The UK's top attractions for families run the gamut from screaming thrill rides and totally immersive child-sized worlds to wonderful animal attractions and family-friendly cultural attractions.
There's no need to put off a trip to the UK just because you have young children. Family travel 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.
These the top UK family attractions will make your UK vacation especially memorable.
AddressStudio Tour Dr, Watford, Leavesden WD25 7LR, UK
Phone+44 345 084 0900
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. And I'll let you in on a little secret - adults who never cracked open one of the books or watched any of the films will love it too.
Highlight: Learn to fly a broom.
AddressWestfield London Shopping Centre, Ariel Way, London W12 7GA, UK
Phone+44 330 131 3333
Picture a town where kids run everything. They work as doctors and dentists. Train to actors and put on shows for their parents. Become airline pilots, firefighters and policemen.
This new children's role-playing attraction (it opened in the summer of 2015) offers kids a chance to take on 100 different role playing activities in 60 different establishments - shops, offices, hospitals, factories, formula 1 pit stops. Parents can watch from discreet windows but kids run this show. And they earn KidZania's own currency (Kidzos) that they can spend in the shops.
It's monitored and safe, with one entrance and exit and once in Kidzania children are fitted with RFID bracelets that keep tabs on them. They can only be removed at the exit in the presence of their parents.
Highlight: The brain children of a Mexican businessman, there are Kidzania's all over the world but - so far - not in the USA, so your kids (and you as an audience member) can have a truly unique experience that you cannot match at home. (Though, negotiations are apparently underway for a franchised roll-out sometime soon.)
Address32 Rose St London WC2E 9ET Rose St, London WC2E 9ET, UK
Phone+44 20 7557 6700
What better place to introduce children to the experience of live theater or entrance a star-struck tweenie than London and the exciting West End. Kids Week, sponsored by the Society of London Theatres has been going on since 1998 and it has grown from one week in August to the entire month.
During Kids Week, one child under 16 can go free with a paying adult ticket holder. Two more children can come along for half price. During the event there's also a feast of free events, workshops, story telling and activities.
Tickets go on sale on June 14 (in 2016) and the participating shows are announced closer to that time. The best way to find out what's happening is to subscribe to the Society of London Theatre Family Bulletin. That way, even if you can't come for Kids Week in August, you can find out about other family friendly shows, promotions and competititons in London throughout the year.
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: There are surprises to look at everywhere, including a fire-breathing dragon at the entrance to the resort and an incredibly realistic Chewbacca guarding the entrance to the Star Wars exhibits.
Longleat has something for everyone. To start with, it's one of the best safari parks - and the oldest outside of Africa - in the world. It celebrates its 50th birthday in 2016 and has its own breed of famous black-maned lions. Longleat also has 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 Capability Brown-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 Swannery, Abbotsbury
The world's only man-managed nesting colony of mute swans is a delightful day out for parents and children. 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.
The Deep, Kingston-upon-Hull
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.
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. If it all seems a bit dry and grown up, it is anything but. And leave plenty of time because there is simply too much to see in one day.
This is the sort of place that is easier to enjoy than to describe. Contained in a series of transparent geodesic domes that squat on the Cornwall landscape like sci-fi mushrooms, the Eden Project describes itself as a place that "is all about man's relationship with and dependence upon plants". It's a kind of green theme park where all kinds of issues and questions are explored. Although not specifically aimed at children, there are plenty of child-centered activities including trails, restaurants with healthy children's menus and play areas.
Highlight: Playstructures naturally "grown" from willow and bamboo.
AddressThe Slate Caverns, Blaenau Ffestiniog LL41 3NB, UK
Phone+44 1766 830306
The Llechwedd Slate Caverns in Blaenau Ffestiniog, in Snowdonia National Park, are at the heart of a feast of family-friendly activities. What began as a modest, illuminated attraction in a disused slate mine has grown into a multi-activity center.
- The Deep Mine Tour - The steepest cable railway in Britain plunges down into the heart of Llechwedd mountain and back 160 years. Tour guides come from families with generations of links to the slate industry. Younger children love the hard hat experience.
- Bounce Below - a huge undergound playground with bouncy, trampoline like nets filling the huge caverns. Recently expanded, it reopens in June 2016.
- ZipWorld Caverns - An underground journey through otherwise inaccessible caverns on ziplines, rope bridges, via ferrata and tunnels. Its for children older than 10-years, involves some onsite training and can take about three hours. But what an adventure for show and tell.