10 summer day trips
Fancy something a bit different for the afternoon? Pack a picnic, bundle the kids in the car and head off to one of these family fun sites for the day.
LONDON: Science Museum
This super-cool museum opens to the public on 19 August. Kids will be fascinated by the The Equinor Gallery (part of the museum’s Wonderlab exhibition) which features 50 interactive elements. You can also visit the new addition, ‘Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries’, which features one of the largest medical collections in the world including the first MRI scanner, Fleming’s penicillin mould and specially commissioned artwork including Marc Quinn’s ‘Self-Conscious Gene’ and portraits by award-winning photographer Siân Davey. Entrance is free but booking is essential.
KENT: Port Lympne Reserve
For wild animals, head to Port Lympne, near Ashford in Kent – home to over 700 rare and endangered species. It’s set over 600 acres, 100 of which are alive with African animals. Short break accommodation is also available. Booking essential.
BERKS: Wellington Country Park
HERTS: Hatfield House
This family fun palace has got it all. Particularly good for under-8s, it contains an awesome adventure play area with giant zip wire, dinosaurs, mini golf, animal farm, jumbo bouncy pillow, miniature railway and so much more. There’s also a superb cafe serving quality local produce, much it from Wellington Estate itself.
Exhausted all the stately homes in Bucks & Oxon? Hop just over the border to Hatfield House for Jacobean gloriousness and gorgeous gardens with space to play. The actual house is closed but bring a picnic and sit in the gardens amongst the modern sculptures. Booking essential.
The former gaff of The Jungle Book creator Rudyard Kipling, this 17th-century National Trust property has re-opened the gardens, estate and Mulberry Cafe for take-out food and drinks. You will require a pre-booked ticket.
HANTS: Marwell Zoo
Marwell is always a good day out, with a chance to see tigers, flamingos and other exotic animals. The zoo also has a new Supersized exhibition featuring lego models of curious animals (ever heard of the venomous blue-ringed octopus?) in 25 locations across the park.
BERKS: Windsor Castle
The Queen’s weekend hangout, Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world – pretty impressive, right? Inside the castle you can see a collection of WWII pantomime pictures, painted as backdrop for the shows Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret performed to raise funds for troops at the front (they’re usually covered by portraits), or outside you can take a family tour of the Castle’s secret gardens nestled below the round tower (every Thurs). There is a timed ticket system and booking is essential.
SURREY: Hampton Court Palace
The stunning former home of Henry VIII has 60 acres of formal gardens and 750 acres of historic parkland so easy-peasy to social distance and plenty of space to park your picnic blanket. The inside of the palace is also open (the Great Hall is a must-see), plus there’s a food market planned for the end of the month (29 – 30 Aug).
KENT: Hever Castle
This double-moated 13th century castle is set in 125 acres of beautiful grounds was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. The gardens are spectacular, particularly the Rose Garden, and there’s also a water maze to cool off in (you’ll have to book though). Throughout August there are jousting events on weekends.
Fancy a boating adventure. Head to the River Thames at Kingston where you can be the captain of your own GoBoat. No boating experience is needed, they’ll teach you everything you need to know before you set sail. It’s a great way to see London and Surrey from a whole different viewpoint whether you head downriver towards Teddington Lock or along the Thames River to Hampton Court Palace. Each boat takes up to 8 people, including children and dogs.