Six stupendous Car-free trips with kidsaround the UK
Enjoy our selection of car-free trips with kids. Steam through Snowdonia on a scenic family adventure, explore the world of writer Roald Dahl, or visit zoos and wildlife parks around the UK. Learn how chocolate is made or how to write great stories: just a few suggestions for family-friendly outings that are far more rewarding without a car.
1. Welsh Highland Railway and Caernarfon Castle
The first of our car-free trips with kids is The Welsh Highland Railway, the UK’s longest steam railway. Their historic trains run coast to coast, through spectacular Snowdonian scenery: castles, woods, beaches, mountains, and rivers. Kick off in ancient Caernarfon and travel 25 miles to boat-fringed Porthmadog past breath-taking views. The Aberglaslyn Pass near Beddgelert was recently voted the best view in Britain by National Trust members. The railway’s full route offers a complete day out and there’s time to explore bustling Porthmadog’s slate mining heritage at the far end, and there’s plenty to do along the way.
- How to get to the Welsh Highland Railway car-free: Take the train to Bangor (there are trains from Chester, about an hour away). And then bus 5C from outside the station every 20 minutes to Caernarfon. Or follow Good Journey’s directions to Porthmadog at the other end of the line.
- Right next to Caernarfon’s steam railway station is massive Caernarfon Castle. A World Heritage site with polygonal towers and bands of coloured stone, it is open daily for most of the year.
- For a family-friendly woodland walk, get off the train at Rhyd Ddu station and take the Lôn Gwyrfai path. It’s five adventurous miles to Beddgelert for lunch at Hebog café or a cornet from Beddgelert’s ice cream parlour: 24 flavours of homemade ice cream and sorbet, from butterscotch and pecan to raspberry pavlova.
- For rainy days with little ones, the Fun Centre in Caernarfon is a giant play area inside a large church, about 15 minutes’ walk from the railway. It features high drop slides, ball pools, tumble towers, spinning steps and more.
2. The Roald Dahl Museum,
The Roald Dahl Museum is full of hands-on fun for five to twelve year olds – and right next to Great Missenden railway station! So the family adventure could start with a train trip through the Chilterns. It takes 40 minutes from London Marylebone and you can look out of the window at the wooded hills that helped inspire Roald Dahl’s writing. Our feature writer wrote about this and other adventures in the Chilterns in the Guardian.
- Inside the museum, three galleries illustrate the writer’s life and work. There are interactive touch screens, chocolate-smelling doors, a Gladiator cockpit, a “Sparkometer” (to test your sparkiness, of course) and much more besides.
- Discover Dahl’s country childhood, his trip to Africa and real-life adventures. Sit in a replica of his writing chair or see the small hut where he created such memorable stories for children.
- The museum gives kids scope to get creative too, with displays designed to inspire storytelling and writing. You can make a stop-frame animation or invent nonsense words; in George’s Crafty Kitchen, there are all kinds of drop-in activities, from colouring to trickster trails.
- How to get to the Roald Dahl museum car-free: follow Good Journey’s directions and get 2 for 1 entry!
3. Cadbury World
Freddo the frog and the Caramel bunny are among your guides on the Cadbury World’s 4D cinema experience. With moving seats and sound effects, this is one realistic virtual ride: climbing and plummeting on the Crunchie rollercoaster, diving into a bowl of chocolate milk and flying in a creme egg airship.
- At Cadbury World in Bournville village, you can also learn about how chocolate is made, go back in time to meet businessman John Cadbury, who began the business selling tea from a Birmingham shop in 1824.
- A new exhibition showcases a collection of traditional chocolate boxes, adverts and souvenirs. See vintage Cadbury mugs and milk bottles, jigsaws, and drinking chocolate tins.
- How to get to Cadbury World, car-free: follow Good Journey’s directions to get 30% off when you arrive by train or bus.