42 Ways to Spend the Summer Holidays
6 weeks (42 days worth!) of summer holiday ideas for all ages, recommended by our campers. Whether you're looking for a relaxing break or a thrill filled escape full of adventure, this list has it covered.
1. Drive on down to the Motor Museum
The British Motor Museum in Warwickshire makes a great family day out. You’ll find famous cars from James Bond, The Thunderbirds and many more. Our camper Rachel Coombs says there’s “loads to keep the children entertained including special school holiday activities”. There’s even a vintage caravan to look at, just to keep the camping bug alive!
2. Ahoy! Visit the Tall Ship at Riverside Museum, Glasgow
Budding pirates will love the Tall Ship moored at Riverside Museum in Glasgow. Open until 4.30pm throughout the summer, the ship - Glenlee - first took to the water in 1896 and has fared many worldwide voyages. The globetrotting Glenlee now takes pride of place outside the Glasgow Riverside Museum of Transport - a magnificent iceberg-like building featuring vintage public transport, recreated Victorian streets, locomotives and more.
Cost: Free admission. Car parking charges apply.
3. Put your eyes to the skies for a spot of Birdwatching
Grab a pitch and stake out on one of our UK Club Sites. Birdwatching is fab for the whole family and perfect for spending time in the great outdoors.
4. Brunch on the Beach
When staying at Tregurrian Club Site in Cornwall, Mike Percy loves nothing better than walking the 6 miles to Porthcothan Beach and enjoying a picnic on the sands. Porthcothan Beach can be accessed along the coastline or by following the South West Coast Path. Find your brunch by the beach.
5. Be Brave
Loved Disney Pixar’s family film ‘Brave’? Now you can visit some of the real places that inspired the movie. Among them, explore the Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis, Eilean Donan Castle in the Highlands and Dunnottar Castle in Aberdeenshire.
Cost: Callanish Stones free to visit (ferry crossing fee applies), prices for other attractions vary.
6. Discover Infinity and Beyond at Armagh Planetarium, Co. Armagh
Whilst camping with the kids in Northern Ireland, don’t miss the chance to visit Armagh Planetarium. Shows, exhibitions, interactive displays, themed rooms, real meteorites, and fascinating scale models - it’s all here. Later, back at your campsite, star-gaze at night and name the constellations back at your campsite.
7. Find Fossils on the Jurassic Coast, Dorset
Get your palaeontologist hat on and scour the Jurassic Coastline for fossils at Charmouth Beach. Start at the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre - you can even join a guided fossil walk - and pick through the pebbles in search of prehistoric treasures.
8. Pecorama Park, Devon
Louise Hopton recently took the family to Pecorama Park in Beer, Devon, and took part in all sorts of activities including train rides, the adventure playground, soft play, the zip wire and a model train exhibition. Louise had this to say: “Lovely views, reasonably priced and a great day had by all ages.”
9. Fly by the RAF Museum, North London
With free entry and over 100 historic aircraft on site, London’s RAF Museum is a fantastic attraction for aviation enthusiasts of all ages. From awe-inspired tots to big kids at heart, wing it over to Hendon this summer and get up close and personal with a gigantic Vulcan Bomber, a life-sized F-35 fighter jet model, and immersive exhibitions like First World War in the Air. It’s uplifting stuff.
Cost: Free admission
10. Historic Adventures at Hever Castle
Camping lover Mary-Jane Rowe highly recommends a day out at the atmospheric childhood home of Anne Boleyn, second wide of Henry VIII. She thinks Hever Castle in Kent truly has “something for everyone” and with so much to do: Jousting, archery, shield painting, playgrounds, mazes, moats (and the odd ghost or two); we think she’s absolutely right!
11. Beachcombing in Whitby, Yorkshire
Make like a ‘mudlark’ in search of washed-up treasure on Runswick Bay in Whitby. Beachcombing is a fun family pastime that requires little more than a bucket and spade and a sense of imagination.
Cost: Car parking charges may apply.
12. Enginuity Science Museum, Ironbridge
Janice McCann Charlesworth recommends visiting Enginuity in Shropshire, one of ten museums at the spectacular Ironbridge Gorge. It’s a fun-filled family day out with tons of hands-on activities and exhibits, and various workshops and special events running throughout the summer.
13. Seek Red Squirrels on the Isle of Wight
Here’s an idea to get the kids out walking or cycling: send them squirrel spotting! Starting at Cowes, the well-surfaced cycling trail winds through beautiful island countryside to Sandown Bay on the south, looping back to the main trail at Merstone. Spot wildlife, pass under bridges, enjoy glorious views and keep your eyes peeled for trip-trapping troll carvings, too!
14. Lose Your Marbles in Devon!
Head to the Old Pottery in Bovey Tracey and enter a magical world of marble mazes, glass blowing, fairground mirrors, penny press, vintage toys, curious trinkets, and so much more.
Cost: Free admission
15. Spot Dolphins from New Quay, Wales
Helen McGirr stayed at Cardigan Bay and recommends: “Head into New Quay and spot dolphins from the clifftop path or on a boat trip.”
16. Rally the troops
Nothing makes kids happier than playing with other kids and Nicola Wright, Pam Ridler and Carole French would all heartily recommend camping on a Club District Association event. Both you and the kids are likely to make some great new friends, and when the cost is often less than £10 a night it’s a great summer holiday investment! You’ll find details of our nationwide DA camping events in our Out & About section online and in your Club magazine.
17. Free Activities from Simon McGrath’s ‘Camping with Kids’ Book
Our very own magazine editor, Simon McGrath, has published a fantastic book ‘Camping with Kids’, packed with 400 inspirational ways to have fun as a family in the great outdoors. Here are 3 of our favourites:
- Rainy days: Family Fantasy Fable. Write storybook words on pieces of paper like ‘giant’, ‘pirate’ or ‘shipwreck’ and fold them up into a box. One person picks out a word to start the story, then after a couple of minutes, the next person picks out a new word to continue the tale. Keep going until you’ve created your own family fantasy fable!
- Wander in the woods: Build a Tipi. Create your own mini den with fallen branches placed around a central support, such as a small tree trunk, and gradually build your shelter from the bottom-up by interlocking and overlapping your branches. Add leaves and bunches of thin twigs on top to create your roof. The perfect woodland hideaway!
- Night-time adventures: On clear nights, lie back and gaze up at the stars or go looking for bats - you’ll often see them zooming around at dusk. Torchlight hide and seek is another favourite - just try not to wake the neighbours!
Cost: RRP: £14.99 or £11.99 for members in the club shop.
18. Day trip to Mull
Pipa Riggs recently holidayed at Oban Club Site on Scotland’s west coast and recommends taking a day trip to the island of Mull. She says: “There’s an awesome aquarium with an ethical 4-week catch and release programme and handling sessions throughout the day. It’s wheelchair friendly and good for prams. Duart Castle is also good for younger visitors.”
19. Cliffe Castle, Keighley
Tucked away in West Yorkshire is Cliffe Castle Museum, a 19th century estate with extravagant interiors, spectacular parks and gardens and a new children’s play area. Cliffe Castle is a true representation of the Victoria age at its finest. Claudia Carroll says she and her family enjoyed an “amazing assortment of displays and a fantastic play area, with lots of room to roam.”
20. Discover your Wild Side
Fancy getting up close and personal with a rhino or a giraffe? Then the West Midlands Safari Park is the place to do it this summer! Mind you, if you’ve had your fill of current day wild animals by lunchtime you can pop over to the Land of Living Dinosaurs for your afternoon adventure. Beci Williams certainly agrees “So much to see and do and a free return voucher too!”
21. Everyone dig in!
A great recommendation from camper Mel Daniels “We had a fantastic day out at Diggerland in Yorkshire, loads of fun for all the family.“ This is definitely one where dad’s will be happy to get their hands dirty operating REAL diggers, dumpers and excavators, as well as driving Go Karts, dodgems and landrovers…..by the end of the day you’ll need to scoop them up and hose them down.
22. Visit the National Slate Museum in Llanberis, Wales
Angie Carter-Bailey recently enjoyed a trip to the National Slate Museum when camping with kids in Wales. “It’s free admission and we had a very interesting and fun day out,” she says. The Slate Museum is set on the edge of Snowdonia National Park and offers family-friendly demonstrations like slate splitting and tours of the premises, where kids can get up close and personal with a real quarry engine.
Cost: Free admission, car parking charges apply.
23. What a RUSH
Take your teenagers (or daring pre-teens) down to Wicksteed Park this summer to satisfy the most hardened adrenaline junkie. Head down 40mph zipwires, jump from the height of two double decker buses or scale a 14m high wall. Go on, indulge your inner thrill seeker. Camper Helen Page said of her visit: “Kids had a great weekend, nonstop fun for all the family “
24. Free Farmyard Fun
Trot off to one of these FREE children’s farms, and your little brood will be as happy as pigs in muck!
- Old Rectory Farm, Sheldon Country Park
- Forge Mill Farm, West Bromwich
- Old Holly Farm, Preston, Lancashire
- St Werburghs City Farm, Bristol
- Bill Quay Community Farm, Gateshead
- Swansea Community Farm, Swansea
- Gorgie City Farm, Edinburgh
- Stonebridge City Farm, Nottingham
25. Animal Weekend Workshops
On weekends throughout the summer holidays Pets at Home provide free workshops to teach kids how to care for pets and small animals. Ranging from taking care of bearded dragons and fluffy rabbits to tropical fish, this is perfect for rainy days.
26. Go Ghost Hunting in York
You’ve learned about York’s brutal Roman rule and its grisly Viking raids. Those events are safely in the past… Or are they? Discover the dramatic and creepy side of York at night on the York Ghost Walk Experience, and explore the ancient city’s infamous haunted sites.
27. Cycle the Tarka Trail, Devon
What’s the best way to entertain the kids in Devon? Get on yer bike, says Julie Davies! On a camping trip in Devon with The Camping & Caravanning Club, she and her family had a ‘wheelie’ great time cycling the Tarka Trail. The 32-mile stretch of the Devon Coast-to-Coast route between Braunton and Meeth is traffic-free, and follows the classic tale of Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter.
Cost: Free. Bicycle hire fees vary.
28. Flutter by a Tropical Butterfly House
Camping & Caravanning Club guest Audrey McClements says the Seaforde Tropical Butterfly House & Gardens in County Down is well worth a visit and “loved by all ages”.
29. Have a Phizz-Whizzing Time at The Roald Dahl Museum
The Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre in Buckinghamshire is a magical wonderland for kids aged 6-12 years. It’s based in Great Missenden, the village where Roald Dahl lived and wrote for 36 years. The museum offers a Story Centre with numerous activities throughout the holidays including workshops, events, crafts and storytelling sessions. Pop into Café Twit for tasty refreshments.
30. Head to Hardcastle Crags
Emma Ajmal had a “brilliant day” with her family in this beautiful wooded valley with a 19th-century mill at its heart. Hardcastle Crags is a picture perfect spot in the South Pennines with 15 miles of footpaths to explore. The Gibson Mill itself is a visitor centre telling the history of the valley over the past 200 years, it's well worth a visit to soak up some local knowledge.
31. Fort Augustus Boat Trip, Loch Ness
If you’re camping with kids in the Scottish Highlands, Caroline E. Jackson recently stayed at Loch Ness Shores and offers these recommendations: “Throughout the week we cycled, SUPed (stand-up paddleboard), walked, enjoyed views of the loch and saw Upper Foyers waterfall.” Caroline’s family also visited Urquhart Castle and took a Nessie-spotting boat trip from Fort Augustus.
32. Test Your Head for Heights in North Devon
Up for a challenge? If you’re camping with the family in North Devon, test your head for heights with this excellent suggestion from Jeanette Hibbert: “Walk from Watersmeet up to Countisbury and back down. It’s a steep walk with a sheer drop to one side - not for the faint hearted!” Despite the dizzying heights, Jeanette reports that everyone enjoyed the challenge and got back to sea level safely!
33. Seven Stories, Newcastle
Perfect for rainy days, Newcastle’s National Centre for Children’s Books celebrates children's books, their creators, their illustrators, their readers and above all, their magic. Visitors can enjoy hands-on activities, group storytelling sessions, immersive exhibitions, crafts, and more.
34. Bike the High Peak Trail, Derbyshire
Happy camper Cheryl Maria Raynor recommends cycling the High Peak Trail in Derbyshire: “Hire bikes from Middleton Top and Parsley Hay. The flat terrain is great for kids.”
35. Free Gardening Workshops
Got a budding horticulturalist in your clan? Whisk them off to your nearest Dobbies Garden Centre on selected Sundays and treat them to the Little Seedlings Club, a free kids’ workshop that encourages green-fingered youngsters get their hands dirty - literally!
Cost: Free (advanced booking required)
36. Rush down to Wicksteed Country Park
You’ll be welcome visitors to the small and friendly country style farm park which is “highly recommended” by camper Laura Murphy. The family run park provides a hands on and close up animal experience for all the family. If you enjoy animals then young, old happy or grouchy we think you will find something here to make you smile…you might even get to fly a hawk, just like Laura’s daughter.
37. Go Barmy at Brockholes
Anna Jane Berg recommends Brockholes near Preston for a great day out with the kids. “There’s a Nature Reserve, a floating village and lots of activities for kids during the holidays. We especially liked the orienteering course for children.”
Cost: Free, car parking charges apply.
38. Morwellham Quay, Devon
Julia Barber heartily recommends Morwellham Quay near Tavistock, Devon, for a great day out with the kids. She says it’s a lively Victorian mining village and craft centre with tons of attractions for little ones, and they can dress up too!
39. Go old school adventuring
Make getting there part of the adventure, like Carmel Broadhurst and her family. They went exploring around the historic Hardwick Hall on an 8 mile hike. “all achieved by my daughter reading a map, not a sat nav in sight. Loved it”. Whether it’s a day out of discovery or just going somewhere locally by foot, dial back the decades and do it like your grandad did.
40. Caves and Stepping Stones in Dovedale, Derbyshire/Staffordshire
Samantha Carney had a great day out walking with the kids on a camping holiday in Dovedale recently, which included the famous river stepping stones: “Gorgeous walk to Milldale along the river separating Derbyshire from Staffordshire, just inside the Peak District. It has caves for children to climb up and the walk includes ‘Jacob’s Ladder’. It’s a challenging walk that’s rocky and steep in places, but worth it!”
Cost: Free, parking charges may apply
41. Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Picture a sculpture gallery. Now imagine the polar opposite. Yep, the Yorkshire Sculpture Gallery is nothing like the sterile anti-child zones you might expect: this one spans hundreds of acres and offers the perfect outdoor environment to let the little ones run wild in the open air. They’ll even learn a thing or two about modern art along the way.
Cost: Free admission, parking charges apply.
42. Endless Walking at Aviemore, Cairngorms National Park
Lorna Muir recently took the kids camping near Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park. They explored the forest trails and hills, and walked up Cairngorms Mountain - home to the UK's highest funicular railway and restaurant!