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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

TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 09-May-12 10:50:36

Thanks to everyone who added their hints/tips to this thread - keep your eyes peeled for an email coming from MNHQ and the National Trust soon - it may feature your comments!

I'm pleased to announce that the winner of the £100 National Trust voucher is...

Congratulations! I'll PM you to get your details.

bentneckwine1 Tue 08-May-12 23:59:21

Read the park map/handbook etc from cover to cover...there are usually vouchers for the eateries onsite.

Remember it generally costs the same to enter whether you stay 2hrs or 6hrs so make the most of it.
Arrive ten minutes before opening...then try and be the last family to leave! Means you get to try to most popular attraction without a massive queue...did this at blackpool pleasure beach and in the last half hour before closing we had as many turns as we wanted on the big rides!

The other positive to early arrival/late departure is that you don't have to do battle for a car parking space!!

Slambang Tue 08-May-12 20:54:31

Best day out you've had as a family in Britain?

Best day out recently Brimham Rocks, North Yorkshire. Because it can be enjoyed at all ages. The kids love climbing. The dog loves running up and down the rocks with the kids. Grandparents can cope with the smoother paths. Beautiful scenery in snow or sun, interesting nature and for the kids it doesn't feel like going for a boring walk.

What sorts of places do you like to go as a family?
We have a dog who is part of the family and who we love going on adventures with, National Trust dog friendly places can be limited. But ideal places have interesting old buildings for mum and dad, plenty of outside scenery and spaces for kids and dog and good icecreams. Fountains Abbey pretty much ticks all the boxes.

What are your top tips for making a family day out fun?
Always take the less worn path to find the secret hidden places. Find your own special place out of the way of the crowds and establish a base (complete with treaty picnic things) and let the children roam free (chocolate always brings them back).

FairyPenguin Tue 08-May-12 20:19:43

One of my most memorable days out was at Polesden Lacey a couple of summers ago. Had a lovely walk in the grounds, with my daughter running ahead and hiding behind things so that she could jump out and say boo! Then she tackled the wooden obstacle course, took her ages as she was only just big enough, but she was determined to do it, and the look on her face when she completed it was unforgettable. We'd taken a picnic but it started to rain so we huddled together at a picnic table with our waterproofs on, then warmed up with some tea. The sun came out, we stumbled across Giant Jenga, my daughter hadn't played it before, and she thought it was brilliant. Her look of concentration, then running away as soon as she pulled a block out in case it all fell down! It was then hot enough for ice creams so we treated ourselves to one each, except my 6 month old son (who was weaning at the time) decided he'd like some of Mummy's ice cream and ate about a quarter of my Magnum (which was nearly as big as his face!).

We prefer outdoorsy places, like nature trails, country parks, NT gardens. Like to know there is a picnic area in the grounds (not just in the car park), somewhere to shelter if it tips it down, and parking!

Top tips: take snacks, go early as it's much quieter, always take a long-sleeved top or coat even in summer as children get cold easily, always make time for cake or ice-cream!

aftereight Tue 08-May-12 19:55:21

Dress the children in clothes which they can get dirty. To keep costs down, pack drinks and fruit/sandwiches, and buy just coffee/cake/icecream as a treat.
Take photos.

MyAmygdalaDidIt Tue 08-May-12 19:24:58

Picnic in the park is great for us right now with a v energetic DS (4) and tiny wobbly walker DD (just 1). We always try to remember a football (or DS will try to half inch one from nearest game taking place... or (inappropriately) try to involve himself in it). Waterproof picnic blankets help with sogginess in the nether regions if grass moist......!!

We have also had a couple of good days out to Twinlakes fun park near Melton Mobray (pretty tame rides for littleys), but take a picnic - food there appalling ... no fresh fruit for sale in one of major cafes there last time. shock. Never, ever drink the coffee there either.... expensive and I believe made from the contents strewn on the floors of the animal pens unless my taste buds deceived me. I took it back and received a gracious swap to a diet coke.

Always take waterproofs and umbrellas on a day out in Blighty... umbrellas can be sun shade on the 2 days in the summer when shade needed.

Silverlace Tue 08-May-12 19:23:02

We like anywhere where my boys can run round and burn off energy. Parks, gardens, beach, woods. We also like a bit of entertainment eg playground. Belton House is great for this

I always plan ahead, take loads of food and drink and at least one change of clothes and always a flask so we can have a hot drink. I usually take savoury food and then buy an ice cream or cake later.

One of our best days out is in Wales at Coppett Hall beach near Saundersfoot. There is a car park, small shop and toilets. When you have had enough of the beach you can walk to Saundersfoot for fantastic fish and chips. The beach itself is brilliant, large, flat, clean with a few cliffs and rockpools. Best of all there is a stream which the boys can spend all day damming and diverting (physics in action!). A great day out.

yummymummyreally Tue 08-May-12 17:21:07

I always take a flask of tea for me & my girls' waterproof all-in-ones. At 5 & 3 they love charging about but since it often rains the suits ensure they can just keep playing in comfort.

In bad weather we love Sudbury. Woodland playground, picnic space and the museum for a session of dressing up and telling stories.

In great weather you can't beat Belton House near us for play heaven for children!

sphil Tue 08-May-12 16:40:24

Whoops forgot tips. Take own food, plenty of spare clothes and get where ever you're going early - crowds never seem to appear before 11!

sphil Tue 08-May-12 16:37:10

Best day out for us at the moment is Charmouth beach, next to Lyme Regis. We get there early and park the camper van on the very edge of the car park, right next to the beach. Pop the roof and make bacon sandwiches and tea. Then I get an hour or so fossil hunting on my own, which is my absolute passion, while DH reads the newspaper and watches the DSes on the beach plays with the DSes on the beach. Soup and cheese for lunch, then more beach, damming the stream, running down the grassy hill, rockpooling, bodyboarding if it's sunny. Ice cream in the afternoon and then home - if it's a nice day the light is always beautiful on the way home, golden on the Dorset fields. Bliss.

Kveta Tue 08-May-12 11:32:59

for us, the best day out is affordable, has somewhere covered where we can eat our own picnic, and has a variety of items in any gift shop - preferably a lot of cheaper tat stuff aimed at small children which we can then offer as bribery to get DS to leave.

I think once the children are older, our ideas about an ideal day out will change - but at the moment, we are looking for toddler friendly places, so don't want to pay an arm and a leg for entry, only to find that the child has fallen asleep/wet himself gratuitously all over the entrance hall/decided today is the day for the most epic tantrum yet.

The best one recently was a miniature railway - cheap rides on a small train, with plenty to do in the grounds, and a lovely gift shop (although we managed to avoid buying anything this time!).

Worst have been wildlife parks, which are always phenomonally expensive to get into, then utterly miserable as you walk round seeing these splendid wild animals stuck in a small enclosure walking round and round in circles behind signs talking about conservation.

I don't have a tip really, except to avoid wildlife parks.

thanksamillion Tue 08-May-12 11:30:29

My top tip if you've got small DCs would be to use public transport if at all possible (and i know that for lots of places it isn't). Mine love to go on the train and/or bus and frankly anything you do when you actually get to the destination is a bonus as they've already had the excitement of the journey.

saintlyjimjams Tue 08-May-12 11:10:47

Beach on a cloudy day. I hesitate to share this tip as I hate crowded beaches. But it can be warm an dry, but a bit of cloud and the crowds stay away.

jennywren123 Tue 08-May-12 09:09:50

My tip is to involve the children in the planning as much as possible. If your destination has a website, look at it and see if there is a downloadable activities pack, or even better a trail or map. See if they can plan your route. If you need to use public transport, give the older children a challenge to read the timetables and come up with the best way of getting there.

mythical Mon 07-May-12 14:25:47

Planning ahead helps a lot!
We always take snacks and drinks with us and comfortable shoes/change of clothes!
And of course, waterproof clothing, you never know if the weather will stay nice or not!

ScorpionQueen Sat 05-May-12 18:04:32

Always take drinks and snacks but be prepared to pay for a treat.

Let the kids take a friend so they don't spend the day moaning about how bored they are.

Our top day out is getting the train to London and visiting one of the museums- Kensington Palace is next on our list. A picnic breakfast on the train (or a fry up just outside Paddington), walk through Hyde Park and feed the squirrels, a museum, lunch, then a trip to Harrods or Hamleys, back to Paddington on the tube and home on the train with Krispy Kremes and coffee.

aristocat Sat 05-May-12 14:36:21

We have been to so many lovely places it is hard to choose one. Our favourites at the moment are Warwick Castle and Alton Towers! We usually take a picnic and this is always a success.
We also love animals and/or wildlife - the DCs are very interested in learning more and more about them.
I prefer outdoor places to be honest so that the DCs can burn off some energy.
Another super trip was to Chester Zoo - definitely recommend this one.

My top tip is to have a stash of essentials in the car boot .... sick bags, water bottles, football, frisbee, sun cream, wet wipes, old towel, hand-gel, spare clothes.
We always have an ice-cream at the attraction (if not 2 blush) ....

jubilee10 Sat 05-May-12 07:37:54

The National Trust has so many different places to visit which, with a family like ours, is essential. We have teenagers and a little one so finding something to suit everyone can be difficult. The family membership makes it affordable and it can be used all over the country. Just grab a picnic and go!

lorisparkle Fri 04-May-12 21:18:37

Our top tip is to get the family National Trust Membership as a Christmas present. My parents give us ours for the whole family and then a few small presents for the day. We are lucky to have loads of great places near us so it makes for a great present that lasts through out the year, does not take up any room in the house and is enjoyed by everyone!

We have recently been to Coughton Court and Snowshill Manor and are going to Baddesley Clinton tomorrow. The Easter Egg Hunts and other special events are great. Our boys love looking for clues and hidden things around the houses and gardens.

gilliancd Fri 04-May-12 16:32:32

We've just signed up to the national trust as I fallen in love with Fountains abbey. First sight of the sun and we are off there now!

Belo Fri 04-May-12 13:05:22

For country walks, we like to take one of the Osbourne spotters guides with us. That gets them tip toeing along, trying to spot birds ore looking at all the trees, trying to identify the leaf shape. Before we know it, they've walked the X miles which we never thought they would!

EauRouge Fri 04-May-12 12:02:01

Outdoor spaces are best for us with an energetic 3.6yo.

I think my top tip would be to be as flexible as possible and always have a plan B. Look up other places to go in the area that you're travelling to, just in case, and check that places are open before you hit the road.

Take clothes for every possible type of weather and plenty of snacks and drinks for everyone- people get cranky when they are hungry and thirsty.

ShatnersBassoon Fri 04-May-12 09:32:00

Always be prepared for the worst, then you won't be disappointed. Work on the following assumptions:

- The weather won't be the same on arrival as when you set off
- The cafes will be awful and/or overpriced
- Your children will drink twice as much as they usually do
- Someone will fall in mud/a body of water
- Someone will be sick

I keep rain ponchos, a stock of cartons of drink, sun lotion, a picnic blanket, a small towel (for wiping down wet slides, swings, benches etc), wipes and an assortment of spare clothing in the boot for those times when the day out isn't quite what you anticipated.

BiscuitNibbler Fri 04-May-12 09:06:35

I always have a waterproof picnic blanket in the car so even if we don't plan a picnic or on a grey day we can always have somewhere to sit - often all the benches and tables are full.

For days out I pack lots of finger foods in ziploc bags so we don't have to carry empty lunch boxes around with us.

I leave an insulated flask of cold water in the car so that there is always a lovely cold drink waiting for us back in the car at the end of a long day.

We have an annual pass to a local theme park so if the weather is unexpectedly good we can always have a "free" day out at the last minute.

We always try to find somewhere that has a play area or somewhere that DD can run around like a loon - once she's burnt off some energy she is more likely to behave well in more "boring" bits.

We do tend to avoid busy times, and if somewhere is having an event we tend to miss out because we can't bear the thought of the crowds.

gigismummy Fri 04-May-12 08:33:16

ROCK HUNTING. Yay!!! With a million things you can do after.
First go to the geology map...
Choose your preferred destination.
To make sure the rocks are accessible, pinpoint a quarry, roadworks or beach.

Pack a picnic, or even a tent. Get beautiful rocks from all over the country on different days and use them to make castles (really lovely tactile sensation for kids and better than plastic - though obviously not if you have a thrower).
You can learn how old they are, how they were made, whether there are dinosaurs nearby, or even whether there are dinosaurs in them!!!!

Our recent destinations were Worthing beach (fabulous lightweight chalk with millions of tiny holes - feels very tactile and scope for wonderful pavement art. Great for my two year old).
The Malverns - stunning volcanic rocks of about 600 million years old!!! They also look like a rainbow of colours when wet.
Buckinghamshire flint (from a roadworks site) which is nodulous and almost like a jigsaw to play with.
Broadstairs beach - more gorgeous chalk with bigger holes that you can even string together.

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