As a mum of three, I visit a LOT of places across in and around my home county of Buckinghamshire so our family days out have got to be either cheap or great value. I’m going to share my ten favourite places to visit and why they make fantastic, cheap, family days out.
Guest post by: Vicky Harlock Free Time with the Kids
10 – Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
Based near Aylesbury the Buckinghamshire Railway centre is more than just a railway museum. They have different types of open days including steam days (where you can take unlimited rides on their steam trains). Static days (where you can look around the trains and the museum) and event days such as the ever-popular Day out with Thomas. If you live within 8 miles of Quainton or in Bicester then you can get discounted annual membership too!
9 – The Horses Trust, Speen
Entry to Speen horses Trust is just £5 per car which makes it great value, particularly if you have a bigger car full of kids. It isn’t a massive site and the opening hours are quite restricted to protect the animals, but it’s fascinating to meet some real characters and hear their stories. There’s also a nice little tea room once you’ve finished looking around.
8 – Chiltern Open Air Museum
The Chiltern Open Air Museum gets recommended to me time and time again. I love places like this! They’ve taken historic buildings and reassembled them on site. They have lots of re-enactments and activities going on, particularly during the school holidays. The season pass offers good value for money – you only need to visit three times in the year to break even and, with everything they have to offer, you’ll certainly be able to do that.
7 – Milton Keynes Museum
Milton Keynes Museum is another quirky local museum that has loads to offer. Because it’s dedicated to the history of Milton Keynes and the surrounding area it covers a wide range of subjects and histories. There are loads of hands-on exhibits.
You can have lessons in the Victoria school room, visit their re-created high street, sit in an Anderson shelter, go into a Romany caravan or phone a Chameleon! It’s currently undergoing a massive expansion project and so has an exciting future ahead. Tickets are reasonably priced and valid for a full 12 months so it’s great value for money.
6 – Black Park Country Park
You might recognise the Black Park Country park as the Forbidden Forest in the Harry Potter films but there’s much more to Black Park than “just” the woodland. They’ve also got great facilities such as Nets adventure, Segway, and tree top challenges by Go Ape, they have an amazing adventure playground area, fishing and lovely lakeside walks. Parking is reasonably priced and entry is free.
5 – Green Dragon Eco Farm
There are some open farms that are really cheap but don’t have much in the way of facilities. There are others that have incredible, non-animal, related facilities but they are very expensive. Green Dragon is a happy medium. The tickets are reasonably priced but it also has a decent soft-play area, a messy play area, outdoor playground and more. Their new wildlife section is fascinating and their staff are incredibly passionate. On top of all this they actually have a good number, and range of animals. It’s definitely my favourite open farm.
4 – Wendover Woods
Wendover Woods is our local woodland and we love it here. Whilst I was putting the kids to bed just now I asked them what their favourite thing to do is and middle child told me going to Wendover Woods!! They’ve nearly completely a MASSIVE investment and total overhaul of the facilities. Yes, the parking is now more expensive but, even on busy days, you can actually park which was a problem before. There is now an incredible play trail as well which is a real highlight. Check out my video of the play trail here.
3 – HellFire Caves, West Wycombe Park and Village
West Wycombe offers you a triple whammy of things to do, all steeped in history. The village church and mausoleum hold a commanding position on top of a massive hill and have a brilliant history. The village itself is owned by the National Trust and is really beautiful to wander around. Then there’s the Hell Fire Caves. This network of underground passages and caves were one home to the infamous Hell Fire Club and all their secretive activities. In addition there’s the beautiful West Wycombe Park and House, which are now owned by the National Trust and have stunning gardens to explore.
2 – Cliveden
I love Cliveden so much and our family has spent many very happy days here. Like many of the places on this list, it’s the variety of things to do that makes it such a great family day out. You’ve got a water garden with a beautiful pond, maze and a brilliant playground area. There are numerous gardens, Thames-side walks, woodland walks and the parterre offers some breathtaking views. The house itself is now an exclusive hotel. Fun Fact; Meghan Markle stayed here the night before her wedding. Have a look at lots of photos on the website.
1 – Bletchley Park
Bletchley Park gets first place 1) because of its importance in the modern world and 2) it’s great value; tickets are valid for a full year and locals discounts are available. Why is it so important to the modern world? This is the home of the Alan Turin, WWII codebreakers and the birthplace of modern IT. It’s no exaggeration to say that without the work of these incredible men and women many more thousands of people would have died. That might seem a bit heavy going, but the way they present the work that was done is brilliant and engaging for children of all ages. If you’ve very lucky you might even get to see the bombe in operation. There are regular events, a secret mission pack for children and under 12s get in for FREE. That means for £38 (if your kids are under 12) you can all visit as many times as you like for an entire year.
Please check out Vicky Harlock’s website Free Time with the Kids
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