Best family days out with the National Trust

The kids will love these amazing places!
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  • Looking for some family days out ideas? The National Trust has now opened more than 135 gardens and parks AND every Friday it releases around 700,000 tickets. These places tick all the boxes for great family days out, so be ready to book.

    They’ve created a fun activity list of 50 things to do before you’re 11¾, many of which can be done at home or in your own back garden as well as in their beautiful locations.

    Trips out can often lead to new bursts of creativity so be prepared with some easy crafts you can do at home.

    Need inspiration for things to do over the long summer holidays? Check out the handy how-to guides such as making birdfeeders and activity ideas – nature sounds bingo, anyone…

    How much does it cost to join the National Trust?

    If you join the National Trust you get free entry and free access to car parks in great rural and coastal settings, which can really take the pain out of visiting beauty spots.

    Joining is £78 a year for a single-parent family (£6.50 a month)and  £126 for a two-parent family (£6.50 a month). That includes children and grandchildren aged 17 and under (under 5s are free).

    Whether you pay the membership up front or spread the cost over 12 months, it’s a pretty good investment for family days out.

    Around 80 of its cafes and food outlets are part in the government’s Eat Out to Help Out so you can save a pretty penny on snacks, too, until 31 August.

    Our pick of the best family days out with the National Trust

     

    National Trust family days out

    ©National Trust Images/ Fisheye Images

    1) Blickling Estate, Norfolk

    The perfect place to let off steam, the gardens, lake and parkland at Blickling cover a massive 4,600 acres. The garden has two secret tunnels, one with tree stump seats for all-important pow-wows on how to hide from the grown-ups.

    There’s a walled garden full of fruit and vegetables to inspire junior gardeners to get growing and, if you’re lucky, you might see an angler make a catch at the lake.

    With buggy-friendly walking and cycling trails through woodland and past farmland, there’s plenty to see, though you’ll need to take your own bikes. Dogs are welcome, too.

    Drinks and light snacks are available from the outdoor cafe  and the shop will be open.Free entry for NT members. Non members: Adult: £10. Child: £5. Family: £25. (Pre-booking required for all visitors).

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    national Trust family days out

    ©National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

    2) Kingston Lacey, Devon

    This elegant Venetian-style family home has beautiful gardens and acres of woodland to ramble, play and picnic in.

    There are trees to clamber over, even hollow ones to disappear into. Take paper and crayons and they can do lots of bark rubbings.

    You can take your bikes, buggy and dog on a lead on the Woodland Trail, which is a manageable three miles (with a shortcut that’s 1.5 miles  for little legs).

    Junior ornithologists will find bird hides and feeders, so if they can manage to be super quiet they will see plenty of feathered friends.

    Stop off in the Japanese garden for a calming meander before you head home.

    Free entry for NT members. Non members: Adult £10. Child £5. Family £25/£15.

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    ©National Trust family days out

    ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

    3) Killerton Estate, Devon

    Energetic kids will love exploring Killerton and ticking off some of the 50 things to do before you’re 113/4. Download the Killerton explorer trail, which has  a map and activity ideas.

    Adventurous visitors can climb up to the top of the Clump – the highest point at Killerton – where there is a den building area. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, badgers, otters and pheasants.

    Inside Killerton House, you can track down some adorable toy mice, which have taken up different hobbies. See if your children can identify what each mouse likes doing.

    The Kitchen Cafe, tea trailer, shop and plant centre are open.

    Free entry for NT members. Killerton House is now open 1-4pm. Non members: Adult £10. Child £5. Family £25/£15.

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    National Trust family days out

    ©National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

    4) Speke Hall, Liverpool

    There’s adventure afoot if you escape into the ancient woodland at Speke Hall.

    Download The Great Summer Escape trail for young nature detectives. It’ll set them on  path to discover the mischievous creature that’s gobbling up trees. Plus they can help the Magic Acorn protect the trees.

    Young artists might like to take a sketchbook to capture the graphic Tudor timber patterns on Speke Hall from the North Lawn or paint the gardens, which are ablaze with colour.

    You can enjoy a rosy snifferama on the South Lawn and see how many bees and butterflies are feasting on nectar. Check out the downloadable activity ideas before you go.

    Gen up on the history of Speke Hall, too, as it provides an interesting discussion point about colonialism and the slave trade for older children.

    The Stable Tea Room is serving snacks and all-important ice cream and you’ll find picnic tables and plenty of spots to lay out a rug for lunch.

    Free entry for NT members. Non members: Adult: £5. Child: £2.50. Family: £12.50/£7.50.

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    National Trust family days out

    ©National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

    5) Cragside, Northumberland

    Budding inventors will be fascinated with this Victorian pile in a woodland setting with glorious gardens.

    The first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity, Cragside was home to Lord Armstrong – a remarkable 19th century innovator.

    The house is closed but the gardens are heaps of fun to explore. You’ll see the lakes that powered the house, one of the largest rock gardens in Europe, an iron bridge and Nelly’s Labyrinth – a rambling network of paths and tunnels cut through a rhododendron forest.

    The tea room is open and you are welcome to take a picnic.

    Free entry for NT members. Non members: Adult: £10. Child: £5. Family: £25.

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    National Trust family days out

    ©National Trust Images/Megan Taylor

    6) Cliveden Woodland Estate, Buckinghamshire

    Overlooking the River Thames, the picturesque woodland estate and gardens of Cliveden offer 300 acres to explore, with a variety of dog-friendly walking trails on offer.

    You can hire boats to and see how Kenneth Graham was inspired children’s classic, The Wind in the Willows.

    The riotous colour in the gardens might inspire budding artists, while junior explorers can search for carved wooden snails in the woodlands on a walking trail.

    Drinks and snacks are available from the refreshment kiosk in the Walled Garden and the shop and Plant Centre is now open.

    Free entry for NT members. Non members: Adult £10. Child £5. Family £25/£15.

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    National Trust family days out

    ©National Trust Images/James Dobson

    7) Chedworth Roman Villa, Gloucestershire

    Children will be fascinated to find out what life was like back in Roman times. So get your young historians into the spirit by dresssing them up in advance. A bedsheet toga, a cardboard shield… it will all add to the fun.

    Chedworth is one of the grandest Roman villas in Britain, this amazing site is nestled in a Cotswolds valley.

    There are lots of mosaics to see, though it’s intriguing to know that some lay buried – treasure for archaeologists of the future!

    Take plenty of photos of the mosaics – they might inspire you to make a mosaic planter back at home.

    Chedworth is also home to rare Roman snails, brought them more than 1,800 years ago because they were a tasty delicacy. They’re a protected species, so look out for them but don’t touch (or eat!).

    Other wildlife to look out for are lizards on the North Wall, newts in the nymphaeum water shrine nad swifts and house martins who nest around the roof of the lodge.

    Take drinks and snacks – there’s plenty of space to picnic.

    Free entry for NT members. Non members: Adult: £8. Child: £4. Family: £20/£12.

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    National Trust family days out

    ©National Trust Images/Paul Harris

    8) Hill Top, Hawkshead

    Small children adore Beatrix Potter’s adorable characters. And where could be better to read them a story than at her Hill Top garden?

    Show them what’s growing in the veg plot and flower borders. Then they can romp around imagining Peter Rabbit, Tom Kitten and Jemima Puddledock. But keep an eye out for scary Mr McGregor!

    The house is closed but the pretty gardens and shop are open, plus there’s a pop-up cafe open in the orchard from 11-3.

    Free entry for NT members. Non members: Adult: £5. Child: £2.50. Family: £12.50/£7.50.

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