Longleat Safari & Adventure Park
What? Spot giraffes, lions, tigers, rhinos and wallabies, look after ferrets, guinea pigs and tortoises and visit a butterfly house, maze and mini railway.
Cost? £31.50 adult (over 15); £22.50 child (3-14); under-3s go free. longleat.co.uk
Is it worth it? “The safari is genuinely exciting, getting you right next to animals including lions. The boat around Gorilla Island is also great, and you can feed sea lions en route. The kids were less impressed with Longleat House, although my mum and I enjoyed that.” Kit Hall (with sons, aged 3 and 5).
Tower of London
What? Visit the Crown Jewels, tour with a Yeoman Warder, climb the infamous White Tower and learn about coins and kings at the Royal Mint.
Cost? £59 family (up to 2 adults and 3 children); £22 adult (over 15); £11 child (5-15); under-5s go free. hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon
Is it worth it? “I recommend the guided tour, the stories really set the mood: did you know the Wakefield Tower only had three torture devices, for example? The Crown Jewels were the kids’ favourite; mine, the prisoners’ graffiti. Could easily have stayed longer than three hours.” Brigitte Langston (with kids, aged 10, 8 and 7).
Warner Bros. Studio Tour — The Making of Harry Potter
What? Check out the film sets, props and costumes used in the Harry Potter movies, at the studio where most of the films were shot.
Cost? £93 family (2 adults and 2 children, or 1 adult and 3 children); £31 adult (over 15); £23.50 child (5-15); under-4s go free. wbstudiotour.co.uk
Is it worth it? “A heart-warming, surprisingly intimate experience that belies the big film studio branding. Even parents will get a kick out of the behind-the-scenes exhibits, props and special effects; and no one is immune to the charms of a reconstructed Diagon Alley.” Sarah Barrell (with daughter, aged 6)
What? Treehouse adventure park based on the fairytales of local author Tom Blofeld. With zip-wires, marsh walks, storytelling and boat rides.
Cost? Prices based on height. Over 105cm £14.50; 92-105cm £12.50; under 92cm free. bewilderwood.co.uk
Is it worth it? “The most ‘tasteful’ adventure park I’ve ever been to. The wood and natural materials give the place a woodland grotto vibe. There are treehouses for all ages and it doesn’t matter if you don’t know the characters — it’s all self-explanatory and fun.” Fiona Allen (with kids, aged 7, 4 and 2).
Beamish — The Living Museum of the North
What? A 300-acre countryside site that recreates life in the industrial North East, accessed by a fleet of restored 19th-century trams.
Cost? £18 adult (over 16); £10 child (5-16); under-5s go free. beamish.org.uk
Is it worth it? “Definitely worth it. We particularly enjoyed riding around on the old trams, and the steam train station. The recreated Victorian street was great — very atmospheric — and amazingly the ‘spooky’ old school house was more of a hit than the sweet shop!” Emma Wood (with daughter, aged 5).
Published in the Summer 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveller – Family