Visitor attractions for spring
Many visitor attractions that have been closed for the winter are now reopening. Whether you're looking for a new way to fill a Saturday afternoon, or somewhere to go during the Easter holidays, our Local editors have rounded up the best of the bunch in their areas.
Tredegar House Newport
Situated within 90 acres of beautiful gardens and parkland, this delightful red brick house provides an ideal setting for a fantastic day out.
Tredegar House is one of the architectural wonders of Wales, for more than 500 years the house was home to one of the greatest Welsh families, the Morgans, later Lords Tredegar. Their lives impacted on the population of south-east Wales socially, economically and politically and influenced the heritage of the area.
- Monmouthshire & Newport attractions
Wrest Park Silsoe
One of Britain's largest and most important 'secret gardens' - Wrest Park is a wonderful 90-acre historic landscape and French-style mansion which gives locals and visitors to Bedfordshire a superb new day out.
Stroll in the recently restored Italian and Rose Gardens and enjoy miles of reinstated historic pathways as you discover the garden buildings, pavilion and statues.
Punting on the Cam Cambridge
Scudamore's Punting Company first introduced pleasure punting to Cambridge in the early 20th century. Remaining true to Jack Scudamore's original vision, they work to ensure that the River Cam can be enjoyed by all, offering traditional boating services to residents and visitors alike.Treat yourself to one of the award-winning Cambridge tours, or explore the river yourself on punts, kayaks, Canadian canoes or rowboats.
Wood Green The Animals Charity Godmanchester
Set in 52 acres of beautiful countryside, this charity headquarters in Cambridgeshire is one of the largest rehoming centres in Europe. From cats and dogs to chickens, rabbits, mice, guinea pigs, goats, sheep, ferrets and more - the centre finds new homes for animals of all shapes and sizes. You can visit the centre or attend one of their various events for all ages.
RHS Hyde Hall Chelmsford
A visit to the 360-acre Hyde Hall estate is unforgettable in any season and allows visitors to immerse themselves in nature. Hyde Hall is in an area of Essex that has very low rainfall and this, combined with the soil conditions and exposed nature of the site, makes it a challenging area for gardening. A visit will show that by choosing the right plants for the right places and by working with the prevailing conditions, it is possible to create a garden of beauty.
Colchester Zoo Colchester
At over 50 years old, Colchester Zoo is thought to be one of the finest zoos in Europe and has won many awards for its modern enclosures, green practices and conservation work.
With over 270 species set in 60 acres of beautiful parkland and lakes, more than 50 daily displays, an undercover soft play area, four adventure play areas, The Lost Madagascar Express road train and so much more - your day out will be action packed. You can get closer to a whole range of animals during your visit including the unique chance to help feed the elephants and giraffes yourself!
BBC Norwich Tour Norwich
The BBC Norwich Tour includes a visit to the Look East TV studio and production gallery to find out what it's like behind the scenes of the BBC, including a peek into the presenters' dressing-rooms. BBC Radio Norfolk will be broadcasting as your wander through the studios, and their new purpose-built Open Studio will give you the chance to try a hands-on interactive studio experience.
A real insight into a regional TV and radio broadcasting centre operation, no two tours are the same, but they will always be informative, interesting and fun.
Southend Pier Southend
If you walk along Southend-on-Sea's High Street, towards the sea, your eye will be drawn in a straight line towards the longest pleasure Pier in the world. Standing for over a century it extends 2.158 kilometres (1.341 miles) into the Thames Estuary, and is a well loved and recognised symbol of Southend and the pleasures of the English seaside. Sir John Betjeman once said, "The Pier is Southend, Southend is the Pier” and it's as true today as it was when it first welcomed visitors all those years ago.
Suffolk Owl Sanctuary Stowmarket
The Suffolk Owl Sanctuary at Stonham Aspal in Suffolk is a comprehensive facility for the care and rehabilitation of owls from the region, as well as promoting owl conservation. The Sanctuary is open to the public all year round.
There are over 80 raptors at the Centre, all housed in spacious aviaries and flying free in narrated flying displays or demonstrations. You will also find red squirrels, the raptor hospital, the Barclays sensory garden, an information centre, woodland walk with bird hide, picnic areas and plenty of activities for children including a mini-maze, adventure frame, chipmunks, the new MeerKat Kastle, plus the famous Owl Barn gift shop.
- Bedfordshire attractions
- Cambridge attractions
- Cambridgeshire attractions
- Chelmsford attractions
- Colchester and Harwich attractions
- Essex attractions
- Norfolk attractions
- Southend on Sea attractions
- Suffolk attractions
PM Gallery and House Ealing
PM Gallery and House, Ealing's flagship cultural venue, comprises of the Grade I listed Pitzhanger Manor-House (designed by the architect John Soane in 1800) and PM Gallery, West London's premier professional contemporary arts venue.
Old Royal Naval College Greenwich
The ORNC is eleventh in the list of most visited attractions in the UK. Areas of the site open free of charge to the public include the remarkable Painted Hall and Chapel, as well as the spacious lawns and colonnaded walkways.
A lively programme of cultural events and a wide range of learning opportunities for families, visitors and school children have been developed. The venues of the ORNC are also hired out regularly for corporate receptions, private dinners, weddings and for the filming of feature film and TV productions.
River trips along the Thames Kingston
From April to October, Turk Launches run daily river trips between Kingston, Richmond and Hampton Court Palace. Perfect for kids and tired legs! Assistance is on hand for pushchairs and bikes are also allowed on board. Put your feet up, sip a chilled glass of something lovely and take in the stunning views.
Spring Plants and Gardens Festival Southwark
The Garden Museum's annual Spring Plants and Gardens Fair will be held on the 27 April 2014.
The day will feature stalls from specialist nurseries and horticulturists, as well as family-friendly activities, and is the perfect opportunity to ask the experts for advice and purchase some new plants, while enjoying the Museum's 17th century-style knot garden with a vegetarian lunch from the Museum's Café.
Curtis Museum Alton
One of the finest local history collections in Hampshire, exploring 100 million years of history. Displays include prehistoric tools, Roman pottery reconstruction, Saxon burials, the Battle of Alton 1643, the notorious tale of Sweet Fanny Adams and Hop picking and brewing.
Visit the Gallery of Childhood, packed with toys, children's books and dolls dating back to the 18th century. There are also two fully furnished dolls houses and a selection of jigsaw puzzles, displayed in delightful miniature cases, an ideal height for children.
Seven Wonders of the Weald Tunbridge Wells
Groombridge Place and Scotney Castle join Marle Place Gardens, Biddenden Vineyards, Kent & East Sussex Railway and Chiddingstone Castle in 2014.
Groombridge Place has award winning gardens with statues and water features overlooking the beautiful 17th century manor house. Out in the forest there are huge tree swings, a boardwalk and Crusoe's World. There are daily bird of prey displays and a canal boat.
Scotney Castle is a fascinating country house and a fairytale 14th century moated castle set within a beautiful wooded estate of over 770 acres.
Peace Pagoda Willen
Built by the monks and nuns of the Nipponzan Myohoji, this was the first Peace Pagoda to be built in the western hemisphere and enshrines sacred relics of Lord Buddha.
A thousand cherry trees and cedars are planted on the hill around the Pagoda in remembrance of the victims of all wars. They were donated by the ancient Japanese town of Yoshino, famous for the beauty of its cherry blossom.
Portchester Castle Portchester
Portchester Castle provides the perfect setting for a relaxed, fun, historic day out. The castle's commanding location has made it a major factor in the Solent's defences for hundreds of years.
The most impressive and best-preserved of the Roman 'Saxon Shore' forts, Portchester Castle was originally built in the late 3rd century. An exhibition in the keep interprets the history of the castle and Portchester village, and displays finds excavated on site. The inclusive audio tour explains life in the castle over the centuries.
Winkworth Arboretum Godalming
Established in the 20th century, this hillside arboretum has now been maintained by the National Trust for 60 years and has built up a collection of more than 1,000 different shrubs and trees, many of them rare.
Visit any time of year for a delightful stroll through this personal plant collection. The most impressive displays are in spring, with magnolias, bluebells and azaleas, and autumn, when the colour of the foliage is stunning. It is also an ideal place for family picnics.
- Hampshire attractions
- Kent attractions
- Milton Keynes attractions
- Portsmouth attractions
- Surrey attractions
Brownsea Island Poole
Brownsea Island is dramatically located in Poole Harbour, with spectacular views across to the Purbeck Hills.
Thriving natural habitats - including woodland, heathland and a lagoon - create a unique haven for wildlife, such as the rare red squirrel and a wide variety of birds. Groups of Scouts and Guides can camp in the Baden-Powell Outdoor Centre, following in the footsteps of Lord Baden-Powell and the very first Scouts who camped here in 1907.
Whether you love wildlife or just want to escape from the stresses of modern life with your family, Brownsea is the perfect place to explore and enjoy throughout the year.
St Michael's Mount Penzance
Discover legend, myth and over a thousand years of incredible history. Situated 400 yards off Mount's Bay in Marazion, St Michael's Mount is an iconic Cornish landmark and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the South West. At low tide cross the ancient causeway where a legendary giant once walked or when the tide is in boat hop to an island where modern life meets layers of history.
Children will be fascinated by the history, legends and myths of the Mount. There are baby-changing facilities and the restaurant and café serve good value, healthy drinks and meals for kids. There is a pushchair park and some hipster seats which can be used for the climb to the castle.
Gibside is a beautiful 18th century pleasure grounds, beautifully restored by the National Trust. A lovely place to visit for woodland walks, strolling around the grounds or taking part in one of the many events organised by N.T Gibside.
There is a fantastic play area called Strawberry Castle, an education/play room in the stables block, a pretend cow to milk, woodland play trails, wildlife hide and activities organised for children on most weekend and during school holidays. There's also a lovely cafe and shop, and the Gibside Beer Garden open on Friday evenings has a very family friendly and community feel to it.
Belsay Hall and Castle Morpeth
Belsay Hall and Castle was the former home of the Middleton family. The hall is empty of all furnishings and is often used for displays, exhibitions and art installations, of which it makes the perfect setting.
The quarry gardens are beautiful and lead you from the house to the castle. There is also a woodland walk near the pond. There is a tea room, shop, baby changing facilities and dogs are welcome in the grounds.
Miniature Railway Dore and Totley
This wonderful little railway is open to the public on certain days throughout the year (see the website for the timetable). The members of the society are friendly and always welcome people to their events. On public running days there is a cafe, souvenir shop and toilets.
The Blackpool Tower Eye Blackpool
Before embarking on your ascent to The Blackpool Tower Eye, encounter the new 4D Blackpool - amazing sights, smells and special effects surround you as you follow one little boy's adventure at the seaside.
Then, embark on your journey to the top of The Blackpool Tower. Once you've reached your destination, the doors open, and you are met with floor to ceiling, uninterrupted, breathtaking views across Blackpool and beyond. Step out onto the new SkyWalk - treading across metres of glass to see Blackpool down below.
Halo Panopticon Haslingden
Halo (one of the Panopticon sculptures of Pennine Lancashire) is a steel lattice structure supported on a tripod five metres above the ground. The core is open at the top, framing views of the sky.
A unique feature of this Panopticon is that it is lit after dark and glows a sky-blue colour, giving the effect of hovering above the town. The lighting, using low-energy LEDs and powered by an adjacent wind turbine, is designed to minimise light pollution and avoid any disruption to wildlife. Halo is positioned to be clearly visible from the M66 and A56 approach to Pennine Lancashire.
Imperial War Museum Manchester
A great free day out for all the family, IWM North brings to life stories of how war has shaped lives over the past century. A varied programme of events, family friendly activities and hands-on interactive displays makes the subject matter accessible to all ages.
Get hands on with history at TimeStack object handling sessions and enjoy storytelling sessions and performances involving fascinating characters. Get creative in the Learning Studio (which also has a soft play area for younger visitors) and make a crafty souvenir to take home. Explore the Action Stations interactives in the Main Exhibition Space. Feel and smell some nasty surprises at "The Trench", camouflage yourself against different backgrounds and have a go at code-breaking.
Lyme Park Stockport
Lyme Park, House and Garden is a stately home dating from the 1500s, with gardens and a 1300 acre estate. The House features lavish interiors and is presented as it might have been in it's Edwardian heyday during the early 1900s. Some of the rooms visitors can see include the library, the long gallery with stage and the butlers' rooms.
Things to see outside include an Edwardian rose garden, the ravine garden, herbaceous borders, the Dutch garden, a mill pond and the reflecting lake where some of the BBC's production of Pride and Prejudice was filmed. The park has herds of red and fallow deer and includes moorland and there are seven orienteering courses mapped out through it (buy maps from the ticket office). There's also Crow Wood Playscape children's playground with slide, rope walks and badger den.
- Blackpool attractions
- Lancashire attractions
- Manchester and Trafford attractions
- Stockport and Thameside attractions
National Coal Mining Museum Wakefield
The National Coal Mining Museum for England provides a great day out with a unique opportunity to travel 140 metres underground, down one of Britain's oldest working mines. Situated in a rural setting, it offers an unusual combination of exciting experiences, whilst providing a genuine insight into the hard-working lives of miners through the ages.
- Wakefield attractions
Nottingham Castle Museum Nottingham
A magnificent 17th century ducal mansion built on the site of the original Medieval Castle. Now the city's main museum and art gallery with regular exhibitions and events. There's also regular tours of the caves beneath the castle, learning on the way the gruesome tales of Roger Mortimer or King David II of Scotland.
The Castle is situated in six acres of beautiful Victorian inspired gardens. Located on the Castle green is a medieval-style playground and covered picnic area providing the perfect setting for a family adventure.