The Great Half-Term Escape: 10 top day trips
Filled with fear at the thought of having to entertain the kids this Halloween half term? Book a ticket and hit the road with our top picks for a family-friendly day out around the Muddy counties.
BERKSHIRE: Legoland Windsor
OMG. Protect your credit card, it’s gonna get a hammering. 2020 saw the opening of Duplo Valley and the world’s first Duplo coaster, joining Lego Ninjago Ride, Haunted House Monster Party, the Jolly Rocker, Viking River Splash, Miniland and more. Basically, Legoland Windsor is a one stop adrenaline rush. Halloween half term sees lots of spooky(ish) additions to the park, including a brand new scary character, Scarecrow. Watch out for the gift shop at the end – it’s a killer.
BUCKS: Roald Dahl Museum
Buckinghamshire is Roald Dahl county, as the pretty village of Great Missenden is where the author lived and wrote many of his best-loved books (fun fact – granddaughter Sophie Dahl is still in the area, along with husband Jamie Cullum). The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre is a must-visit for those with 6 to 12 year-olds and the three galleries and original writer’s hut are more than enough for an afternoon’s diversion.
CAMBRIDGESHIRE: Harry Potter Event, Grand Arcade Cambridge
Got a little witch or wizard in your coven? Take them to the Grand Arcade aka Hogwarts this Halloween for a magical Harry Potter themed event. Kids can dress as their favourite character and meet Dumbledore (at a Covid-safe distance of course) and even get sorted into the right house by a talking sorting hat! Sessions are in 30 minutes slots and must be pre-booked.
SOMERSET: Farleigh Hungerford Castle
One for the history fiends and a real-life house-of-horrors, discover the intriguing, gruesome lives of the Hungerford family who lived in this medieval castle near Bath for over 300 years. In amongst the ruins there’s a chapel with rare medieval wall paintings and family tombs, a Priest’s house, and some creepy human-shaped lead coffins in the crypt (eek).
DORSET: Puxton Play Park
If the kids are desperate for classic Halloween capers, there’s rainbow pumpkins and creepy critters galore at Puxton this half term. When your little horrors have exhausted the spooky fun, the adventure area, high ropes, farm animals, tractors, indoor soft play, falconry, mini railway and more, set in 40 acres, should certainly be enough to keep the littlies (and some their older sisters and bros) busy for a few hours.
ESSEX: Stubbers Adventure Centre
With more than 35 action-packed activities across land, air, water and motor, Stubbers’ enormous activity park in Upminster is perfect for dare devils who want to feel the wind in their hair and the waves/mud on their backs. From abseiling and assault courses to off-roading and quad biking, you can get the whole family kitted out, demo’d up and revved for the ride of their lives. We love the jet ski sessions, which come with slalom kicks for the full 30-90 minutes and exhilarating banana rides are sure to float your boat too.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE: The Roman Villa, Chedworth
Roman history oozes out of the pores of the Cotswolds and there’s hours of Roman-themed fun to be had at The Roman Villa in Chedworth (the grandest in Britain no less). Go for a kick about in the autumn leaves, dress up as a Roman and see how they generally hung out here in the 4th century. There’s a café, serving sandwiches, cakes and snacks and a great shop selling all the Roman memorabilia you could want.
OXON: Pitt Rivers Museum
Winner of Best Family Attraction in 2019’s Muddy Stilettos Awards, the Pitt Rivers quirky collections in Oxford are catnip for the little people (what kid wouldn’t be hypnotised by rows and rows or unearthed treasures?). The museum also has several family trails to help kids explore and learn from the vast collections, ideal for entertaining curious minds.
SUSSEX: Fisher’s Farm Park
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, nowhere keeps the kids happy like Fisher’s. It’s not just the range of farm animals to meet, pet and learn about, or the heaps of rides (don’t miss the ghost train!) and activities or the brand-new and brilliant soft play. The whole vibe is just spot-on and while there’s loads to do, it’s all well-spaced out and not at all overwhelming – so not the kind of place that gives you an instant headache just walking in. Masses of indoor fun makes it perfect for a rainy day too.
WILTSHIRE Longleat Safari Park
Aaaah, the magic of Longleat – rolling plains of gazumping giraffes, rhinos in their paddock, some seriously terrifying lions and tigers and the cheekiest of monkeys, all of it contribute to the uniqueness, the fabulousness of this emporium of mammalian excitement in the heart of Wilts. With a Safari Drive-Through, Longleat House and Grounds, Jungle Kingdom, Adventure Castle, Family Farmyard, Longleat Railway, Little Explorer’s Garden and a penguin walk-through (and that’s just for starters) get there early as there’s plenty to keep the kids entertained.