. Free to go to, with a vast range of options, and with easily enough to fill the day, simply going out into the countryside is often overlooked as a family day out.
One aspect of country life many families don’t consider is wild swimming. There are a huge number of safe rivers, lakes, and even waterfalls where children of all ages can paddle and swim. It’s fun, and if the weather is warm, can accompany a picnic as one of the most memorable days out. You can have a really fun day out swimming in the UK, and not spend a penny.
Some of the finest locations include:
- The Lake District: Smaller lakes, such as Buttermere, are fantastic wild swimming spots, with clean water and a tranquil atmosphere.
- Waterfalls near the Brecon Beacons: At the south edge of the Brecon Beacons lies waterfall country. Here, there are plenty of idyllic spots where children can safely enter the pools and stand behind the cascading water. An incredible experience.
- Dartmoor: Streams that flow into knee-height water are plentiful in this national park.
- Scottish Lochs: Loch Ness is famous for its monster, but park up on the less-visited eastern edge and there are many places you can run down to the water for a paddle and swim.
Wild swimming does require some obvious care and parental attention, but with sensible planning offers one of the UK’s best options for an active day out or weekend away.
- Completely free (other than occasional parking costs)
- Builds confidence
- Great for all ages
- Finding a suitable spot can take time
- Heavily affected by the weather
- Parent supervision and engagement is essential
8. Science and Natural History Museums
- Visit: sciencemuseum.org.uk / nhm.ac.uk
- Location: Kensington, London
- Entry fee: Free
- Good for: Education
Of all the London attractions (and there are many), the majestic Natural History Museum and its sibling, the Science Museum, are the most essential for families visiting the capital.
The wonder of the Natural History Museum begins with the building itself. The stunning architecture, with its sweeping lobby and beautiful staircase, are as artful as the exhibitions themselves. From the famous dinosaurs, through to the massive blue whale, the Natural History Museum educates and entertains in equal measure, filling the first half of your day.
Move from there to next door, where the Science Museum takes you in a different direction. See the moon landing equipment, stand alongside massive locomotives, learn about the rise of the computer, and even explore the workings of the humble toilet. There’s so much to see that children will be darting from one thing to another, calling out about what they’ve found next.
Plus, for older parents, seeing their childhood behind museum glass is both fun and humbling!
These museums are great if you’re looking for days out in England in winter.
- Hugely educational
- Something for everyone
- Additional ticketed events to add to the experience
- Can be extremely busy
- A long day for younger children
9. Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour
- Location: Leavesden, Hertfordshire (not actually London, despite being advertised as such)
- Entry fee: £51.50 adult, £40 child, £160 family of four (plus many optional extras)
- Good for: Harry Potter fans
There’s no escaping the fact that Harry Potter has become a firm part of our culture. Of all the Harry Potter themed attractions across the nation, this is the finest. The Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour has everything a Harry Potter fan could look for. An incredible number of exhibits, some in-depth behind-the-scenes talks, the opportunity to walk through enormous sets, Hogwarts themed drinks and snacks (Butterbeer, anyone?), and plenty of magic.
For those who haven’t been exposed to Harry Potter lore (do they still exist?), the specifics of the attraction may fall a little flat, but even they will enjoy the sheer volume of engaging pieces to scrutinise and for those who are fans… well… there’s nowhere better.
- An incredible wealth of Harry Potter exhibits
- Wide variety of things to see and do
- Plenty to learn and inspire
- Not for Harry Potter haters
Saving money on a family day out
We all like to save money. When planning a family holiday, it is good to save where you can, taking that budget and perhaps putting it into improving your accommodation, or getting an extra trip.
Consider the following to save where you can when going to the top attractions in the UK:
– Get the right accommodation
Hotels can become expensive very quickly, especially when looking for a week or longer. If luxury is a key factor, why not look at serviced apartments, such as those provided by Sanctum in London? These are far better suited for families and provide kitchen facilities to minimise the extra expense of eating out. Budget accommodation such as caravans or vacation rentals offer significant savings, and with a variety of options available, there’s bound to be something to suit.
– Be smart with your transport
If you can’t take your own vehicle, be sure to plan your transportation well. Public transport can be very cost effective, and often bus services are specially routed to get to attractions. Do check your transport well in advance.
– Be prepared
Planning properly is sure to save on funds. Tickets are almost always cheaper when booked online in advance, so it pays to determine what days you want to do things and get it all organised early.
Every attraction on this list has suitable facilities for a packed lunch or picnic and this will always be cheaper than onsite cafés and restaurants.
Try to pack spare clothing, especially for younger children who are able to find a way to get wet in the sunniest climes. Always have water with you, and include wet wipes, sunscreen, plasters, plus an apple or two in every day pack – it’s amazing how often a wet wipe can make the difference between a spoiled day and a minor inconvenience!
Sign up for monthly subscriptions
If travelling around the UK, consider memberships to organisations such as the National Trust or English Heritage. Many sites (especially castles and stately homes) are run by these charities and membership gets free or discounted entry as well as parking. Typically, the annual membership is cheap enough to justify for just two days out a year.
Family attractions in the UK
There are so many family attractions in the UK, you really are spoiled for choice – for each of the brilliant attractions on this list there were five others that deserved it, too. Every county has so much to offer, so grab your bags, get out there, and have fun!