School's out for the summer - so how are you going to keep everyone occupied?

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

With beaches,  butterflies and  more. Kate Simon picks the greatest British days out

Britain’s tourism chiefs will be crossing their fingers and toes, hoping that the good weather continues and encourages us through the gates of the nation’s tourist attractions this summer. In 2012, British residents poured £57bn into the domestic tourism industry’s coffers on days out, according to the latest findings from Visit England, with the number of summer day trips up 10 per cent on the previous year.

And there are plenty of reasons why that trend should remain on an upward trajectory in 2013, with new attractions and enhanced experiences lined up to capture the crowds across the country this summer. Here’s a selection of some of the best.

Cracking time in Bristol, Gromit

Follow in the paw prints of Gromit in Bristol. The south-west city has enlisted its famous canine son to attract visitors to its streets this summer, with Gromit Unleashed, a trail of 80 giant hand-painted sculptures of Wallace’s loyal hound, by British designers including Sir Paul Smith and Cath Kidston, around landmark locations until 8 September.

Download the trail free at gromitunleashed.org.uk. Some of the city’s attractions are getting in on the act, too – At-Bristol (0845 345 1235; at-bristol.org.uk; admission £12.90) is hosting Gromit-themed activities, including workshops with an Aardman Animations model maker, from 25 July to 1 September.

A fruitful time in Kew

Messing about in boats is the seasonal fun on offer at Kew’s Palm House Pond until 1 September. The water feature has been transformed into the Tutti Frutti Boating Lake by food artists Bompas & Parr, with a floating pineapple island at its centre, around which you can navigate one of a fleet of colourful craft. There’s a secret banana grotto to explore within its blue waters too. The eccentric attraction is part of Kew’s IncrEdibles festival, running until 3 November, which will showcase the many edible species growing in the gardens  (020 8332 5655; kew.org; admission £14.50, plus £4.50 for the Tutti Frutti Experience ).

Sprinkle fairy dust in Wales

J M Barrie’s fantasy Peter Pan becomes a reality this summer at the Oakwood Theme Park (01834 815170; oakwoodthemepark.co.uk; admission £21) in Pembrokeshire, where Neverland has just opened in time to welcome the summer crowds. From Skull Rock, a pirate-themed log flume with a 12-metre sculpted skull and a 12-metre freefall drop, to the soft-play area, Hook’s House of Havoc, there are 10 rides and attractions to try out at this new three-acre space that cost £4m to create.

Go wild in Norfolk, Kent and Manchester

Get the kids off the computers and down to Wildrootz (01328 851465; pensthorpe.com; admission £10.75), a new action-packed activity space at Pensthorpe Wildlife & Gardens in Norfolk due to woo summer day-trippers when it opens on Friday. More than 30 items of play equipment will include a slide tower called The Worm and a zip-wire through the trees titled The Flyway.

Outdoor pursuits are the order of the day at Riverhill Himalayan Gardens (01732 459777; riverhillgardens.co.uk; admission £7.25) in Kent, where new family events for summer include Boat Making (24-28 July), Jewellery Making for Wild Warriors & Woodland Nymphs (14-18 August) and Bark Art (28 August-2 September).

And SeaLife Manchester (0871 221 2483; visitsealife.com) has recently opened SeaTrek, Europe’s first seabed walk – a one-hour underwater experience for over-eights in a tank full of sharks, rays, fish and a giant green sea turtle, named Ernie; £60.

Visit a royal Victorian beach on the Isle of Wight

Queen Victoria’s private beach at Osborne House (01983 200022; www.english-heritage.org.uk; admission £13.40) on the Isle of Wight – where her children learnt to swim – reopens for a second year, until 31 August, with the addition of some traditional Victorian fun. New for this summer, Punch and Judy will be making an appearance every weekend in July and daily throughout August, and there will be games of quoits and skittles to play, too. While you’re there, check out The Alcove, where Victoria took in the views across the Solent, and the bathing machine that she and the family used.

Scale the heights in Blackpool

Notching up its 113th season, Blackpool Tower (0871 222 9929; theblackpooltower.com; various prices) has raised the bar for summer 2013. The Blackpool Tower Circus will put on a record programme of 364 shows, including summer spectacular “Around the World with Mooky and Boo” until 10 November, starring a global cast of acrobats. Meanwhile, the Tower itself has been cloaked in a Diamond Dress, featuring 20,000 new lights. The Eye and 4D Cinema Experience, Ballroom, Dungeon and Jungle Jim’s soft-play centre complete the iconic attraction’s offering.

Build a sandcastle in Oxford

Avert your eyes from those dreaming spires – the sight to see in Oxford this summer is an unlikely swath of sand. Landlocked Oxford is the latest city to follow the trend for urban beaches (01865 252200; visitoxfordandoxford shire.com; open 10am-11pm), dumping 23 tons of sand in the Castle Quarter and decorating it with deckchairs and palm trees.

A line-up of suitable activities will take place on the impromptu shorefront until 1 September, including volleyball and petanque competitions, barbecues and cinema nights.

Follow the bear to Hampshire

The National Trust’s campaign “50 Things to Try Before You’re 11¾” campaign picks up the pace in the summer with a varied nationwide programme featuring everything from bug hunts to outdoor theatre performances.

At Mottisfont (01794 340757; nationaltrust.org.uk; admission £11.25) in Hampshire, the high-summer fun is themed on Winnie the Pooh, with a special exhibition of E H Shepard’s illustrations, and a family nature trail, Winnie-the-Pooh’s Great Expotition, featuring Poohsticks races on the River Test, tracking a Woozle and designing traps for Heffalumps. Until 15 September.

A bird’s eye view in Cornwall

The Eden Project (01726 811911; edenproject.com; admission £23.50) has opened the first segment of its Rainforest Aerial Walkway, which takes visitors from the Rainforest basecamp through the canopy of its steamy indoor jungle to the Nest lookout (the second phase will see the walk continue to a cliff path). Along the way, you’ll learn about the Baka indigenous people of the rainforests in Cameroon, the Congo basin and Gabon by listening to their music, seeing their shelters and discovering their way of life. From the Nest, you’ll be able to get to grips with the rainforest’s biodiversity.

Great Scot

2011 was a major year for Scotland’s visitor attractions: The National Museum of Scotland (0300 123 6789; nms.ac.uk; free, exhibitions extra) reopened in Edinburgh after a £47m refurbishment, and Scotland’s Museum of Transport and Travel, Riverside, opened in Glasgow (0141 287 2720; glasgowlife.org.uk; free; some events extra).

To keep record-breaking visitor numbers up (four million extra visitors were recorded at Scotland’s tourist attractions last year), both are staging events throughout the summer. The National Museum of Scotland’s blockbuster summer exhibition examines Mary Queen of Scots (until 17 November) and there’s also a free fringe music festival from 3-24 August during the Edinburgh Festival and after-hours experience on 17 and 24 August. Riverside has a host of family-friendly events, including a back-to-the-1980s photo shoot on 10-11 August and charity bike run on 31 August.

Park and ride

Thorpe Park’s (0871 663 1673; thorpepark.com; from £24.99) newest rollercoaster, The Swarm, has added two rows of backwards-facing seats to give the ride  an extra stomach-churning dimension this year. The trains appear to travel through a crash scene, past an upturned ambulance and via destroyed billboards, corkscrews an inverted drop through a plane wing and  zero-gravity roll.

The Surrey park has also opened the doors to the  Crash Pad Hotel, a minute’s walk from the gates. Doubles start from £135 including two days’ park admission for two  guests and breakfast.

In Staffordshire, Drayton Manor (0844 472 1950; draytonmanor.co.uk; from £20) has  just opened a new family-friendly monorail in  Thomas Land.  Winston, the Fat Controller’s inspection vehicle, will take groups of four around the Thomas the Tank Engine-themed section of the park  on his Whistle Stop Tour,  with views of Knapford Station and the rest of the Thomas-themed attractions.

Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

    £25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

    £20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager

    £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager required for ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator

    £25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator A...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones