15 (Mostly) Free Things To Do With The Kids This Summer

Summer is here. Whether you’re looking to make the most of the school holidays or just make sure your sunny weekends are fun-filled and action-packed, we’ve created a list of (mostly) free things to do with the children all across the UK. The six-weeks holiday for the children can be a long time for you to keep them entertained, and if you’re paying off a short-term loan, you may not always have the spare cash to keep taking them to places that have an admission fee. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a little bit of spare cash then a small £200 loan may be a good option to help you out.

So get out and about with the kids this summer with this guide to the best of what’s on offer. Best of all, they’re either completely free or reasonably priced.

  1. Take a trip to London’s Horniman Museum

Are your children dazzled by the world of zoology? Then take them for a visit to London’s Horniman Museum. This natural history gallery, whose flagship exhibit is a gigantic stuffed walrus, allows you to see parrots, parakeets and all manner of other stuffed animals up close and personal. There is also an aquarium, a collection of musical instruments and acres and acres of landscaped gardens to sit in and enjoy.

Horniman Museum & Gardens, 100 London Rd, SE23 3PQ. Nearest station: Forest Hill. Phone: 020 8699 1872.

  1. Watch some live theatre in Manchester

Parks in Manchester’s Tameside area will be staging a range of free live theatre events this summer. Every Thursday throughout August, there will be a staging of some of the best-loved and most well-known children’s stories. Pack a picnic basket, a rug and go along to enjoy:

  • CS Lewis’s Through the Looking Glass, Hyde Park and Mossley Park – August 4th.
  • Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the Medlock Centre, Droylsden and Dukinfield Park – August 11th.
  • Charles Kingley’s The Water Babies, Cheetham’s Park, Stalybridge, and Ryecroft Park, Audenshaw – August 18th.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island,  Victoria Park, Denton, and King George V Playing Fields, Ashton, – August 25th.

Theatre in the Park is organised by Tameside Council Cultural Services with the support of Greater Manchester Arts and the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities.

  1. Sports Day in west London

Rock up to Osterley Park in west London for a day of sport in stunning surroundings. Try out a wide range of free sports and activities with friends and family, including:

  • Canoeing on the lake.
  • BMX-ing round the portable BMX track.
  • Paddleboarding.
  • Bikeability.
  • Pilates.
  • Yoga.

Osterley Park and House, Jersey Road, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 4RB. Nearest Tube: Osterley. Contact Isaac Rocke at isaac.rocke@nationaltrust.org.uk or phone 020 8232 5061.

  1. Head to Hackney City Farm

Nestled in one of London’s trendiest, most fashionable areas, Hackney City Farm is perfect for a summer’s day out with the kids. With a host of farmyard animals including sheep, chickens, goats and donkeys, there is also a garden and an Italian cafe. In September, the farm will be holding drop-in pottery sessions on Sunday 11th September and Wednesday 14th September.

Hackney City Farm, 1a Goldsmiths Row, London E2 8QA. Phone: 020 7729 6381.


  1. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden is one of the best gardens in the world. Free to enter and just a mile from the city centre, you could spend a whole day gazing in wonder among its 72 acres.

Enjoy fabulous views of Scotland’s magnificent capital, learn about the history of the 300 year-old garden or just wander around to your heart’s content. The garden has 10 amazing Glasshouses, each with a different climatic zone, and house 3,000 exotic plants. There’s also contemporary art in the on-site gallery Inverleith House.

Royal Botanic Garden, Arboretum Place/Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, EH3 5NZ. Phone: 121 248 2909.

  1. Family fun day, Ightham Mote, Kent

A day of games on the lawn, craft activities, trails and quizzes – what’s not to love? This free-to-enter event on August 18th at Ightham Mote, a medieval moated manor house and gardens close to the village of Ightham, near Sevenoaks, is a feast for all the family. Pack a picnic and a few books and let the kids have a blast while you relax.

Ightham Mote, Mote Road, Ivy Hatch, Sevenoaks TN15 0NT. Phone: 01732 810378.

  1. Get hands-on with science in Cardiff

Techniquest is Wales’ leading science and discovery centre. Family-friendly, this place is a must if your children are excited by the scientific world. Techniquest has 160 interactive exhibits as well as a planetarium, science theatre and a discovery room, covering everything from fossils to forensic science.

Techniquest, Stuart Street, Cardiff, CF10 5BW. Phone: 029 2047 5475. Admission charges apply.

  1. A variety of things going on at Eden Project, Cornwall

The Eden Project in Cornwall is one of the best centres dedicated to the living world in, well, the world. Nestled in a ginormous crater, Eden is home to massive Biomes that house the UK’s only captive rainforest and an array of stunning plants. Then there are some amazing gardens and a range of family-friendly events, including:

  • Seasonal programmes over the summer holidays.
  • Rainforest canopy walks.
  • SkyWire zip wire experience.

Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall, PL24 2SG. Phone: (0)1726 811911. Admission charges apply. Get a discount if you book online.


  1. A day out in the park, London

Parks in London = spoilt for choice. For a city as modern and urban as London, it’s amazing how many parks, gardens and green squares there are. Go for even a short stroll and you’re bound to stumble across somewhere green.

Whether you choose one of the capital’s Royal Parks (there are 8 of them), head to the vast expanse that is Hampstead Heath, the rough-round-the-edges Victoria Park, Burgess Park in south east London or, hey, somewhere else entirely, you’ll be assured of a good time. As long as the weather’s on your side.

  1. Learn about arms at the Royal Armouries, Leeds

Take up arms (well, not literally) at Leeds’ fascinating Royal Armouries museum. Free and dedicated to arms and armour from around the world, the museum is home to more than 2,500 objects across 6 galleries, a play area, crossbow shooting gallery and, over summer, displays of jousting, falconry and horsemanship.

Highlights include Henry VIII’s armour!

Royal Armouries Museum, Armouries Drive, Leeds Dock, LS10 1LT. Phone: 0113 220 1999.

  1. Visit the V&A Museum of Childhood

One of the finest museums dedicated to children’s toys, games and costumes in the world, the Museum of Childhood, part of the V&A organisation, dates back to 1872 and has lots of free fun things to do for all ages, including exhibitions, displays and family-friendly activities. It’s bags of fun.

V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA.Nearest Tube: Bethnal Green.

  1. Spend a day in Morden Hall Park

The splendid Morden Hall Park, managed by the National Trust, sits on the banks of the River Wandle and is something of an oasis of calm in south London. With more than 50 acres of parkland and relaxing surroundings, it’s the perfect destination for a day out with the children. Family events (which have a small charge) include:

  • Little Explorers – for children aged 18 months to 5 years, this event is designed to help young children learn more about the world around them – from the weather to insects.
  • Crafty Thursdays – creative activity sessions designed for children aged 3 to 8.
  • Wild Wednesdays – embrace the great outdoors and wildlife at this session designed for children aged 5 to 11.

Morden Hall Park, Morden Hall Road, SM4 5JD. Phone: 020 8545 6850. Nearest tube: Morden.

  1. National Media Museum, Bradford

Dedicated to film, photography, television, popular culture, animation and new media, the National Media Museum in Bradford holds more than 3.5 million items across its 7 floors of free galleries, many of which feature interesting interactive exhibits. It also has 3 cinemas, including the UK’s first Imax screen. And it’s completely free to enter.

The National Media Museum, Little Horton Lane, BD1 1NQ. Phone: 0844 856 3797.

  1. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

The foremost museum dedicated to art in the Midlands. Birmingham Museum and Gallery, or BMag, is a treasure trove: built in Victorian times, it houses Renaissance paintings, Middle Eastern artefacts and Pre-Raphaelite art. This 120 year-old museum is a must-visit if you’re looking to teach your little ones about the history of art.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Chamberlain Square, B3 3DH. Phone: 0121 348 8032.

  1. Sheffield Botanical Gardens

Sheffield may be known as the steel city, but it’s also got plenty of green. Head along to Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens – 19 acres of free gardens in the middle of the city featuring 5,000 species of plant, as well as Grade II-listed glasshouses.

Sheffield Botanical Gardens, Clarkehouse Road, S10 2LN. Phone: 0114 268 6001.

So there we have it – our list of 15 of the best places to go with your little ones to make this summer as enjoyable and memorable as possible.

Of course, you may be heading somewhere completely different with the children this summer. Where are your favourite places to go with the kids? Let us know and we’ll add them to our list.

Have lots and lots of fun this summer.

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