Summer has officially arrived and with it, the school holidays creep ever closer. If you're worrying about what to do with the kids for the full six weeks, you needn't be. There are plenty of great activities for kids to do all over the UK that everyone will enjoy. From learning to surf in Cornwall to following in dinosaur footprints on the Isle of Skye and chasing fairies in Sherwood Forest, there's sure to be something to keep the kids entertained no matter their age.
So this summer, take a leaf out of our great British bucket list and make it a truly magical summer to remember by coming up with your very own bucket list for kids.
Better yet, turn it into a game that the whole family will enjoy by creating a bucket list lucky dip for all your ideas. Draw out one a week to determine that week's adventure, and the whole summer will be full of surprises. Don't forget to take photos of each bucket list item you complete and at the end of the summer, you can even make your very own special photo album.
To help you get started, we've pulled together 21 timeless bucket list-worthy places to visit in the UK that every kid (and any kids at heart) will enjoy:
1. Learn to surf in Watergate Bay
No summer would be complete without a visit to the beach and if you're going to do it, why not do it in style by learning to surf as well? In Watergate Bay, Newquay, not only are there reams of sandy shores to enjoy, but kids as young as six can try their hand at surfing too. If you've got confident swimmers, this will give them a summer experience they'll never forget. With over two miles of golden sands, there's plenty of opportunities to build sandcastles galore. Don't forget some seashells to take home, too.
Plan it: visitnewquaycornwall.co.uk
2. Have a picnic with the deer in Bushy Park
Everyone knows that summer = picnics in the park. Elevate yours to the next level by having it surrounded by beautiful wild animals. Nothing more's magical for little ones than seeing animals roaming free and in numerous parks around the country such as Bush Park in Hampton Court, you can enjoy your jam sandwiches in the presence of wild deer. Not only that but the wide range of ponds will provide ample opportunity to spot swans, ducks and birds alike. Just don't forget to take plenty of pictures!
Plan it: royalparks.org.uk
3. Sleep with the wild horses in Dartmoor
The ultimate staycation, kids of all ages will love camping (or glamping, if you'd prefer) in one of the most ecologically rich countrysides the UK has to offer: Dartmoor, Devon. Why Dartmoor you ask? With rich hilly countryside, complete with plenty of flora and fauna and even wild horses right on your doorstep, it's the obvious choice for nature-mad children. While you're there, you can also take advantage of Devon's love of horses with a horseback trek. You'll experience the countryside from another angle, and the kids will love you forever as they ride out on to the open moor and trot along woodland trails.
Plan it: visitdartmoor.co.uk
4. Become an engine master in Llangollen Railway
Thomas The Tank Engine enthusiasts rejoice! If your kids love trains, there's nothing more spectacular than taking them on a daylong steam train journey. Chugging along the countryside, they'll get to experience life as an engine master in Llangollen Railway, North Wales. And if they're really lucky, Thomas himself might even make an appearance...
Plan it: Llangollen-railway.co.uk
5. Chase witches underground in Somerset
Make like a mole and head underground to explore the UK’s largest cave system at Wookey Hole, Somerset. Not only are they beautiful, but kids will enjoy going on boat rides, seeing amazing natural phenomenon such as stalagmites and stalactites and hearing all about the pagan and Christian legends of the caves, including the spooky resident Wookey Witch! Truly an experience to remember, the kids will be talking about it for the rest of the summer.
Plan it: Wookey.co.uk
6. Stand in dinosaur footprints at the Isle of Skye
What kid doesn't love dinosaurs? Did you know that you can search for lost fossils on the Jurassic Coast, see the real thing at the Natural History Museum and – more impressive yet – even walk in dinosaur footprints on the Isle of Skye? Kids will love the so called 'dinosaur isle' of the UK, where they can gawp at some of the best preserved dinosaur footprints in the world while imagining what life was like over 165 million years ago when the dinosaurs roamed the isle. From the carnivorous megalosaurus, a relative of T-rex, to the brontosaurus and brachiosaurus, it is awe-inspiring to be exactly where these massive creatures once stood.
Plan it: theskyeguide.com
7. Beome a knight at Warwick Castle
Most kids love nothing more than playing make-believe and Warwick Castle is so steeped in medieval history and pageantry that even reluctant role players will enjoy donning robes and learning to joust. With over 1,100 years of history at its helm and interactive history such as the castle dungeon and Horrible History maze to explore, they’ll be begging to go back next year. For those who really want to make it an experience to remember, as of 1st July you can actually stay over in your very own themed lodge!
Plan it: warwick-castle.com
8. Go on an animal safari at Longleat
While a safari might be on most people’s bucket list, who says that you have to go to Africa to experience the best? Instead, pack up the car and head to the UK's most popular safari park, Longleat in Wiltshire. The popularity is well deserved: with everything from big cats and zebras to rhinos and giraffes crossing your path, you’ll all be captivated by seeing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. Just remember to keep your windows closed, or the monkeys might climb in!
Plan it: Longleat.co.uk
9. See a theatre production at the Minack Theatre
The Minack Theatre in Cornwall is the most famous open-air theatre in Britain and a real bucket list-worthy event. Look out on the choppy waters of the coast as you watch a play high upon the granite cliff tops and experience theatre like they did in Ancient Greece. With plenty of story telling and family-friendly performances to choose from, there’s sure to be something that catches your eye. While you’re in the area, don’t forget to take a trip to Land’s End so your kids can tell their friends that they went to the end of the earth and back!
Plan it: minack.com
10. Go on a scavenger hunt with Winnie the Pooh in Ashdown Forest
Most bookworms have a soft spot for A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh in their heart. No matter their age, they'll love exploring the forest that inspired the adventures of Pooh. With plenty of iconic locations to explore, you can get the little ones to bring their toys and go on a special Pooh-related scavenger hunt to find Owl's house and Pooh Sticks Bridge. And of course, the rest is up to your imagination!
Plan it: Ashdownforest.org
11. Star gaze like a Roman at Cawfields Roman Wall
Nothing’s more magical that gazing up at the infinite skies above and you can do it in style at Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland. Not only does it have some of the darkest skies in Britain, but it’s been pretty much untouched since the Romans were there almost 2000 years ago – so you can imagine gazing upwards at the galaxy just like the Roman’s did.
Built in AD122, Hadrian’s Wall was once the largest frontier in the Roman Empire and after visiting the fabulous ruins, forts and bathhouses along the wall you and the kids can set up camp at the Dark Skies Discovery Site at Cawfields for some night time gazing. Don’t know anything about stars? Don't worry – you can bring your own telescope, or join a stargazing event with the Newcastle Astronomical Society.
Plan it: visitnorthumberland.com
12. Try over 50 flavours of ice cream at the Ice Cream Farm
Summer just wouldn't be summer without indulging in some ice cream, so why not take the whole family to the actual Ice Cream Farm in Cheshire? An award-winning farm that has been producing ice cream for nearly 30 years, the kids will be delighted when they realise that they can choose from over 50 flavours of ice cream! From scrumptious sticky toffee pudding and unmissable honeycomb to stem ginger, salted caramel and even bubblegum flavours, you won’t be disappointed. You can even find out how the classic summer treat is made by getting a tour of the factory and visiting the cows that make the milk. Now all that’s left to decide is: which flavour?
Plan it: theicecreamfarm.co.uk
13. Seek out Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest
The legendary stomping-ground of vigilante Robin Hood, the kids will love exploring this 450 acre country park. Complete with veteran oak trees, resident fairies and even a yearly Robin Hood Festival (1st-7th August), there’s something for all the family in this wonderful forest. Got some adventure junkies on your hands? Why not try exploring the forest from a whole new perspective with Segway tours by Go Ape. The kids will love telling their teachers all about how they met Robin Hood come September!
Plan it: experiencenottinghamshire.com
14. Get dancing at an outdoor festival
Just because they’re kids doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy a good summer festival – in fact, most festivals nowadays are very child friendly. Not only will they love boogying to the music, watching films outdoors and taking part in fun crafty activities, but it can be a great experience that they will cherish forever. From small festivals such as Dorset’s summer carnivals, to large festivals such as Latitude and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, there are plenty of excuses for the whole family to get out and have some fun this summer! Check out our guide for entertaining kids at music festivals to make sure it's an experience to remember for everyone.
15. Catch some fireworks in Plymouth
Watching spectacular fireworks is on everyone’s bucket list, right? So you might as well watch the best the country has to offer. Even little ones will ooh and ahh at the annual British Firework Championships that take place in Plymouth, Devon in August. Complete with spectacular panoramic views and six professional displays of fireworks to watch, you can wash it all down with some of the best fish and chips in the country. There’ll also be plenty of family entertainment for restless little ones.
Plan it: britishfireworks.co.uk
16. Learn about farm life at Old MacDonald’s Farm
It’s a fact of life that kids can have fun at farms and summer is the perfect time to show them just how fun it can be. Of course, you could go to any old farm, but why not up the ante by taking them to the one farm they are sure to have heard about. Forever preserved in nursery rhyme history, ‘Old MacDonald had a farm’ will come to life with a trip to Old MacDonald’s farm in Brentwood Essex. Ok, it may not be the actual farm, but that doesn’t matter as as soon as they see it, their imagination will take over. With a petting zoo, kid’s amusements, and even entertainment for parents, it’s near enough a perfect day out.
Plan it: omdfarm.co.uk
17. Meet Willy Wonka at Charlie and The Chocolate Factory afternoon tea
Let them play grown-up for an afternoon by treating them to a Wonka-themed afternoon tea. While there are plenty across the country, try the one at Chesterfield London before catching the show on the West End and you’ll really make it a day to remember. Watch their faces light up as they get a golden egg, a chocolate Wonka bar and a golden ticket among other fabulous surprises. The kid’s version comes complete with peanut butter and jam sandwiches, a selection of Wonka-tastic pastries and delights, and a choice of a milkshake or tea, while adults can indulge in a glass of champagne of their choice.
Plan it: chesterfieldmayfair.com
18. Go crabbing at Anglesey, Wales
It’s the simple pleasures in life that make summer so fun, so spend a long day rock pool fishing at Anglesey, one of the best places for rock pools in the UK. The island's coastline is beautiful and rugged, peppered with Blue Flag beaches and plenty of rocks full of shrimp, crabs and little fish for them to explore. Don’t forget your bucket and children’s net, and of course be careful not to get your fingers pinched!
Plan it: ittletrekkers.co.uk
19. Fly a kite in Portsmouth
Let’s go fly a kite, up to the highest height, at Portsmouth, home of the Portsmouth International Kite Festival (13th and 14th August), one of the 23 biggest kite festivals in the world. A prime kiting location, kite flying is great fun for kids big and small and it’ll be extra special when they know that their little kite flies alongside all the award-winning versions from around the world. Why not consider making your own kite with the kids to bring to really make it an adventure? And if you can visit during the festival, it’ll be even more special.
Plan it: visitportsmouth.co.uk
20. Set sail on the Titanic in Belfast
Be part of history and relive an iconic movie at the same time aboard the Titanic in Belfast. Extending over nine impressive galleries with special effects, dark rides, full-scale reconstructions and cool interactive features to explore, kids will enjoy being part of its maiden voyage and catastrophic demise. Older kids will love The Sinking Gallery, where along with special sound and lighting effects you can actually experience the sinking of the world’s most famous ship in real time, while little ones will enjoy going on deep sea missions in the Ocean Exploration Centre.
Plan it: titanicbelfast.com
21. Get an adrenaline rush at England's oldest amusement park
While kids will love all the large adventure parks the UK has to offer, it’s not really a special experience that they’ll treasure forever. Instead go retro and treat kids to an experience they’ll never forget at Dreamland, Margate. Completely revamped in 2014, this iconic park is a part of British history and provides everything an adrenaline junkie is after – including some of the best rides in Europe, alongside traditional fair-side treats such as candy floss, games and daily events celebrating the best of british culture.
Plan it: dreamland.co.uk