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50 Great Days Out

A summer full of fantastic memories starts here, with our comprehensive guide to days out, places to visit in the UK and things to keep your kids occupied.

1. @Bristol Harbourside, Bristol. Tel: 0117 915 1000; www.at-bristol.org.uk Cost Family £19, adult £6.50, child £4.50. Highlights Play virtual volleyball, enter the eye of a tornado and then be a star of your own TV show.

Alton Towers, Alton, Staffordshire Tel: 0870 444 4455; www.altontowers.com. Cost family £72.00, adult £29.50, child £19.00. Discounts available when booked in advance online at www.altontowers.com. Highlight – Alton Towers welcomes Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryTM: The Ride, the only place in the world where everyone can experience Charlie Bucket’s amazing journey! Extend your experience with a stay in one of the two fantastically themed on-site hotels and take a plunge in the incredible Cariba Creek Waterpark.

3. Ashdown Forest Near East Grinstead, Sussex. Tel: 01825 713 862. Cost Free Highlights Play Winnie-the-Pooh’s favourite game poohsticks on the genuine Poohsticks Bridge, discover Roo’s sandpit and wander around this enchanting forest, the inspiration The Hundred Acre Wood.

4. Beatrix Potter Gallery Main Street, Hawkshead, Cumbria. Tel: 015394 36355; www.nationaltrust.org.uk Cost Family £7.50, adult £3, child £1.50. Highlights Viewing Beatrix Potter’s original sketches and watercolours of Peter Rabbit and friends on the children’s trail inside this 17th-century law office, once belonging to Potter’s husband.

5. Beaulieu Motor Museum Beaulieu, Hampshire. Tel: 01590 612 345; www.beaulieu.co.uk. Please contact Beaulieu for current prices. Highlights The James Bond Experience – see all those vehicles that have made James Bond chase scenes famous, including the world’s first ever jet ski from The Spy Who Loved Me.

6. Biddulph Grange Garden Biddulph Grange, Biddulph, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. Tel: 01782 517999; www.nationaltrust.org.uk Cost Family £11.50, adult £4.60, child £2.30; Nov 1–Dec 21, free. (Closed Dec 21–April 2). Highlights Take a miniature ‘tour around the world’, including the Egyptian court and an imitation Great Wall of China.

7. Blakeney Seal Trips Morston, near Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk. Tel: 01263 740 791; www.sealtrips.easternengland.co.uk Cost Adult £6, child £4. Highlights Enjoy a boat trip to Blakeney Point to see hundreds of seals in their natural environment.

8. Bluebell Railway Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex. Tel: 01825 722 370; www.bluebell-railway.co.uk Cost Family £23, adult £8.50, child £4.20. Highlights Catch a lovingly-restored steam train from this Victorian station from Sheffield Park to Kingscote, plus annual visits from that very special tank engine, Thomas.

9. Blue Reef Aquarium Towan Promenade, Newquay, Cornwall. Tel: 01637 878 134; www.bluereefaquarium.co.uk Cost Family £15.95, adult £4.95, child £3.25. Highlights Watch sharks and beautiful-coloured reef fish swim overhead in the underwater walkway of the 200,000-litre tropical ocean tank.

10. Bodnant Garden Tal-y-Cafn, Colwyn Bay, Conwy. Tel: 01492 650460; www.nationaltrust.org.uk Cost Adult £5.20, child £2.60. Highlights The stunning gardens offer a huge variation, from formal lawns, Italianate terraces, a wooded valley, stream and a wild garden. What’s more, it’s situated above the River Conway, boasting wonderful views across Snowdonia.

11. Carrick-a-Rede 119A Whitepark Road, Ballintoy, Co. Antrim. Tel: 028 2073 1582; www.nationaltrust.org.uk Cost Free Highlights Those brave enough to cross the precarious bridge to the island will be glad they did – it’s teeming with wildlife, and there’s a new themed children’s play area.

12. Castell Coch Tongwynlais, Cardiff. Tel: 029 2081 0101. Cost Family £8.50, adult £3, child £2.50. Highlights Step into a fairy-tale world in this 13th-century castle nestled among the trees on the south side of the Brecon Beacons, complete with a ‘princess bedroom’ belonging to Lady Bute, which was modelled around the theme of Sleeping Beauty.

13. Chessington World Of Adventure Chessington, Surrey. Tel: 0870 444 7777; www.chessington.com Cost Family £52, adult £18, child £14.50, under-fours free. Highlights The new Hocus Pocus hall, a 4-D walk through a haunted hall, meeting Dennis the Menace and friends in Beanoland and taking a safari trip around animal land.

14. Conkers Rawdon Road, Moira, Derbyshire. Tel: 01283 216 633; www.visitconkers.com Cost Family £15.95, adult £5.50, child £3.50. Highlights The interactive displays, which let you feel how a leaf breathes, hear like a bat, talk to plants and travel in a woodland time machine.

15. Diggerland Langley Park, Durham, County Durham. Tel: 08700 344 437; www.diggerland.com Cost £2.50 per person (plus £1 per ride on any motorised digger). Highlights Getting the opportunity to ride on different types of construction machinery including Dump Trucks and Mini JCB Diggers. Other Diggerlands are in Strood, Kent and Cullompton, Devon.

16. Dinosaur Adventure Park Western Park, Lenwade, Norwich. Tel: 01603 876 310; www.dinosaurpark.co.uk Cost Adult £6.75, child £5.75, under-threes free. Highlights The 75ft ‘climb-a-saurus’ is pretty impressive, especially for children, as are the life-size dinosaur models tucked among the trees.

17. Dolphin Ecosse Dolphin Centre, Harbour Workshop, Victoria Place, Cromarty, Scotland. Tel: 01381 600 323; www.dolphinecosse.co.uk Cost £20 per person, under- threes free. Highlights The chance of spotting dolphins, seeing them play in the wild and to learn all about dolphins in their natural habitat.

18. The Eden Project Bodelva, St Austell, Cornwall. Tel: 01726 811 911, www.edenproject.com Cost Family £25, adult £10, child £4, under-fives free. Highlights Discovering a re-created rainforest, lagoon, 25m waterfall and the world’s biggest water lily – all inside magnificent biomes.

19. Eureka! Discovery Road, Halifax, Yorkshire. Tel: 01422 330 069; www.eureka.org.uk Cost Family £27.50, adult and child £5.75. Highlights It’s all about getting touchy-feely, with over 400 hands-on exhibits designed to appeal to your child’s sense of touch and smell, plus a journey around the world in the global garden.

20. Explosion! Priory Road, Gosport, Hampshire. Tel: 023 9250 5600; www.explosion.org.uk Cost Adults £5.50, Senior £4.50, Children £3.50. Families £15.00.. Highlights View rooms devoted to submarines, torpedos, guns and mines, with interactive features, such as moving floors and videos to bring it all to life.

21. Forest Of Bowland Ribble Valley, Lancashire. Tel: 01772 534 140; www.forestofbowland.com Cost Free. Highlights This is the landscape that inspired JRR Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings novels, and it boasts dramatic hills, valleys and woodland, animals running free and a useful visitor centre to help you plan your tour.

22. Glasgow Science Centre Pacific Quay, Glasgow. Tel: 0141 420 5000; www.gsc.org.uk Cost Family £18.95, adult £6.95, child £4.95. Highlights The four-storey science mall with hundreds of interactive displays, a planetarium and a virtual reality theatre. Also don’t miss the IMAX cinema theatre.

23. Glenariff Forest Park Co Antrim, Northern Ireland. Tel: 028 9052 4480; www.forestserviceni.gov.uk/our_forests/glenariff/glenariff.htm Cost Free. Highlights Beautiful waterfalls, pretty bridges crossing pebbled rivers and silvery forest trees – this magical forest is the perfect place for an enchanted picnic.

24. Gulliver’s Island Matlock Bath, Derbyshire. Tel: 01925 444 888; www.gulliversfun.co.uk Cost £7.50 per person (includes all rides). Highlights A ride park in a woodland setting with mini rides for the under-fives, log flumes, chair swings and water shows. Other parks in Warrington and Milton Keynes.

25. Hampton Court Palace And Gardens East Molesey, Surrey. Tel: 0870 752 7777; www.hrp.org.uk Cost Family £34, adult £11.30, child £7.40, under-fives free. Highlights The Great Maze is always a winner and there’s an excellent array of activities and events for children, plus the colourful flower show every July.

26. Hever Castle Hever, Near Edenbridge, Kent. Tel: 01732 861 701; www.hevercastle.co.uk Cost Family £21.40, adult £8.40, child £4.60. Highlights This beautiful 13th-century castle and gardens, once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, is a wonderland for children. Learn the castle’s history from costumed guides, then have fun in the adventure playground and mazes.

27. Jorvik Coppergate Shopping Centre, York, North Yorkshire. Tel: 01904 643 211; www.vikingjorvik.com Cost Family £21.95, adult £7.20, child £5.10. Highlights An historical delight from the York Archaeological Trust, Jorvik is a Viking-themed attraction full of refreshingly different exhibitions, activities and events for children.

28. Kents Cavern Showcaves The Caves, Wellwood, Torquay, Devon. Tel: 01803 215 136; www.kents-cavern.co.uk Cost Family £17.60, adult £6, child £3.80. Highlights Explore these spooky, stalactite-filled caves and learn all about their archaeological importance on a special tour.

29. Leeds Castle, Maidstone, Kent, ME17 1PL. Tel: 01622 765 400; www.leeds-castle.com Cost: Adult £13.50, child £8.00. Highlights: A full programme of family and children’s events, including fireworks, Easter egg hunts, winter treasure trail, family picnic prom, half-term activities and the spectacular hot-air balloon and vintage car fiesta.

30. LEGOLAND® Windsor Park Ltd Winkfield Road Windsor Berkshire SL4 4AY. Tel: 08705 04 04 04; www.legoland.co.uk LEGOLAND® Windsor is celebrating its 10th birthday in style with four fantastic new attractions when it opens on 25 March 2006. New additions include a stunning LEGO® brick model display of London, a fantastic digger activity area, a thrilling 4D film and an awesome live-action show. There’s also an outstanding special events programme packed with fun-filled activities to keep you coming back for more!

31. The Lowry Pier 8, Salford Quays, Salford. Tel: 0161 787 5780; www.thelowry.com Cost Varies according to the event. Highlights Some of the best live children’s theatre productions in the country, as well as unusual events and workshops throughout the year.

32. Magna Sheffield Road, Templeborough, Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Tel: 01709 720 002; www.magnatrust.org.uk Cost Family £24, adult £8, child £6, under-fours free. Highlights You can’t fail to have an adventure – discover what it’s like to fly, come face-to-face with a fireball and more. It’s science with a cool twist.

33. Margam Country Park Margam, Carmarthenshire. Tel: 01639 881 635. Cost Free. Highlights The scaled-down nursery village will keep young children entertained with a farm trail, adventure playground and boating.

34. Museum Of Childhood Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, London E2. Tel: 020 8980 2415; www.museumofchildhood.org.uk Cost Free. Highlights One of the world’s largest public toy collections, plus fantastic visiting exhibitions and events.

35. Museum Of Welsh Life St Fagans, Cardiff. Tel: 029 2057 3500; www.nmgw.ac.uk Cost Free. Highlights Visit the animals in the farm and wander through the Iron Age village.

36. The National Maritime Museum Cornwall Discovery Quay, Falmouth, Cornwall. Tel: 01326 313 388; www.nmmc.co.uk Cost Family £15.50, adult £5.90, child £3.90, under-fives free. Highlights The fascinating interactive displays, such as a cormorant diving for a fish.

37. National Space Centre, Exploration Drive, Leicester, LE4 5NS. Tel: 0870 60 772 23, www.spacecentre.co.uk. Adult £9.95, Child £7.95, Family of 4 £30, Family of 5 £36. The award winning National Space Centre is the UK’s largest attraction dedicated to space. Six interactive galleries take you on a journey around the Universe and beyond. Astronaut Challenge Lunar Base and NEW 3D Simulator ride.

38. The Natural History Museum Cromwell Road, London SW7.Tel: 020 7942 5000; www.nhm.ac.uk Cost Free. Highlights The new T-Rex exhibition, as well as children’s activity trails and storytelling.

39. Newby Hall Near Ripon, North Yorkshire. Tel: 01423 322 583; www.newbyhall.co.uk Cost Family £22.80, adult £7.20, child £4.70. Highlights The grand house boasts some great treasures while the grounds are home to an adventure garden.

40. The New Forest Hampshire. Tel: 01590 689 000; www.thenewforest.co.uk Cost Free. Highlights A stunning 150 square miles of heathland and woodland with free-running ponies, lots of child-friendly pubs, and a good choice of riding schools, which take children (age 6+) on forest treks.

41. Norfolk Rural Life Museum Gressenhall, Dereham, Norfolk. Tel: 01362 860 563; www.norfolk.gov.uk/tourism/museums Cost Adult £5.45, child £4.35. Highlights This site is a step back in time – the workhouse and farm keep it authentic.

42. Our Dynamic Earth Holyrood Road, Edinburgh. Tel: 0131 550 7800; www.dynamicearth.co.uk Cost Family £22.50, adult £8.45, child £4.95. Highlights On your journey you’ll be shaken by earthquakes, lava, and a tropical rainstorm, while encountering creatures you never knew existed.

43. Rheged Discovery Centre Redhills, Penrith, Cumbria. Tel: 01768 868000; www.rheged.com Cost Free entrance (cinema family £16, adult £5.50, child £3.90). Highlights Learn all about mountaineering in this seven-acre indoor centre covered in grass; and visit the giant cinema screen.

44. Roald Dahl Gallery Buckinghamshire County Museum, Church Street, Aylesbury, Bucks. Tel: 01296 331 441; www.buckscc.gov.uk/tourism/museum Cost Adult £3.50, child £2.75. Highlights Enter the eccentric world of Roald Dahl, where you can crawl through Mr Fox’s tunnel or read in Matilda’s library.

45. Science Museum Exhibition Road, London SW7. Tel: 0870 870 4868; www.sciencemuseum.org.uk Cost Free (there may be a charge for visiting exhibitions). Highlights Explore science in the hands-on Launch Pad, roam around in the garden and enjoy interactive video displays in ‘Things’.

46. Souter Lighthouse Coast Road, Whitburn, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear. Tel: 0191 529 3161; www.nationaltrust.org.uk Cost Family £7.50, adult £3, child £1.50. Highlights View the engine room, light tower and the lighthouse keeper’s living quarters.

47. Syon Park And London Butterfly House Syon Park, Brentford, Middlesex. Tel: 020 8560 0881; www.syonpark.co.uk Cost (Butterfly house) Family £15, adult £4.95, child £3.95, under-threes free. Highlights Butterflies from all over the world in the grounds of a huge tropical greenhouse. Outside, the miniature steam train and playground are also good fun.

48. Thinktank Millennium Point, Curzon Street, Birmingham. Tel: 0121 202 2222; www.thinktank.ac Cost Family £18, adult £6.95, child £4.95. Highlights ‘Things About Me’ – a hands-on human biology exhibition – and ’Kids In The City’, where children can have fun with water, explore sounds and role play.

49. Thorpe Park Staines Road, Chertsey, Surrey. 0870 444 4466; www.thorpepark.com Prices for the season start from: adults £23.00, under 12s £16.00 and family ticket’s from £78.00. Joining an already firmly established line up of sensational rides is STEALTH, EUROPE’S FASTEST RIDE experience, launching riders from 0-80mph in 2.3 seconds with a vertical lift and drop.

50. Weald And Downland Museum Singleton, Chichester, West Sussex. Tel: 01243 811 363; www.wealddown.co.uk Cost Family £19, adult £7, child £4. Highlights The collection of buildings from the 13th to the 19th centuries, including a Victorian school with costumed guides and activities such as candle-making, lace-making and having a go on the potter’s wheel.

Daniel Ivey, Founder What to Do With the Kids

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