Let's get active! The sporty family day out bucket list
It’s great to get active with your kids, and there’s a wealth of fun sporty activities available, wherever you are in the UK. Get a jump on fun with these sporty family outings and advice on how to find the closest activity to you.
Skiing and snowboarding
You don’t have to go to the Alps to learn how to ski - there are dozens of ski slopes right here in the UK. You can find natural ski areas in Scotland and the far North of England. There is also a range of real snow centres and dry slopes across the country, from the 200-metre long Snow Factor in Glasgow to the 100-metre wide Chill Factore in Manchester to the London-adjacent Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead. Children can learn to ski as soon as they can tolerate putting on the gear.
Ice skating is a fun activity to try as a family even if your triple lutz is a work in progress. Kids often find it easier than adults (maybe because their centre of gravity is lower?). If you don’t live near a permanent ice rink, look out for the temporary ice rinks which pop up all over the place during the winter months. We go to a different one each year - my favourite so far is the one at the Tower of London.
Completing a high ropes course together is a great family challenge. Aerial Extreme have 5 locations from North Yorkshire to Milton Keynes, with friendly staff who can encourage even the most tentative novice. The Go Ape network offers treetop adventures in 30 parks and forests across the UK, including in some cities - you have to be at least one metre tall to take part. It’s a good idea to wear gloves to protect your hands when you’re on the ropes.
You can visit many of the UK’s top sport stadiums for behind-the-scenes tours of the facilities. I found the Wembley Stadium Tour fascinating, even though I’m not a football fan, and my son was thrilled to go on the Arsenal Emirates Stadium Tour. You can book tours of Lord’s cricket ground, Twickenham stadium and a host of other major sporting venues.
Hit the waves for paddling, balancing and generally splashing around – there are great water sports centres dotted around the country. For those near Nottingham, the National Water Sports Centre is an excellent place to try out a range of exciting water sports. The centre has some of the best water sports facilities in the country and offers activities such as white water rafting and tubing, wakeboarding, canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddle-boarding, sailing and power boating.
These are fun places to get children active and outside. You’ll often find an adventure playground at attractions such as stately homes, and there are free playgrounds in many local parks. One of our favourites is at Hever Castle and Gardens, which also has a water maze, a yew maze and a boating lake.
If your kids are at least 10 years old, how about a family climbing adventure to the top of the O2? Up at the O2 offer a 90-minute climbing experience across a walkway that is suspended two metres above the roof of the iconic building. I really enjoyed it when we went - although it was chilly at the top, and I was glad of my hat and gloves.
Spread your wings with indoor skydiving – it’s fun and easier than it sounds. I’ve done it with my daughter and loved it. My instructor told me to lie on my front like a banana, relax, and remember to breathe - I did just that, and I flew. I loved the feeling of weightlessness and was sorry when my turn was over. Children from four years old can try indoor skydiving with Airkix Indoor Skydiving Manchester, Basingstoke and Airkix Indoor Skydiving Milton Keynes.
Trampoline parks are springing up all over the place, and are ideal for energetic kids on rainy days. I went to Airhop Trampoline Park in Guildford with my son and nephew, and they loved it, especially the ball pool which you jump into from a trampoline. The minimum age to bounce at Airhop is five, but check with your local trampoline park for specifics.
How many of these exciting day out ideas can you tick off?