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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

TitanicMoviesAlwaysGoDownWell Tue 01-May-12 14:58:33

My tip is to take the filling part of your lunch as a packed lunch then you've got money left for the ice-creams etc. If you've shelled out for full lunch for everyone then you're going to feel like scrimping on the extras, but if everyone's filled up on rolls etc from home then slush puppies all round won't feel like the end of the world.

Jolyonsmummy Tue 01-May-12 15:05:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DameHermione Tue 01-May-12 15:34:34

Leave early so you miss traffic build ups and take a picnic so picky eaters don't make a fuss about there not being anything acceptable to eat.

BornSicky Tue 01-May-12 16:00:10

buy an annual membership, so that you can save on multiple visits to a good local venue. i live near the eden project and it's great to be able to just go for the day with a picnic. costs are reduced to fuel and snack/ice cream.

great to have indoor and outdoor space in case of lousy weather and child-friendly design really helps too.

i'd buy an annual membership to the NT, but there aren't any houses/gardens etc near me.

carrotsandcelery Tue 01-May-12 16:07:28

We usually like to go somewhere with lots of outdoor spaces for the dcs to run around in. Adventure playgrounds are a big hit, as are forest walks with coloured signposts for the dcs to find their way. They like castles and particularly like it when the castles give out an age appropriate quiz sheet or get them to look for specific things in each room. They like tours if the tour guide remembers there are also youngsters in the party.

We usually take a picnic with us and love it if there are good places to sit and eat it. This leaves money free for a cup of tea and a cake if it is cold or an ice cream if it is warm.

They particularly enjoy a day trip if there is a chance to interact with some wildlife along the way. Ants and ant hills are enough but frogs, Clydesdales, llamas, donkeys with foals etc have all made days out extra special for the children. That is very often the bit that they remember most vividly afterwards.

choccyp1g Tue 01-May-12 16:11:35

Don't bother going in the "Home" part of the Stately Homes, just enjoy the grounds and cafe.

(especially if you have boisterous children, who go on ahead of you leaving you stuck with the toddler and having a heart attack when you here security calling for help because something is broken...turned out they'd managed to bust the "touch this to see how fragile it is" exhibit)

TheProvincialLady Tue 01-May-12 17:10:16

I like historic places and luckily my children do too. Always take a picnic - not so much because of the price of buying it in the cafes but more because there is always a ridiculous queue which is unpleasant when you have already spent an hour making your children behave nicely indoors. Also, it's character building and leaves more money left over for ice cream etc.

I would say we like a range of environments - beaches, stately homes, gardens. The ones I find most stressful are formal gardens because my children think they are Outdoors and can therefore run wild. A play park is always appreciated but I don't expect it.

Our best day out was probably Calke Abbey. The boys loved it, the weather was gorgeous and there was so much space for them to run about and explore.

lynniep Tue 01-May-12 17:16:30

As a parent of young children (2&5) I always look for places that have room to run around and explore without being (too) dangerous (theres always an element of danger where my 2 yr old is involved)

They love just going to the woods to look for monsters. Give them a stick to fend off any baddies and they are happy. Preferably not near any water!

We recently went to dinosaur adventure in Norwich for the first time and I thought it was brilliant for children. Loads of climbing and sliding and hiding. Activities to do and animals (they saw a sheep give birth!) sadly now they no longer accept tesco clubcard vouchers.

I always have a bag full of sandwiches, snacks and drinks. That way I'm happy to buy them treats because they inevitably sniff out an ice-cream van or similar.

BenedictsCumberbitch Tue 01-May-12 17:59:22

Anywhere that is enclosed but seemingly spacious for my two. A good range of 'trails' and 'quizzes' and 'treasure hunts' is a big hit also. We always try and take a packed lunch but it would be great if there was always somewhere dry to eat it. More often than not it ends up a car picnic, we're the weirdos with the steamed up windows!

Things that the kids can get involved in without doing it wrong or can complete at their own pace are always good, adventure playgrounds are great but in inclement weather can be less fun.

We're members of a local farm, and visit regularly as they always have themed events.

Firawla Tue 01-May-12 18:00:05

for us somewhere with outside space is the best, eg space for children to run about
we dont normally bring a picnic but we started doing this recently and saved a lot of money, and was fun to eat it outside so we might start doing that a bit more often
i like to go somewhere that is quite focused and catering towards kids, so does have playgrounds or exhibits specifically for children otherwise they get bored eg if i just took them to a stately home i think they may find it boring and i would be worried about them touching things - so other than outside places i like interactive kids museum type places eg science museum or london transport museum. places with things they can touch and do, not just look

whomovedmychocolate Tue 01-May-12 18:00:48

Freeze small cartons of juice and stash them in the picnic bag. They keep the food cool and fresh and you have lovely cold juice by lunchtime.

And countdown to leaving time (it is entirely acceptable to claim the NT property you are visiting closes at 2pm if your children are too young to read the sign that says they close at 5 if they are being little sods). But in any case 'we are leaving in ten minutes, one more go on the swings etc.' is better than a sudden removal.

Snapespeare Tue 01-May-12 18:31:49

Part of the fun is a rainy day by the beach, with amusement arcades & little cafes to shelter in (drinks only, we packed our lunch! ) & somewhere with a park, preferably with a petting zoo.

MegBusset Tue 01-May-12 18:32:36

We like to go to the beach or walks round the broads - if you take a picnic and Thermos then apart from the occasional parking fee, they're free! We are NT members but our closest places are an hour's drive away so tend to be reserved for holidays. Nature reserves are good as they have loads of space, mine are generally happy romping through the woods although they do like an organised trail.

inmysparetime Tue 01-May-12 19:09:55

We subscribe to the school of thought that small children are like dogs: if you want them to sit and stay they need to have a good run about and chase a ball for a while firstgrin
Great family days out usually involve a car picnic, gift shop money comes out of their chores money (that makes them think whether they really need it), and a good run about in a large area.
We use the parcel shelf of the boot as a picnic preparation and service area, with DH as head chef.

Iggly Tue 01-May-12 19:10:33

Our best day out was a simple thing really - a walk through woods with wooden animal statues dotted along so our 2 year old could run about and find them. He also liked climbing on them especially the wooden crocodile which he fed with pine cones grin there were pushchair friendly paths - nice and wide for ds to run on and if we needed to we could pop ds in his pushchair for a bit. We brought our own food but an onsite cafe with child friendly snacks would have topped it off although not the be all and end all.

Days out need lots of stuff with two little ones (now have a baby and toddler), so as long as there are toilets we're fine. Ds can be cajoled to keep going with promises of snacks although we tend to go for places which he'd like anyway eg farmland with animals, seaside for digging sand/stones etc. I'd say take a toddler outside, let them splash in muddle puddles, dig in the mud with sticks, build sandcastles or look for animals and the day should pass quite quickly!

everythingtodo Tue 01-May-12 19:33:32

Take a large flask of coffee - it makes a cold dreary day so much better!

CMOTDibbler Tue 01-May-12 19:41:57

My top tip is really comfortable shoes. You'll look more stylish in wedges, but with trainers or walking boots on you'll be much less ratty by the end of the day.
An emergency few carrier bags rolled up tight at the bottom of your bag take up no space and let you sit comfortably on wet ground.
And a secret stash of sweets can save the day when overtired children have to walk a long way back to the car grin

mamaduckbone Tue 01-May-12 19:52:16

Always take a picnic and water bottles.
Don't plan to do too much - most things take longer than you think and it's disappointing if you were hoping to visit x,y and z and you only manage x.
Let small boys loose in woods and they will be happy for HOURS - sticks, dens, climbing = very happy!

maples Tue 01-May-12 20:28:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JeanBodel Tue 01-May-12 21:34:03

If there are entrance fees we pretty much only go if we're going to buy a season ticket. We currently hold season tickets to two places; when they run out we'll replace them with somewhere else. Season tickets rock. Entrance prices for only one day do not.

Leading on from this, there has to be some sort of undercover fun so we can have fun in the middle of winter, or the English monsoon season.

My eldest child is 5 so atm we wouldn't consider anywhere without a playground. That's the main attraction as far as the kids are concerned.

They do like animals, but can only look at so many before getting bored. They love the boat ride at Longleat as this is a real adventure for them.

The onsite shop must stock appropriate emergency supplies of clothing, ie wellies and umbrellas in the rain, sunhats and sunglasses in the summer. I would have spent so much money recently if I had been able to buy dry socks and wellies for the kids, but the shop was only selling stupid branded hoodies and other various tat.

severnofnine Tue 01-May-12 21:54:19

My top tip would be how to save money ( sorry thats probably what you dont want to hear, national trust) as it can get very expensive to have a good day out.

Always take your own drinks and food. Sometimes a cafe looks great but a trip to a posh cafe always ends in angst with the children..... and it costs A LOT to buy drinks and food for all 5 of us. Every child ( from age 4 up) has their own bag/ backpack with water bottle, food and waterproof/ hat depending on weather. that way I am not overloaded like a pack horse!

On a nice day a trip to the seaside is cheap. When the weathers like this a trip to somewhere like the science museum is always good.... even with the travel costs if you take a picnic they have indoor picnic areas to sit in so dont have to spend lots on food and drinks.

There are some great free similar museums in cambridge which people dont seem to know about.... they have treasure hunts and activities to do. In fact I think my favourite day out was a trip to the fitzwilliam museum followed by a run around and picnic in the botanical gardens. We had crisps and strawberries for lunch... not very healthy but very enjoyable smile it was sunny then though smile

UseTheForce Tue 01-May-12 23:14:18

One wee tip is to play who can keep quiet the longest in the car, journey out and back. Some of you might be amazed at how long the kids keep stum. Dangle the Haribo sweets before you start!

PurpleHat Tue 01-May-12 23:20:09

Make up a bottle of squash and pop it in the freezer overnight, it will thaw gradually as the day goes on.

Consider the places you are likely to visit, and then think about how often you are likely to go in a year. In my experience if you plan to go at least 3 times then an annual ticket is a worthwhile investment.

If you take a packed lunch, use tin foil/cling film rather than lunchboxes which means you are less likely to be left carrying rubbish around with you all day!

I put satsumas in the freezer the night before- they make a nice 'ice pop' type healthy snack thus saving the temptation of sugary, expensive ice lollies.

AliceInordnung Tue 01-May-12 23:36:33

We find it pays to plan throughly before we go so we know where to park, what times things are happening, lists of satnav addresses, where to buy food etc. Saves lots of time and stress, although sometimes it is a bit over-organised and I feel the spontenaity had gone out of the day. But it's better than being spontaneously lost or lacking a loo.

Tripadvisor is useful for not only holidays but activities and restaurants too. I'd rather research a recommended place to eat than take pot luck.

We have a sturdy rucksack that dh humps around full of drinks and snacks, to make sure we're well-fed and watered - fresh air seems to stimulate the appetite.

We like lots of activity and mental stimulation - so back-to-back museums, etc - we'll pack in so much into one day. If there's a walk through a wood or on the beach it has to be balanced by poking round shops or getting a history fix. Couldn't stare at the sea all day! We like Go Ape or canoeing type things - playing old-fashioned games like coits or croquet at NT properties is fun.

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