Family day trips from London: 5 must-see destinations for budding historians
If your kids love history then what better destination than London? The city is packed full of historic sights and museums. But let’s not forget all the fantastic places to visit just a few hours from the capital. If you’re planning a London city break with kids and have a bit of spare time to soak up even more of our national heritage we can recommend a few family day trips from London.
And, if the seaside is more your thing, then there are plenty of beaches a short drive from South East London too.
*This is a collaborative post*
Family day trips from London for budding historians
I visited Stonehenge as a child and loved the mystery that surrounds this world renowned wonder. Since then so much more has been added to the visitor experience.
As well as seeing the 5,000-year-old stone circle you can see recreations of Neolithic houses and find out how people loved here in Wiltshire thousands of years ago. There’s also an audio-visual experience in the Visitors Centre allowing you to see what it’s like to stand in the stone circle at the Summer and Winter Solstice.
We visited Wiltshire during October half term and had a great time at Stonehenge with my girls.
To get to Stonehenge from London take a train from London Waterloo to Salisbury, which is 9.5 miles south of Stonehenge. From here you can hop on a bus tour to Stonehenge.
However, you might find Stonehenge tours easier to take direct from London.
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth
There are no less than 11 attractions at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard making it more than a full day out. Highlights of this Royal Navy heritage attraction are without doubt HMS Victory and HMS Warrior 1860 – ships which both hold important places in naval history.
But if your kids also like a challenge then there’s plenty of hands on activities and experiences in Action Stations and the Making of a Royal Marine Commando exhibits.
The great thing about your Portsmouth Historic Dockyard all attraction ticket is that it allows you to revisit anytime within 12 months, making it possible for you to get full value on another visit if you are short on time.
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is a really easy family day trip from London. Catch the train from London Victoria or London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour Station. This takes takes between one hour and 30 minutes and two hours dependant on the service you take. Once you arrive, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is just a five minute walk away.
Check out more things to do in Portsmouth with kids.
Windsor Castle, Windsor
The Queen’s favourite residence, Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. To find out why she loves it so much, and why the Duke and Duchess of Sussex chose it as the venue for their royal wedding, a day trip from London is a must.
We have only seen the changing of the guard procession outside so I’m itching to actually tour Windsor Castle when we get a chance to return to Buckinghamshire, especially after all the amazing pictures from the wedding.
You can step inside St George’s Chapel Monday to Saturday and the State Apartments most days that the Castle is open. Check opening information ahead of your visit to make sure you get the best opportunity to see everything.
To visit Windsor Castle you can get a train from London Paddington to Windsor and Eton Central Station. The journey takes just under 30 minutes. The Castle is an eight minute walk away. Here is somewhere you can buy Windsor Castle tickets.
Here’s some more ideas for visiting Windsor with kids.
The Roman Baths, Bath
We loved our visit to The Roman Baths a few years ago and our trip to Bath by coach more recently. We can definitely recommend it as a great place for families to learn about Roman life, Georgian Britain and culture.
The Roman Baths were built on the site of the UK’s only thermal spring making them a place of importance and pilgrimage. The result is centuries of history and artefacts in a beautiful complex that is the best preserved Roman baths in Northern Europe. History-loving kids will lap up the information in the children’s audio guides and enjoy chatting with costumed characters by The Great Bath.
The American Museum is also a great day out and is home to the UK’s largest collection of American cultural artefacts.
A train from London Paddington takes one hour and 30 minutes to arrive in Bath Spa Station. From here it’s a seven minute walk thought the city centre to The Roman Baths.
SS Great Britain, Bristol
With the new Being Brunel exhibition opening in 2018 there’s even more reason to visit SS Great Britain in Bristol Harbour. The interactive museum housed in the drawing office of master investor Isambard Kingdom Brunel tells the story of his life and creations.
Tour the amazing ship that was ahead of its time and find out what motivated the man behind this engineering feat and many others such as the Great Western Railway. There’s plenty of interactive exhibits in the museum and you can even step inside Brunel’s brain for a fantastical trip through time.
On the ship you can find out what it was like to be a passenger and, if you are brave enough, climb the rigging.
To visit SS Great Britain catch a train from London Paddington and you’ll be in Bristol one hour 45 minutes later. SS Great Britain is about 30 minutes walk from Bristol Temple Meads Station or you can catch a bus from the station approach.
More historic sights in England
If this post has whet your whistle for historic adventures in England we can also recommend:
- Pendennis Castle in Cornwall
- Powderham Castle in Devon
- Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire
- Buckland Abbey in Devon
Disclosure: this is a collaborative post with Local London Tours. Images of Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and HMS Warrior are from Pixabay.