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The summer holidays are a bittersweet time of the year; torn between wanting to spend quality time together as a family and wishing that the next school year would start already. For many of us, the six week holidays tend to be a lot of juggling work, childcare, and activities, both indoor and outdoor.
Thankfully, despite the unpredictable weather of the UK, there’s plenty of things to do together as a family across the country. From free activities to theme parks and attractions, there’s always something to do that suits everyone in the gang.
To help you plan some things to do this summer as a family, we’ve pulled together a list of the top 10 summer activities you can enjoy together. Now, depending on your location and proximity to the mentioned places, the overall cost may increase if you need to factor in public transport, the price of petrol and diesel (*cries*), and dining options, but hopefully it won't increase considerably. Things like packing a good old-fashioned picnic will certainly help keep costs low.
With all of this in mind, with the help of real Mumsnetter recommendations, we’ve picked 10 family activities and days out that should cost you no more than £30.
1. Enjoy the footy at a UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 match
Whether you have a football fan in the family, or not… This one’s a must for this summer. The UEFA Women’s EURO England 2022 kicks-off this July across the country, as England sets to host 31 group and knock-out games with the final at Wembley Stadium in London.
Happening at various locations across England (full fixtures here) - including Sheffield, Rotherham, Wigan, Milton Keynes, Southampton and Brighton & Hove - a day watching football is sure to be a fun day out for everyone. Match tickets start at just £10 per adult, with concession rates available for children 16 years old or younger from just £5.
With affordable ticket prices like this, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy a day at the football together as a family.
Price: Tickets are still available and start at £10 per adult, with concession rates available for children under 16 years old from just £5. For full ticket information, please click here.
What Mumsnet users say:
“Yay! I have tickets for the opening game at Old Trafford and also the final. Come on England!” JulesRimetStillGleaming
2. Or join in the celebrations at Tournament Fan Festivals across the UK
Of course, when it comes to the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022, it’s so much more than just 90 minutes of the game. Outside of the games, there’ll be plenty to keep the kids entertained across the cities thanks to free-entry fan festivals being held.
In Rotherham, for example, the town centre will be taken over by a festival of dance, movement, music and food. Over in Wigan, people of all ages are invited to enjoy live music, street theatre, art exhibitions and table football - with face painters for younger fans! Down in Brighton, kids can even enjoy football coaching sessions.
To find out what’s on across all fan festivals, and to find the closest one to you, you can download the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 official app here.
Price: Free for all, and any age is welcome. Save your cash for some food and drink while celebrating!
3. Stand in awe at York’s National Railway Museum
This free-entry museum in North Yorkshire is always recommended by Mumsnetters when parents are searching for an affordable activity to do with kids in York. It’s just a five minute walk from the train station, and offers its own car park for just £10 per day.
Here you’ll find iconic locomotive trains and centuries of engineering and railway history. Little ones may need some extra parental assistance navigating the trains and steps, but generally, it’s a great place to let them wander and explore. There’s a play area designed for under-6s, and an outdoor play area for older kids.
A must-try is the museum’s Mallard Experience, where you can experience the thrill of being on the footplate of the world’s fastest steam locomotive. Plus, visitors this summer will witness the museum’s new Innovation Platform, which highlights emerging ideas and achievements from across the rail industry.
Onsite dining options are available, but if you want to keep costs low, a picnic is recommended, or a short walk into York will provide you with more choice.
Price: Free entry, donations welcome. Mallard Experience tickets are £3 per person. Cafe and dining outlets onsite.
What Mumsnet users say:
“Definitely the Railway Museum!” Samanabanana
“National railway museum. It’s free which is a bonus.” AnaVanda
4. See the butterflies and meerkats at Tropical World in Leeds
This well-loved family attraction in Leeds is a must-do with little ones in tow - especially since entry is free for under 5s! Located just three miles from the city centre, Tropical World is home to exciting and exotic animals, including meerkats, monkeys, crocodiles, butterflies, piranhas, and so much more.
Historically loved for its butterfly house, these days the attraction offers more immersive experiences suitable for all ages. Trek through the rainforest, explore the outback of Australia, navigate through the desert, and journey below the surface of the water. A cafe is available onsite, but dining here would mean you miss an opportunity to pack a picnic and enjoy a bite to eat in the grounds of the beautiful, expansive Roundhay Park.
In fact, if you’ve time to spare, planning a trip to the park itself wouldn’t be a bad idea this summer. July will bring several festivals to the area, including Mardi Gras, a Curry & Beer festival, and the Future Minds Festival.
Price: £7.60 per adult, £3.80 per child (5 to 15 years old), and under 5s are free. Special discounts apply to Leeds Card and Breeze Card holders. Free entry also for carers.
What Mumsnet users say:
“Tropical World Butterfly house at Roundhay Park in Leeds is good and can be combined with The Royal Armouries museum too.” MrsPnut
5. Take in the view from Sky Garden in London
Unbeknown to some, this popular London attraction is actually free-entry and accessible to all. Sky Garden is the capital’s highest public garden, and is a vibrant social space offering 360-degree views of the city’s iconic skyline. Enjoy lush greenery, landscaped gardens, observation decks, and an open-air terrace.
Thanks to the venue’s free admission, you can instead spend your money on a bite to eat with the kids one afternoon at one of the available dining outlets. Alternatively, since children under 16 are not able to enter after 6pm on weekdays and 9pm on weekends, save your cash and find a nearby restaurant. After all, we’re spoiled for choice in London.
Price: Free admission, tickets must be booked in advance. Prices vary at the venue’s available restaurants and bars.
What Mumsnet users say:
“It's lovely we met friends there had nibbles and wine while the sun went down it was a great place”. Littlebilliie
6. See spectacular sights at The Oswestry Balloon Carnival
Happening this August 21st and 22nd, The Oswestry Balloon Carnival is a two day, family fun charity event set in the heart of Oswestry town in Shropshire. Held in aid of Nightingale House Hospice, this fun-filled event is open to all ages and is free-entry, with wristbands provided to prevent overcrowding.
Attendees will enjoy seeing an array of hot air balloons (weather permitting) launched into the sky while enjoying two days of back-to-back entertainment for the whole family. Live music, football games, balloon activities, market stalls, gymnastics, and even Punch & Judy shows for the kids will all take place, plus more.
Price: Free admission, donations welcomed. Food and beverages available onsite, alongside market stalls.
7. Explore history at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
This museum in the city of Bristol is a perfect place for families to explore together. Five to eleven year olds will no doubt enjoy the museum’s interactive exhibits and family activity area, where they can discover how animals have adapted to live in their environment. They’ll even have a chance to see the museum’s famous gorilla, Alfred.
For young explorers interested in things a little more, prehistoric, their dinosaur activity area is the place to be. And for the under 5s, the museum’s curiosity activity area is a place for story-telling, performances, puppets, games, and more.
Of course, the museum’s galleries shouldn’t be missed, and children love to visit the museum’s dinosaurs, Egypt, British Wildlife, sea dragons and geology exhibits. Oh, and don’t forget the popular Romany wagon the museum is home to!
As well as accessibility, the museum offers baby changing facilities, a free picnic room during school holidays, a pushchair park, and lockers. There’s also a dedicated space for breast-feeding should you wish for some privacy while nursing.
Price: Free entry, but make sure to book a time slot ahead of your visit. Donations are welcomed.
What Mumsnet users say:
“Bristol Museum at the top of Park Street has dinosaurs amongst lots of other interesting exhibits”. Sixmonthson
8. A flying visit to the Cotswold Falconry Centre
Since 1988, the Cotswold Falconry has become one of the UK’s leading Bird of Prey centres. Admire their flying skills, stand in awe of their behaviours, and develop a greater appreciation for these amazing birds while understanding their conservation needs.
We’re sure young minds will love seeing the likes of eagles, hawks, owls, vultures, kites, and more up close. In fact, the centre is home to 150 individual birds from over 60 different species.
To enhance your visit, individual experiences are available for extra. Choose between an hour-long Flying Starts experience, where you’ll have the opportunity to meet and take photos with different Birds of Prey, or the centre’s Owl Experience for those who have a particular fondness for owls.
Price: £12 per adult, £6 per child (4 to 15 years old), free admission for under 4s.
9. Strike it lucky with bowling at Barnsley’s Metrodome Leisure Complex
For days when you can’t rely on British weather, why not book in a game of bowling? The award-winning bowling alley at Barnsley’s Metrodome is a great option for bowling - especially with their family bowl offer. Two adults and two children (or one adult and three children) can enjoy a game of bowling for £19.50, or two games for £28.50.
Alternatively, before the school holidays start, the bowling alley is offering a tea time special - so there’s still time to take advantage of the offer. For £25, you can enjoy a game of bowling for four plus two pizzas. Or for an additional fiver, have two games of bowling. A perfect option for those days when you can’t be bothered to make tea!
The popular Metrodome Leisure Complex also offers swimming and a waterpark, as well as food and drink options, a gym, and venue hire for parties.
Price: Prices start at £19.50 for family bowling, or opt for the tea time offer for £25 during term time.
10. See the sights with a Poole Harbour and Island Cruise from Poole
For those of you nearby, this is a great activity to enjoy with older children this summer. For just £12.50 per adult (and £8 per child), embark on a sightseeing trip around Europe’s largest natural harbour with a coastal cruise.
With various options, this particular cruise offers passengers views of the picturesque Brownsea Island, Sandbanks Peninsula, Studland Bay and more. With commentary from the Captain, eagle-eyed children are sure not to miss a thing. With a lounge area and a fully licensed bar, it’s a great activity to enjoy together with family and friends.
Price: £12.50 per adult, £8 per child (5 to 16 years old), under 5s go free.
Alternative, cheap ideas for things to do as a family
The six weeks holiday offers plenty of hours to fill, and understandably, the price of things can add up. If you’re seeking alternative free and cheap ideas for activities to do together, here’s some suggestions:
- Head to your local library for story and rhyme times
- Explore National Trust properties in your area (investing in a membership is worth it)
- Discover museums in your nearest city
- Visit a nearby farm and feed the animals
- Feed the ducks/birds nearby
- Enjoy a cheap train ride into your nearest city for lunch
- Explore orienteering together
- Visit local art galleries
- Find a local playgroup during the week
- Pack a picnic and head to your local park
- Head to your local swimming pool
- Take a free walking tour
About UEFA Women’s EUROS 2022
UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 is the pinnacle of the European women’s football calendar, and will be played in England between 6-31 July.
16 teams will compete to be crowned champions, with the tournament taking place in 10 venues across 9 host cities which include; Brighton and Hove, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Rotherham, Sheffield, Southampton, Trafford and Wigan and Leigh, with the final due to take place in front of a sold-out crowd at Wembley Stadium.
Tickets are still available at UEFA.com/WomensEURO.