Explore the UK this Autumn with these amazing family days out

Friday October 6, 2017

With October half term fast approaching, you might be wondering how you’re going to keep your little ones busy for a whole week. After all, it feels like they only just went back to school.  And let’s not even mention the weather – surely we can’t be the only ones who have the heating back on already! Luckily the team here at CrossCountry has some excellent days out in their sights, and are ready to share. Let’s get excited about the Autumn break!

Get into the Halloween mood:

With October half term falling towards the end of the month, many of the activities available have a spooky bent! We’ve picked a couple of our favourites from across the UK.

National Space Centre, Leicester

The National Space Centre offers a great day out for families year-round, with plenty of interactive exhibits and fun activities to try out daily. Whether you’ve got a budding scientist at home, or someone who needs a little more convincing, there’s something for everyone. See the impressive space tower for yourself, learn about the stars in the state of the art planetarium, and or become a trainee astronauts at the Tranquillity Base.

Over the October half term, there are additional Halloween-themed activities. Little ones can make their own ghoulish slime or a gothic stained-glass rocket. There are even special science classes on magical subjects like potions, astrology and divination!

Royal Armouries, Leeds

Only a short distance from the city centre, The Royal Armouries in Leeds are a veritable treasure trove of fascinating historical artefacts, including weapons from across the world designed for hunting, self-defence and ceremonial purposes. There’s a display of swords designed for the Lord of the Rings movies and a crossbow shooting range where older children can practice their aim.

The Royal Armouries are celebrating half term with an exciting program of events including a Halloween party, falconry displays, and horse shows. If you’re feeling brave, you can take part yourself and handle the amazing birds of prey!

St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff

At St Fagans, you and your family can explore the history of Wales to learn how and why it became a country in its own right. It makes the perfect day trip as there’s so much to see and do on the grounds. New exhibitions are opening this Autumn, specially designed with children in mind. There’s even going to be a bespoke play area with links to the displays.

During the October half term, the museum is running special Ghost walks aimed at young people aged 12+ – the perfect way to get teens interested in history. As with everything the museum does, the walks are sure to be well-researched and presented with a uniquely Welsh slant.

Get outdoors:

Just because there’s a chill in the air doesn’t mean you can’t spend the day outside with your family. Wrap up warm and enjoy the falling leaves and shiny conkers of the great British outdoors.

Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, Ely

The Wicken Fen Nature Reserve just outside of Ely is a unique habitat waiting to be explored. Autumn is a great time to explore the Cambridgeshire fens by foot, and discover the amazing wildlife who call the nature reserve their home. There is a range of downloadable walks available, so you can choose how far you want to go and what you want to see. You might choose to go geocaching using a smart phone, or borrow a GPS device from the visitor centre. There are 12 geocaches to find and each contains a log book and an activity!

There are a couple of activities planned for during the half term week, including Autumn Adventure – a day of games, crafts and outdoor fun for children ages 3-10. For older children aged 8+, there’s a Nature Survival Skills day, where you can learn basic survival skills such as building a shelter, lighting a fire and more.

New Forest, Southampton

Autumn is the perfect time to visit the New Forest; the leaves on the trees turn fiery shades of red, orange and ochre, and the bounties of the forest come into full fruition. Whether you choose to explore by foot or by bike, there’s plenty to see. Even if the weather isn’t as good as you might have hoped, you’re still sure to have a good time. Choose to go on a day trip, or pack your bags for a longer stay; with so much to explore, you could enjoy your whole week here.

The New Forest Walking festival coincides with the October half term this year, running from the 14th to the 29th of October. There are 73 guided walks of all abilities to choose from, and those arriving by train get discounted or even free tickets. Choose between themed walks such as “Fascinating Fungi”, “Food in the Wood” or “Navigation Skills for Beginners”.

Stay warm:

If you’d rather stay indoors, there are plenty of fun activities available that don’t involve braving the elements.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

Budding thespians will enjoy a day trip to visit the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, home to the world famous Royal Shakespeare Company.  There’s plenty to see and do in Stratford-upon-Avon, the bard’s birthplace. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre contains a fascinating permanent exhibition that is being revamped in time for the October half term with new exhibits.  You will be able to try on some of the costumes Royal Shakespeare Company actors have used in virtual reality and play Hamlet alongside Ewart James Walters, thanks to a state-of-the-art gaming platform!

During the half term week, there are extra activities on offer including a crafts day, and acting workshops. There’s also an amazing opportunity to learn about how bruises, cuts and scars are created for the stage.

National Aquarium, Plymouth

You won’t even notice you’re not outdoors as you enjoy exploring the National Aquarium in Plymouth. There’s plenty to see and do for the whole family, and children will love the wide variety of colouring pages, facts pages, and activity sheets available. The aquarium is home to friendly characters including Friday the Turtle, Cornelia the grumpiest Stone Bass, and Miss Squishy the giant Pacific Octopus.

For those lucky enough to be visiting during October half term, there will be extra activities available as part of the Arts week, specially designed to entertain families during their holiday. A whole range of water-themed arts and crafts activities are planned designed for children aged 3+.


If you’ve been inspired to go on a day out this October half term, check out our journey planner to help you plan a fantastic adventure with your family.

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