The Natural History Museum, Kensington, London
Pretty much the doyenne of London's museums, the Natural History Museum has come a long way since it was simply a collection of skeletons and dried plants. These days there are over 70 million botanical items, 55 million exhibits of animals, 9 million relics from archaeological digs, and 500,000 rocks and minerals. From the whale skeleton in the entrance hall to the model of the largest chunk of gold ever found, this place will keep the little ones dazzled for days. And entrance is free! Stay: The Egerton House Hotel, Kensington. Just minutes from the gloriously OTT world of Harrods and handy not just for the Natural History but also the V&A and The Science Museum, this gorgeous, classy boutique museum sits in a quiet street overlooking some private gardens.
Bewilderment, Wroxham near Norwich
Sprawling over 50 acres of magical woodland, this place is all about kids being kids in the great outdoors – we are talking tree climbing, rope wrangling and den and hidey-hole crafting. Fans of local children's author Tom Blofeld, who designed the attraction, will spot his books' character dotted around the woods. Great fun.
Stay: Park Farm Hotel, Hethersett, Norwich. The kids have had their fun, now you have yours. Leafy Park Farm has extensive and luxurious spa facilities in which you can loaf around while the kids explore the gorgeous grounds.
Come on, you can't have small kids and not go to Legoland at least once! March 2018 saw the opening of Miniland Explore The World, 55 master model makers having replicated landmarks from four different countries. The park comprises 55 rides, live shows, workshops and 80 million bricks and not a moment will pass when your nipper isn't running around in a state of near delirium at all the exciting things to see and do. Stay: The Royal Adelaide, Windsor. Built for royalty to visit back in the 1830s, the Royal Adelaide sits opposite The Long Walk towards Windsor Castle, its impressive Georgian façade and sash windows setting the tone for a right regal stay. The serenity of this grand dame of Windsor will be soothing balm after Legoland madness.
Harry Potter Studios, Watford
No muggle parent worth their Nimbus 2000 would miss out Harry Potter Studios, where some of the most talented craftpeople in the movie industry laboured to create the exceptional series of films that brought JK Rowling's magic to our screens. It's wonderful enough to wander through the iconic Great Hall but on Sundays you can book in to have breakfast there too. Wizarding fun! Stay: The Grove, Watford. Well, if it's good enough for the England football team (half of whom were there the last time I checked in), we think The Grove should meet with your approval. The former home of the earls of Clarendon, sprawling across 300 acres, this place is a top notch experience with its guest rooms offering stunning views over the rolling Hertfordshire countryside.
Ironbridge Gorge, Shrewsbury
Hang on, hang on! We know this is actually a huge outdoor museum dedicated to the progress of English industrialisation and that's hard to sell to kids in theory, but actually Ironbridge is a whole lot of fun. This World Heritage site celebrating the birthplace of the industrial revolution has been fantastically curated. Blists Hill Victorian Town has authentic shops and cottages from the period (head for the sweet shop, you won't regret it) while Enginuity explains the science that changed the face of rural England via hand-on exhibitions. There's loads more besides – a full day of educational fun. Stay: Soulton Hall, Near Wem, Shrewsbury. Wildlife lovers will adore this special hotel in the heart of the Shrewsbury countryside. In spring, it's carpeted with bluebells, hares hopping around by day and owls hooting their chorus by night. For rooms, think stylish, smart four poster beds in the main house or cottages dotted around the grounds with spectacular views for more privacy. A real treat.
Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester
In the city that was arguably more transformed by the industrial revolution than any other, the MSI stands as an impressive salute to progress. But it's bang up to date too – see Tim Peake's spacecraft in virtual reality, learn about the discovery of the atomic atom or see the cars, bikes and planes that got industrial Manchester moving in the Air and Space Hall. Stay: Le Ville Hotel, Manchester. Sitting along the canal (fittingly enough) in the heart of the city, this very contemporary hotel is a great option for those looking for a sensible, budget option. With clean, comfortable economy double, twin, standard double, king and family bedrooms on offer, it's a great option.
National Maritime Museum, Falmouth
Check out this most fabulous of museum's newest exhibition (running until January 2019), Titanic Stories, which examines the sinking on April 15, 1912, and re-examines some of the myths surrounding the event. Children are always captivated by what happened on that fateful night and with many personal stores being retold, it makes for a fascinating visit. This aside, there are 15 galleries over five floors exploring the influence of the sea on the city's history and culture. Utterly brilliant. Stay: The Nare, Truro. Stay at this stunning family-owned country house hotel by the sea not only because its setting and interiors are a real treat (we LOVE the décor) but also because they lay on the super fun Espionage Breaks. There's lots of wonderful stuff about becoming a spy and talks of agents, dead drops and Russians. Imagine telling the kids they have got that in store – priceless!
Drusilla's, Alfriston, near Lewes A ten-acre zoo, park and all round brilliant place for 0-10 year olds, Drusilla's is stuffed with activities to enchant the little ones. From the red pandas, giant anteaters and Bactrian camels to the excellent playparks and summer dipping pool, this place will have little ones burning off all that spare energy in no time. Stay: Deans Place Hotel, Alfriston. Set on the banks of the Cuckmere River, at the foot of the South Downs National Park, Deans Place is in gorgeous little Alfriston with its chi chi high street. The hotel itself is luxurious, with a great restaurant and spiffing afternoon tea in the Victorian gardens. Book in summer and you can take the kids in the outdoor swimming pool
Paulton Park and Peppa Pig World
This is a great option if you have kids of varying ages as Peppa Pig suits the little ones and the amusement rides of Paulton Park satisfy older thrillseekers. What adults are always pleased to discover, however, is that there are also some gorgeous gardens to take solace in once the Cobra and the Velociraptor rollercoasters get too much! Stay: The Crown Manor House Hotel, Lyndhurst. Treat yourself to a quintessentially English experience at this grade one listed four star boutique hotel. Think log fires, locally sourced food and superb golf.
National Space Centre, Leicester
With six interactive galleries, the UK's largest planetarium and the fabulous 42ft high Rocket Tower (home of the Blue Streak and Thor Able rockets) to explore, this is a galactic wonderland for tinies up to teens. Come face to face with astronauts and spacesuits, walk through a mock-up of the Columbus Module from the International Space Station and drive a Martian rover on the red planet. Cor!
Stay: Horseshoe Cottage Farm, Cropston. This award-winning B&B, a 200-year-old farm and barns in Leicestershire's Charnwood Forest, offers up locally sourced produce for brekkie, pretty bedrooms and a lovely cosy sitting room to retreat to following a muddy walk in the countryside.
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