United Kingdom

10 of the best outdoor activities in the UK this summer for families

Photo of Cathy ToogoodPhoto of Cathy Toogood
By Cathy Toogood

10 July 20196 min read

A young girl feeds an alpaca through a fence at a farm

Continued uncertainty over Brexit coupled with the falling value of the pound means that many families are considering a staycation in the UK this year. And, if the weather is as glorious as last year’s record-breaking summer, parents will be looking for ideas on the best outdoor activities in the UK with kids.

To help keep all of the family entertained, we’ve rounded up some of the best UK summer days out, from learning how to climb trees on the Isle of Wight and trekking with alpacas on the Scottish Borders, to cooling down in a pool in central London.

1. Take a dip outdoors in central London

If you’re in central London with the kids this summer and the sun is out, cool off at one of the city’s outdoor lidos. London Fields Lido in Hackney, for example, has a 50m Olympic-sized heated outdoor pool as well as a café and large sun-deck. Charlton Lido, in Greenwich, also has a 50m heated outdoor pool and a café and, if your kids are cycling enthusiasts, there’s a BMX race track – a legacy from the Olympics – near the pool which is free to use.

Tickets from £4.15; find out more and book tickets for the lidos here.

2. Get lost in a space-themed maize maze in Staffordshire

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, the National Forest Adventure Farm in Staffordshire is opening a 10-acre moon-landing-themed maize maze from July 13.

There will be a number of other space-themed activities taking place at the farm over the school holidays too, as well as opportunities to feed its animals, take a tractor ride and burn off some steam at its other outdoor activities, such as a mini assault course and a farmyard crazy golf.

Tickets from £8.99; find out more and book tickets here.

3. Become a spy on a treasure hunt in central Manchester

You may have to think slightly more creatively to find outdoor things to do with kids if you’re in the middle of a big city this summer. But a company called Treasure Trails offers self-guided spy missions, murder mysteries and treasure hunt themed walks in more than 1,200 locations across the UK.

One of the trails in Manchester’s city centre is a 1.3-mile spy-themed treasure trail around Castlefield, the site of an old Roman fort and the family-friendly Museum of Science and Industry.

Trails cost from £6.99; find a trail here.

4. Go on an alpaca trek on the Scottish Borders

Escape to the Cheviot Hills on the Scottish Borders and meet Bierhope Farm’s alpacas. There are plenty of opportunities to get to know the furry bunch, from “meet-a-paca” petting sessions and “pet-a-paca picnics”, to alpaca strolls and treks.

For crafty family members, there will also be some alpaca fleece wet felting workshops held over summer where children can make pictures out of alpaca fleece.

Tickets from £3; find out more and book here.

5. Walk in the footsteps of giants in Northern Ireland

No trip to Northern Ireland would be complete without a family day out to see the mythical Giant’s Causeway, just over an hour’s drive from Belfast.

Admire the unique landscape of otherworldly basalt columns as a family and debate its origins. Then plan a family hike to take in the beautiful landscape backed by the Atlantic.

The National Trust site has suggestions on routes, from those suitable with pushchairs to more challenging walks.

Tickets from £6.25; find out more here.

6. Learn how to climb trees on the Isle of Wight

In Ryde on the Isle Wight, children aged eight and above (and their parents!) can learn how to climb a 70-foot (21-metre) oak tree with a two-hour experience.

Staff teach families Goodleaf’s own climbing technique (don’t worry, there are ropes), so you can shimmy up as high as feels comfortable. If you and your kids feel relaxed, there are even high-up hammocks to laze in.

The centre also offers family woodland adventures where you can make fires with natural materials and learn how to make a shelter.

Two-hour lessons from £28.50; find out more and book here.

7. Whizz down the fastest zip line in the world in Wales

This former slate quarry near Snowdon in North Wales is now home to the world’s fastest zip line, and the longest in Europe, Velocity 2. Suitable for children aged 10 and above, Velocity 2 lets you whizz over Penrhyn Quarry at speeds of more than 100mph.

Smaller daredevils visiting Zip World can try the Big Red mobile zip wire (for ages five to 12) or take a quarry tour in one of the site’s trucks to take in the view with a more sedate side order of tea and cake.

Trips from £10 on the Big Red; find out more and book here.

8. Explore a forest of family fun in the Norfolk Broads

All of the family will enjoy entering the magical world of the BeWILDerwood adventure park, which is based on a series of books by local children’s author Tom Blofeld. Here you can all hang out in treehouses, listen to storytelling sessions, take boat trips and try the new Towering Treetop Tangles, with nets to clamber across, high walkways and climbing walls.

Unlike many attractions, additional extras are included in the entry price, such as face painting, boat rides and den building.

Tickets from £14.95; find out more and book here.

9. See smugglers’ caves or spot seals on a cruise in North Devon

If you’re lucky enough to be in North Devon this summer and are looking for outdoor activities, consider exploring the coast onboard a family-friendly cruise with Ilfracombe Princess. Options include an hour-long Smugglers’ Caves trip where you’ll see the caves in Combe Martin Bay, a slightly longer cliffs and waterfalls cruise to spot birds and some of the highest cliffs in England, and a two-hour cruise to spot seals and lighthouses.

For more adventurous families, the team behind the cruises also offers a longer swimming with seals day out with Wild Frontier Charters.

Tickets from £6; find out more and book here.

10. Take part in the Mini Highland Games in Scotland

Embrace your Scottish surroundings and take part in a mini version of the Highland Games, run by local company Kids Gone Wild. On August 4 in Bellsquarry Wood (near Edinburgh) there will be classic events such as the caber toss and tug-o-war.

If you’re not in the area over that weekend, Kids Gone Wild also offer other great adventure activities, such as family bushcraft days and den building workshops.

Tickets from £10; find out more and book here.

Please note: All prices and dates were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.

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