Free stuff to do with the kids this weekend

Image of a family enjoying a day out
A scenic bike ride with the fam - would could be better?
"Keep your eyes peeled for natterjack toads, grey plovers and barn owls in this incredible 4,000-hectare site of natural wonder, an hour or so north of Norwich"
  • | by Kristian Dando

Time with your kids is precious, and it can often cost a lot of money too.

So, what to do with them this weekend which won’t drain your wallet of valuable pounds?

We’ve rounded up a few ideas from around the country to get your teeth into. Tell us your faves on Facebook and Twitter.


Image of inside London Science Museum

The Science Museum

Get your nippers' heads crammed full of the possibilities of science and tech with totally free entry to the Science Museum.

Covered mag headed there itself last year, and here’s a handy guide to doing it right.

North west

Image of Lancaster Canal

Image: David Bleasdale via Flickr

Lancaster Canal

Explore the region’s industrial heritage and spot some excellent waterfowl with a saunter along this canal, which stretches from Preston to Kendal.

Look out for the changing autumn leaves, and consider going on your bikes to see as much of the trail as you can.


Image of building on the Tolkien trail

The Tolkien Trail, Birmingham

If your kids are old enough to have appreciated the Lord of the Rings films or books they’ll love a trip around Birmingham’s Tolkien Trail, which shows many of the locations which inspired JRR's epic fantasy tales.


Image of Hull and East Riding Museum

Image: Wikipedia Commons

Hull and East Riding Museum

Hull is the 2017 UK City of Culture, so why not combine a bracing walk by the Humber (which itself doesn’t cost a penny) with a trip to this museum?

It’s a cracking facility where 235 million years of history are brought to life in amazing exhibits.

North east

Image of an urban farm

Image: Glen Bowman via Flickr

Ouseburn Farm

A working farm in the heart of the urban jungle of Newcastle upon Tyne, this will allow your kids to get up close and personal with farm animals within walking distance of public transport. Marvellous!

South west

Image of Donkey Sanctuary

Image: Richard Gillin via Flickr

Donkey Sanctuary, Sidmouth, Devon

Make a fuss of 500 donkeys who’ve been rehomed over acres of Devonshire countryside.

Well-behaved dogs on leads are also welcome, so you can bring pooch along too.

South east

Image of Ashburnham Place

Image: Frank Saßnowski, Wikipedia Commons

Ashburnham Place, near Battle, Sussex

Why not amble around an English country house with the little 'uns this weekend?

There’s over 220 acres of nature and lakes to enjoy, and it’s just five miles away from the town of Battle if you’d like to take in some additional historical fun.

East Anglia

Image of Holkham Nature Reserve

Holkham National Nature Reserve

Keep your eyes peeled for natterjack toads, grey plovers and barn owls in this incredible 4,000-hectare site of natural wonder, an hour or so north of Norwich.

There are pinewoods and sand dunes to merrily yomp through, and you’ll definitely have tuckered-out tykes once you’ve explored Britain’s largest nature reserve.

Northern Ireland

Image of the Gruffalo Trail

Image: Discover Northern Ireland

The Gruffalo Trail at Colin Glen Forest

Get a selfie with a massive sculpture of the beloved children’s character plus several of his pals from the book, with an extra helping of fresh air at one of the Northern Ireland’s most stunning parks.


Image of Big Pit

Image: Loco Steve via Flickr

Big Pit Mining Museum, Blaenavon

Take a trip down an actual real-life mine shaft and see how the poor children of the Victorian era lived and worked at Big Pit mining museum.

When you’re done, take a stroll around the rest of the Unesco world heritage site, which is home to an incredibly well preserved ironworks and an award-winning cheese shop.


Image of National Museum in Scotland

Image: JTweedle via Flickr

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

There’s not many places where you can get more interesting stuff for your pound (or, rather zero pounds) than at the National Museum of Scotland.

All aspects of the nation’s rich history is covered - from prehistory and ancient tribes to Scotland’s huge influence on the world of fashion and design.