For many families across the country, the summer holidays have arrived and with it the perennial problem of what to do with the kids when the weather turns bad. The positive thing is that the beach is rarely a realistic option at this time of year anyway – unless you’re looking for a fresh (wet) walk.
So it’s worth checking out some of the country’s best indoor attractions. From discovering the tricks of the trade in the magical world of Harry Potter films to Britain’s only underground jump net experience in a disused Victorian slate mine in Snowdonia, there’s plenty to keep everyone entertained – and away from their tablets – without getting wet.
Historic Portsmouth Dockyard
Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, starring Nelson’s HMS Victory and the wreck of the Mary Rose, is a must for the kids this term. You can also discover the worlds beneath the waves and learn about the Royal Navy’s exploration of the oceans, or explore the excavation of the Mary Rose with Dive the Mary Rose 4D.
How to do that: Tickets from €24 (children) and €34 (adults). Portsmouth Historic Dockyard (023 9283 9766, historicdockyard.co.uk). Double rooms at the Portsmouth Village Hotel cost from £73pn. Read our review here.
The Warner Bros studio
The Warner Bros Studio reveals some of the filmmaking deceit behind the magic and stunts of the Harry Potter films. Visitors will be able to witness some of their favorite scenes brought to life, including the disappearing effect of the invisibility cloak, the infamous fireplace letters scene and how Mrs. Weasley presented an origami howler to her son in The Chamber of Secrets.
How to do that: Tickets for Warner Bros Studio London (wbstudiotour.co.uk) cost from £53.50 for adults; £43 child; children under four years old free; must be reserved in advance. Double rooms at Number One Port Hill cost from £130pn. Read our review here.
Deep underground in a disused Victorian slate mine, Britain’s only underground jumping net experience is the perfect rainy day solution for anyone over the age of seven. Unleash your inner thrill-seeker in this massive underground adventure park, as you jump and slide through six layers of jumping nets, chambers, tunnels and slides.
How to do that: Tickets (zipworld.co.uk) from £25 adults; £20 child. Rooms in Plas Dinas start at £128pn. Read our review here.
Camera Obscura and world of illusions
Camera Obscura & World of Illusions is the Scottish capital’s oldest purpose-built visitor attraction and a magical family-friendly option, rain or shine. There are five floors of more than 100 interactive, hands-on exhibits, including various optical illusions, a mirror maze and a vortex tunnel. From the roof terrace, visitors can enjoy 360 degree views of Edinburgh.
How to do that: Tickets (camera-obscura.co.uk) cost £22.95 for adults; £17.95 child; under five years free. Double rooms at the Rutland Hotel (therutlandhotel.com) cost from £140pn. Read our review here.
With snow all year round, this indoor snow center is home to Britain’s longest ski slope, just outside Manchester. Advanced skiers can learn new tricks, while beginners can perfect their snow plowing. Obstacles include rails, boxes and a jump.
How to do that: Tickets (chillfactore.com). An eight-hour ski pass costs from £54 pp and a two-hour group ski lesson from £68 pp. Opening hours 9am – 10pm. Double rooms in Native Manchester start at £109pn. Read our review here.
Natural history museum
If your kids are Jurassic fanatics or would like to see a life-size blue whale, the Natural History Museum is home to an array of wonders, from complete dinosaur skeletons to meteorite displays. The biannual activities in February include lectures, tours, events and workshops in the Family Discovery Zone.
How to do that: Free entry (nhm.ac.uk). Double rooms at Hotel Indigo London – Kensington start at £132pn. Read our review here.
Immersive game box
Liverpool, Yorkshire, Manchester, Essex and London
Immersive Gamebox is an interactive indoor digital gaming experience designed for families. The games combine projection mapping, touchscreen, motion capture and surround sound and include adventures with aliens and the super exciting Squid Game. Game boxes can accommodate two to six players at a time, with combined rooms for larger parties.
How to do that: Tickets (immersivegamebox.com). General admission (12+) from £26. Juniors (five-11) from £16.
The National Botanical Garden of Wales
The National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire offers nature activities including daily wildlife safari walks, bird feeding workshops and owl pellet dissection. They know it rains in Wales, so many activities take place undercover at the Theatr Botanica. Children can also discover incredible tropical plants in the largest greenhouse in the world and visit the British Bird of Prey Center for up-close encounters.
How to do that: Tickets for the Botanic Garden of Wales (botanicgarden.wales) cost from £19 for adults; £10 child; under two years free. Double rooms at the Mansion House, Llansteffan (mansionhousellansteffan.co.uk) cost from £203pn. Read our review here.
Tourist guides with blue badge
Blue Badge Tourist Guide, Sarah Ciacci, regularly works with families and children and tailors her signature art and history tours accordingly. Locations include the National Gallery, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, National Portrait Gallery and Street Art Tours of the East End. Sarah enjoys the challenge of working with young people to bring history, art or historic buildings to life
How to do that: Questions for Sarah Ciacci (sarahciacci.com/student-family-tours-london). Rooms at the child-friendly Ampersand Hotel start at £247pn. Read our review here.