Summer holidays are fast approaching & I’m already wondering how I can keep the kids entertained on a budget! Some can’t fly abroad so making the most of what we have right here in the UK seems a no brainer! When you’re thinking of where to go with your kids this summer, the seaside & the countryside are often the first places that spring to mind, but living in the UK we are spoilt with fantastic cities!
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If you just need to get away for the weekend, there are so many to chose from for a perfect family break! City breaks can be an amazing cultural experience too, but with so much to do it’s a good idea to do some planning first: plan where you’re going to stay in the city; your must-see sights; & how you’re going to get around. Don’t try to cram too much into a couple of days, take plenty of snacks & make sure you allow the kids to burn off energy in a park when they’ve had enough of the sights.
Here are a few of the best places to visit with the family on a budget –
The Scottish capital is packed full of family-friendly attractions such as the Edinburgh Zoo where you can find the Giant Pandas, historical experiences at Edinburgh Castle or the National Museum of Scotland & then there are The Meadows gardens for a picnic & a playground. You can then venture outside the city, & you can learn about Scotland’s industrial heritage at the National Museum of Scotland, meet the farm animals at East Links Family Park or go on a sea safari from the Scottish Seabird Center.
Some of my most memorable trips as a kid were to Wales!
Cardiff is a great city which is perfect for exploring on foot or by bus. The Castle is a must for visiting families, & if you’re there during the school holidays, you’re likely to find special events happening within the grounds. Also, kids will love St Fagans National History Museum, which is an open-air re-creation of a Welsh village, & the National Museum Cardiff, which is full of art and natural history – both are free entry too which is even better! If your kids love adventure, then take them to Cardiff International White Water for rafting, paddle boarding, & an indoor wave experience.
This gateway to Devon & Cornwall is the perfect place to stop for a city break before heading to the South West’s beaches. In the heart of the city, Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) is a fabulous free museum packed full of curiosities to entertain kids for hours. Sporty teens will enjoy the challenge of Clip ‘n Climb at The Quay, & adventurous over-fives can venture beneath the city to explore the medieval passages. Outside of Exeter, there are some fantastic walks at Haldon Forest Country Park where you will also find Go Ape, cycle tracks and segway tours. Or why not get muddy at The Bear Trail family assault course?
In Norwich, you’ll have a great time on a City Sightseeing bus tour which will take you around Norwich’s 12 heritage sites including Norwich Castle, which is now a museum and art gallery. The colorful city center market is great to stroll around, and you can even have a free guided tour of Norwich Cathedral, which has history oozing from every nook and cranny. If you step a little way just outside of the city center too, you’ll find the magical BeWILDerwood family tree adventure park and the Norfolk Broads for day boat trips.
Portsmouth is the home of the Royal Navy & no trip to Portsmouth would be complete without a day in the Historic Dockyard where you can board Nelson’s ship, HMS Victory & see the Mary Rose which lay at the bottom of The Solent for more than 500 years before being brought to the surface for conservation. Take the kids to the beach for an ice-cream or whizz around the fun fair rides at Clarence Pier. For the very best views of the city climb the Spinnaker Tower from which you can see the Isle of Wight, the South Downs and as far along the coast as Worthing.
Manchester is an excellent place for family breaks with a cultural flavour, while for those looking to combine a city break with an exploration of greener pastures, it’s just 25km from the Peak District or an ideally placed stop-off for those headed north to the Lake District or Scotland.
If your kids haven’t been on a school trip to Manchester yet then make sure you take them to the Museum of Science & Industry, where Manchester’s industrial heritage is brought stunningly to life through lots of hands-on experiences. You can crawl through a Victorian sewer & enjoy some lovely smells, sounds & even rats! You can watch shows in the planetarium or 4D theatre with moving seats, water sprays & air blasts & see one of the world’s largest collections of working steam engines then ride around the site which was the world’s first passenger railway station, on a replica steam train. Then there’s the Manchester Art Gallery, which runs lots of free events for children, the People’s History Museum, which tells the story of democracy & of the working class in the UK & finally you could go to the National Football Museum, before venturing out to Old Trafford, for a Museum and Stadium Tour of Manchester United’s ‘Theatre of Dreams’. You can also discover Salford Quays, which is part of the Greater Manchester city & is an ongoing dockland regeneration project that is now home to MediaCity & several departments of the BBC, as well as The Lowry art and entertainment center which has three theatres, art galleries with a family corner for drawing, reading & playing & regular art, drama & dance activities, workshops & classes.
Hey have you started thinking about the places you will visit this summer? Which city looks the best? Let me know in the comments below & don’t forget to share!!