Successful family vacations depend on plenty of fun things to do with your kids that will entertain all ages. Whether you are visiting the UK with your children for their first taste of "abroad" or simply looking for a few fun outings to liven up school vacations and school holidays, these family-friendly outings in England's Southeast are bound to create great loads of fun and lovely family memories.Have I missed your favorite family day trip? Let us know about it. Scroll down the page to find out how.
The new Legoland Windsor Resort Hotel, opened in 2012 makes an overnight stay for the family a cost effective option since it includes two days free admission to the park for everyone staying.
Highlight: The children's menu promotes healthy choices with advice from children's food expert Annabel Karmel.
Windsor Castle one of the Monarch's principal official residences, is also one of Britain's most iconic landmarks. It's not far from Heathrow Airport and arriving passengers - even if they have never been to Britain before - can usually recognize it from the air. A residence and fortress for almost 950 years, it is the oldest and largest continually occupied castle in the world and a must-see attraction.
Family activities in the education center and special family trails and quizzes make the visit as rewarding for children as it is for grownups. Family tickets are good value and can be reused throughout the year.
Highlight: Queen Mary's Dollhouse and the fashion dolls France and Marianne are big hits with little girls - and big ones too.
A visit to Beaulieu, a country house in the New Forest, is a great day trip from London that is jam packed with things to see and do. It is home of the National Motor Museum, offers a look at Victorian upstairs-downstairs life in a manor house, has a beautiful garden, the ruins of a 13th century abbey, a restaurant, outdoor amusements for children and lots more.
Highlight: The James Bond Experience features real memorabilia, props - and cars - from at least eight different James Bond films. Aston Martins, Jaguars, the Lotus Submarine Car from The Spy Who Loved Me. And, from the same film, the world's first ever used jet ski.
These two wild animal parks, were set up by the late John Aspinall, to breed and protect endangered species for return to their native environments. Howletts Wild Animal Park, on 90 acres of ancient woodland, and Port Lympne Safari Park, 600 acres with includes a mansion house and gardens, are featured on the BBC program Roar. Both are not zoos but natural animal environments where you can visit the world's largest Western Lowland Gorilla family group in captivity and the UK's largest herd of African elephants. There are also wonderful big cats - Siberian Tigers, Snow Leopards and dozens of other rare and beautiful animals.
Highlight: Take an overnight safari April to October and stay in Port Lympne's Livingstone Lodge.
One of nine wetland centers run by the Wildlife Wetland Trust, the Arundel site is a delightful natural environment for both adults and children to explore. Rare wildfowl, from all over the world shelter in its wildfowl lakes. There are interesting sustainable buildings made of thatch and reed and free boat safaris in electric boats. Quiet visitors can use hides overlooking the main lakes to spot Kingfishers and other native birds.
The Arundel Wetland Centre is convenient for families walking the eastern end of the South Downs.
Highlight: The Blue Duck Waterfalls are the place to see New Zealand blue ducks - among the rarest ducks in the world, in a recreation of their natural habitat.
Oxford Castle has a history that goes back about a thousand years - and there are parts of this castle that, until recently, had never been seen by the public in all that time. It has been a prison, a royal household, a defensive earthworks and is even the location of a smart hotel. But it's the underground dungeons and tunnels of Oxford Castle Unlocked that provide the location for creepy thrills and ghoulish delights especially suitable for older children.
Highlight: During school vacations, special events like Creepy Crawlies costume workshops and Big Bug Hunts are scheduled for younger kids. Visit their website for the schedule.
This former West Sussex chalk quarry, in the beautiful South Downs countryside, is now a museum of the world of work in the southeast, from traditional rural crafts to early technology. Resident crafts people in workshops around the 36-acre site, demonstrate traditional skills. Among them are a blacksmith, potter, stained glass maker, broom maker, foundry man, and a walking stick maker.
And the location, opposite Amberley rail station (less than an hour from London Victoria by train), could not be more convenient for a London day trip.
Highlight: Take a free trip around the site on a vintage double decker bus or a narrow gauge railway. The museum's vintage vehicles include steam engines, buses and fire engines.
The world's oldest model village began more than 80 years ago as the largest outdoor Gauge 1 garden railway in the UK. The model village grew, created by London accountant Roland Callingham, his gardener and various volunteers - including enthusiastic local school boys. Revived in the 1990s - with a few modern touches added, Bekonset remains charmingly old fashioned - a pre-war glimpse of rural England with the kind of detail that enchants kids and their dads from February through October.
Highlight: The Gauge 1 garden railway that started it all - a network of historic equipment running 10 scale miles (or 450 actual metres). Realistically-signalled main line, branches and sidings, with passenger and goods trains.
In my memory of the Norwegian children's story Three Billy Goats Gruff, a fearsome troll hid under a bridge waiting to gobble them up. There's no troll here - but there are billy goats and nanny goats galore - in fact every single species of domestic goat found in the UK. Also llamas, wallabies, rabbits, ponies, donkeys, guinea pigs, pigs, ducks and geese. This is a year round petting farm for children, with a kids cafe and facilities for children's parties.
Avoid tantrums by staying away from the pet shop, where small animals bred on site are offered for sale.
Highlight: Feeding the animals - and tractor rides in good weather.
This award winning museum and gallery, operated by the county council, uses Roald Dahl's stories and characters (as well as several special characters created for the museum by Quentin Blake) to engage children in imaginative activities and discoveries.
Among the activities:
- Discover inventions with Willy Wonka
- Investigate minibeasts inside the giant peach
- Crawl along Fantastic Mr Fox's tunnel
- See the Twits' upside down room
- Explore sounds with the BFG
- Dress up in Victorian school clothes under the watchful eye of Miss Trunchbull
Highlight: All kinds of secret, funny, hidden things to discover
And not far away, check out the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, Bucks