It might come as no surprise to find that perhaps the country’s biggest cultural stalwart, the British Museum, come out as England’s most popular free attraction in Visit Britain’s annual survey of the country’s most visited attractions. But there are plenty of other great, free family days out besides — we’ve sifted through the results to pick some of our favourites, so read on and get some inspiration for your next outing with the kids.
1 // British Museum, London
Exhibitions and daily activities, ranging from discovery trails to digital workshops, make this vast repository of history, art and culture a must-do with all ages. Even the youngest visitors are catered-for, with workshops for under-5s, many tying in with current exhibitions. There’s a picnic in the Ford Centre for Young Visitors at weekends and during school holidays, though most families make a beeline for the pizzeria and ice-cream counter.
2 // The Ice Cream Farm, Cheshire
Who doesn’t love ice cream? More than 40 award-winning flavours of the creamy stuff are the main draw at this countryside spot just southeast of Chester. This is a farm meets ice-cream parlour meets adventure park, with animals including llamas, donkeys and goats to coo over, as well as an ice-cream-themed playground to burn off all those sundaes.
3 // Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool
Make a splash in this great northern port without breaking the bank. Matt the Customs Officer’s trail in the Seized! gallery, the Sea Urchins area with its maritime-themed activities, and everything from model ships to full-sized vessels ensure that younger visitors can enjoy exploring Liverpool’s rich maritime heritage as much as adults.
4 // Horniman Museum and Gardens, London
This eclectic, Victorian-era collection in the south of the city has plenty to entertain. From anthropology and natural history to music and wildlife (there’s even an aquarium and a butterfly house), kids are encouraged to pick up, try on and even play with many of its objects and artefacts. It also has 16-acre grounds that include a nature trail, an animal walk with alpacas, goats and more, a sound garden and wild grasslands.
5 // MAC Birmingham
All arts centres should be like this one, which strives to make art part of everyone’s lives through theatre, dance, indie cinema, music, spoken word, comedy, exhibitions, events and classes. The family offering is outstanding, featuring everything from a Little Geeks ‘smart play zone’ to virtual-reality nature experiences. Many are free, but some incur a small charge.
Want to see the full results from Visit Britain? Click here to find out more.