Anglo Adventures: Our favourite places to visit in England
We’ve been thinking about places to visit in England a lot recently. Maybe it’s the warmer weather or the fact that the summer holidays are almost on the horizon, but we fancy taking a road trip to see something new. What about you? Great! Bring the whole family along for the ride, just don’t forget the snacks and a few spare pairs of pants.
Perhaps the best way to explore your own city, or indeed country, is by taking a tourist eye view. People often don't think to explore the amazing things that are right on their doorstep, and there are more than a few fantastic things to do in England which are ready and raring to go.
We want to rediscover those places that tourists love, and we’re not just talking cups of tea and Mary Poppins (although we’re not saying no to a cuppa if you’re offering). From Stonehenge to Harry Potter, let’s step off our doorstep and go on an adventure!
LiverpoolFor anyone outside of England, the name Liverpool is synonymous with The Beatles. They are obviously a big part of the experience with a special exhibition all about the famous four - there’s even an airport dedicated to John Lennon - but there’s loads more on this harbour town’s CV which you can begin exploring with our what’s on in Liverpool post. In fact, the city has more listed buildings than any other outside of London (keep an eye out for the famous Liver bird) and is simply stuffed with intriguing museums.
Both the World Museum and Tate Liverpool are very family friendly and could fill an entire day with interactive activities. Follow them up by heading out of town to Another Place… and that’s not just us being coy! Antony Gormley’s ‘Men on the Beach’ are on display at Crosby Beach aka Another Place and at low tide, you can get nose to nose with these weatherworn figures and take plenty of funny pictures. You could also play in the sand dunes, enjoy an ice cream or, if you’re feeling brave, dip in the sea.
BathBath has pretty much always been home to cleanly folk, beginning 2,000 years ago in Roman times when the magnificent Roman Baths were built - hence the name, Bath! People would travel from far and wide for a social scrub, something which continued right up to and beyond 1801 when Jane Austen moved to town and Bath was a thriving spa resort for fashionable society. Today you can see this rich history all around you, from the honey-coloured townhouses to the famous Royal Crescent. 500 of the local buildings are considered to be of historical or architectural importance, so much so, that the entire city has been granted World Heritage status. Basically, you can see why we chose it as one of the best places to visit in England.
The sights won’t see themselves, so get started on The Bath Spy Mission Treasure Trail so you can really get a sense of the city. To soak up all the history, there are a number of lovely museums but we’d recommend the Jane Austen Centre for literature lovers in the making, and the Roman Baths themselves are a brilliant day out with kids. As the icing on the cake, explore the glorious countryside at either Bath City Farm or Avon Valley Adventure Wildlife Park. Both offer fabulous views of the Mendip Hills with added animal antics.
Harry Potter!Now we know Harry Potter is a person rather than a place, but hey! With magic on our side, we can stretch the rules a little. London has become the home of Harry with multiple attractions catering to devotees of the wizarding world. Get your robes on and grab your wand for a day of witchcraft on one of several tours; the bus trip takes you to special spots like the Leaky Cauldron while on the walking tour, travel under the very bridge which was destroyed by Death Eaters!
Superfans can get properly stuck in on the Warner Bros Studio Tour with a massive array of costumes, sets and props. You can walk the cobbled streets of Diagon Alley, glug a mug of butterbeer or see if you can make it through the wall at Platform 9 and ¾. For an extra dash of magic, prepare a potion at home before your trip or take a look at our guide to Harry Potter hotspots all over the nation.
Sussex CoastOh we do love to be beside the seaside, and where better to do so than in one of the most beautiful places in England? We are of course referring to the Sussex Coast (both East and West) which has long been a rural retreat for city dwellers and indeed Jane Austen characters - another namecheck for the author. The South Downs are sometimes thought of as the lungs of south-east England which, with the sea breeze coming in over the chalky hills, makes sense. Your gang can get a lung-full on a trip to the shore, in particular, West Wittering Beach which is truly lovely and perfect for paddling in the shallows or building sandcastles. Slightly older kids might also enjoy a trip into the hills, specifically the Seven Sisters walk over the headland which you can reach from the Birling Gap.
Slightly less fresh but seriously fun, Brighton Pier is a day out packed with seaside fare like arcade games, ice cream and pebble counting on the shore. While in Brighton you’ll also have to dip into the Royal Pavilion which is a glorious Regency period palace with lots of gaming inside for new learners. Then just a hop, skip and a splash down the coast, Eastbourne is a sleepy seaside town with a mini train ride along the shore. Choo choo!
NorfolkForget Alan Partridge; Norfolk is a gorgeous rural region with stately homes, rolling countryside and fenlands filled with wildlife. It also gets the least rain of any holiday destination in the whole of the UK which makes it a winner when looking for places to visit in England. Classic outings include a visit to the Royal Family's country retreat at Sandringham or climbing the 62 steps of Norwich Castle. Holkham Hall is also an impressive sight, especially because it has a wild woodland play area to spend a few hours in.
A huge draw for Norfolk is that it’s sat right on the coast and welcomes loads of lovely seals every year. Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary would be a great place to see them as it’s Norfolk’s only seal sanctuary that’s open to the public, as well as housing turtles, sharks and more. Not only is Norfolk home to all sorts of sea creatures, but dinosaurs too! Jurassic Journey is a fantastic museum all about our prehistoric pals with more claws and roars than you could shake a scaly tail at. You can even get wrist-deep in dino poo which is the best incentive for going on holiday we’ve heard in a while.
SalisburyA fair few of our places to visit in England are of historic significance, and you don’t get much more historic than Stonehenge! Sitting just shy of 10 miles outside of Salisbury, Stonehenge is a monument to the past and is thought to be around 5,000 years old; it’s also one of the planet’s oldest World Heritage Sites. For this reason, people flock in droves to see the ancient stones and fantastic visitors’ centre, as well as touring the medieval city of Salisbury nearby.
You could explore one of the country’s oldest cathedrals which houses an original Magna Carta or simply explore the streets on The Salisbury Mystery Treasure Trail. Had enough of history? Cuddle up to some critters at River Bourne Community Farm. As well as goats, donkeys and other traditional farmyard animals, there are two hives where kids can learn all about the hustle and bustle of honey bees.
ChesterYou might not expect to see the city of Chester on this list, but it’s a hub of history and culture, as well as being just over the water from another of our top picks: Liverpool. Follow the ancient Roman walls which surround the city and as you spy the medieval fortifications that were put in place hundreds of years ago, imagine your gang as courageous warriors defending the keep. Sticks will serve just as well as swords, or you could visit the Dewa Roman Experience for the real deal.
Chester has actually got a long list of old-timey locations like the largest Roman Amphitheatre in Britain, one of the oldest racecourses and a 1,000-year-old Cathedral, all of which can be seen aboard a City Sightseeing Chester Hop On Hop Off Tour. You could also bring things bang up to date at Chester Zoo which is one of our all-time favourite attractions with over 15,000 endangered and exotic creatures to meet. Also remember that Chester was officially recognised as the best disabled access city in Europe in 2017, making it an inclusive day out for all families.
The Lake DistrictIntroducing the great outdoors! Of all the places to go in England, The Lake District is often considered to be the most glorious. Romantic poets, Wordsworth and Coleridge certainly thought so and found their inspiration marching over the hills and in drinking in those incredible views. Where do you think, ‘I wander’d lonely as a cloud’ comes from? Equally kids’ favourite, Beatrix Potter, discovered her love of flora and fauna here, something which you can see in many of her beloved books. The Lake District covers 900 sq. miles and has 12 of the country’s largest lakes, all of which might inspire your kids to get creative and put pen to paper...
This National Park is full of lovely walks so you can take your pick. Grizedale Forest is great for families and has loads of hiking and cycling trails; why walk though when you can climb? Both Treetop Nets and Treetop Trek Windermere are aerial escapes which will fling you up into the canopy on a swinging, scrambling adventure. Then after taking to the trees, why not journey across the water aboard one of the Windermere Lake Cruises. It’s simply the best way to travel.
Cambridge & OxfordWe thought we’d try a ‘buy one, get one free’ deal here for the historic university towns of Cambridge and Oxford. These are two quintessentially English cities and if we’re taking that tourist view, are a must when it comes to things to do in England - plus they’re under 80 miles apart. The two Universities have often topped the charts when it comes to the best academic establishments across the globe, so much so a centuries’ old rivalry has grown between the two. It’s all in good fun though and is celebrated with the annual Boat Race where the two cities battle it out with a spot of frenzied rowing. See where either side practices by touring the towns on water with the Cambridge Punt Company or Oxford River Cruises. Fingers crossed for a sunny day!
Both cities are very pretty with loads of ancient buildings, particularly the University colleges. If you fancy a dose of education, join one of Cambridge’s Oxbridge Tours or stop off at The Ashmolean or the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Then as an extra treat, and in keeping with the local literary tradition, one of our favourite attractions lives in Oxford too: The Story Museum. Dress up, get crafty and feed a love of tall tales.
Stratford-upon-AvonWe couldn’t complete this list without paying homage to one of the most famous English folk: William Shakespeare. His influence is writ large all over the world but nowhere more so than in Stratford-upon-Avon. It was his hometown after all and there are plenty of fantastic attractions which explore his life and legacy. With that in mind, it makes sense to get started at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust where you can step inside the house where the Bard was born. It’s also home to a working Tudor farm so your brood can meet a mix of rare animals and have a crack at working as farmhands.
Next, step into the second chapter of Bill’s history by seeing where he went to school at Shakespeare's Schoolroom & Guildhall, and realise what life was like for Elizabethan kids. A cast of actors will immerse you in the reality although, thankfully, the cane is kept out of proceedings! Finally, wrap things up with a journey behind the curtain at the Royal Shakespeare Company. We’ve written a blog which picks out all the best days out for serious Shakespeare fans, or indeed little luvvies who want to get to grips with life on the stage. And if you can travel down to London to Shakespeare’s Globe Exhibition and Tour for the full experience.
There you have it; that’s our guide to the best and most beautiful places to visit in England. We hope it encapsulates everything you love about this country and reveals a few hidden gems. While you’re at it, why not broaden your horizons with our guide to the best locations to visit across the UK? With both on your side, you’ll never have to leave the British Isles again on the hunt for fun.