Looking for attractions that the whole family can enjoy? Naomi MacKay lists 10 favourites that should keep visitors of all ages happy

BEAULIEU_Monorail BusBeaulieu Motor Museum, Hampshire

www.beaulieu.co.uk

Beaulieu should appeal to everyone in the family thanks to its 13th-century abbey, stately home, motor museum and World of Top Gear exhibit that are all surrounded by beautiful gardens.

Nestled in the New Forest, the National Motor Museum covers the history of motor vehicles from 1875, with a recent attraction that looks at Formula 1 racing.

In the World of Top Gear, visitors can experience what it’s like in the Top Gear studio and see some of the cars that the Hammond-May-Clarkson trio modified and generally ruined.

The Secret Army exhibition uncovers the story of the special agents who trained at Beaulieu and undertook daring missions behind enemy lines. Kids can drive go-karts or mini motors or take a ride on a bus and the monorail.

There are discounts for groups of 15-plus, including special guided tours, free coach parking and a restroom for drivers.

Choose from a general tour or cover specific subjects such as Motorcycle History, the Victorian Kitchen and Beaulieu’s Gardens.

 

Black Country Living Museum, West Midlands

www.bclm.co.uk

COPYRIGHT BCLM - PATRICK MULVANEY.     7/6/2011      Pictures from the Black Country Living Museum, in Tipton Road, Dudley.     Costumed characters are pictured in the village.

Black Country Living Museum

This 26-acre, open-air site features more than 40 buildings from the surrounding area, which have been taken down and rebuilt.

Explore the pub and chapel, as well as a 1920s cinema and 1930s fish and chip shop. You can take a ride on the trolley buses and trams between different areas of the museum and you can find out what it was like to be a miner in the 1950s on a tour into a drift mine.

Costumed characters throughout the museum help to bring the past to life and visitors can watch everything from bread and sweets to chain, nails and horse brasses being made.

The museum is open from mid-January to December. Groups of 15-plus receive a discount. Coach parking is free and organisers receive a free ticket. It is also possible to book the Dudley Canal Trip and Limestone Mine trip or an extra activity such as rag rug making, canal art and enamel making. Ironbridge, Shropshire. The past is brought to life at Blists Hill Village, one of the Ironbridge Museums.

Meet the Victorian characters that will tell you about their lives in this recreation of an old Victorian town. Visit the bank to get your money turned into pounds shilling and pence and use it to buy bread, sweets or fish and chips. Find out about some of the unusual remedies that would have been for sale in the Victorian Pharmacy and see what’s on offer in the grocers and the drapers. Candle makers, printers and decorative plasterers also demonstrate traditional skills. Families will enjoy Enginuity – a science and technology centre packed with hands-on activities and interactive exhibits. There are 10 museums in total at Ironbridge. There is free coach parking and discounts for groups of 15-plus.

 

Eureka, The National Children’s Museum in Halifax, Yorkshire

www.eureka.org.uk 

Eureka is Britain’s first ‘touch museum’ for children, aimed at families with youngsters aged up to 11. There are more than 400 interactive exhibits, which are designed to appeal to kids of all ages. Walk into a giant mouth and ride a skeleton bike, or discover the science behind rhythm and sound performances.

Find out what it’s like in the real world as kids role-play shopping, visiting the bank or cooking in the kitchen.

In the Soundspace Gallery, they can create their own compositions and take part in interactive performances. Outside, the Wonder Walk lets children explore their senses as they put their bare feet or hands in the squishy mud, water and sand, listen to the wind chimes and enjoy the sweet scent of aromatic plants.

Discounts are available for pre-booked groups of 10 children or more, plus free entry for one adult with every four children and Meet and Greet with your own Enabler.

 

Paultons Park, Hampshire

www.paultonspark.co.uk

Earn brownie points with lots of little ones when you take them to the home of Peppa Pig World. Paultons Park combines an attraction for pre-schoolers with a theme park that should please families with older children too.

Little ones can meet George and Peppa Pig, take a ride on Grandpa’s train and jump in the muddy puddles to their heart’s content.

Thrill-seekers can take a ride on the Cobra rollercoaster or The Edge – a giant spinning disk that speeds up and down a rollercoaster rail.

If you want to take it easy, step into the art deco 4D cinema – but be prepared to get wet.

New for 2016 will be the dinosaur-themed Lost Kingdom, which will include a suspended coaster called Flight of the Pterosaur, Raptor (a boomerang-style family rollercoaster), a dinosaur expedition in a 4×4 jeep and animatronic dinosaurs.

Discounts are available for groups of 15-plus, as well as free entry/food vouchers for coach drivers.

 

The Eden Project, Cornwall

www.edenproject.com

The Eden Project – with its vast biomes filled with flora from around the world – is a great place for families to discover more about the natural world.

There are a number of events run for children and families throughout the year. Get a birds’ eye view of the rainforest in the Canopy Walkway, which takes you high above the plants in the rainforest biome.

Over Easter, discover the story of chocolate and over Christmas take a spin on the ice rink and meet Father Christmas. Inside the core building, discover an interactive exhibition where you’ll learn more about plants and what they can do.

For those who like to be a bit more active, you can also ride skyWire (England’s longest zip wire), try out a giant swing or throw yourself off a platform three-storeys up and land on a giant airbag.

Groups of 10 or more get discounts and catering discounts, as well as free entry for the driver and organiser, plus coach driver rest room and free coach wash.

 

Wicksteed Park, Kettering

www.wicksteedpark.org

Wicksteed Park combines fun rides for kids with a chance to enjoy a bit of down time in a peaceful parkland setting.

Recent additions include Wicky’s Play Factory, an indoor play area, the Snakes and Ladders Astroslide and drop slide, and the Sand and Water outside play area.

The lake has been rejuvenated and has a beach and pontoon – take a ride on the ferry or take out a rowing boat. As for rides, you’ll find dodgems, a rollercoaster, carousel and cups and saucers. Plus, there’s a chance to drive Mr Wicksteed’s cars, take a swing on the Pirate Ship or plunge down Rocky River Falls.

Slightly older kids can take part in Laser Xtreme and there are more thrills on offer at Rush – a giant climbing wall, leap of faith and a massive zip wire.

For a more relaxing ride, take the narrow-gauge railway around the park.

Group rates apply to purchases of 20 wristbands or more in a single transaction. For school and group rates, email experiencedays@wicksteedpark.org.

 

Jorvik Viking Centre, York

www.jorvik-viking-centre.co.uk

Take a journey through the reconstruction of Viking-age streets as all of your senses are enthralled with the sights, sounds and smells of Viking life 1,000 years ago.

The centre is built on the site of one of the most famous discoveries of modern archaeology. During the 1970s, archaeologists from York Archaeological Trust discovered the houses, workshops and backyards of the Viking-age city of Jorvik.

Visitors can see this beneath their feet when they come to the centre. They can take a ride aboard ‘ time capsules’ through the recreated Viking town of Jorvik, where they can encounter the old-Norse speaking citizens and can see inside their houses and back yards.

Groups of 15 to 30 people receive discounts and have a guaranteed entry time.

There’s free entry for the leader and coach driver and for an extra £2 per person, a Viking will meet you at the coach park and lead you to the centre, introducing the history of Viking York along the way. Your guide will also accompany you through the attraction.

 

Wookey Hole Caves, Somerset

www.wookey.co.uk

These are probably Britain’s most famous caves where you can look out for their infamous resident – the Witch of Wookey Hole.

A new tunnel and cave have been excavated recently, so there’s now more to explore than ever before. There are plenty more attractions on offer – you can take a stroll through the Valley of the Dinosaurs, meet King Kong and then take a break in the magical Fairy Garden.

For children there are soft play areas, the Wizard’s Castle, a Clown Museum and even the Wookey Circus Show (weekends and school holidays), where you’ll get to meet the Witch of Wookey – you’ll see her in the show on her speedy broomstick.

Group rates are available for 12 or more people. If you are planning a two-day excursion, taking in the sights of Wells, Bath or Bristol, the Wookey Hole Hotel has 58 bedrooms available.

About

Britain’s most spectacular caves and legendary home of the infamous Witch of Wookey. Wander through the prehistoric valley of the Dinosaurs featuring King Kong and relax in our magical fairy garden. The 19th Century Paper Mill houses a variety of fascinating attractions, including the Victorian Penny Arcade, Magical Mirror Maze, Hall of Crazy Mirrors, Cave Museum, Pirate Zap Zone, Soft Play Areas and the World of Miniature – The Circus Model Room and Clown Museum. NEW! Indoor Wizard’s Play Castle, find your way around the Wizard’s Castle, down the slides, through the tunnels and across the nets!

We have transformed the place! Of course we’ve kept the best – the caves themselves and the wonderful old paper mill, but there’s so much more we have done to make Wookey Hole a great family destination for a wonderful day out Whatever the Weather. Why not have lunch in our Big Top Restaurant or our new and enhanced Witch’s Kitchen, serving hot and cold meals?

Pirate Island Adventure Golf is available to play at an extra charge. 9 Holes of Piratey madness… Can you make it all the way to the end?!

Come and watch The Wookey Circus Show. Be dazzled by the trapeze and silk skills and be enthralled by the wire walking and unicycle tricks – a show not to be missed! (Weekends and school holidays only).

If you’re lucky, you might meet the Witch of Wookey Hole! She flies her speedy broomstick to meet and greet visitors and also stars in the Circus Show! (Weekends and school holidays only).

Wookey Hole Hotel
58 bedrooms, set in the heart of the Somerset’s rolling countryside. Visit the attraction, stay the night and explore the area, family breaks from £39-99, to include overnight accommodation, tickets into Wookey Hole and discounts to local attractions.

 

Gulliver’s Kingdoms (Warrington, Matlock and Milton Keynes)

www.gulliversfun.co.uk

The Gulliver’s parks specialise in offering a theme park experience for smaller visitors.

Here, you’ll find rollercoasters, log flumes, pirate ships, drop towers and carousels all aimed at children aged two to 13. Kids can meet the Gully Gang and watch live theatre and stage shows.

The three parks offer other experiences too. The Splashzone is an indoor water park, with sprays, spinners, streams and a slide, while the Nerf Zone is designed to let fans of Nerf guns take part in a battle – perfect for kids who are too young for laser battles or paintballing.

The Milton Keynes site is also home to Gulliver’s Dinosaur and Farm Park, which is ideal for youngsters who are not too keen on rides.

Discounts are available for groups of 20 or more and group catering packages are also available.