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Share your top tips on Great British Days Out with your family and win a £100 National Trust voucher

(77 Posts)
TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 01-May-12 14:47:42

As part of the launch of their Great British Days Out Facebook app, the National Trust want to find out what you think makes a really good day out in Britain - we're thinking places to go, things to do, what to eat/drink etc etc.

Here's what the National Trust say about the app: "Just visit our new Facebook App to create your own dream event - design a truly memorable experience by selecting the theme and type of venue from a range of incredible National Trust places and choose which friends you'd like to invite."

What's the best day out you've had as a family in Britain? Why was it so good? Did anything particular happen that made it really memorable? Was there anything that made it particularly British?! If so, what was it?

What sorts of places do you like to go as a family? Do you like being outside, at the beach, in woodland or gardens? Or are you more into exploring buildings e.g. castles, churches, historical houses etc?

What are your top tips for making a family day out fun? Do you pack a picnic full of special treats? Do you dangle the carrot of a Mr Whippy for good behaviour?! Please share your pearls of wisdom!

Everyone who adds their comments to this thread will be entered into a prize draw to win a £100 National Trust voucher.

Thanks and good luck with the prize draw
MNHQ

WannaBeWildCosMyLifesSoTame Wed 02-May-12 07:37:25

Our best days out have generally been at 'non organised' places where we can walk or bike ride without seeing many other people - none of us is fond of crowds! Sometimes though, the best days are at places everyone goes to because they are so great you just can't miss them. We went with a group of friends to Dovedale in Derbyshire last year and had an absolutely brilliant time. It's so beautiful and with lots to keep everyone happy - stepping stones and paddling for the kids, challenging hill/mountain to climb for the blokes and a nice place to eat your picnic and get an ice cream for greedy me smile

We find it harder to keep DD amused on days out as she's getting older unless friends come along but one thing that never fails is any kind of trail/quiz - she would walk round anywhere if it meant answering some questions/looking for clues and getting a small prize at the end! I understand NT places are very good at this but we have never joined because there aren't many properties near us - seriously considering it this year though because so many of our friends are members and it would mean we could all meet up at NT places for a cheapish day out.

My top days out tip is to keep loads of stuff in the car - wellies, raincoats, suncream and hats, bats and balls, picnic rug, kite, frisby etc so wherever you end up and whatever the weather is like you are always prepared.

ripsishere Wed 02-May-12 07:50:06

DD loves quizzes. Even if there isn't a prize at the end, she will go and find the answers to questions. She is almost 11.
If we do go out, I always take a packed lunch and some pop. She so seldom gets fizzy drinks, that is often more of a treat than the place we are visiting.

ripsishere Wed 02-May-12 07:51:06

At the end, we play spot the stuff we've seen internationally. You'd be surprised at how the same tat appears in museums in Switzerland, Belgium and Thailand. Must be a supplier of stuff somewhere that sells to all.

Mama1980 Wed 02-May-12 09:17:14

Top tip is definitely to buy annual tickets/passes. My children 14 and 4 live going out. The list of all the memberships we have is ridiculous. We visit a lot of museums and castles, ds 4 is particularly keen on historical reenactments so we go to hampton court when they have their joust, Warwick when the warriors are there etc. the festival if history is a pretty cheap and awesome day with something for everyone.

Pozzled Wed 02-May-12 09:44:43

We live near London, so loads of fab days out in easy reach. My DDs are young (oldest is 3.8) so I try to keep it pretty low-key and relaxed. The best combination for us is starting with a mentally stimulating/interesting place like a museum, and then moving outside to a park when it starts to get too much.

Favourites are:

Science Museum (transport hall and 'The Garden' toddler area) followed by Princess Diana Playground.

National Maritime Museum and Greenwich Park

South Bank- Golden Hinde (a 'real-life pirate ship' in DD's eyes!) and then the area by the London Mayor's offices- there are some fantastic fountains here that you can play in, young children will be happy for hours on a hot day.

My top tips would be:
Don't feel under pressure to do/see everything, watch the children and stop as soon as they get bored or tired.
Take plenty of snacks, drinks and something to do in case of queues, like a magazine or children's smartphone app.
Make eating as informal as possible- pref sandwiches in a park somewhere, or fast food if you have to go indoors- nothing worse than trying to entertain tired young children while you wait for food in a quiet restaurant.

What's the best day out you've had as a family in Britain? Why was it so good? Did anything particular happen that made it really memorable? Was there anything that made it particularly British?! If so, what was it?

We have had so many lovely days out that it is hard to pick one. I guess the one that stands out most is a day trip we had to the Cotswolds and a walk up to Bellas Knapp. We stopped off and bought some really lovely munchies at a deli that we passed, and that sat in some woods with our picnic table and chairs, drinking and eating, followed by a stroll up the site. We attracted a few odd looks because neither of us had planned to go for a picnic or walk in the woods and were dressed rather smartly, OH in a suit and me in a floaty dress. It just felt terribly British to be having an eccentric picnic.

What sorts of places do you like to go as a family? Do you like being outside, at the beach, in woodland or gardens? Or are you more into exploring buildings e.g. castles, churches, historical houses etc?

He likes castles, I like houses, we both like churches. When it's sunny we love gardens. As we work full-time our time together as a family is incredibly precious so we make the most of it by having fun days out whenever and wherever we can.

What are your top tips for making a family day out fun? Do you pack a picnic full of special treats? Do you dangle the carrot of a Mr Whippy for good behaviour?! Please share your pearls of wisdom!

I always pack snacks for the car and a drink. Ice cream or a cream tea are a must so we factor in expenses for treats. Our top tip would be to get a really good map book of Britain and choose a general direction, look for places that may be of interest but don't be afraid to head off in another direction if you see an interesting signpost.

Roseformeplease Wed 02-May-12 10:30:50

We like to go places where there is loads to see and talk about afterwards and where the children enjoy looking as we do. We loved Hadrian's Wall, Castles, Science things. We tend to eat a huge, late breakfast or take sandwiches so that we can save our pennies for the lovely tea rooms or coffee shops that always come in or near the best places to visit.

Pinot Wed 02-May-12 14:19:53

Don't plan it too far in advance - often the best days are the ones you just wake up feeling motivated, grab some drinks and sandwiches from the local shop and drive to somewhere. It's spontaneous and that's what makes it fun.

And we always always buy a magnet for the fridge everywhere we go. It's a cheap reminder of happy times.

FreePeaceSweet Wed 02-May-12 14:52:43

If you want to take pasta in your picnic but don't because of the mess serve it up in disposable cups rather than on plates.

In the summer raid the reduced aisle of the supermarket and buy anything that you can make into sandwiches or can be eaten cold in a picnic. Make up various batches of sandwiches and apportion things like mini sausage rolls, cooked chicken legs etc into bags and freeze. These can be taken out the night before or even in the morning. Once defrosted they can be eaten and they'll be cool. Just make sure to throw away leftovers as these can't be refrozen.

Make up a small first aid kit with plasters, sudocrem, antibacterial wipes, a bandage and paracetamol. I use an old pencil case and keep it in my bag. You never know when it'll come in handy.

If you're in the car or pushing a buggy take a golf or fishing brolly. Instant shade or shelter for everyone.

If you're a distance from home take the kids pyjamas and get them changed before you come home. They can fall asleep in the car and you don't have to faff getting them ready for bed. You can just drop them straight in there when you get home.

Buy a picture postcard of the place you have visited and write the date and a memorable comment. My mum did this when we were kids. I never anticipated how much I would love going through them as an adult. Some comments simply said "Home. Now. VODKA!" grin

To always take the following:

A towel
Wellies
Puddlesuit and umbrellas
Sun cream
Sun hat
Ball
Sandwiches
Thermos
An emergency chocolate bar

SurvivalOfTheUnfittest Wed 02-May-12 20:50:51

Buy an annual membership and then you can go back even for an hour just to blow the cobwebs away. We like the gardens more than the houses as are worried the dc would break something!
We take our own food due to allergies. Some places do gluten free things. If they could just be dairy free too we'd be made up!
We really like to find a playground-like at Coughton or Waddesdon - or some animals. Then we barter for time walking and admiring the gardens while they get time to play and climb.
Liking the 50 things to do booklet at the mo.

Definitely being outside, with lots of safe space for DS (18 months) to run around. Gardens, parks, seaside all great. We take a packed lunch with lots of snacks (on a budget!) but will normally end up treating ourselves to tea and cake :D

My main bugbear is when places get really busy - then it becomes stressful rather than a nice day out. So to be honest we tend to avoid popular attractions at weekends or bank holidays and will use our holiday in the week to go places - better traffic, quiet, get to see things better, feels more like 'our own' special day.

zipzap Wed 02-May-12 21:59:14

I have a kit of things that I take with me in the car when we are going out for a trip or on holiday to make life easier.

I have a small plastic tray, a teatowel and one of those jolly coloured knives with a cover, that I can then use to cut up fruit/food on the go as necessary (obviously when dh is driving - not when I am grin) - cucumbers go down very well, as do red peppers. I wash and de-seed anything before we set off then I can just cut chunks as we go and pass them out without having any rubbish to worry about.

Cucumbers are also good when it is hot as they are nice and refreshing but don't spill grin

I take either the 99p for 6 ikea plastic beakers that everyone has with me or some disposable cups and use them to hand any food back to the dc instead of plates - easier for them to hold, less likely for food to fall off and if they do get dropped, tend to be less messy.

Smarties are another essential - for 'who can make their smarties last the longest' competition (aka who can stay quietest for the longest time) - also works with other sweeties, twiglets, etc and very useful for tricking the dc into thinking they are getting a treat when actually mummy is enjoying the peace

Finding music for the car that everyone likes is another challenge - having once suffered a long journey with a sil (who I had never previously met) who insisted on a 30 minute nursery rhyme tape to be played on a loop for her 2 yr old. arrgh. anyhow, that made me vow to introduce the dc to my nice music from the word go, so I never had to suffer a similar journey.

we have young kids so currently don't really do the historic house thing much - we did take them to a roman re-enactment day that they enjoyed that was on locally and they enjoy going to places with big gardens to run around in, especially if there are hidden corners to explore and maybe a trail or worksheet to fill in as you go to give a bit of a purpose to their running around!

zipzap Wed 02-May-12 22:08:11

oops, forgot to add

In the boot I always keep a cheap football and a couple of tennis balls, frisbee, kite (all supermarket cheapies), an old comic for each child, an old notebook and pack of cheap crayons, couple of biros, an old towel, a first aid kit, sun cream, water-free hand cleaning gel, tissues, a handful of plastic bags, a couple of big bin bags (all bags tied up nice and tiny), a small camping chair for each of us (m&s were doing them as freebies when you bought a handful of deli stuff one year before the credit crunch hit in) and a couple of waterproof-backed picnic rugs so that you are covered for most eventualities - hot, cold, wet, dry, games for inside and outside, stuff to bag up wet/dirty clothes or rubbish or use bin bags as rain covering or sledges in extreme weather conditions...

ImaginateMum Thu 03-May-12 01:09:43

What's the best day out you've had as a family in Britain?

Studland Bay last May

Why was it so good?

Glorious, glorious weather and the sea so calm and warm that children could pootle about in an inflatable boat quite safely.

Did anything particular happen that made it really memorable?

See above

Was there anything that made it particularly British?! If so, what was it?

I grew up in NZ. So being at a beach but ALSO having access to a cafe, a shop, and a clean(ish) loo is unsurpassed British luxury!

Brockle Thu 03-May-12 08:24:26

Money is tight so we do try to go to places with low or no entrance fees. My eldest is six so MOSI in Manchester is brilliant. We often visit stately homes for the grounds really. We love Tatton Park in Knutsford. I have been many times with the kids because there is so much to do. A great adventure playground, lovely grounds, gardens and deer. They have a farm too which is very rreasonably priced.

I think National Trust should look at creating covered picnic areas in the grounds of their stately homes. We always take a picnic and the boys enjoy seeing what I have brought as there is always a box of treats. Picnics are a problem if the weather isn't good but places like the NRM at York and Chester Zoo have covered picnic areas which are great for providing some protection from the elements. If we take a picnic we usually buy icecreams and coffees as the day wears on.

Also comfy seats in their restaurants for breastfeeding would be a great idea. I have breastfed in a number of strange places but comfy seats in cafes reserved for breastfeeding mothers would be great.

Brockle Thu 03-May-12 08:24:28

Money is tight so we do try to go to places with low or no entrance fees. My eldest is six so MOSI in Manchester is brilliant. We often visit stately homes for the grounds really. We love Tatton Park in Knutsford. I have been many times with the kids because there is so much to do. A great adventure playground, lovely grounds, gardens and deer. They have a farm too which is very rreasonably priced.

I think National Trust should look at creating covered picnic areas in the grounds of their stately homes. We always take a picnic and the boys enjoy seeing what I have brought as there is always a box of treats. Picnics are a problem if the weather isn't good but places like the NRM at York and Chester Zoo have covered picnic areas which are great for providing some protection from the elements. If we take a picnic we usually buy icecreams and coffees as the day wears on.

Also comfy seats in their restaurants for breastfeeding would be a great idea. I have breastfed in a number of strange places but comfy seats in cafes reserved for breastfeeding mothers would be great.

notcitrus Thu 03-May-12 09:59:59

Take supply of snacks.
Especially in London but also other places like IoW, go by public transport as it's more fun, kids can jump about and use up energy, and you can slump with a coffee...
Look where toilets are en route, so you aren't running around a museum searching.
Leave before kids get too tired, so the journey home doesn't have meltdowns. Unless you have the car and can fall asleep.

For venues, doesn't matter so much as long as they publicise what is and isn't there and live up to that.

Tamoo Thu 03-May-12 10:16:28

I try to make sure we only go on holiday outwith Summer, because Britain is so beautiful in those months. We live in a city so for us the best days out are heading out of town. We like historic buildings (prefer old ruins as DS isn't quite old enough to appreciate tapestries and 18th century side tables) and places with good stories to tell, the mankier the better from DS's point of view (prisons, dungeons, places of executions, etc...!)

I'm very organised with regards to directions and scheduling; if we've got a few days to go out and about I make an itinerary smile

I always take snacks and drinks because DS always wants something in the car, also it's not always easy to eat cheaply/plentifully, depending on where you are. If we are going to the beach we stop on the way and get a giant picnic from a supermarket. In really hot weather it's nice to freeze drinks in advance, they melt over the course of the day but stay cool.

JS06 Thu 03-May-12 15:01:31

We try to let our two children (girl 13, boy 15) take a friend on day trips. It makes it a bit more expensive but we all enjoy the day, the children seem to be on better behaviour, there is a relaxed calm about proceedings and everyone seems to get a bit more out of it.

disparatefishwife Thu 03-May-12 16:07:30

I second the posters who suggest taking as much of your own snacks as possible. enjoy the cafes for the cake bits and a scrummy latte (hot beverages never taste the same from a flask!)
My other tip is check out your venue online before you go as you might get lucky with a family reduction voucher.
Happy visiting!

ICutMyFootOnOccamsRazor Thu 03-May-12 19:21:11

We generally like outdoor places with lots of space to walk/run about.

Any form of wildlife is also a big plus - anything from ponds to farms, and ds will never say no to any kind of playground.

Eldest dc is 4 and very active, so in general indoor spaces, especially stately homes etc are more stressful than fun. He loves natural history/geology/zoology museums but it can be a scramble to keep track of him in there. He's not so keen yet on art museums.

We always take food if we possibly can, as it tends to be expensive and often there are not enough healthy choices for children at 'attractions'.

mumah Thu 03-May-12 19:40:01

We have a NT annual pass and my top tip would be to keep an eye on the website for various events happening at your local gardens/homes. We have had lovely days out but then gone back and had even more fun the next visit when we have gone back for things like Santa trails, pumpkin day and apple harvest.

Also don't bypass the stately home just because you have a little one in a buggy. The lovely people at Basildon Park, came over to us in the cafe and offered us a Hippychick hip carrier if we fancied it. Lovely service!

RainQueen Thu 03-May-12 20:20:22

We always take a picnic and will maybe buy an icecream as a treat. NT places are great and good value. We take bikes for the kids and wear them out.

mckenzie Thu 03-May-12 20:42:39

we keep a box with scraps of paper in it for ideas for days out, inside and outside. IF we're bored one day and can't decide what to do someone picks a piece of paper and we all do whatever comes out. It might be a country walk, a trip to a museum, a trip to a certain tube station followed by an explore and a discovery.
I also like to go back to the good old cheap days out ideas and show our children that even though we might not have had a DS, an iPad or even a car we were able to have great fun with a bucket, some string, the sea and a pair of plastic shoes. Also, for miserable kids who think wherever you are going will be boring, take a friend or join up with another family. It seems to make a big difference.

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