Free places to go in the school summer holidays

Many towns have free experiences, museums and art galleries that include interactive areas for kids. I’ve done some digging and here are some that I have found around the country for you to enjoy in your summer holidays. Please suggest more in the comments.


Start with the Ulster Museum, a Northern Irish museum that is home to a large collection of art, history and natural sciences. From Ireland to the South Pacific, ancient relics to hands on activities, the museum offers something for everyone.  There are even dinosaurs and an Egyptian Mummy.

Now onto the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, where you can discover cottages, farms, schools and shops set in parkland. Costumed guides demonstrate traditional crafts. There are also steam locomotives or you can experience the sensation of flight in the Transport Museum. There is a vehicle for everyone, from horse drawn carriages, electric trams, motorbikes, fire-engines and vintage cars.

In the Ulster American Folk Park, examine the history of Irish emigration. You can follow the emigrant trail from the thatched cottages of Ulster, to the ships leading to the wild west.

Last but not least, the Armagh County Museum is the oldest county museum in Ireland and is set in the beautiful Georgian tree lined Mall. Its collections capture centuries of stories relating to the people who lived, worked and had connections with this famous city and historic county.


Head to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, a vibrant museum in the heart of the city with over 40 galleries displaying world-class collections of art, social history, archaeology and ethnography.

Or fancy a bit of broadcasting, then check out the home of famous BBC shows such as The Archers and Midlands Today, as well as BBC WM and the Asian Network. Take a look around BBC Birmingham, visit the Public Space area which is open every day.

When visiting the interactive area, you can try your hand at reading and recording a news item or weather report; see presenters in action and look out for Midlands Today presenters as they prepare for the latest local news bulletin.

There really is plenty to do, you can even have your photo taken with the Doctor Who Tardis and a Dalek.


imagesAt Blaise Castle Estate there is a museum, secure play ground, with slides, swings, a roundabout, large sand pit with slide and boat, baby swings and more. An adjacent adventure playground is more suitable for older children. Venture on a woodland trail with great views over the gorge.  On the 13 August 2014, there is a special guided tour of Blaise Castle House Museum with a chance to see parts of the house not usually open to the public, such as the library and the dairy.


Set in 100 acres of parkland, Cardiff has is one of Europe’s largest open-air museums. Over 40 buildings have been transported and rebuilt here to recreate 500 years of Welsh history. You’ll be able to experience welsh life in the 18th century. 

Be prepared for lots of walking, as there the place is big and there is plenty to see. It really seems like excellent value for money. Just pay for car parking at £3.50 and the whole family can enjoy this Welsh cultural site, with a playground for the kids, animals, an extensive range of traditional restored Welsh dwellings, crafts and shops, and a good cafe.


In the heart of Coventry city centre, Coventry Transport Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of British road transport. The museum shows what an important part of the automotive industry Coventry was.

You’ll discover the stories behind the people who made Coventry the centre of the world’s motor and cycle industries, and is laid out as a journey through time – you’ll wander through 19th Century streets and discover the first bicycles, carriages and cars, then explore the first car factories and see the devasting effects of the Blitz .

A visit to the Museum reveals Royal cars, military vehicles, and cars that played vital parts in their drivers’ life stories – including the current Land Speed Record holding vehicle, ThrustSSC.


The Museum of Cannock Chase site was once home to the Valley Colliery – the pit has gone and in it’s place are over 30 acres of green space on the edge of Cannock Chase.

The Museum is situated in the former colliery corn store where the food for the pit ponies was kept. From exploring the Chase’s military past to discovering how we used to spend our leisure time; the local history gallery shows the many aspects of Cannock Chase’s rich heritage. Discover more about the story of local coalmining in the Cannock Chase area, and put on a coal miners hat and enjoy the ‘crawl through’ tunnel, and find out what life was like underground!


The multi-award winning Riverside Museum is home to over 3,000 objects that detail Glasgow’s past.

This free attraction is like walking back in time. Bicycles, trams, motorbikes, cars, prams and even some locomotives, so there really is something to delight visitors of all ages.​

There are also regular guided tours of the museum, so get in touch to find out more about them in advance on the Plan Your Visit page.


Set sail and drop anchor for a fun day out at Merseyside Maritime Museum. You’ll find information on the Titanic history and other historic ships stories, with details of crew members and what effects the sinking of the ships had on families.

This museum contains four floors of fascinating galleries looking at Second World War, the merchant navy as well as the Titanic, Lusitania and the Forgotten Empress gallery.

In the Revenue & Customs Uncovered section, you can learn all about smuggling and tax evasion. Visitors can see items used for drugs smuggling such as carved African statues and garden gnomes and a collection of smuggled weapons.


There are stacks of free places in London, too many to list, but my favourites are V&A Museum, Science Museum, Natural History Museum, British Museum and the Museum of London.


MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) is a fascinating and fun day out for all the family. Located on the historic site of the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway station, and housed in five listed buildings, MOSI’s galleries and collections tell the story of Manchester’s scientific and industrial past, present and future.

Here are just some of the many things to see and do at MOSI: hands-on science gallery, get your photo taken and see it appear on the digital sculpture in the Revolution Manchester Gallery, see trains and mill engines in the Power Hall, plus planes, cars and bikes in our Air & Space Hall and walk through an authentic Victorian sewer, complete with sounds, smells and more.


Southampton City Art Gallery has a Permanent Collection of over 3,500 works, ranging from Renaissance masterpieces to contemporary video art. The gallery hosts high quality temporary exhibitions, including both national and international historical and contemporary art. All the latest news and events are featured on their website.

Riverside Park  is the middle of Southampton with so many hidden surprises. Walk alongside the river, pass the newly renovated children’s playground, take a look at the miniature steam trains, pass the playing fields, stop off at the White Swan for a drink and on to the Winchester alongside the river if you have the energy.

It’s accessible for all age groups. Take a picnic and you can stay there all afternoon. The park borders the River Itchen so you will also see canoes and small boats along your walk.

2 Comments on this post

  • Nicola

    August 6, 2014 at 10:23 am
    Edinburgh also has fun free things to do over the next few weeks while the famous Fringe now on in Scotland's capital. And, with the sheer number of attractions and street performers along the Royal Mile, there is loads to see too!
    • Mrs Bargain Hunter

      August 6, 2014 at 7:01 pm
      Thanks Nicola. There are so many great free things to do, I think we all just need to look around before we leave the house.

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