The Relocation Bureau

Family Fun

We realise that living in another country can be difficult for adults but if your children are not happy it can make the whole process much more stressful for everyone.

We have put together a sample of some of the many exciting ideas the whole family can enjoy during your stay in the UK.

You will find ideas for family outings, links to places of interest and many other activities on the following pages. Don’t forget to look at our Review pages for an honest appraisal by one of our parents here at The Relocation Bureau.

Theme Parks

The UK has a variety of theme parks to suit all ages. A directory of these is available at Theme Parks UK.
www.themeparks-uk.com

Merlin Entertainment manages a number of attractions that can be found at the website below.
www2.madametussauds.com

Traveling funfairs visit towns all over the UK; visits to towns are advertised locally prior to arrival.

Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle is about a twenty minute drive from Stratford upon Avon, so if you are staying here for a few days it's worth a trip to Warwick. From London, Warwick is a ninety minute drive north-west up the M40 There are a lot of things to see at the castle and usually there are actors around dressed up and pretending to be knights or warriors.

Alton Towers

This is a major theme park with lots of good rides (for all ages), and located in the Midlands, about two and a half hours drive north from London. If you are traveling from the South of England it may be worth considering staying overnight at the Alton Towers Hotel, and purchasing a two day pass for the park.

Thorpe Park

The park is part of the Tussauds Group and even has a small artificial beach area for warmer days. From London it is about forty minutes south-west along the M3 to the M25. Thorpe Park includes a large lake where you can take a boat ride out to the children's farm.

Chessington World of Adventures

This popular theme park is on the south-western edge of London just inside the M25 ring and only 12 miles from central London. The park offers something for all ages and also features a small zoo and sea life centre.

Legoland

Legoland is just on the outskirts of Windsor and is clearly signposted from all roads in the town. From London via the M4 the journey is about 50 mins.

This is a great park for younger children up to about the age of 10. The park is built on a hillside so expect young children to find walking a bit tiring or take advantage of the train.

Zoos

All ages enjoy a trip to the zoo, please visit the website below to find the nearest to you.
www.ukwildlifeparks.co.uk

One of the best known zoos in the UK is Regents Park, otherwise known as ZSL London Zoo. This is located at the North-East corner of Regents Park on the outer circle. It is about a 12 minute walk from Camden Town tube station and 20 minutes from Baker Street station. In summer months and at weekends in the winter, you can combine your zoo visit with a canal boat ride to the zoo from the Maida Vale Canal Basin. Arriving at the zoo on its own private landing stage also means you skips the main ticket line. For more information on the zoo visit their website at:
www.londonzoo.co.uk

For the canal boat ride visit
www.londonwaterbus.com

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, about 20 minutes’ drive from Junction 21 of the M25. There is a car park outside the zoo, and a zoo bus operating inside the zoo as it covers quite a few acres of ground.
www.zsl.org/zsl-whipsnade-zoo

Marwell Wildlife Zoo is 6 miles south of Winchester, with easy access from the M3 and the M27. Marwell is smaller than the two zoos mentioned above but is home to a wide variety of wildlife.
www.marwell.org.uk/zoo

Monkey World is a sanctuary and rescue centre for monkeys and ape’s that have been rescued from a variety of situations around the world. Situated in Wareham Dorset, it was originally set up to house chimps that had been photographer’s props on Spanish beaches.
www.monkeyworld.org

Chessington World of Adventures started life as Chessington Zoo and although it is now a theme park, it still has a small zoo in the grounds. It is in Surrey, a short drive from junction 9 or 10 of the M25, or from London it is signposted from the A3.
www.chessington.com/explore/chessington-zoo/chessington-zoo.aspx

Chester Zoo is about 40 minutes by car from Liverpool and 50 minutes from Manchester. The zoo is described as one of the best fifteen zoos in the world and reportedly the most visited wild-life attraction in the UK.
www.chesterzoo.org

Longleat is the stately home of the Marquess of Bath and the famous Lions of Longleat. When it opened in 1966 Longleat was the first location outside of Africa to have a drive through Safari Park. Situated just south of Bath, off junctions 17 or 18 of the M4, Longleat now has lots more to see and do.
www.longleat.co.uk

Sealife Centres are located around the UK, to find your closest centre visit their website at:
www.sealife.co.uk

Museums / Historic Buildings

Museums

London is home to some very famous national museums as well as smaller collections of unique interest. South Kensington has an excellent selection of museums with the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, and the Victoria & Albert Museum all being close to each other.

Most large towns in the UK also have their own museum telling the history of the area.

To search for a museum by name or region visit:
www.britainexpress.com/Where_to_go_in_Britain/Museums/Museums_outside_London.htm

Below are our ‘Top Picks’ of London Museums – Some also appear in our Reviews section

The Natural History Museum, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 5BD
www.nhm.ac.uk

The Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2DD
www.sciencemuseum.org.uk

The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
www.britishmuseum.org

The Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Rd, London SE1 6HZ
www.iwm.org.uk

The Royal Air Force Museum, Grahame Park Way, London NW9 5LL
www.rafmuseum.org.uk/london

London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2E 7BB
www.ltmuseum.co.uk

National Maritime Museum, Park Row, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF
www.rmg.co.uk/national-maritime-museum

Madam Tussauds, Marylebone Rd, London NW1 5LR
www.madametussauds.co.uk/london/en

Historic Buildings

Visit HRP for a guide to some of London's historic royal palaces.
www.hrp.org.uk

For an online directory of historic buildings visit:
www.hha.org.uk

English Heritage has a directory of properties to visit:
www.english-heritage.org.uk

The National Trust owns a large number of properties that can be visited. Their website can be found below.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Below are our ‘Top Picks’ of Historic Buildings to visit in London.

Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA
www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/the-state-rooms-buckingham-palace

Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 2UP
www.towerbridge.org.uk

Tower of London, London EC3N 4AB
www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london

Westminster Abbey, 20 Deans Yard, London SW1P 3PA
www.westminster-abbey.org

Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP
www.royalalberthall.com

Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AH
www.bankofengland.co.uk

The Monument to the Great Fire of London, Fish St Hill, London EC3R 8AH
www.themonument.info

The Royal Observatory, Blackheath Ave, London SE10 8XJ
www.rmg.co.uk

Galleries / Ships & Submarines

Galleries

There are a variety of very interesting art collections to visit in Britain. If you wish to visit a gallery you can search for them by town or city at:
www.britainsfinest.co.uk/museums/search_results.cfm/searchclasscode/15

Many galleries engage children's interest by offering quiz sheets at the information desks.

The National Gallery

The National Gallery is situated just off Trafalgar Square in London's West End. It offers quiz sheets at the information desk which guide you through the gallery searching for specific paintings, or objects to find within the paintings. As the gallery is very large it is probably best to only look in a few rooms at each visit. We like to pick out a favourite painting from those we have seen, and then go to the shop at the end of our tour to find a postcard of that painting. That way we remember who the painting is by and what it is called. The shop also sells cardboard frames to fit the postcards. After a couple of hours of good behaviour we cross the road into Trafalgar Square where my children can let off steam, feed the pigeons, and watch the fountains.

Visit their website at:
www.nationalgallery.org.uk

Ships & Submarines

If you would like to visit one of the many historic ships that are docked around the UK click on the appropriate link to take you to their websites.

The Cutty Sark is a tea clipper that is docked at Greenwich, visit the website at:
www.rmg.co.uk/cutty-sark

HMS Belfast is a world war II cruiser docked on the Thames in London. It can be found on the website of the Imperial War Museum, at:
www.iwm.org.uk/belfast

The Golden Hinde, Sir Francis Drakes famous galleon is a living museum in London and can be found at:
www.goldenhinde.com

The Mary Rose is the only 16th Century warship on display anywhere in the world and is one of three ships to be found at Portsmouth Historic Dockyards. The website for the Mary Rose can be found at:
www.maryrose.org

HMS Victory is the oldest commissioned warship in the world and is also at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, along with HMS Warrior, Britain's first iron hulled battleship. More information about these two ships and the dockyard can be found at:
www.historicdockyard.co.uk

There is another historic dockyard in Chatham, Kent where HMS Cavalier and HMS Gannet are docked. HM Submarine Ocelot is also here. To find out more information visit their website at:
www.chdt.org.uk

The Royal Navy Submarine Museum is in Gosport, Hampshire and features two walk on submarines, HMS Alliance and HMS Holland. More information can be found on their website at:
www.submarine-museum.co.uk

Eating Out

There are several well-known restaurant chains around the country that welcome families. TGI Fridays have invaded and have restaurants up and down Britain. Frankie and Benny’s is another popular child friendly chain. Pizza is always a favourite with children and Pizza Hut and Pizza Express are on most high streets in the UK. Nando’s and Wagamama are very popular and great for trying different spices and flavours.

Most restaurant chains offer a child’s menu and many run special offers, especially during the school holidays.

These restaurants get very busy at peak times and as you cannot always book a table you often find people queuing out of the doors. To locate a restaurant near to you please see the websites below:

www.tgifridays.co.uk
www.frankieandbennys.com
www.pizzahut.co.uk
www.pizzaexpress.com
www.nandos.co.uk
www.wagamama.com

Many pubs now belong to the Harvester or Beefeater chains which both offer fairly basic "Steak 'n Ale" type menus. They offer children's menus which normally include a drink and an ice cream with the main course. Again these restaurants can get quite busy at peak times but you can phone ahead to book a table. There is usually a special discount offered if you eat before seven in the evening. You can search for pubs in your area by going to:
www.pubexplorer.com

The UK has the usual array of fast food burger restaurants and you can search their websites to see if they have branches in the areas you are interested in.

McDonalds is at:
www.mcdonalds.co.uk

Burger King is at:
www.burgerking.com

KFC is at:
www.kfc.co.uk

For a unique experience see our review of The Rainforest Cafe in our Reviews Section or visit the website.
www.therainforestcafe.co.uk

Other Ideas & Sources of Information

After School Activities

The local newspapers or other local publications will have details of after school activities. Alternatively, some organisations place an advert in the window of local shops, libraries or doctor's surgeries. They may also place adverts on the notice boards of the venue where the classes are held.

Caves to Visit

There is a website listing the caves you can visit below. You can search the directory by county to find more information on the caves you are interested in visiting.
www.showcaves.com

The following is a list of caves that are amongst the most famous in the UK and suitable for children to visit:

St Clements Caves, also known as the Smugglers Caves in Hastings. More information about these caves can be found on the website:
www.smugglersadventure.co.uk

Wookey Hole caves are in Somerset in the Mendip Hills.
www.wookey.co.uk

Cheddar Caves are also in Somerset and worth a visit.
www.cheddarcaves.co.uk

Farms to Visit

For a directory of farms you can visit look under small holdings, farms and horticulture on the website below.
www.webring.org/l/rd?ring=crochunterrocks;id=1;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.zoos.50megs.com%2F

Rare breed conservation centres are listed by area on the below link:
www.rbst.org.uk

Libraries

Most public libraries have story telling sessions for children, especially during the holidays. They also have information on clubs, societies and events that are happening in the area.

Most libraries have computers linked to the internet for free public use. Some also have photocopiers you can use for a small fee. As well as lending books you will be able to borrow DVDs, audio cassettes, CDs, computer games and magazines, for a directory of public libraries and links to their websites:
librarytechnology.org/libraries/ukpublic

Pick Your Own

Pick Your Own farms can be found up and down the country and are mainly open during the soft fruit harvest season. The types of crop you can pick include strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries and all the currents. You may also be able to pick potatoes and runner beans and some farms have orchards where you can pick apples, pears or cherries.

Most of these farms opened to the public for economic reasons and some are better than others at catering for their needs. For instance, some farms have expanded to include tea rooms for the weary picker.

A small website of some farms can be found at:
www.pick-your-own.org.uk

Sports & Activities

Specify the town you live in and the sport that interests you for a list of the nearest activities.
www.sports-clubs.net

Swimming Pools & Water Activity Centres

Most leisure centres feature a swimming pool and session times can easily be found by looking at the local council website.

There are a good selection of water parks in the UK which include wave machines and water slides. See below for links of ideas of where to visit:
www.tripomatic.com/trip/List-of-the-best-UK-Indoor-Water-Parks
www.simplyswim.com/blog/the-top-5-uk-water-parks

Theatre

For a directory of shows, theatres and concerts around the UK visit:
www.britinfo.net/theatre
www.theatrenet.co.uk

For reviews and tickets for London theatres visit:
www.londontheatre.co.uk

Sources of Information

Netmums is a great source of local information as well as being the UK’s largest parenting website.
www.netmums.com

For ideas of after school activities and days out, visit the sites below.
www.dayoutwiththekids.co.uk
www.letsgowiththechildren.co.uk
www.kidsdaysout.co.uk

Dorling Kindersley publish a travel guide called ‘Kids London’, look out for the adult version too.
www.dk.com/uk

National Trust

The National Trust is a registered charity which was set up in 1895 to protect coastline, countryside, buildings and places of historic value. It is not owned by the government and relies solely on donations received from the public.

Today they own over 200 buildings, 704 miles of coastline and 610,000 acres of countryside. The buildings include houses, castles and lighthouses.

A visit to one of the properties the Trust owns can be an interesting and educational way of spending a day. The aim of the Trust is to maintain the properties in the way they would have been when they were occupied, so they offer a great opportunity to see how the big houses were run and looked after in the past. Most of the houses are set in spectacular grounds and gardens, so there is a lot to see. Most are accessible to the disabled and also offer facilities such as cafes, restaurants, toilets and a shop where they sell their own products.

Most of the houses are open almost every day of the year but some are still occupied and therefore only have set open days. Prior to visiting a house it is worth finding out about any rules they have. Some houses will not permit children under 5, some do not allow pushchairs into the house, and some may refuse to admit ladies wearing high heeled shoes as they could damage the wooden floors in the houses, so a quick telephone call (the numbers for every property can be found on the web-site below) could save a wasted journey.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk

A Sunday morning stroll (or for the energetic - a jog) within a Trust park or forest, especially in Autumn when the leaves are turning, is a brilliant way of working up an appetite for a good Sunday roast dinner. Whilst dogs are often allowed into these areas, it is usually requested that they are kept on a lead in order not to disturb the wildlife.

Most of the money the Trust receives comes from memberships. If you intend to visit the properties or land that the Trust owns on a regular basis, it is certainly worth purchasing membership. This will entitle you to free entry to the houses and land, whilst also providing newsletters and a handbook which details all of the places to visit and the open hours of each. The handbook is laid out by county, so it's easy to see what is local to you, or to plan a weekend trip to see specific places. Membership can be bought on either an annual or lifetime basis. An annual family membership is approximately £111, while a lifetime family membership will cost £2,070. Full details of the membership costs and benefits can be seen at:
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/life-membership

One small thing to be aware of if you do become a member is that the Trust will assume that you want to continue to be a member after your initial year's membership has expired and will debit your bank account for a renewal and automatically send new membership cards. If you intend to be a member for one year only, just remember to cancel the direct debit instruction at your bank.

In addition to the properties you can visit the Trust also own many cottages that you can hire for holidays. Most of the holiday homes have an interesting past and can add something a little bit special to a holiday in Britain. They also offer dog friendly accommodation and for the more adventurous how about trying the bunkhouses or campsites.

The National Trust are always looking for volunteers, either to help out at the houses, or by offering volunteering holidays in the UK where you help with jobs such as dry-stone wall building.

The National Trust is a worthwhile charity that is doing a lot to save land and property from being bought for development. They offer a diverse range of places to visit so there should be something to appeal to all family members.

Reviews

The Rainforest Cafe

You may find you have to wait a while for a table at this restaurant close to Piccadilly but there is a shop upstairs at street level to keep the children interested and a bar downstairs for the parents. The interior of the cafe has models of animals and a decor that makes you feel as though you are about to dine in the middle of the rainforest.

The staff are child friendly and realise that waiting can be tedious for hungry youngsters. The food is very tasty and well-presented and the menu features some interesting non-alcoholic cocktails. Be careful not to spoil your appetite by filling up on these instead.

Whilst you eat, a realistic rainstorm periodically threatens to drench you, but don't worry, it's only sound and lighting effects.

Parent Tip! It is quite expensive and a visit to the shop is unavoidable.

More information can be found on their web site:
www.therainforestcafe.co.uk

Bekonscot Model Village

Situated in the New Town area of Beaconsfield, Bekonscot is a great half day visit for kids of any age. It is signposted from the M40 turn-off for Beaconsfield and easy to find. You can park in the car park of the Catholic Church opposite the entrance, also accessible from the roundabout at the top end of Waitrose car park if you arrive before opening time. If you are visiting Beaconsfield by train, the Model Village is a short walk from the train station.

The ticket office is part of a train carriage which also houses the souvenir shop and first aid centre. Unlike most attractions you don't have to pass through the shop before you leave the Model Village. Quiz sheets can be obtained from the ticket office, which make the children look more closely at the models.

There is covered conservatory where you can eat your packed lunch in inclement weather. You can also purchase snacks, drinks and ice cream.

Parent Tip! You can easily keep an eye on toddlers here as it isn’t huge - many a lovely relaxing afternoon spent here.

Bekonscot has its own web site below, which is almost as entertaining as a visit to the real model village.
www.bekonscot.com

Legoland

Legoland is just on the outskirts of Windsor and is clearly signposted from all roads into the town. The park is built on a hillside so expect young children to find walking a bit tiring. There is a train that takes passengers up and down the hillside so this relieves some of the leg aches. We have found the queues at Legoland to be the longest of all the parks we have visited, waiting over an hour for Pirate Falls. There are nice picnic areas at the far end of the park from where you can just about see the diving show going on at the lake. The merchandise tends to be rather expensive, but the lego brick sets are the same price as in high street shops.

The maze is a family favourite, as is the log flume Pirate Falls. Children aged 6-13 can receive a driving licence at The Driving School. My 6 year old daughter was quite nervous about driving the car when she was on the track, but there were plenty of attendants at this attraction to supervise and help the children. On a hot day (they happen occasionally in the UK!) there is a great cooling off place at the Waterworks play area in the Duplo Gardens.

The park is great for younger children with lots to keep them entertained, but it is short on excitement for children over the age of about 10.

Parent Tip! The children will get wet so you may need some spare clothing and be careful of the slides in the play areas as they get very hot in the summer.

For more information about Legoland visit their website at:
www.legoland.co.uk

The National Gallery

The National Gallery is situated just off Trafalgar Square in London's West End. It offers quiz sheets at the information desk which guide you through the gallery searching for specific paintings, or objects to find within the paintings. As the gallery is very large it is probably best to only look in a few rooms at each visit. We like to pick out a favourite painting from those we have seen and then go to the shop at the end of our tour to find a postcard of that painting. That way we remember who the painting is by and what it is called. The shop also sells cardboard frames to fit the postcards.

Parent Tip! After a couple of hours of good behaviour we cross the road into Trafalgar Square where my children can let off steam, feed the pigeons, and watch the fountains.

www.nationalgallery.org.uk

Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle is about a 2 hours’ drive from London, just off junction 15 of the M40. During the holidays there are always special events on and we especially like to visit during the October half term to make the most of the Halloween events. As you walk from the entrance to the castle, the entertainment begins immediately with staff in costume and character.

Although castles and knights are every boys dream my daughter enjoyed the day just as much. The castle dungeon is an optional cost and may not be suitable for very young children but definitely worth a visit for children over 10 who do not frighten too easily. Another favourite is the Horrible Histories Maze with 6 different areas from history.

There is a good choice of eating places as well as picnic areas around the park.

Parent Tip! Don’t miss the jousting show and Trebuchet, the atmosphere is fantastic.

www.warwick-castle.com

ZSL London Zoo

The zoo is set in Regents Park, London about a 12 minute walk from Camden Town tube station and 20 minutes from Baker Street station.

Being so compact this is great zoo for young children to explore but it is not short on things to see and do. Penguin beach is very popular but gets very busy so it is worthy getting there a little earlier the advertised time of the show; it’s also worth noting that there are only 2 shows a day. There are plenty of other animal daily activities to see and we downloaded the zoos app of what was on during our visit, it also allowed us to schedule reminders so we didn’t miss anything.

Another favourite are the lemurs which you are able to get very close to, definitely a must during your visit.

Parent Tip! It is worth buying your tickets in advance to avoid the very large queues

www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo