101 must-visit UK attractions for families in 2021
If you are wondering ‘where can I find fun things to do with kids near me‘ then you have come to the right place. This is my guide to UK attractions for families and days out including lots of recommendations on the best things to do in England with kids, as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2021, subject to the latest restrictions.
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Find fun things to do near you
This post brings together lots of suggestions for UK attractions for families and places to visit across the four home nations.
I’d be telling a massive porky if I said we’d been to all of these family attractions (how would that even be possible?!) but the ones I mention come highly recommended and none have paid to be included.
I have however included some links to where you can buy family attraction and tour tickets with one of my affiliate partners Tiqets*. If you click on one of these and make a purchase I may earn some commission. This doesn’t affect the price you pay.
You might also like to check out the following posts to find more UK family days out depending on who’s in your family group and the time of year:
- Dog-friendly UK days out
- Accessible and wheelchair friendly days out in the UK
- Things to do at Easter in England and Wales
- Outdoor days out this autumn
- Christmas days out with kids
Of course, in 2021 opening dates and times for UK family attractions are subject to change. Check the latest government guidance and with venues before leaving home. Many places will require you to book your visit in advance.
UK attractions for families: things to do in England with kids
Buckle up because we’re about to take a deep dive into all the fun things to do with kids in England.
You’ll find this section is considerably heavier than the others because it’s where we live and have explored most.
Whether you are looking for days out to appeal to animal lovers, budding historians or thrill seekers there’s plenty of choice around these English counties and cities.
What to do in Bath with kids
Bath is a beautiful city, packed full of Georgian architecture and Roman history. It’s one of our favourite places for a UK city break with kids and for good reason – there’s so much to do in what is a very easily navigable area.
A lot of Bath’s main attractions for families, like the Roman Baths, Abbey and Jane Austen Centre, are in the city centre.
Expect a few hills to reach some of the parks and attractions on the outskirts of the city. Royal Avenue Gardens, The Royal Crescent and The American Museum are fab places to visit just outside the city centre.
To reach these hop on one of the many buses that run regularly from Dorchester Street near Bath Spa Train Station.
Not far outside the city you can find Avon Valley Adventure Park, which is a fun farm-themed day out with adventure play grounds and a model railway.
Things to do in Berkshire
Royal Berkshire is where you’ll find Windsor Castle – the Queen’s favourite residence. Book tickets* to explore the state apartments and take a tour of its precincts. Or watch the changing of the guard outside for free. It’s an easy day trip from London* too.
Berkshire is also the home of LEGOLAND Windsor which has plenty of child-friendly theme park rides and the UK’s largest outdoor water play structure.
Find out more things to do in Windsor with kids.
Things to do in Birmingham with kids
England’s second city and the surrounding area are busting with days out and family attractions.
If your kids love LEGO then a trip the the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre* is a must. It’s a great option for wet days in Birmingham with indoor play areas, building zones and rides.
Another top thing to do in Birmingham when it’s raining is a visit to the National SEALIFE Centre* which has four zones to bring you closer to life under the sea.
For the super adventurous you can scale climbing walls, swim with sharks or try indoor sky diving at The Bear Grylls Adventure* near the NEC.
Find more ideas for days out in the Midlands.
Family attractions and things to do in Bristol
Bristol is such a vibrant city with lots of interactive, animal and historical attractions that are ideal for families.
But days out in Bristol with kids don’t need to be expensive. We also love walking through the city centre to see what’s happening on the river and spot street art.
If you are looking for something free to do in Bristol then we can recommend M Shed Museum. This tells the city’s story through interactive exhibits across several floors.
If your kids have been learning about Isambard Kingdom Brunel at school then you have to step onboard one of the most important ships in history, the SS Great Britain, and the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Find out more about visiting the SS Great Britain in Bristol.
Things to do in Buckinghamshire
You can’t go wrong with a National Trust day out and Buckinghamshire has more than any other English county.
We can recommend a visit to the enormous estate of Cliveden. There are miles of woodlands walks, play trails and den building areas as well as the beautiful architecture of the house itself. It’s a hotel now so it’s not possible to explore inside, but this is still a Buckinghamshire National Trust property that’s well worth visiting.
Aside from National Trust days out, what is there to do in Buckinghamshire with kids?
Mini theme park fans will enjoy the rides at attractions of Gulliver’s World in Milton Keynes. It’s best suited for pre-teens with lots of things for kids aged as young as two to do.
Somewhere to inspire budding writers and delight fans of The BFG is The Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden. The museum tells the incredible tale of Dahl’s life, from fighter pilot to the world renowned author.
There’s plenty of interactive exhibits in the museum allowing fans to capture their dreams in bottles, make their own movie and see some of the real places that featured in the books.
Days out in Cornwall with kids
Ahh, Cornwall is my happy place. And the good news is the kids quite like it too!
Bringing a well stocked beach bag is a must when you are visiting Cornwall. There’s just so many beaches to pick from. Our favourites include Perranporth, St Ives, Porthcurno and Crantock Beach near Newquay.
There’s also lots of choice when it comes to family attractions.
For quirkier days out in Cornwall take the kids to the Hidden Valley Country Park in Launceston where they can solve riddles all day. Or to Pirates Quest in Newquay where you’ll be taken back in time on an immersive swashbuckling adventure.
Of course, you can’t think of going to Cornwall without experiencing one of its most famous UK attractions for families, the Eden Project. We also rate the Lost Gardens of Heligan, the Cornish Seal Sanctuary at Gweek.
If you need to find something to do on a wet day in Cornwall we suggest visiting the Telegraph Museum at Porthcurno, Geevor Tin Mine or Lands End. Here’s some more things to do in Cornwall on a wet day.
Find more days out and recommendations in my guide to family holidays in Cornwall.
Things to do in Devon with kids
With 450 miles of coastline and two national parks, Devon is a haven for outdoor loving families. We love it so much that we moved here!
But as well as exploring nature at it’s finest there’s plenty of family attractions in Devon. Whether your kids want to visit a Devon theme park, pick from more than 40 things to do in Plymouth or meet zoo animals you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Of course, there’s also lots of purse-friendly things to do like visiting the beaches, walking on Dartmoor and visiting the many free family attractions in Devon.
Take a look at my other blog, Devon with kids, for even more inspiration.
Things to do with kids in Dorset
Looking for family days out in Dorset? This is another part of south coast of England that we love and where we still have a lot to explore.
One of our favourite places to go is Moors Valley Country Park where you can follow the extraordinarily good play trail, book into Go Ape for a tree top adventure, hire bikes or ride on the model railway. Pay for parking and pick your activities from there.
Here’s some more of the best things to do Dorset with kids including family attractions, country parks, activities and historic sights.
Attractions for families in Gloucestershire
With the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Forest of Dean, rolling countryside and various characterful towns to explore you’ll want give yourself plenty of time to enjoy all the things to do in Gloucestershire with kids.
For a day out packed with history don’t miss Sudeley Castle, which has links to Tudor England as well as the remains of a Roman villa.
If your kids love trains then take a trip through the Cotswolds onboard one of the vintage trains at Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway. The locomotive and carriages pass through six stations where passengers can alight to look around small exhibitions, have a go at changing the signals or get a closer look at the engines.
For a more active day out whizz down the artificial piste of Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre close to Cheltenham.
We can also recommend a visit to Cattle Country Adventure Park, where there’s adventure playgrounds, farm animals and tractor rides. Visit in the school holidays for Easter and Halloween fun.
Things to do in Hampshire with kids
Take it from someone who lived in Hampshire for 35 years – there’s loads of things to do here with kids.
If you’re looking for places to visit with farm animals in Hampshire then check out Manor Farm near Bursledon, Longdown Activity Farm on the edge of the New Forest and Staunton Country Park in East Hampshire.
Hampshire is home to plenty of historical attractions too, including castles and forts. Portchester Castle is a great place to visit. Climb to the top and you’ll have a panoramic view of the south coast.
For even better views visit Fort Nelson on Portsdown Hill. It’s also home to the Royal Armouries where you can find out about military life and defence of the nation.
Not far away at Romsey there’s another a lovely National Trust property, Mottisfont Abbey.
And of course you can’t talk about family days out in Hampshire without mentioning Paulton’s Park and Peppa Pig World – one of the most popular UK attractions for families with toddlers and teens.
Things to do in the Isle of Wight with kids
We lived opposite the Isle of Wight in Hampshire for years and never really made the most of it. I still kick myself now.
The Isle of Wight is a wonderful place to explore with kids – it has brilliant beaches and lots of family-friendly attractions all in within a small but perfectly formed space.
Highlights for us during our last day out on the Isle of Wight were visiting the famous Needles and the yachie town of Cowes.
These are all UK attractions for families that we visited before having kids and I’d love to take them back.
Things to do in London with kids
Where do I start when it comes to things to do in London with kids? There’s just so much!
We had a great weekend in London before COVID, visiting some of the free places to go like the Natural History Museum, the LEGO Store, Covent Garden and the royal parks in the city.
Of course, there’s loads of family attractions near London too.
The RAF Museum London near Hendon is a free day out that gives visitors the chance to discover the history of the Royal Air Force, the people who flew daring missions, and the aircraft they crewed.
There are more than 70 aircraft and many interactive displays.
Twenty miles north of London, in Hertfordshire, you’ll find one of the top attractions for Harry Potter fans – J.K. Rowling’s world of wizards and wonder at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour.
This award-winning Making of Harry Potter experience takes you on a journey through sets used in the eight films including the Forbidden Forest, Dumbledore’s Office and Diagon Alley.
There’s also lots of budget-friendly things to do in Windsor and take a look on the sections of this post on Surrey, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
Things to so in Manchester
Like all of the UK’s city’s there’s an abundance of museums to visit in Manchester, many of them focussing on the city’s industrial past.
Manchester Science and Industry Museum explores 250 years of global innovations that began life here, with interactive exhibitions and events that will keep kids enthralled.
One of Manchester’s free days out is Manchester Museum. It’s where you can find out all about art, culture and natural history across four floors.
As well as the historic side of the city you’ll find well known attractions like SEA LIFE Manchester. There are 15 creature zones to explore from the shark ship wreak to the seahorse nursery and a new exhibition looking at the pre-historic sea creatures. You can also experience being part of a shoal of reef fish by walking through the ocean tunnel.
Got LEGO fans in your house? Immerse yourselves in a world of blocks at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Manchester. It’s an all-weather family attraction where kids and grown ups can have a go on three adventure-themed rides, get model building tips from LEGO experts and burn off steam through 10 build and play zones.
Days out in the Midlands with kids
Birmingham is a bustling place to visit with kids, but if you fancy a less urban experience then the surrounding Midlands has plenty of days out kids will love.
This used to be the industrial heart of England so there are attractions that will help you discover the heritage of the industrial era like the Black Country Living Museum.
If you prefer wildlife attractions then the West Midlands Safari Park has to be one of the best with a four mile safari, an animatronic dinosaur exhibition and theme park rides.
For the thrill seekers in your family there’s Drayton Manor Theme Park, which also has a zoo with 100 animals from all over the world, a 4D cinema, and rides suitable for all ages.
And who could forget Cadbury World for chocolate fans?!
Here’s a round up of all the top days out in the Midlands.
Things to do with kids in the New Forest
We are big fans of the New Forest and spent lots of time there when we lived in Hampshire.
You can walk for miles in the forest enclosures where you can see New Forest ponies, deer and pigs roaming free. Or you can enjoy its 40 miles of coastline stretching from the Solent to the Jurassic Coast in Dorset.
Some of the great things to do with in the New Forest with kids include visiting family attractions like Beaulieu Motor Museum. This is where you’ll find things to entertain the kids like the mini-motor play area, the World of Top Gear Test Track Challenge and the monorail.
Of course there’s also collections of cars from classic films and the beautiful Palace House stately home to look around.
We can also recommend a visit to Longdown Activity Farm with younger kids. They will love the indoor and outdoor play areas as well as feeding times with the animals throughout the day.
Things to do in Norfolk with kids
Norfolk is one of our favourite UK holiday designations for beaches and outdoor family attractions. You can even hire a boat and explore the Norfolk Broads.
One of the best outdoor adventure play places we have been with the kids is BeWILDerwood near Norwich. There’s incredible playgrounds with a great story to go with them.
We also love Whitlingham Country Park on the outskirts of Norwich. As well as waterside and woodland walks the Park has an outdoor activity centre offering paddle boarding, sail boating and raft building.
Another thing to do in Norfolk with kids is Pettitts Animal Adventure Park. It is a typical small family theme park in Norfolk that’s ideal for kids aged under eight. There are fairground rides, a bouncy castle, petting farm, train rides, a large adventure play ground and family shows.
Things to do in Northumberland with kids
If you have a young knight or princess in your house then they will be right at home in Northumberland where you can find 70 castles to explore.
Northumberlandia and the Kielder Forest are epic outdoor attractions in Northumberland.
Find out more about these and more things to do in Northumberland.
Family attractions in Nottinghamshire
Kids love the story of Robin Hood. But did you know there’s much more to Nottinghamshire than a forest, green tights and a castle?
Active families should head to the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont Country Park, which has world class facilities for kayaking, paddle boarding and rafting. There’s also a lazy river and activities on dry land like high ropes, a climbing wall and Segways.
A lovely option for families with toddlers is White Post Farm at Farnsfield. Here you’ll find the usual farm yard animals as well as meerkats, wallabies and llamas. There’s also a indoor play barn and tractor rides.
A great day out in Nottingham if you do want to visit the famous forest is Sherwood Pines. There’s an all-terrain segway tour suitable for kids aged 10 and up or you can hire bikes. Of course there’s also a Robin Hood themed adventure playground.
Things to do in Oxford with kids
One of the first places that comes to mind when looking for things to do near Oxford is a visit to Blenheim Palace.
It’s famous for being the birth place of Winston Churchill and, in more recent years, as the set for several movies. There’s more than 750 hectares of gardens to explore and palatial state rooms brimming with intricate portraits, tapestries and furniture.
In Oxford itself go on a Harry Potter themed tour or visit the The University of Oxford Botanic Garden. This is one of the oldest botanic gardens in the country and has 5,000 different plant species.
Find more things to do in Oxford.
Things to do in Portsmouth
If you are looking for things to do in Portsmouth with kids then there’s plenty to keep your family entertained.
Of course there’s plenty of seaside fun to be had on Southsea Beach with the attractions of South Parade Pier and the Clarence Pier fun fair. Don’t miss Southsea Model Village and free to visit Natural History Museum too.
Check out the best museums, maritime heritage attractions, outdoor places and family-friendly places to visit in my post about things to do in Portsmouth.
Things to do with kids in Somerset
There’s so much going on in Somerset for families. From the world’s most famous festival, to the incredible Cheddar Gorge and historic Wells that have attracted tourists for centuries.
Here’s some of our favourite things to do in Somerset with kids:
- Haynes International Motor Museum
- The Fleet Air Arm Museum
- Beaches for families in Somerset
- The American Museum in Bath
- Avon Valley Adventure Park
Also check out my guide to places to visit in Bath.
Southampton days out with kids
You’ll find lots of things to do in and around Hamphire’s largest city. Visiting is a must for anyone interested in the UK’s maritime history, particularly the voyages of RMS Titanic and the Mayflower.
SeaCity Museum is the place to go for the full low down on these two historic ships, followed by a trip to Mayflower Park to see some of the modern day cruise liners that traverse the oceans.
Find more things to do in Southampton with kids.
Things to do in Surrey with kids
Surrey is all about breath-taking historic houses and beautiful gardens for me.
One of the very best that Mr Tin Box and I visited before having kids is Hampton Court Palace. I’d love to take them some day.
This was King Henry VIII’s favoured royal palace and the was stage for many historical events. It was where Henry’s third queen Jane Seymour died giving birth to the King’s heir, Edward. In happier times it was a palace for entertaining, with kitchens equipped for serving up 1,600 meals a day. Wowzers!
Another Surrey stately home that we have been to with the girls is Poleston Lacey, which is a National Trust property.
It once hosted lavish parties for royalty and has sumptuously decorated reception rooms. Children can dress up in Edwardian finery and try their hand at folding napkins fit for a banquet table.
Outside there’s 30 acres of formal gardens and a further 1,400 acres of estate including an adventure playground and an amphitheatre that hosts outdoor performances in the summer.
If you enjoy exploring immaculate gardens then you must visit RHS Wisley in Surrey. It has no less than 24 different horticultural areas where you can admire exotic landscapes, native fruit trees, wild meadows and Mediterranean terraces.
There’s activity trails for kids and tropical butterflies in the iconic glasshouse in the winter months.
For a more active day out in Surrey head to Alice Holt Forest on the most northerly border of the South Downs National Park. Take a stroll through the woodlands, follow one of the play trails, hire bikes out Go Ape.
One of Surrey’s more unusual things to do and a hidden gem is The Sculpture Park at Churt. This is a woodland packed full of colourful, incredible and thought-provoking works of art.
Days out in Sussex with kids
Whether you want to explore the history of the Battle of Hastings, enjoy the iconic Brigton sea front or follow in the footsteps of A.A.Milne to discover the inspiration for Hundred Acre Wood, there’s plenty of days out in Sussex for families.
Take a look at our top recommendations for days out with kid in Sussex.
Family days out in Wiltshire
It’s undeniable that Stonehenge is one of the most famous UK attractions also a great one to do with kids. The visitor’s centre is interactive and there’s a recreation of the type of dwellings that the people who built it might have lived in.
National Trust and English Heritage members can visit for free. Booking is essential.
If you have young children we can also recommend a visit to Cholderton Charlies as a great value day out in Wiltshire with kids. There’s animals, indoor soft play, outdoor adventure play and tractor rides.
If you have teens who have read any of the Dan Brown books or particularly enjoy a ghost story then I’d suggest a visit to Salisbury where you can join a guided tour of the city’s most historic, spooky and symbolic sites.
Find bout more about family days out around Salisbury in Wiltshire.
Things to do in Yorkshire with kids
Yorkshire is somewhere I’ve been visiting since I was a child as we have family in the area. I’ve also been able to go with the kids a few times.
Here’s some places in Yorkshire that we have tried and others we’d like to visit.
Our girls couldn’t get enough of the hands on experiments and kid-friendly exhibits at Eureka in Halifax! It’s not a museum with kid-friendly features; it’s a proper children’s museum – just for them (although I had fun too!).
There are six zones to explore each with their own theme from science and how the body works to art and role play. It’s a brilliant all-weather attraction that will keep kids aged 0 to 11 amused for hours.
Not far from the museum is The Piece Hall. When you step through one of the grand entrances you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d been transported to Italy, especially on a bright day.
It definitely reminded me of our visit to Venice. It used to be a centre for industry. Today it’s a place for local history, art events and independent shops.
You can find out more about Halifax’s industrial heritage at the Calderdale Industrial Museum next to The Piece Hall. Or take a short trip outside the town centre to the free Bankfield Museum. This where there’s more to be learnt about the area’s people and history in the former mansion of philanthropist and MP, Colonel Edward Akroyd.
Things to do in Wales with kids
We’re big fans of holidays and days out in Wales, as are the kids.
Here’s a selection of days out a recommendations for things to do in Wales from our our experience.
Things to do in Cardiff with kids
Cardiff is a city oozing with culture, heritage and activities for the whole family to enjoy. It’s also a very compact city so you don’t have to travel far to find something new and interesting to keep your kids entertained.
Find out more about each of these places in my round up of things to do in Cardiff with kids.
Things to do in Gower
The Gower Peninsular is was Britain’s first area designated as an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. So, as you would expect, it is a top destination for families who love the outdoors.
There are beaches and coast walks-a-plenty, and lots of places to try out water sports like kayaking and surfing, as well as adrenaline pumping activities like coasteering and speed boat rides.
If you want to find out about the living history of the Peninsular then head to the Gower Heritage Centre where you can see demonstrations of flour milling, pottery and woollen crafts that were staple industries in the area. There’s also a display of antique farming and cultivation tools.
Read about the things we did in Gower during a long weekend.
Things to do in Swansea
A visit to Swansea isn’t just about the city. You have a whole bay of fun on your doorstep stretching from The Gower Peninsular in the West to Port Talbot in the East.
We can recommend a visit to Oystermouth Castle – a Norman castle at Mumbles. In its heyday it welcomed royalty but it was attacked so many times that it eventually left in ruin. A major restoration project in 2010 saved the castleand allowed it to be opened as a heritage attraction.
Read about our long weekend exploring Swansea Bay.
Family days out in the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend
Every fan of Gavin and Stacey will know The Vale – it’s nestled between Cardiff and Porthcawl, and includes Barry.
But aside from hoping to glimpse Smithy and Nessa during a remake (please let there be another special!), what else is there to do in The Vale of Glamorgan with kids?
Parc Slip Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve at Bridgend is a wonderful place for a walk and to spot wildlife. It’s been created on the site of an old mine and is now home to some of Wales’ rarest wild creatures.
Another great day out for animal lovers is Amelia Trust Farm – a charity in the Vale of Glamorgan working with vulnerable and disadvantaged young people. It is also open to the public.
You can visit to meet the animals, search for fairies and gnomes, and spot wildlife on the woodland trails.
Family days out in Carmarthenshire
One of the very best things to do in Carmarthenshire is to visit Pembury Country Park. Not only are there plenty of family activities, like tobogganing, skiing and archery to try, there are also country walks and the stunning Cefn Sidan beach. It’s eight miles long!
We spent a family holiday just down the road at Llanelli from where we visited beaches, castles and the Brecon Beacons.
Read about all the things to do in and around Carmarthenshire.
UK attractions for families: Scotland days out with kids
We still have a lot to explore in Scotland. Here’s some of the days out in and around Edinburgh that come highly recommended.
Things to do in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is famous for its castle and the Royal Tattoo. But if your kids aren’t excited by pomp and pageantry there’s more things to do in and around Edinburgh that they will love.
If you have teens then they’ll enjoy a trip through some of Edinburgh’s darker history at the Edinburgh Dungeon.
Pay the National Mining Museum Scotland a visit to experience what it was like to be employed in Scotland’s mines in the 1800s when children as young as five laboured underground. As well as mine tours, your kids can dress up in Victorian clothes, and have a go on interactive exhibits in the museum.
For a wildlife walk with plenty of drama visit the Falls of Clyde Wildlife Reserve. Not only can you take in the three stunning waterfalls along this 2.5km section of the River Clyde, you can also spot king fishers, badgers and otters.
UK attractions for families: Things to do in Northern Ireland with kids
I’m sad to admit that we’re yet to visit Northern Ireland with our kids, but I’ve taken the following suggestions from followers of my Facebook page who have been. What would you add?
Visiting the iconic basalt columns of the Giants Causeway should be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s looked after by the National Trust who provide visitors with audio guides at their Visitors Centre.
A walk across the Carrick a Rede rope bridge, suspended 30m above sea level is not for the faint hearted but it is a unique way to experience this part of the Atlantic coast.
Titanic Belfast is one of several museums that opened to mark the centenary of the ill-fated maiden voyage of RMS Titanic. There are interactive exhibitions and a ride telling the story of how the ship was built here in Northern Ireland.
Do you have a favourite UK day out with kids or a family attraction to be added to this post? Get in touch!
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