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Tell Direct Line what makes the perfect family day out – £150 John Lewis voucher to be won. Plus 20 MNers will win a year’s free membership to the Let’s Go website! NOW CLOSED

(105 Posts)
MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 07-Apr-14 17:08:21

With summer just around the corner, Direct Line would love to hear from Mumsnetters about the perfect fun filled family day out.

Here's what Direct Line have to say, "To celebrate our launch of 'Let's Go', a new rewards programme offering an exclusive range of free and 2-for-1 deals across the UK, we're on the hunt to find out what elements make a great family day out."

Do you have a fail-safe formula for the perfect outing? Or is this just a distant dream because there are chores you need to finish before you can enjoy fun and frolics with the family?

So whether it's oodles of good value activities for you and the kids, someone to look after them while you relax or simply time away, get in touch and let us know what you think.

Everyone who adds a comment will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will receive a £150 John Lewis voucher.

20 Mumsnetters will also win a year's free membership to the Let's Go website, giving you access to hundreds of free and 2-for-1 family days out across the UK (both local and major national attractions) - all year round!

Thanks and good luck,

For me, it's something that keeps us entertained for most of the day without costing loads. The cost really adds up at a lot of places.

We love going to the Media Museum in Bradford. We wait until after peak times and go by train. The museum is free and they have a picnic room so we don't need to buy lunch. It's great because the kids love going anywhere by train and it doesn't cost us lots.

I also find that 'annual' entry puts me off and it seems so popular now. Charging a high entrance price with the 'selling point' that you can go free for the next 12 months. It's usually places that are too far away to go more than once.

KateOxford Tue 08-Apr-14 13:04:05

Things I like are the ability to picnic in the grounds and buy coffee without having to queue for long, for instance kiosks which just sell coffee and snacks separate from the main reataurant(s), clean toilets and baby changing which isn't just within the ladies toilets. Reasonably priced healthy food, all too often places sell kids lunch packs which contain too many biscuits and crisps. I always try to pack things to take the night before , we always have to take a spare set of clothes for each child, mini first aid kit , sun lotion and hats if sunny, changing kit etc... If places don't allow you to take bags in its helpful to have lockers and somewhere safe to leave a buggy. Convenience is key because it's often a rush to get to places so close parking, short queues when you arrive ie an efficient ticketing system are always well received. We often go to Blenheim Palace which is so well run with people directing you to parking spaces and walking down the queue of cars to scan passes if you have them, first impressions are everything and this always makes us feel relaxed when we arrive. Circling a car park for ages trying to find a space to squeeze into doesn't start the day off very well. They also provide jugs of water with cups in the cafe so you can help yourself which is brilliant. Colouring for kids in restaurants while you wait is a good easy thing to provide and makes everyone have a more relaxed meal therefore more likely to buy more!

CMOTDibbler Tue 08-Apr-14 16:28:28

Perfect day out for us involves being active and all having fun. I don't mind spending some money on food and drink if its nice, so we tend to mix and match by taking all the basics.

We had a fabulous time last year at the CLA Game Fair - got there at 8, complete with dog, dh and I had rucksacs with snacks, sarnies, and Camelbak hydration bladders with water in (4l in total which all got drunk), did all sorts of things, enjoyed great shows, lots of places to sit in the shade, immaculate loos, back to the car at 5.30 to eat the food we'd left in a big coolbox and a cuppa from the flasks. Fabulous value, and so well organised!

Paintyfingers Tue 08-Apr-14 22:33:51

All being together and anything that our toddler DS finds fun - from the highs of the zoo to even simple things like the supermarket!

Cantdothisagain Wed 09-Apr-14 08:38:51

I think the key to a perfect day out is to not set out with too high expectations as inevitably it won't go like the ads. Second point is not to take too much stuff with you - or you end up like a packhorse. A good day out has a mix of activities, so you can build in down-time in between more energetic elements. I like days out that include train journeys as these combine fun and relaxation. Also like the chance to go to a cafe as well. And a play area is always fab!

Cheesecakefactory Wed 09-Apr-14 08:47:02

Being prepared - picnic to cut down costs leaving money spare for treats. Change of clothes sick bags first aid kit in case of any accidents makes life less stressful.
Being outside as a family enjoying the fresh air we always have a football in the boot of the car for a kick around if kids get bored. Arriving early to beat the crowds and easy parking. Clean loos and great weather is a bonus. Seeing the kids happy and adults relaxed enjoying time together makes a great day and great memories.

GrasshopperNchipmunk Wed 09-Apr-14 13:47:58

Nice weather definitely! I'm currently on maternity leave and cannot wait for some warmer weather so we can get out and about as a family. Seriously, this weather stinks... it feels like its been winter forever, and spring is cold this year. I feel like we're hibernating. Anyway, enough of my whinging!

We really cherish family days as I normally work in the week and my husband works weekends so we never normally have family days. I like visiting places when it is less busy, so week day (we're lucky as we still have pre schoolers!, hate ques, love family friendly places like the zoo, farm, parks or walks. We love the beach.

We normally take picnic food so we buy less, and look for vouchers for admissions. We do treat the kids with gift shop tat/ balloons/ ice creams though. Cheap things like swimming can be as fun for us as a day at Alton Towers.

Anything that makes the kids happy makes us happy as less stress - it's no good dragging the kids around something they wouldn't be interested in.

Theincidental Wed 09-Apr-14 14:00:28

Perfect days out for us are to places with lots of open space where Ds can just run and run. We love having picnic lunches so good picnic areas are essential.

Rhs gardens are perfect for toddlers and national trust too and am lucky to have both nearby. Ds isn't big enough for theme parks yet, but I find them overcrowded and dull.

Aquariums are also brilliant for Ds and can't wait to do a day trip to the natural history museum this summer -my favourite place from childhood.

Ds has also been on a few theatre outings now and loved them, so can easily build a day out around that with train journeys and picnics.

the perfect day out is difficult to find because we are looking for something that strikes a chord with early primary to preteen and things always end up seeming babyish for the older ones or too much for the youngest. I like places thst offer family deals or entrance with a meal. lots of outdoor stuff always go down well

Willemdefoeismine Wed 09-Apr-14 18:19:44

A full day out which provides the whole family with something offering interest/fun appeal to everyone (for at least some of the day) and includes a meal out (always a winner in our house!). And something that delivers the children home tired and contented so that we get to relax with a wine and chillax time at the end of the day :-)

Changing the kids into their pyjamas at the end of the day in the car and brushing teeth with bottled water so they fall asleep on the way home, tires and happy

My dd's love cheap spontaneous days out, trips to the beach taking a picnic, dog walking in Sandringham woods.

tiredandsadmum Wed 09-Apr-14 21:06:44

A great family day out for me is one that does meet expectations. So if I have paid a lot for the day eg at a theme park, then I expect facilities to be clean, all rides to be working, food to be edible and reasonably priced. I would also like recognition that families come in all shapes and sizes (so I am a 1 parent, 1 child family), yet often family tickets don't reflect this at all. (it is similar to singles on holiday - very expensive per person compared to bigger families).

However we can have a great day out elsewhere - and need toilets, yes decent clean toilets. I truly dread sometimes where we go. Not nice sad

I like good coffee and particularly like my local park as I can get coffee and snacks on the high street and take them to the park. Lots of space and plenty to do for DS on bikes, scooters, sandpit etc.

We do go to the local and national museums in London. The free ones are great and you don't mind dipping in and out if DS gets bored. But DS particularly likes the Transport Museum which is quite expensive for adult and child. I like the transport offers that SE railway offers, child travels for £1. it does make the train more affordable than car/petrol/parking.

I also have an annual pass for the National trust but DS is no longer covered so I have to pay for him on top. If he is doing a topic at school it is great to take him to see a place or person for real.

tiredandsadmum Wed 09-Apr-14 21:08:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AlicatCope Wed 09-Apr-14 23:00:46

A great family day out for me can come in various shapes or sizes- from a day at the beach with a picnic, to a trip to the big city, on a train to go to a museum. Or meeting friends in a park or a camp-fire in the woods, letting the children bash things with sticks to their hearts content. A 'successful' day- whatever that means, I have either got to have planned for every eventuality so that I can relax when out and about. That's my mothers advice but in truth I've never actually managed it. Or, with the power of my mind alone, I can sedate myself to go with the flow and enjoy whatever happens, attempting to smile serenely when squabbles break out if different interests pull us in different directions. Hoodwinking unsuspecting adult friends along with us to facilitate such occurrences also works well, but they'll only be fooled once...or maybe twice if you're lucky. The same goes for a DS or DD Birthday party. But, the best 'family days out' I have experienced were relatively spontaneous and then the smoothness of it all can take you by surprise. If the day ends and everyone's had a fabulous time, with very little thought or effort on my part then how can you help but feel a little bit smug and pat yourself on the back for having a reasonably socially functioning family after all. Who knew. What's better than that?

Bubbles85 Thu 10-Apr-14 17:13:02

For me the perfect day out involves the whole family with plenty of lovely food, preferably a picnic in the sunshine!

idleweiss Thu 10-Apr-14 19:51:15

I always make sure I am prepared for every eventuality with my 'bag of tricks', but I like to go places that I know have good facilities, such as Baby change, plenty of toilets, reasonably priced snacks and food. We love to visit places where the little ones can explore, learn and have fun without worry of over crowding and stressful garish environments. We tend to try new places or lesser known areas and activities or go to more well known attractions off peak. smile

Keepcalmanddrinkwine Thu 10-Apr-14 20:39:42

The perfect day out would be stress free, so plenty for everyone to do, good quality, reasonably priced food, clean toilets and plenty of them, something for any weather, short queues, pleasant and helpful staff and an alternative exit that doesn't take you through the tat gift shop. Oh, and decent coffee for me.

telsa Fri 11-Apr-14 11:29:01

The perfect outing involves a train, a picnic, a fantastic destination - historical usually - books and toys for the journey and sunshine, if at al possible.

zipzap Sun 13-Apr-14 23:33:08

For a great day out, it's nice not to have to travel too far, not to have to spend too much money, to have lots of interesting things to look at, do, think about and get involved, enough space for young dc to race off their energy but to sit and recover when tired, tasty cheap food and drink or at least somewhere to eat your own picnics if they can't do that, somewhere to shelter from extreme weather conditions.

Places where you don't need to queue too long (if at all) are good, as are clean and sanitary toilets - if possible dotted throughout the attraction, rather than being in one place (invariably the furthest point from you when one of the dc has a sudden unexpected urge to go, having not needed to when you were close to them!). Good parking (particularly if it is close to the entrance, has spaces that can comfortably hold cars bigger than a mini, and isn't a quagmire) is a bonus.

For my dc (9 and 6) they love the freedom of being able to choose something to remember the day in the gift shop - so a decent giftshop with plenty of choice of memorabilia at decent prices (no £6 biros with just a fancy name printed on!). Having a leaflet of info that is child orientated is good too - so they can feel involved and find out about what it is they are at. We visited the Lost Gardens of Helligan last year and all got given a little compass to help us navigate around the gardens when we were given our maps - which the dc loved and still talk about today, something a bit different made a much bigger impact than just giving them a map and letting them buy a compass in the gift shop.

Another thing that is nice is when you happen across special events happening at a place that wouldn't normally be there. Next week we're off to the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park - it's a fantastic place and they have a special Easter Bytes programme running this holidays including loads of lego for the kids to sit and play with, old style retro computer games they can get their hands on and actually play with, all sorts of different activities that will be great for a day of indoor fun (having said that it's probably going to be all warm and sunny for the week now!).

starlight36 Mon 14-Apr-14 15:25:53

The perfect family day out is one where stress is kept to the minimum (not too expensive or crowded) and there is enough to entertain everyone. Sunny weather always helps if the venue is outside. We had a great day out on our summer holidays last year at Ventnor Botanic Garden as DD3 loved all the colourful plants and got the chance to clamber around the play area whilst our 6 month old had a peaceful sleep in his pram. We spent hours there and the adult treat was a lovely meal in a very nice restaurant.

We try to do our homework beforehand so we know in advance how much the day will cost to avoid nasty surprises. Where possible we book online or use any vouchers or offers we've seen.

Groovee Mon 14-Apr-14 16:07:20

We love tesco vouchers. Last week a friend and I pooled them together and for 7 of us we went to an indoor tourist attraction and had lunch. Would have cost us over £170 instead we paid £18 for lunch, £16 for an extra event and £7.50 for a family day saver on the buses.

Other fun days outs have been things like packing a picnic and getting the train into town and heading to the parks and having a picnic.

We have some great country parks near us too. A ball, a drink and some snacks make for a great afternoon or morning.

vestandknickers Mon 14-Apr-14 16:08:20

Perfect day out involves something interesting/educational such as museum/animals/crafts and a chance to get some exercise/let off steam. It also needs somewhere to have a picnic or a really nice (but not rip off) café. My children would also say they need to round off the day with a gift shop where they can buy cheap tut that they love and admire in the car on the way home and then sling in a cupboard and never look at again grin

supergreenuk Mon 14-Apr-14 17:00:04

Value for money.
We usually try to take a picnic because food is usually chips so a really good place to picnic and an area to picnic under cover would be good.
Good clean toilets with child level sinks.
Buggy friendly.
If we are looking at rides a hight rule that's not totally stupid for the ride. "Health and safety"

MrsLoada Mon 14-Apr-14 18:28:19

Lots of open space, picnic, gardens and country house to walk round and clean toilets. If you get all of these it's the perfect day out

Driveway Mon 14-Apr-14 20:30:44

I think if you take things at the kids' pace and don't expect too much you have closer to a perfect day out. smile

jojane Mon 14-Apr-14 21:33:17

Lots of toilets, cheap snacks/drinks, lovely weather, children not arguing for once!
During the summer holidays I try to do one paid day out a week, one free day out and a couple of park trips, then I try to do things at home in between such as painting, making a pirate ship from a cardboard box, film days etc.

sharond101 Mon 14-Apr-14 21:54:35

Relatively short travel, plenty of exercise to tire us out, picnic dinner, no mess to clear up on way home and songs all the way home in the car. We love the beach.

deels Mon 14-Apr-14 22:19:45

a perfect day for me is a nice picnic in the park in the sun.. and a good game of cricket

LoveBeingCantThinkOfAName Tue 15-Apr-14 08:39:25

Perfect means a range of activities so all ages are catered for and you can choose whether to spend lots or not.

Hermancakedestroyer Tue 15-Apr-14 09:36:50

A perfect day out for us is a day where you don't feel like you've been ripped off! We have a lovely old house and gardens near us and you can buy garden entry only for a minimal amount of money and they have a fantastic adventure playground there and beautiful grounds for the children to run around in. We take a picnic and spend all day there.
I also enjoy a theme park now that my dcs are a little bit older - obviously the downside of these sort of trips is the extortionate cost of food, drink etc. which does make you feel ripped off.

threepiecesuite Tue 15-Apr-14 09:54:04

I think we pretty much achieved the perfect family day out last year. Walk around the lake, picnic in open space with nice view, watch the wildlife, trip on miniature railway, nice cafe for non rip-off coffee and home made cake. Oh and the sun on your back all day. Perfect.

lynniep Tue 15-Apr-14 12:04:46

Cheap, safe, play areas, no overpriced gift shops, fun activities and short or no queues at all!

Quidgetmidget Wed 16-Apr-14 20:00:04

It doesn't matter how far the day is, simply once we get there everything is nearby so we don't have to see the car again.

Something for everyone too, an old house for me, gardens for the husband and a safe play area for our toddler.

All finished off with a picnic and a ice cream.

nushcar Thu 17-Apr-14 18:16:56

Perfect days out with family:

- attraction or event is lively, but not too crowded;
- is enough seating in lunch venue and child/baby friendly washrooms, highchairs available or area where you can picnic
- food and drinks available are healthy and kids enjoy it
- I have toddler aged children, so if the venue has a park or area where the kids can run around, it is great.
- a child-friendly museum/stately home/aquarium or zoo are usually good choices and if we can sneak in a boat trip somewhere, even better.

mjmooseface Thu 17-Apr-14 19:24:21

Even if I'm only going out into the city for the day, I have specific things I need to do before leaving the house to make it a good day... I have to do the washing up and tidy up as I don't want to come home after a long, fun day out and have to do those things! I'd prefer to just put me feet up and relax!

I pack and plan and prepare for any accidents, spillages, snacks etc so I'm not caught short whilst out. That eases my mind. Oh, and having things to entertain the little'un with so they don't get bored and fidgety and loud! (That tip is more for when in restaurants!)

Lovely days out always involve nature, country side, sunshine, trees, hide and seek, picnic food, ice creams, playing games, making up sports, running around, paddling... And just having fun and enjoying the time together. Not getting into any arguments! lol

I'm glad the weather has warmed up and the days seem longer. It's time to have some adventures!

asuwere Thu 17-Apr-14 19:26:15

Perfect days out for us is something cheap - preferably free! When weather is nice, a trip to the park or the beach is great fun! I sometimes feel that when we go on a planned trip to somewhere which costs a bit, my expectations are a bit too high and then end up slightly disappointed but on unplanned trips out, we usually are all chilled and have a fab time!

Fizzyplonk Sat 19-Apr-14 09:20:27

Not trying to fit too much in.
Taking your time over places that you can return to.
A picnic and flask for lunch and then maybe buy ice creams late.

Flapdoodles Sun 20-Apr-14 12:10:43

A perfect day for us is when the weather is dry and no matter where we go, the kids have had a chance to run around (preferably outside) and burn off some energy. I always take a picnic but like it if there are reasonably priced snacks there so we can stop for a drink and a treat.

The perfect end to the perfect day is coming home with 2 exhausted children.

AndHarry Mon 21-Apr-14 21:50:27

A perfect day for us involves being outside with a picnic, plenty of fresh air and space for the DC to run around. Some of our best days out have been picking a National Trust/English Heritage type place we haven't been to before and making a day of it. Sometimes we end up at an event by accident and that's even better!

GetKnitted Mon 21-Apr-14 22:32:56

1) Don't spend too much of the day in the car.
2) Plenty to do for all ages.
3) I don't spend too much money.
4) Home in time for bed time so that there is plenty of break time in the evening.

WhoAteAllTheEasterEggs Tue 22-Apr-14 19:36:34

We love days out, and usually have a lot of them! The perfect, stress free day out would include taking a picnic basket full of food and drink so we wouldn't have to pay the extortionate cafe prices in some of the places. Plus, it's more fun to take a picnic and sit on the grass if it's nice weather.
With two over excitable young boys who are only happy when they're running around and letting off steam, somewhere with a huge adventure playground with plenty of things to climb on/swing on would make for a lovely day out.
They get to run about and have fun and we get to relax too. smile

lottietiger Tue 22-Apr-14 22:25:27

We look for somewhere where ds can run around without breaking anything! Outdoors if possible as he loves getting dirty, if not something interactive indoors. I don't mind paying a reasonable entry price if it takes all day to see and not a tenner and your finished in 2 hours. My major bug bear is paying to get in and then finding all the "attractions" cost extra aargh.
We always take our own drinks as it's nice to have a meal in the cafe sometimes as a treat but soft drinks at £1.50 each soon adds up. We take snacks too so it's just one trip to eat and the drinks and snacks keep us going.

Hopezibah Tue 22-Apr-14 23:19:24

lots to keep the kids busy and happy is essential for a great day out. Easy to get to with plenty of parking reduces stress levels too. I love places with good quality eateries (not just trying to cash in with rubbish food but somewhere you can truly enjoy a high quality meal). I don't mind paying more for good food.

Clean facilities make me more likely to return again in future.

Kveta Wed 23-Apr-14 13:32:55

somewhere with shelter (and even better, stuff to do!) in case it rains. a cafe that sells edible and affordable food, not just dry cake slices for £3 and a can of fizz for £1.50. clean loos, and baby changing facilities with a toilet in them, so parent can use the loo whilst child is in buggy - it makes such a difference to be able to do that if you're on a day out without any other adults, but you have small children with you!

the perfect day though will involve the weather being good, and that is really down to luck!

MakkaPakkasSponge Thu 24-Apr-14 05:58:05

For me the important things are:
Good weather (can't do much about that!),
Good facilities - picnic areas, clean loos and baby changing, nice cafe, a soft play area or play park for little ones.
Crowds put me off so I try to go at off peak times (although this will get harder as DC start school).
I generally go for cheap deals, use vouchers, 2for1, or choose activities that are free.

ChasedByBees Thu 24-Apr-14 07:33:49

We like national trust - wide spaces for toddler to run around in, nice views and things look at. Clean, good facilities, nice cafes and room for picnics if you prefer. Lovely!

HeartStarCircleSquare Thu 24-Apr-14 10:56:55

Great days out usually include a picnic which is always attacked by a stray leadless dog, where do they all come from? we live near some great places for long walks and I put the little one in the sling and the two youngest get some fresh air and exercise walking.

Taking really little ones somewhere you don't have to worry about anything breaking or cars just means mum and dad can relax too. If the place also happens to have a beer garden.. well who am I to complain? grin

HeartStarCircleSquare Thu 24-Apr-14 11:02:24

oh and "perfect" usually means free to us too grin

EatSleepRaveRepeat Thu 24-Apr-14 11:11:18

I think the key is not to be too stressed I have learnt this the hard way!... I now try and always take a picnic as trying to feed a family of 5 out and about is costly..

I have also found that with children of varying ages .. 15, 9 and 6 the best day out involves open fields and woods . They can use there imagination look at nature and its free!

We also love visiting castles we try to go early or late when the crowds are gone, its much more fun to roam around and feel like your the only ones there.

BerniceBroadside Thu 24-Apr-14 21:22:22

Decent food! It's not always practical to take a picnic (especially as I often take dc by myself on the train) and I resent paying over the odds for utterly shit food and even poorer service. Yes, every theme park in the land, I'm looking at you!

If I'm paying £8 for three chips I'd like them to be warm and served with less of a grimace.

SteadyEddie Fri 25-Apr-14 20:18:51

We are lucky that we live close to the Peak District, so a perfect day out for us would be an early start, a picnic and a nice walk. We love the area around Eyam which means we can take in some local history too. There are walks close to there near Baslow or Padley Gorge.

There are some really nice pubs with beer gardens and play areas so the children can play and DH and I can relax after we have done a few miles. If the weather is nice its bliss.

Nouseforausername Fri 25-Apr-14 21:51:58

ours has got to be a day without chores where we're all at home, hoping for the first one in a very long time on bank holiday weekend smile just want to go to d nearby country park for a stroll with the baby and dp and the dog

CointreauVersial Sat 26-Apr-14 00:30:17

The perfect day out.....

Great weather, everyone in a good mood (neither of these can be guaranteed, of course).

Getting up and getting out early (something I'm rubbish at...)

Somewhere specific to do, maybe a town to explore, a NT property, a beach, a museum.....A decent place to stop for lunch, a bit of shopping (we all love that).

Something the DCs will love - they are suckers for a theme park, and if they're happy, it's a great day out, let's face it. Gone are the days when it's about what DH and I might like to do. grin

ScarlettSahara Sat 26-Apr-14 04:32:10

A great day out needs to make all family members happy for it to work for us. Beach with sandcastles and crabbing then fish and chips and icecream used to be good.
Now DD is older she is less keen on beach but likes seaside especially near us where there are some nice shops.
Trips to London are popular-short bit of culture at a museum especially if there is special exhibition, sightseeing, meal with voucher and of course shops!

itisntme Sat 26-Apr-14 05:50:10

And a large enough open space, preferably grasses, to run around and let off steam

k8vincent Sat 26-Apr-14 09:09:46


k8vincent Sat 26-Apr-14 09:19:16

Pack a lot of food. We have constant stomach requests and it is so much nicer not to have to worry about spending too much on snacks. We find days out work best of they are planned and can be less stressful for me ifthe kids have some kind of focused activity they are engaged in - museum trails (ok, I confess I love these), scavenger hunts. Still, truth be told our best days out are still either hunting for good skimming stones and shelf at the beach or drinking in trees in the woods. No fighting where there are no toys.

k8vincent Sat 26-Apr-14 09:21:49

That's shells at the beach and drumming on trees. So much for PREDICTIVE text!

Tyranasaurus Sat 26-Apr-14 11:58:42

Don't feel obliged to have a whole day out- often it's more fun to do shorter trip than trying to wring every last bit of fun out of a day
Somewhere outdoors for kids to run about
Not having to pay more than once, so no car park fee, entry fee, attractions fee etc

jelliebelly Sat 26-Apr-14 17:18:23

Dry weather, fresh air, adventure playground and picnic- any combination will do!

Petal7 Sat 26-Apr-14 20:00:17

For us, a great day out means space for the children to run wild and free, good food and ready access to loos/changing facilities!
Often it is the simplest (and sometimes unexpected) parts of the day that are the most fun and memorable. Dds love finding sticks and pebbles and making "camp fires" and fairy houses. Food eaten ouside always goes down well.

itsnothingoriginal Sat 26-Apr-14 21:42:42

We had a perfect day out at the beach in North Devon over Easter.

What made it perfect was lovely weather (can't predict this), the kids getting on well (can't predict this either), picnic lunch (bit boring but cheap) and a fabulous cream tea in a cute little guest house!

Very important not to feel ripped off as can ruin your day in my experience. Going back to basics - running around and just being together as a family in a beautiful place beats a theme park any time.

SixImpossible Sun 27-Apr-14 07:34:47

We like annual tickets if they're for a place that is worth returning to. Obviously not if they make the initial visit outrageously expensive and we are unlikely ever to return. One of the best 'annual ticket' places we have ever visited was Ironbridge. Yes, it's too far for a day trip, but there's a fabulous youth hostel there, which makes it affordable for a weekend trip. Plus we were able to make iit an overnight stop on the way to other places. So we visited it about 5 times in that year. Definitely excellent, and very varied so something for everyone in the family.

yummum120 Sun 27-Apr-14 09:19:29

We try to make the most of our days out as a family, as it doesn't happen very often and the day goes pass so fast. Our favourite ones are days in the parks being active with them and the indoor play areas where the boys can release lots of energy and i can join in as well. grin

JulesJules Sun 27-Apr-14 12:51:06

The best thing is all of us out together. It doesn't happen very often.

After that - either a day in town with a good film and lunch - last time it was the Lego Movie and lunch at Wagamamas and then Paperchase for a spot of stationery shopping (DH not quite so keen on this bit, me and the dds could spend hours).

Any day spent in the Lake District, or a beach/castle combo (Northumberland) with a good picnic or pub lunch. One of our favourite places is The Alnwick Gardens, with nearby castle and best secondhand bookshop in the world, Barter Books in Alnwick.

Regular stops for coffee and cake - important to pace yourselves!

Like a poster further upthread, we are planning a trip to the Natural History Museum (and the Science Museum) later in the year.

DoItTooJulia Sun 27-Apr-14 17:35:04

Clean loos, reasonable queues, value for money, picnic areas, good fun.

We don't mind travelling for a day out and would travel for something brilliant.

But most of all I look for a bargain, so I'm loving the idea of this website and I love a good review, so would be happy to see see reviews added to the site!

silverlace Sun 27-Apr-14 19:43:24

I like to be able to plan a day out before we go so a good website is essential to be able to find out all the information I need.

Once there easy parking, clean loos and lots of them are essential.

Also lockers to store a picnic or easy access back to the car to collect food.

One thing that I find a lot of places lack is shade. On a warm day I want somewhere for us to be able to sit to get out of the sun for a while (or shelter from the rain!)

I like somewhere that the children can go off and be a bit independent but I can sit nearby and keep an eye on them with a nice coffee.

Probably the most important factor is price. I rarely go anywhere without a discount voucher. In fact it is one of the major deciders in where we go for a day out.

GoldenHares Sun 27-Apr-14 21:01:17

The perfect day out for my family would be:

Few time demands, the day ours to be explored and enjoyed in our own time.

Open space for the kids, whether this is the woods, Kew Gardens or anywhere where I feel they are safe and free to play, run about and get some fresh air.

A good cup of coffee somewhere. Hot, strong and accompanied by something uncomplicated and child friendly to eat that's reasonably priced.

Clean loos.

unadulterateddad Mon 28-Apr-14 09:43:17

A great day out has great access to and from the location - waiting two hours to get out of the car park is a no-no. Familiy friendly location with good toilets and multiple food outlets that have gluten free options.

The day out could be anything as long as it's interesting, has something for everyone and doesn't have long waits to view exhits/go on rides

CheeseEMouse Mon 28-Apr-14 10:03:30

Sometimes the best days out are the spontaneous ones where you just decide to go out and have a lovely time no matter the weather. We had a great day out in the pouring rain in east sussex having decided to go that morning. Being members if the national trust has also helped us as there is a wealth of places to go and be outside but with reliable baby change facilities!

Spirael Mon 28-Apr-14 14:31:00

I put lots of planning and organisation into days out. Starting with making sure the car is full of fuel, stocked with drinks/snacks/changes of clothes/first aid kit/etc, planning a route that has potential stopping points on route if required, etc.

I choose the date and time carefully. Avoid any big attractions at weekends or especially bank holidays like the plague. It's no fun if there are so many people you can't move or see/do anything, are worried about small children being crushed/swept away and/or have to queue for hours just to get through the door! Also tend to try and avoid prime times for large school groups to be going through.

The places we choose to go to, there need to be ample and clean toileting facilities. Nothing is quite so annoying as queuing for ages with a small hopping child for a toilet with a broken lock that doesn't flush which has run out of toilet paper and has a dubiously sticky floor.

Given that we're imminently expecting another baby, this will include good baby change facilities. Preferably in a gender neutral area or with facilities provided in both the male and female toilets - so I can take DD to the ladies while DH handles the baby!

Ample provision of seating and space around it, preferably covered, is very useful for a young family. Means if you do need to stop to feed a young child or get out the wet wipes and sort out the mucky hands of an inquisitive toddler then you can do so without having to block the path or juggle bags.

For very large areas, or where there is a significant walk from the car park or public transport drop off point, having some type of transportation system to get between areas is appreciated. Even better if it's themed or unusual in some way as then it's extra entertainment for the toddler!

Wherever we go needs to have a range of activities to cover all ages. No point it being a family day out where a certain age group is bored out of their minds because there is zero to interest or engage them.

Cost is important, but to be honest I don't mind paying a bit more to go somewhere with good facilities that isn't too manically busy. Given my requirements and the organisation required, and the fact that we never seem to have time for much, family days out are pretty few and far between so we have ample opportunity to save up for them!

RedKites Mon 28-Apr-14 16:07:33

Good weather, time outside, and lunch options which are acceptable by DS1 (fussy eater) but also interesting for the rest of us, without being sillily expensive. Easy to get to, whether by car or by public transport, gets the day off to a good start too.

WowOoo Mon 28-Apr-14 16:57:17

A great day out for me would need to be cheap and plenty for the children to do to keep them happy.

We had a fantastic day out recently - unfortunately it took us 2 hours to get there. An hour at the most would be better.
A beautiful sunny day always helps things too.

StuntBunny Mon 28-Apr-14 17:03:32

My request is very simple - seats! Too many places have great children's play areas but there are seldom enough seats for adults to sit while waiting for them.

Our perfect family day out starts with a caravan trip in our new van.
We'd wake up (after 8 of course!), have breakfast, we would take the kids on a cycle then head for the beach.
Beaches where we live are usually deserted so it would be empty. The weather would be warm and we'd all mess around in shorts for the rest of the day, splashing and digging and chasing.
For lunch I would have packed a lovely picnic that the wind would NOT blow sand in!
The kids have a nap later afternoon in the van as they are whacked and dh and I sit out on chairs having a beer/wine and then have a BBQ once the kids wake up. More running around outside/bikes and then snuggles under a blanket in the van as it gets cold.
Early bedtime for them after all the fresh air and dh and I watch a box set of DVDs complete with mini eggs on tap!
Ahhhhh bliss!

Lovewhereilive Tue 29-Apr-14 07:13:06

Fresh air, lots of exercise and good food (picnic, fish and chips, nice pub meal) somewhere beautiful by the coast or in the hills/ mountains.

StampyIsMyBoyfriend Tue 29-Apr-14 12:43:17

I don't like feeling ripped off. So if we've paid to be somewhere, I expect clean toilets, facilities to picnic if we want to & not be required to throw my purse in on the way past the gift shop, coffee shop or ice cream stall.

Exiting through said gift shop (looking at you Deep Sea World) is very irritating.

If we've gone somewhere free, then clean facilities are a welcome bonus.

I like to feel valued, so friendly staff who recognise that we've spent hard earned cash to be there, lay on good activities etc, rather than just herding us through the place, hoping we'll spend more. A local castle has a 'find the Lego men' game for kids, cheap to set up, but lots of fun for everyone smile

StampyIsMyBoyfriend Tue 29-Apr-14 12:43:59

Above all, it's about making memories, not money.

For us, it's all about it's about time and space. Time to just be together, explore, chill, play and eat. And space, ideally finding our own little place to set up camp and do our thing. Preferably away from the madding crowds!

ouryve Tue 29-Apr-14 18:57:42

A great day out for us is one that's not too crowded and not overly complicated. The boys like a bit of trudging (even DS2, who won't walk, if it's busy) so if we go to the beach, it needs to be a large, quiet one that we can walk the length of and back again. They like a little bit of something to look at - cars and fish tend to go down well. DS1 also likes somewhere he can spend some money, but that tends to add a bit of stress to the day, to be honest!

If it's a purpose built place, then loos need to be clean and there's needs to be food options other than crap burgers and chips, which seems to be the staple of a lot of theme parks. There also needs to be a loo where we can change our almost 8yo's nappy, if needs be, so a clean floor and hanging hooks in a disabled loo is a must at a minimum - a fixed rather than hinged changing station if he happens to do soil is a must. Not many baby change facilities have these and a lot of baby changes are too public for a growing boy. Unless the situation with his continence improves in the next eyar or so, we're going to have to take a list of changing spaces, wherever we go.

Lurleene Tue 29-Apr-14 20:39:34

My favourite days out usually involve a train ride - I hate being stuck in traffic so a town with a station in walking distance of everything is ideal.Winchester for example is great because the shops, restaurants, museums, parks etc are all close together. You can cram a lot into one day!

I also wish that attractions would stop having artificially high admission prices so that you have to seek out money off vouchers. I wish they would just be cheaper in the first place instead!

CrewElla Wed 30-Apr-14 12:34:20

Getting the practical things organised - diaper bag, extra clothes/jacket, food packed , makes it enjoyable for me. Then I sit back and enjoy whatever adventures might present themselves. I will enjoy any family day knowing we are all comfortable and fed!

A sense of spirit and openess means it doesn't what we do. Each new experience as a family is exciting.

A perfect day out for us would be somewhere within an hour or two's drive, with a gorgeous cafe serving home made delicious food, a wander around a stately home, ice cream, then DD falling asleep in the car on the way home. Luckily we do get to do this quite often.

stealthsquiggle Wed 30-Apr-14 19:10:24

Oh FGS I wrote a long and meaningful post and then must have pressed cancel on the silly app..

What was I saying? Something about a great day out being characterised (largely with hindsight, as I am very very cautious of over-hyping any day out as they generally then don't live up to expectations) by being able to describe it as "carefree" - which is a combination of mood, weather, and the facilities meeting our needs (enough space, not too crowded, no minor annoyances like being ripped off for parking before you even get in to a venue, good food at not too ridiculous prices). Some of the most unexpected days (like a day spent at the village fete, more out of duty than any great desire to go) have turned out to be those perfect carefree memories which I treasure.

moonegirl Wed 30-Apr-14 20:52:13

good weather, short car journey, somewhere to eat a picnic to save on food costs and the feeling we have had value for money.
one of our favourite days out is Bolton abbey nr skipton, we can park for £8 and stay all day going on lots of lovely walks, playing on the small beach and admiring the wildlife.....providing the weather is good.

LindseyandMatthew Wed 30-Apr-14 21:29:26

As soon as the sun comes out we head to the beach or a local park. We pack a picnic and enjoy ice cream whilst we are there. I love nothing more than sitting on a picnic blanket on the beach watching my children have fun and just enjoying the warmth.

Cataline Wed 30-Apr-14 22:10:31

Flexibility, compromise, willingness to try something new, dressing appropriately for the weather/activity, somewhere to get a decent coffee and cake, value for money and a sense of humour are all vital!

LaundryLegoLunch Thu 01-May-14 09:33:58

Agree with those that say anything can make a great day out. Ime, lowering your expectations really helps. Especially on those days out which to adults seem amazing (Legoland, Alton Towers etc) as kids just enjoy what's in front of them whether that's a trip to the local park followed by lunch in the local caff or a day costing £150 planned months in advance.

And yyy to flexibility. If nobody is enjoying what you've planned then change the plans!

mrshuggybear Thu 01-May-14 09:39:54

My perfect day out involves lots of fresh air and space to run around, good food in a child friendly environment and beautiful surroundings. Like the Dorset countryside where we live. We visit all the castles, beaches, parks and tourist attractions here and feel so lucky to live here. We don't spend a lot of money and have had a better time out walking by the sea and having a picnic than visiting a theme park.

TheGinSoakedBoy Thu 01-May-14 09:53:30

Our perfect day out means, an early start so we get the whole day wherever we're going. I always pack a picnic and drinks as our budget is small, especially if we have to pay a hefty entrance fee.
Places that charge more with a year 'free' re- admission drive me crackers. I wish it was just cheaper on the day. The cost of petrol or public transport is so high it would be unlikely we'd return to get our moneys worth!
We like lots of open space to walk, run, play games and picnic.
Nice clean loos are a must.
My children are as happy with a visit to the local outdoor paddling pools as with a theme park visit. I often think we adults need to lower expectations and enjoy the simple pleasures more.

solastyear Thu 01-May-14 12:32:21

Perfect day out would be outdoors on a lovely, dry, sunny day. Somewhere with plenty of (preferably free) safe car parking. Clean toilets are essential and a reasonably priced cafe is always a bonus. Love the Yorkshire Sculpture Park but it does fail on the car parking - can be a struggle to get parked there on nice days. Also enjoy going to the beach but need to set off early or you get stuck in horrendous traffic jams unless you take the quite scary unclassified roads!

I don't drive so ease of access is my main priority - I need to be able to get there by public transport.

After that, value for money so anywhere that has extortionate entry fees or shoddy over-priced food is immediately written off.

Then it needs to be safe and preferably a place where I can let the kids run free while I oversee from the cafe.....

iwantavuvezela Thu 01-May-14 15:56:09

To focus on doing less! So on a day out to choose one thing to do, be it visiting an aquarium, a musuem, a theme park and not try and pack in another couple of things with that. (Quality over quantity of activities) This makes dragging children around tired and irritable! I have to remind myself that having children along slows things down, and it is better to lower owns expectations about what can be done in a day!
The to remember (this is for me of course) to go with childrens flow as well, if we are on a day out, to have some sort of an idea (i.e. where we are going, what we will do) and then allow for whatever might come up. When my DD was a toddler i was often rushing her somewhere instead of just letting her be interested where she actually is.

missorinoco Thu 01-May-14 20:25:20

A perfect family day out.
Some where we can take a picnic. it means we aren't queueing for food that the DC may or may not eat that eats into the budget of the trip.

Not too far away, under 2 hrs drive. If a distance we like to go early and enjoy the whole day.

Depends on the weather, if it might be dodgy venue needs indoor facilities.

Ice creams for the DC and a decent cup of tea for me.

Had a number of great days out recently where poor weather didn't matter, so where I previously would have said good weather I have finally become more flexible.

MrChow Fri 02-May-14 00:52:44

Something these days that can suit Both a toddler and a nearly teenager with an 8 year old in the middle!

Not expensive, if food is available not just big standard chips and rubber burgers with a huge price tag (longleat fails on this).

I like the option of indoor and outdoor so if the weather isn't so good we can nip in.

ErnestShufflebottom Fri 02-May-14 09:53:48

If it's a theme park not having massive queues for the rides. DS gets stressed and then stroppy and it ruins it for everyone. Good value, preferably homemade food with a clean cafe and plenty of tables. Lots of free parking which is close to the attraction. Clean toilets with changing facilities.

LaTrucha Fri 02-May-14 14:42:48

I have just learned to drive so am venturin gout for the first few trips with my little DCs. Everything, but everything has been a success so far. I think things that make it really good are:
Good picnic area
Clean toilets
Don't try and do everything
Have a clear sense - as a parent - of what you are willing to spend money on and what not. If I have it clear in my own mind, I sound far more decisive and we don't get into argy bargies - or not much.
I will not set foot in a gift shop with small DCs after a busy tiring day unless I have won the lottery or lost my mind. I used to ADORE them when I was little with such a passion that I know I will see it in the DCs and cave. I wonder how long I'll be able to keep that one up! grin

FrontForward Fri 02-May-14 20:46:57

Outdoors!!! Sun and exercise. Nice food so I like either a nice packed lunch or to eat out. A cycle ride or a good walk

glmcall123 Sat 03-May-14 20:55:51

The perfect family day out for me would be one that has short or no queues. Reasonably priced, kid friendly food and picnic benches. Lots of varied activities so there is something for all ages and a gift shop with pocket money prices. The best place we've been to so far that ticks all the boxes for me is Knowsley Safari Park.

kelandab Sun 04-May-14 09:11:00

Our favourite family day out is always when the extended family comes along & we all sit with a yummy picnic, the adult generally chat & gossip, the kids love to build a den in the woods & often we will finish up with a very competitive game of rounders or football & the best part is it's pretty much free!

moneyone Sun 04-May-14 20:49:29

Our formula is going somewhere far away enough for the DC to nap en route, somewhere outdoors where they can frolic and toddle, a good picnic area, clean loos and an icecream parlour.

Moogdroog Mon 05-May-14 07:35:47

The perfect day out for me and my family involves fresh air, a good bit of exercise to tire out the kids, a picnic and an ice cream later grin

I especially enjoy spending time showing the kids the places I used to go to as a child, as we've recently moved back to my neck of the woods. I get to feel like a kid again.

MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 14-May-14 12:25:38

Thanks everyone for posting your thoughts. This thread has now closed and the winners have been chosen. Congrats to tiredandsadmuum who won the £150 John Lewis voucher!
And congratulations to the following 20 Mumsnetters who won a subscription to the reward scheme Let's Go!

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