High Five: 10 great family days out under £5
Parks, Gardens and an Outdoor Gallery
Glasgow Botanic Gardens is internationally renowned for its extensive tropical and temperate plant collections from around the world sited in impressive glass houses. The aim of the kid's area is to encourage interest in growing, cooking and eating healthy, natural food -which could save you money on dinners in the long run too! Inspire children's interest in plants and wider environmental and conservation issues too. Free.
The Wolseley Centre in Staffordshire has 26 acres of beautiful grounds to explore, much of which will specifically inspire children. The Play Trail includes a welly splash bridge, musical sculptures, rocks, logs and trees to climb on and a giant web swing. There are natural sculptures, a boardwalk, sensory and wildlife gardens and lots of pushchair friendly footpaths to explore. Free.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park welcomes families and aims to be as family-friendly as possible. Unlike traditional art galleries, this one is in the open air, children are free to run around and make the most of 500 acres of historic parkland. There are many hidden treasures to hunt for, and at YSP you can actually touch the sculptures. Parking 2 hours £5. Tout Quarry Sculpture Park on Portland, Dorset is also free.
On rainy days head into cities and make the most of free or donate to enter museums. Here are five completely different offerings to whet your appetite. Remember to look them up before you visit to make the most of the special holiday activities and workshops.
Manchester’s MOSI or Museum of Science and Industry is by donation. Discover Manchester’s journey through the industrial revolution era right through to the present day, all brought to life through interactive exhibitions, lively shows, daily demonstrations and passionate, engaging and informed staff.This was a hit with everyone from my young nephew, to my tweens, to my Dad.
York’s National Railway Museum is the world’s biggest railway museum, so it’s hard to believe it is completely free. From the world’s fastest steam locomotive to Japanese high-speed bullet trains, to Queen Victoria’s carriage and miniature railways, the museum is jam packed with 1,000,000 objects and 300 years of history. Watch turntable demonstrations or get hands on with a science show. Free.
The National Coal Mining Museum for England provides a great day out with a unique opportunity to travel 140 metres underground down one of Britain's oldest working mines. Booking this experience involves a donation of £3, but this can be refunded if you choose not to keep your traditional brass miner’s check. There is plenty that is completely free, including a new adventure playground, interactive exhibitions, touring the original colliery buildings, meeting the pit ponies and a nature trail. Train rides of the site are just £1 single. Entrance by donation.
The National Museum of Scotland has something to inspire everyone, from the age of dinosaurs to the technology of the future, the galleries contain treasures from around the world. The galleries span Natural Worlds, World Culture, Scottish History, Art Design and Fashion, Science and Technology. The Grand Gallery is one of Scotland’s most beautiful spaces, hosting all manner of inspiring objects from a huge 12-foot long South Pacific feast bowl to a 19th-century lighthouse lens. Free.
Find a Museum in your area!
Palaces and Stately Homes
Buckingham Palace changing of the guard. London doesn’t have to be expensive, the city is packed with free events, and one you can always rely on is the changing of the guard. Arrive at Buckingham Palace just before 11.30am to see the spectacular ceremony. Afterwards, wander through St James’ Park and spend your fiver on ice cream or deck chairs, from £1.60 an hour. Did you know that Pelicans have lived in St James’ Park for over 400 years? Their feeding time is 2:30 pm and 3:00 pm every day, next to Duck Island Cottage. Free.
Chatsworth, Derbyshire. Being on a budget doesn’t have to stop you from appreciating the UK’s favourite stately home, Chatsworth. It’s £4 to park and explore the grounds which are wonderfully wild and atmospheric. Take a walk in Stand Woods –the entrance is by the farmyard. If you follow the tarmac path and follow the small yellow signs that say HT, you’ll eventually come to the Hunting Tower which has a great view over Chatsworth and the park.
Do share your favourite free or cheap days out in the comments!