The autumn is most certainly here now after the glorious Indian summer we’ve had, and most families with school age kids are getting ready for an autumn adventure! This is an exciting and busy time for most parents, with some already putting out the Halloween decorations before the school half term starts in a week’s time, others packing their suitcase to go away for a quick sun fix before the winter. But if you are like me, you’d opt in for an adventure in the UK or look forward to exploring local attractions.
Over the next few months I will compile the best family travel guide series and take a look at the top 15 most popular UK destinations, which hopefully will help you in your discovery of our fantastic country, and the special places to visit this year with your family! I will start with the jewel in the UK crown:
Most of us, at some point, fancy a London fix and especially around the festive time, when it gets dressed in the most fascinating colours and lights! It is not he cheapest option to take your family to London for a half term break, however you are guaranteed an unforgettable experience and special memories will definitely be made. Here are some exciting things and places to visit from my faves list!
- The Natural History Museum: An obvious choice for many reasons, firstly the entry to the museum is free and it is so vast! You can spend hours exploring inside, including dinosaur skeletons, the Earth Hall, and the famous blue whale model. It is advised that you book free tickets online here to guarantee entry.
- The Science Museum: A hands-on museum with so much to see and do for the curious minds, including interactive exhibits, an IMAX cinema, and the Wonderlab, a zone dedicated to exciting science experiments. It is also advised to book a free ticket here to gain entry.
- The V&A Museum of Childhood: There are four wonderful V&A museums to choose from, but the most fitting for families with younger children is the museum in Bethnal Green, which features a vast collection of toys and childhood-related artifacts. It is a great place to spark your kids’ imagination and let your creative side connect with the young generation in the fun exhibitions and activities planned every day.
- The Harry Potter Studio Tour: For all the young Harry Potter fans out there – this is hands down the most magical experience out there! What could be better than exploring sets, props, and costumes from the films, or even dining at the Great Hall! This trip does require planning ahead and is not cheap, however as all one-in-a-lifetime experiences, the joy and the experience you take away outweighs the expense. If you look today, the first available date for a tour is the 8th of January!! So if you are not mega organised, I expect you’d feel disappointed, but don’t worry, I found the way around it when I did a little digging. If you book a short break using their partner hotels with the tour, then the availability is there from the 17th of October! The partner hotels are for various budgets and in various locations, one of my favourites is De Vere Latimer Estate just 5 miles away. Fabulous atmospheric place to stay for this occasion!
- ZSL London Zoo: Another must visit is a London Zoo, with its wide range of animals and engaging and interactive experiences like the Land of the Lions and the Rainforest Life exhibit. This could cost your family over £100 just in the entry fee, however if your kids have Blue Peter badge, then their entry is free, which would save you around £40. Here is the information about how to earn Blue Peter badges.
- Sea Life London Aquarium: Explore marine life in a spectacular setting with a walk-through ocean tunnel and interactive displays. Great day out for the underwater wonderers with lots of adventures every day, and there is an option to save on an adult ticket by using one of the vouchers on your Kellogg’s cereal boxes, here is an article explaining how to do that.
- KidZania: Located in Westfield London, KidZania offers a kid-sized city where children are in charge and can role-play trying out different jobs and activities. I don’t know about you, but I would have loved this experience when I was a kid! Nothing defines the phrase we so often say to our kids “The World is Your Oyster” better than letting your children dream BIG and exploring their potential there and then! If you travel by train with the National Rail, then there is an opportunity to save on the ticket price and take advantage of the 2 for 1 deal.
- Hamleys: The world-famous oldest and biggest toy store on Regent Street, a fantastic place for toy shopping and regular live demonstrations. It has been a tradition in our family to take children to Hamleys at Christmas, there is just something so magical about their window displays and the atmosphere inside of the childhood bliss! If you are stuck for an idea of a gift for your kids, I really like their gift recommender tool, so definitely give it a go.
- London Transport Museum: Kids can explore the history of London’s transportation through interactive displays and vintage vehicles. Children go free and adults can book 2 for 1 offer if travelling by train with the National Rail, however the entry is timed and therefore you need to book exact time of entry, even for the free tickets.
- Kew Gardens: This is a botanicalworld-famous gem!Enjoy a day at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, which features beautiful landscapes and one of the largest and diverse plant collections in the world. You are welcome to explore the science and people behind the research departments and projects at Kew, which some older children might find fascinating! This is another attraction, which is free for the children with the Blue Peter badge.
- Horniman Museum and Gardens: This free museum has been open since Victorian times in Forest Hill of South London which now offers a wide range of exhibits, an aquarium, and extensive gardens with extraordinary views of the city. You would need to book tickets for specific exhibitions, so do check this page for more information.
- Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground: If you are staying near Kensington Gardens, this is a playground located near Diana’s Kensington Palace home and inspired by Peter Pan, featuring a pirate ship and other play structures. A great place for children to play and run around in, but don’t get caught out, as the playground closes at 16:45 in October, with the last entry 15 minutes prior to closing time.
- Museum of London Docklands: A historical No.1 Warehouse building central to the trade expansion, this is now a hub of the history of London’s docks with informative and interactive exhibits and family-friendly activities. There is something interesting for everyone and I encourage you to visit and immerse yourself in history here.
- London Dungeons: Older kids might enjoy the gruesome and chilling history of medieval London through interactive shows and displays. The recommended age is 12 years and above, so not suitable for younger, more impressionable children. This gripping and at times scary haunted attraction will definitely leave a lasting impression on you and your kids. It is cheaper to book online, with options to save even more by booking several attractions together.
- Vauxhall City Farm: If you and your family would like to visit a farm without leaving London, then you should visit thislittle oasis in the city centre with the views of MI6 and a stone’s throw away from the Big Ben, where children can interact with the adorable farm animals. It is the oldest and biggest urban farm in London, where all the volunteers are doing a great job adding value to the local community.
- Ride on the London Eye: This is an unforgettable and unique experience with stunning views of the city, especially on a sunny day! There is an option to save with 2 for 1 ticket here and with the kids with the Blue Peter badge going free, this could be a very cost effective and memorable activity.
- The Shard: Kids go free this October half-term and can enjoy the incredible views from the Shard’s viewing platform.
- The Postal Museum: Learn about the history of the postal service and take a ride on the Mail Rail, an underground miniature train. It is best to book after 2.30pm for a quitter experience.
- Shrek’s Adventure! London: If you are a family with younger children, this is one of the most interactive and immersive adventures in London, bringing Shrek and other DreamWorks characters to life. You might want to consider paying for a multi attraction tickets for your family for a saving of up to £61 per booking.
- The British Museum: If its history you are after, then this is the best museum to visit with its two million years worth of art, culture and history. With a free entry and central location, this is a perfect destination to discover and learn about ancient civilisations, experience and see captivating exhibitions and events!
London is a fantastic choice for an October half-term family adventure and will not disappoint with so much on offer before the Festive Season begins! Before you set off on your journey, wherever you choose to go, do remember to check the opening hours, book tickets in advance, and don’t forget that the clocks go back on the 29th of October this year!