Family travel in the UK can be fun for everyone as long as you remember to include child-friendly attractions in your itinerary. Keeping the younger members of your family entertained not only keeps the peace; choose wisely and the teens and adults in your group might find their inner child as well.
Here are the best family travel attractions to make your UK family vacation a memorable one.
© Ferne Arfin
Harry Potter fans and anyone interested in a detailed look at what's really involved in the making of movie magic will love Warner Brothers Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter. The films' most iconic sets, including The Great Hall,Dumbledore's Office, Hagrid's Hut, The Griffindor Common Room, and more, were opened to the public in the studio, 20 miles northwest of London, where the movies were actually made. It's a walking tour, featuring costumes, props and behind the scenes secrets. There are no rides or theme park thrills, but kids old enough to have read the books and enjoyed the films will be love it.
Highlight: Learn to fly a broom. Plan a Visit to The WB London Studio Tour
© Ferne Arfin
Longleat has something for everyone. There's one of the best safari parks in the world, a huge maze to get lost in, a boat ride on a lake full of seals, a train ride, a child-sized castle cum adventure playground and - almost forgot - a fabulous stately home, garden and landscaped park for the grown-ups. Regularly voted the UK Family Attraction of the Year by all kinds of guides, this is one place that won't disappoint.
Highlight: You may not be too impressed when the monkeys smile at you and then whizz all over the windshield of your car but, take it from me, your kids will love it. Plan a Visit to Longleat
The world's only man-managed nesting colony of mute swans. For more than 600 years, nearly a thousand mute swans have nested at this Dorset site, completely tolerant of, if not indifferent to close up humans. Watch the swans build their nests and tend to their eggs. Little people might even get to see the cygnets hatching.
Highlight: In May and June, hundreds of cygnets hatch and wander around the paths of the nesting site. Plan a Visit
Europe's deepest aquarium is a magical exploration of the world's oceans with fascinating displays and utterly beautiful aquaria. There is plenty to keep young minds busy and to entrance all the grownups in your family. The main tank is more than 30-feet deep and has manta rays, sharks, strange looking Australian saw fish and schools of smaller fish (about 3,500 throughout The Deep) that, remarkably, don't get eaten!
Highlight: Don't miss the "jewel" tanks that demonstrate the jellyfish cycle of life and the Twighlight Zone with its mysterious, almost prehistoric critters. Plan a Visit
Courtesy of Milton Maze
Corn mazes have been cropping up all over the United Kingdom. Between mid-July and September anyone flying over the country is likely to spot giant roosters, ancient American Indian designs, butterflies, spacemen and more, spread over acres and acres of farmland.
Corn mazes, or maize mazes as they are tongue twistingly known in the UK, have proven an enormously popular way to have an enjoyable family day out in the countryside. More than just a place to get lost in the corn, they usually offer lots of other entertainments on site.
HIghlight: The York Maze, is the largest in Europe.
Legoland has 150 rides, all kinds of shows, water slides, boat trips and more. And everywhere you look, you'll find amazing creations made of Legos. In Miniland, at the center of the park, 35 million pieces of Lego have been used to create scenes from London, Paris, Amsterdam and elsewhere in Europe. Now there's also an indoor Star Wars Experience in Miniland, based on seven iconic scenes from the movies, with music, animated Legos and special effects. The park is aimed at children between 2 and 12 years old and some of the rides have height restrictions for the younger ones.
Now you can stay overnight too. The Legoland Resort Hotel, opened in the middle of the park in 2012, includes 2 days free entry to the park for everyone staying. Highlight:
The children's menu promotes healthy choices with advice from children's food expert Annabel Karmel.
The Vikings played a major role in the development of York - including giving the city it's name. Jorvik, on the site where archaeologists first uncovered the remains of a 1,000 year old Viking city, brings this past to life. We all tend to think of the Vikings we've seen in the movies, raiding marauding and pillagings. Jorvik introduces families to the daily lives the Vikings who settled York - their work, their religion, their family life.
Highlight: Walk the reconstructed streets of the Viking city of York and come face to face with a Viking.
If you've ever watched a program about archaeology on television and wished you could have a go yourself then Dig is for you. At Dig, visitors take part in an excavation and discover real objects from ancient civilisations. Through exhibitions and participation, you'll understand how archaeologists use their finds to recreate the past. Kids
of all ages love grabbing a trowel and getting dirty as they dig through 2,000 years of the history
Highlight: Meet real archaeologists, handle artifacts from York and see the most recent discoveries.
Photo credit: www.britainonview.com
Together with the nearby Roman Army Museum, Vindolanda recreates the lives of the Roman legions who lived and worked in the North of England. Based on excavations of a settlement near Hadrian's Wall, the site includes a full-scale reconstruction of a section of the defensive wall in stone and timber, as well as reconstructions of a shop, temple, house and croft. The archaeology at Vindolanda is ongoing and there are recent finds of Roman boots, shoes, armour, jewellery and coins in the museum.
Highlight: Photographs of rare ink on wood letters written nearly two thousand years ago.
Photo credit: britainonview-Pawel Libera
Ten museums over 80 acres illustrate the industrial revolution beside Thomas Telford's cast iron bridge, the world's first. The Ironbridge Gorge, known as the Birthplace of Industry, is a UNESCO World Heritage
site. Visitors can learn about the first factory made products and the tools and machines that made them. There's a Coalport China Museum, a tile museum, a pipe makers workshop, a reconstructed Victorian town and more.
Highlight: Enginuity is a new, interactive design and technology center where kids can learn how things work and design their own bright ideas.