11 Half Term things for kids – that won’t bore *you*!
You've survived the first term (huzzah!) but now you've got to keep the little blighters amused for a WHOLE week. It's ok though, Muddy's here to help.
Are you dreading the half term pumpkin and spider web deluge, and the flagrant overuse of the word spooktacular? (oops, sorry). We’ve scoured Hants and the Isle of Wight to the Top 10 things to do with your brood that also save you from the coma of dull, dull, DULL. Hey no need to thank me, it’s what I do!
Go Ape, Southampton
You teeter high up enough in your heels to scoff at this course. Zip-wires? Meh! Climbing ropes? Pah! You’ve navigated the sales in January, you’ve totally got this. Wear the little tikes out by getting them to throw themselves head-first down a 180-metre zip-line from the treetops. If your kids are old enough you can watch from below with a coffee and enjoy the woodland views. And, if your nippers are just a bit smaller, there’s a junior course for the 6 – 12-year-olds.
Exbury Gardens, Southampton
And… breathe. The 200 acre Exbury Gardens is the perfect spot for an autumn day, full of play-areas, plus a mini steam train (there’s even a spooky train ride this Halloween half-term), scavenger and bug hunts for the kids, and a few places to grab some tea and cake. They’ll love the freedom and you’ll love giving it to them. See you at tea-time darlings! Other spots to check out for a bit of autumnal leafiness are Blackwater Arboretum in the New Forest National Park and Staunton Country Park, which even has its own farm.
Winchester Science Centre, Winchester
Try to shoehorn a spot of learning into this week by disguising it as mucking about. The Winchester Science Centre is a hands-on learning experience, allowing kids to press all the buttons and touch ALL THE THINGS. You may even get lucky and inspire them to become a top neurosurgeon who will make millions and look after you in your later years. There’s also a holiday club here aimed at 5 – 9-year-olds if you’re looking for some alternative childcare options.
The Hovercraft Museum, Leigh-on-the-Solent
Hovercrafts are pretty cool, right?. Yes, they can go on land and sea, plus there’s a few at this quirky museum that are utterly GINORMOUS.
With two open days during this half-term period (Wed 24 Oct, Sat 27 Oct), have a mooch round to see these bizarre – but functional – vehicles in all their glory. There’s even one that belonged to James Bond for a bit of extra street-cred with the kids.
Pick Your Own Pumpkin, Durleighmarsh Farm, Petersfield
Whether you’re fully committed to rolling your sleeves up and carving out scary faces or would rather leave that messy business to the kids, Durleighmarsh Farm in Petersfield is the ideal spot to pick up the perfect gourd this half-term. As well as choosing one of the the bright orange beauties, you can also stock-up at their super impressive farm shop with products from across Hampshire and Sussex.
Outdoor Laser Combat, Newport, Isle of Wight
Head off to Headhunters IoW, there’s 20 acres of woodland where kids can attack each other with painless laser beams to their hearts’ content. At £7 per child, it’s pretty good value too. When you’ve worked up an appetite, head to nearby Newport and tuck into a fab lunch at The Blacksmiths, complete with a play area and a cracking view.
I’ve always liked the idea of trying out skydiving, the only thing that’s put me off is the whole ‘throwing yourself out of a plane’ thing. Basingstoke has the perfect compromise under the guise of i-Fly. This indoor skydiving experience has all the kit to give kids as young as three (and you, if you’re willing to put your barnet through it) the sensation of skydiving – while only a few metres off the ground. Geronimooooo!
Cinema de Lux, Southampton
Am I sitting comfortably? Hell yeah! Cinema de Lux in Southampton is basically what it says on the tin – a luxury cinema. We’re talking fully reclining leather chairs (think Joey’s chair in Friends meets full bed) and a VIP bar – we can work with that. It’s offering a special showing of Beetlejuice on Fri 26 Oct, perfect for a spooky movie day.
GoodLeaf Tree Climbing, Ryde, Isle of Wight
In these days of health and safety, it’s a bit tricky to find ways to recreate some of the fun of our own childhoods, but GoodLeaf on the Isle of Wight is a good place to start. Here your kids can scale the heady heights of trees like you used to – with added harnesses! Just make sure you beat your kids to the top to declare yourself Queen of the Castle. If you can’t quite make it over the Solent then there’s also The New Forest Outdoor Centre or the team at Hillier Tree Climbing in Romsey.
Axe Throwing, Andover
Ok, this one *may* be more for us. Situated in Andover is Insight Activities, which runs all sorts of weird and wonderful classes from archery to siege games and, for those 12+, axe throwing. Save this one for the end of the half-term week when you’re compelled to pick up the wooden handle and to show your children who’s the boss.
Spooky Spots, across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight
However, if you want to get in the Halloween spirit by having a nose around some spooky haunted buildings there are SO many to choose from around the two counties.
With ghostly goings on at Stansted Park, you can lose yourself (or the kids… just for a bit) in their creepy Yew Maze or, in the evening, check out their Enchanted Mansion attraction.
At Sir Harold Hillier Gardens there’s a Haunted Halloween Trail, and for the grown-ups there’s also a ghost walk and supper on Wed 31 Oct. For something a little less scary, check out the National Trust’s Mottisfont and their Spot the Scarecrow trail. Super cute and super seasonal.
And it you *really* want to scare their socks off, then Blackgang Chine over on the Isle of Wight is launching Wicked Nights. The attraction is open from Sat 20 Oct right up until the park closes for the season on Sat 3 Nov, and features a terrifying tour of The Cursed Mill, Freaky Fair and a Possessed Doll – errr, I’m not scared…honest.