Summer days out: Museums

25 favourites from more than 3,000 museums, galleries and heritage attractions in Britain, many of which are great for children, and, despite what some people think, not in South Kensington. The superb website at details them all in a database, searchable by region or town. It also lists current exhibitions and the best places for children. Our selection of the most entertaining museums include places where you can become a Viking, enter the world of the coal miner, escape from a prisoner of war camp, see where clothing used to come from and look at archive footage.

1. Armley Mills Industrial Museum, Leeds

Based in what was world's largest woollen mill, displays of water-wheels, a steam engine and the first moving pictures made in Leeds.

Open: Mon-Fri, 10.05am; Sun, 1.05pm. £2, concessions, £1.50, child, £1. (0113-263 7861).

2. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Britain's oldest public museum, whose many artefactsdate from Ancient Egypt to the modern day, with trails and tours suitable for all ages.

Open: Tues-Sat, 10am; Sun 12pm. Free. (01865 278000).

3. Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood

Part of the Victoria and Albert Museum, it houses the national collection of toys.

Open: Sat-Thurs, 10am. Free. (020-8980 2415).

4. Big Pit: National Mining Museum of Wales, Blaenafon, Torfaen

Go 300 feet underground with a real miner. Explore colliery buildings and go on a virtual tour of a modern mine. Open: daily, 10am. Free. (01495 790311).

5. Black Country Living Museum, Dudley, West Midlands

Open-air museum where buildings from Black Country have been rebuilt. Visit a coalmine or watch metal-working and sweet-making.

Open: daily, 10am. £9.95; child, £5.75; seniors, £8.75; family tickets available. (0121-557 9643).

6. Brading Roman Villa, Brading, Isle of Wight

Fascinating mosaics, artefacts and remains of a villa in brand new exhibition centre, plus Roman garden.

Open: daily, 9:30am. £3.95; senior, £3.50, child age 5 or over, £1.95; family (two plus three), £10. (01983 406223).

7. The Dinosaur Museum, Dorchester

Child-friendly, hands-on exhibitions, life-size reconstructions and interactive computer displays.

Open: daily, 9:30am. £6; child, £4.50; senior, £5.25; family (two plus two), £18.50. (01305 269741).

8. The Eden Camp, Malton, North Yorkshire

Used as prisoner of war camp in the Second World War, the original huts have been restored and refurbished to house exhibitions on that war.

Open: daily, 10am. £4.50; child or senior, £3.50. (01653 697777).

9. The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Has half a million items, from the grave goods of Ancient Egypt to modern art .

Open: Tues-Sat, 10am; Sun, 12pm. Free. (01223 332900).

10. Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth

Ships to visit include the Mary Rose, a 16th-century warship, Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory, and the Victorian warship HMS Warrior.

Open: daily, 9.45am. £15.50; senior or child, £12.50; family (two plus two or three), £45. Tickets, valid for one year, admit once to each area. (02392 722562).

11. The Horniman Museum, London

Exhibitions on natural history, world cultures, musical instruments and an aquarium are all in the eccentric Horniman. Outside, extensive gardens.

Open: daily, 10:30am. Free. (020-8699 1872).

12. The Imperial War Museum, London

Covers conflicts from the First World War to present day. Now on are exhibitions on children and on Allied escape attempts from POW camps.

Open: daily, 10am. £3.50. (020-7416 5000).

13. Jorvik Viking Centre, York

Built on a dig that has yielded some of best-preserved Viking artefacts. Walk through reconstructed streets and see more than 800 items discovered on site.

Open: daily, 10am. £7.45; child age 5 or over, £5.25; concessions, £6.30; family (two plus two), £21.95. (01904 543403).

14. Kents Cavern, Torquay, Devon

Oldest recognisable human dwelling in Britain, with finds dating back 700,000 years. Concrete flooring throughout caves makes it perfect for pushchairs. Open: daily, 10am. £6.50; child age 4 or over, £5; concessions, £6; family (two plus two), £21. (01803 215136).

15. Museum of Computing, Swindon

Children will be amazed to come here and see how bulky and slow computers used to be. Indulge in Atari nostalgia. Open: Mon-Fri, 9am; Sat, 9am. Free. (07939 582544).

16. Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Galleries and displays on Scottish life, history, scenery and wildlife. Join a Viking training school and meet a Roman legionary. Open: Mon-Sat, 10am; Sun, 12pm. Free. (0131-247 4422).

17. The National Football Museum, Deepdale, Preston

Hall of fame, exhibition celebrating centenary of Fifa and penalty shoot-out against an animated goalkeeper. Open: Tues-Sat, 10am; Sun, 11am. Free. (01772 908400)

18. Museum of Photography, Film and Television, Bradford

A 3-D Imax cinema and displays on fashion, the film camera, and animation.

Open: Tues-Sun, 10am. Free, but charge for cinema. (0870-701 0200).

19. Old Operating Theatre, London

Oldest surviving operating theatre in the country. Learn how surgery was performed without anaesthetic.

Open: 10.30am. £4.75; concessions, £3.75; child, £2.75; family (up to six), £12. (020-7188 2679)

20. Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Oxford

Exhibitions on natural history, with access too to the dodos and dinosaurs of the Pitt Rivers Museum.

Open: daily, 12pm. Free. (01865 270949).

21. People's History Museum, Manchester

Displays on the history of working people, including dock-workers and sweat-shop labour.

Open: Tues-Sat, 11am. £1; child or concessions, free. Free to all on Fridays. (0161-228 7212).

22. RAF Museum, Cosford, Shropshire

Active airfield which hosts massive collection of aircraft, engines, missiles and memorabilia. Open: 10am. Free. (01902 376200).

23. Roald Dahl Museum, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire

Inspiring children to use their imaginations. Booking is advisable.

Open: Tues-Sun, 10am. £4.50; child and concessions, £3.50; family (two plus three), £15. (01494 892192).

24. Roman Legionary Museum at Caerleon, Newport, Gwent

Full-sized barrack room, chance to try replica armour.

Open: Mon-Sat, 10am; Sunday, 2pm. Free. (01633 423134).

25. Shambellie House Museum, New Abbey, Dumfries and Galloway

Clothing through the ages.

Open: daily, 10am. £3; child 12 or over and concessions, £2. (01387 850375).

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