12 fantastic ideas for days out with the kids this summer

Get inspired this summer with ideas for fun days out that the whole family will enjoy.

It can be daunting with the summer holidays stretching out before you. Here are 12 ideas for fun family day trips, that everyone will enjoy.

Meet their favourite characters at a theme park

Head to one of the UK’s brilliant theme parks for a memory-making family day out this summer. As well as being packed with rides and attractions suitable for babies, toddlers and bigger kids too, these parks give children the chance to see their favourite characters from books and TV.

The Gruffalo River Ride and Room on the Broom - A Magical Journey at Chessington World of Adventures Resort

Join Mouse on a magical riverboat journey through the deep dark wood. As you float down the lazy river, the world of The Gruffalo will magically unfold in front of your eyes, with exciting twists and turns along the way! Or help the Witch as her hat, bow and wand are sent tumbling to the ground.Search high and low in the trees, fields and reeds to help find the Witches lost things. Then brave the Dragon, who fancies ‘Witch and chips’ for his tea!

Elmer's flying carousel at Chessington World of Adventures Resort

Little fans of the Children's picture-book character can choose their favourite colourful elephant to take them to the skies on Elmer's flying carousel.  

Peppa Pig World, part of Paulton’s Park, Hampshire  

Meet Peppa and all her friends at Peppa Pig World at Paulton’s Park in Hampshire. With nine gentle themed rides including Daddy Pig’s Car Ride, Peppa’s Big Balloon Ride, and Mr. Potato’s Adventure Playground (which are all suitable for children aged 1+).

Thomas Land, Drayton Manor, Staffordshire

Part of Drayton Manor theme park in Tamworth, Staffordshire, a day trip to the home of Thomas & Friends is a must-do for young locomotive fans this summer! With over twenty-five attractions, including the Troublesome Trucks coaster and Terence the Tractor’s Driving School, there’s something for every Thomas-mad little one.

The Making of Harry Potter, Warner Brothers Studio, Watford

A visit to the home of Hogwarts is a magical treat for children (and grownups) of all ages. Plan a day trip to The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Brothers Studios near Watford to find out how J. K. Rowling’s Wizarding World was brought to life on the big screen. You’ll get the chance to tour the sets of Diagon Alley, the Great Hall and Gringott’s, plus get up close to real film props, costumes and more.

An image of the Hogwarts Express at Warner Brother's Studio
The Hogwarts Express at The Making of Harry Potter

Get out into the great outdoors

Durdle Door in Dorset with the sea beneath, on a clear summer day

Explore the coast with The Snail and the Whale 

Pack a picnic and head to the coast for a day with the kids. Explore with the help of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s classic picture book, The Snail and the Whale. Designed to teach children and families about England's coastlines and packed with marine facts and inspiration for fun coastal activities, The Snail and the Whale Coastal Adventure booklet has been created in partnership with Natural England and the Marine Management Organisation.

Illustration of a whale with its head and tail above the sea, and a snail perched on his tail
Have a coastal adventure with The Snail and the Whale booklets.jpg
Have a coastal adventure with The Snail and the Whale - drawing, colouring sheet, word search, facts - The Snail and the Whale - Julia Donaldson
Download the booklet

Flock to your nearest Wetland Park

Teeming with life - both feathered and fluffy - a trip to one of the Wildlife and Wetland Trust’s 10 UK reserves will make for a nature-packed summer day out with the kids. With wide buggy-friendly paths, lots of open space, and kid-friendly displays and activity centres, WWT reserves are great places to make the most of sunny days in the great outdoors. Just remember to pack your binoculars!

Find your nearest WWT reserve here

European otter climbing out of a river and on to a grassy bank
Otter at Washington Wetland Centre, Tyne and Wear

Get on your bike

Ditch the car this summer for a family day out on two wheels. With numerous traffic-free routes, Britain’s 15 free National Parks make for the ideal location for kids to hone their cycling skills and explore our country’s incredible countryside. The National Parks website has loads of information about family-friendly cycling routes. After all that peddling, you’ll have no problem getting the little ones to sleep and many National Parks also have campsites, so why not pack your tent and make a weekend of it?

Discover the UK’s National Parks here

person riding a bike on a gravel trail through country side on a sunny day with green fields and purple flowers
Tissington Trail, Peak District National Park

Travel back in time with a trip to a castle

Bring bedtime stories of kings, queens and knights of the realm to life with a visit to one of our isle’s magnificent castles. With castles of all shapes and sizes dotted all over the UK, you won’t have to travel far for a fantastic day out. Here are just a few of our family-friendly favourites:

Warwick Castle, Warwickshire

With daily archery and falconry shows, expansive grounds, and a brand new Horrible Histories maze, a day out exploring this medieval castle will be fun for everyone. 

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh 

Towering above the streets of the ancient Scottish capital, be sure to time your visit to Edinburgh Castle to hear the One O’clock Gun, which has been fired every day (except Sundays, Good Friday, and Christmas Day) since 1861. 

Stirling Castle, Edinburgh

One of Scotland’s grandest castles due to its position on top of a huge hill and impressive architecture. It's not far from Edinburgh so if one castle isn't enough for one day,  two castles in one day might be. The Scenery will take your breath away.

Large stone castle at the top of a green hill with a cloudy sky
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

Conwy Castle, North Wales

Perched on the coast of North Wales, a visit this to this huge semi-ruined fortress castle will capture the imaginations of children big and small.

Belfast Castle, Belfast

This stunning mansion and its grounds look like they’ve been plucked straight from a fairytale. Children of all ages will have hours of fun at the Cave Hill Adventurous Playground, which is open every day throughout the summer months.

For more castles with literary links visit English Heritage's top tips

Get reading

For something that will keep the kids entertained for the whole summer, take a trip to your local library and sign up for The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge. The challenge encourages children aged 4-11 to borrow and read six library books over the course of the summer holidays, and it's free to take part.

Find out more about how you can get involved here