Car-free adventures toPlaces kids will lovearound the UK

Children of all ages will enjoy the range of things to do at these very varied places: gardens and cottages, caverns and wildlife parks, museums with a story to tell and fairytale manor houses. Many of them have regular activities for kids like discovery trails or craft workshops. You can learn about animal poo or how to build a bird box, find out what's under the earth or ride a cable car up in the air.

  • County: around the UK
  • Great for: cafes | family fun | museums | parks and gardens |
  • Refreshments: lots of fabulous cafes and restaurants
  • Please note: researched/updated in November 2023. If anything’s changed or you have more tips to share, do get in touch:
  1. Wordsworth Grasmere, Cumbria

    The unspoilt landscape around Wordsworth Grasmere is part of what makes this poet’s corner so appealing so riding to it on the bus feels particularly appropriate. The complex of museums and gardens near the cottage where William Wordsworth lived with his sister Dorothy, in the beautiful Lake District, hosts year-round events for kids of all ages.

    • There are playful Little Wanderers sessions for under-fives with songs, games and stories on a theme connected to the Wordsworths’ writing and their lifestyle at Dove Cottage. There are fortnightly poetry groups for 11 to 14-year-olds and local 14 to 21-year-olds.
    • How do we get there? Follow the Good Journey directions and get 20% off when you arrive by bus. There are breath-taking views from the bus, which is often an open-topper, as you travel from Windermere past lakes and grassy hills.
    • What can we do when we’re peckish? Wordsworth Grasmere has a great new café, which is open to everyone.
    • For more car-free adventures in the Windermere area, see our car-free guide. There are boat trips and bike rides, wild walks and entertaining museums all waiting to be explored.
  1. Holkham, Norfolk

    Near the wide, pine-fringed sands of the Norfolk coast, Holkham is a centre for sustainability and nature. In the grounds around the hall are a lake, walled garden and herd of deer. Regular extra activities often focus on bird-watching and family fun outdoors like a nature trail around the lake, bird-themed art sessions or bird-box-building workshops.

    • How do we get there? Follow Good Journey’s directions and get 30% off when you arrive car-free.
    • What can we do when we’re peckish? There is a choice of places to eat and drink, including the courtyard café and the Victoria inn. The new Lookout café is at the end of Lady Anne’s Drive near the wild dunes and long, lovely sands of Holkham beach.
    • Find more in our guides to Norfolk, the Coast Path and Christmas.
  1. South London Botanic Institute

    With themed borders, carnivorous plants and a frog-filled pond, the South London Botanic Institute is a green oasis full of variety. There are medicinal plants like valerian, skullcap and fragrant meadowsweet. There are plants from the other side of the world, including spectacular pineapple flowers and evergreen saw-toothed azara with vanilla-scented yellow flowers. There’s even a moss trail, featuring twelve different types of moss.

    • How do we get there? Follow Good Journey’s directions.
    • What do we do when we’re peckish? There are pubs and cafes between the garden and Tulse Hill railway station and more of them in the other direction near Brockwell Park. Cafe Lulu serves up homemade cakes and sarnies, salads and fresh pastries.
  1. Wildwood, Kent

    At Wildwood Kent there’s a cool adventure play park with Kent’s tallest vertical drop slide. There’s also zip wire, a wilderness fort, a twisty slide, some pine marten towers and a special area for children under 5. And – best of all – there are more than forty acres of ancient woodland to explore with dozens of native wild animals: wolves and badgers, elks, otters and cranes, creatures of all sizes from dormice to bison.

    • Erik the Green, Wildwood’s very own Viking, runs bushcraft sessions and the onsite experts can share fascinating facts about the animal in their care.
    • How do we get there? Follow Good Journey’s directions.
  1. Shepreth Wildlife Park, Cambridgeshire

    Just steps away from the railway station, Shepreth Wildlife Park is full of curious creatures from aardvarks to wildcats. There are cute red pandas and ring-tailed lemurs, huge hairy tarantulas and crested porcupines. 2022 sees regular events to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Shepreth Wildlife conservation charity and hedgehog hospital.

  1. Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire

    There’s always plenty for kids to do at Waddesdon House and Garden like the winding woodland playground, sensory trail, and acres of grounds to explore, including an aviary full of exotic birds.