The ten best family days out


Imperial War Museum, Duxford

Imperial War Museum, Duxford

Adults £10, children free

Thrill the children with Europe's largest collection of military and civilian aircraft. If you can't make it this bank holiday, next weekend it's the Duxford Air Show, when planes, vintage and modern, will take to the air, and the skills of the Red Arrows will be on display.

(01223 835000; www.iwm.org.uk)

Stratford-upon-Avon

Family ticket £29

This stroll around Shakespeare's turf has a bit of a back-to-school feel to it. After seeing the playwright's birthplace, head to his mother's home - Mary Arden's House - where there's a small farm, and daily falconry displays. Round off the day with a trip to see one of the plays.

(01789 293127; www.shakespeare.org.uk, and 01789 403404; www.rsc.org.uk)

Balamory

Free

You might think you're catching a ferry to Tobermory, on the island of Mull, but your children will know it as Balamory, home of the hit BBC TV kids show of the same name. Spend the morning posing for photos in front of their favourite character's house, then head away from the crowds for an afternoon on Miss Hoolie's beach at Calgary Bay.

(01688 812377; www.tobermory.co.uk)

Blenheim Palace

Family ticket £33

The splendour of Blenheim Palace and its surrounding gardens, birthplace of Winston Churchill, never fails to impress. After visiting the palace, ride the narrow-gauge train to the pleasure gardens, where you can get lost in the Marlborough Maze, and play giant chess and mini golf.

(0870 0602080; www.blenheimpalace.com)

Ashdown Forest

Free

Pack a copy of Winnie the Pooh and head for Ashdown Forest, in East Sussex, where AA Milne set his tales. Picnic at the Enchanted Place and play Poohsticks on the original bridge near the pretty village of Hartfield.

(Ashdown Forest Centre 01342 823583, and www.poohcountry.co.uk)

Whipsnade Wild Animal Park

Family ticket £42.50

While away the afternoon watching the rhinos and elephants wander freely in the fields and - best of all - get splashed by the sea-lions. If you can, it's a good idea to pay extra to take your car into the park (£10), so you can picnic at leisure on the hill in the middle of the animal enclosure.

(01582 872171; www.whipsnade.co.uk)

Keighley and Worth Valley Railway

Family return £19

Travel along the five-mile track to Haworth, where you can climb the steep hill to visit the home of the country's most famous literary family, the Brontës. On 18 and 19 September, Thomas will be chuffing down the line.

(01535 647777; www.kwvr.co.uk)

Lindisfarne

Free

Drift back in time as you walk along the sand dunes of Holy Island, and imagine Viking longboats appearing on the horizon. The castle on its volcanic mound is great inspiration for sandcastle-building, and, if you plan the timing of your trip, you can drive home on the causeway to the mainland with the sea lapping at the wheels of your car.

( www.lindisfarne.org.uk)

National Maritime Museum, Falmouth

Family ticket £17

Sail across the harbour to the new museum, where you can make your own miniature raft and sail it on the museum pond. Then stroll along the cliffs to Pendennis Castle (family ticket £11.30), and have a picnic lunch on the beach below.

( 01326 313 388; www.nmmc.co.uk)

Ironbridge Gorge museums

Family ticket £42

Experience hands-on engineering at Enginuity - just one of the attractions on the six-acre site around the world's first iron bridge in the heart of rural Shropshire. One of the other highlights is the reconstructed Victorian village where children can try baking, brick-making and candle-dipping.

(01952 884391; www.ironbridge.org.uk)

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