10 best budget friendly things to do with the family this summer

The summer holidays are almost here and with promises of easing restrictions, you and your family can get back out there and explore the UK again. Whether it turns out to be a typical British Summer with rainy days, or weeks full of glorious sunshine, we’ve got you covered. Get some summer staycation inspiration with our 10 best budget friendly things to do with the family this summer.

1. Visit a museum

things to do with the family

From the weird and wacky, to the fascinating and educational. A trip to a museum is guaranteed fun for everyone and there’s so many around the UK to choose from. 

The Science Museum in London is full of informative exhibits on the science behind some of the world’s best inventions and engineering feats from space, to the environment. Fuel the kids’ imagination in Wonderlab which makes learning scientific wonders fun. The museum is situated in South Kensington, an area which is also home to the V&A and the Natural History Museum which also have plenty of family workshops and exhibits to visit.

The Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth is the place to come to discover some of the nation’s most impressive flagships. Walk aboard the impressive HMS Victory, travel back in time and marvel at the Tudor ship, Mary Rose or take your own naval adventure on a harbour tour.

For something quirky, consider a visit to Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum which is brimming with intriguing archaeological and anthropological finds from around the world that will have the kids staring in amazement. There’s a free family guide book with activities for the children to keep as a memento of their favourite objects.

Hotels in Central London    Hotels in Portsmouth    Hotels in Oxford

2. Let out your wild side

things to do with the family

For big animal fun on a small budget, why not visit a small farm? Many cities across the UK have small farms bustling with cute and cuddly animals perfect for the whole family to meet and have fun with.

For a slice of rural farm charm in the centre of London, take the family for a visit to Vauxhall City Farm. There’s a whole menagerie of animals to admire here from goats to guinea pigs. Get up and close by booking a very special encounter with a Meet and Greet, or cuddle up to the small residents in Cuddle Corner.

For a hands-on petting and learning experience with some irresistible animals, Love Gorgie Farm is a great family favourite. Situated just a few miles from the historical and characterful centre of Edinburgh, Love Gorgie Farm is an urban farm packed with lots of friendly animals, plenty of play areas and educational workshops for the kids to get involved in.

The Bucks Goat Centre just outside of Aylesbury is a great choice for family fun. As well as herds of friendly goats, the centre is home to other adorable farm favourites including bunnies, chicks and ducks, llamas, alpacas and a fox called Barnaby.

Hotels in London   Hotels in Edinburgh   Hotels in Aylesbury

3. Enjoy nature

national parks in the UK with the family

Getting out in nature and discovering the nations most beautiful coastlines, forests and nature reserves is a great way to keep the whole family entertained without pulling on the purse strings. 

London is full of parks and vantage points for taking in the city away from the hustle and bustle. There are eight royal parks around the city covering 5000 acres of land, all with their own unique characters and wildlife residents. Richmond Park and Bushy Park are two of the largest parks in London each with their own deer population. St James’ Park meanwhile surrounds Buckingham Palace and is home to a population of Pelicans. For something more prehistoric, head over to Crystal Palace Park which has its own dinosaur trial.

For somewhere a little bigger, why not try a UK national park where some of the nations best outdoor spaces and panoramic views can be spotted? A ‘Which?’ survey found that the most popular was Northumberland, but you can discover more in our list of national parks to visit.

Hotels in London

4. Get sporty

things to do with the family

If you have a budding sporting hero itching to get outdoors this summer, there’s a number of free events happening around the UK. England Football are running football coaching sessions for boys and girls aged 5 and up.

Dive into swimming safety with Swim Safe – located nationwide, who offer free outdoor swimming & safety lessons, suitable for 7-14 year-olds.

Have a child who’s into all kinds of sporting fun? Browse and book a low cost activity course through ClubHub. There are activities run all over the UK for different age groups and a variety of interests. Whether they’re into gymnastics or rugby they’re all catered for here so check online and book something fun for kids this summer.

For more fun clubs, activities and sessions to get the kids involved in, check out the Change 4 Life activity portal.

Find a nearby hotel with our Best Price Finder

5. Play at the beach

Brighton with the family

When the sun appears, a day at the seaside is a firm family favourite. Whether it’s building a show-stopping sand castle, playing at the arcades, or sampling some traditional town fare, there’s plenty of things to do by the beach.

Cornwall and Devon are home to some of the most beautiful and popular beaches in the UK. Woolacombe beach on the north Devon coast was officially named as one of the best beaches in the world in TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards 2020 thanks to its 3 mile long sandy beach and inviting Atlantic waters making it a great place to practice some water sports.

For more overcast days, rockpooling is a great way to capture your kids imagination and teach them more about the creatures found in the sea. Devon is well known for its rockpooling hotspots with wildlife-lover Bill Oddie naming Wembury Bay as his favourite in the UK. You’ll find various species of crab, prawns and even a starfish.

Brighton is a characterful seaside resort that’s proud of its inclusive and welcoming culture. See the Taj Mahal doppelganger, the Royal Pavilion, look for a unique gift at The Lanes, or get a birds eye view from the i360.

For more beach inspiration, check out our 10 best beaches guide here.

Hotels in Cornwall   Hotels in Devon   Hotels in Brighton

6. Have fun in all weathers

things to do with the family

The Great British summer is characteristically unreliable when it comes to sunshine, so having an indoor ‘Plan B’ activity is always worthwhile. Whether it’s soft play, indoor trampolining or fun educational centres, there’s plenty to do indoors across the UK.

KidZania in London is a full scale indoor replica city that promotes fun, imagination and education while encouraging social interaction. Whether they dream of being a firefighter, a radio presenter or a pilot, here they can dream big and discover what’s possible.

360 Play have indoor play centres across the UK and offer plenty of exciting activities to get involved in whatever their abilities. From painting to sensory play and sand pits, creativity is encouraged with inclusivity at the heart of everything on offer.

If trampolining is more your kids’ bag then Flip Out will have them jumping for joy. Watch them jump, flip, climb and slide in this colourful action packed arena of fun. And it’s not just for the kids either, the grown ups can bounce around too in a family session.

Hotels in Central London

7. Get the big screen experience

things to do with the family

Get that big screen thrill for a small price this summer. For an easy way to keep the kids entertained, why not visit your local cinema to watch the latest blockbuster? There are savings to be had if you know when to go.

ODEON Kids have tickets from £2.50 every day while school is out for summer and every Saturday and Sunday morning during term time. Or why not head to Vue for Vue’s Mini Mornings, with tickets from £2.49, or go to Cineworld for Cineworld’s Movies for Juniors, available at the weekends from £2.50. All you need to do is bring the snacks.

Enjoy the thrill of a London show for less this summer where kids can go free with Kids Week. With free tickets for kids under 16 available all throughout August for fantastic musical smash hits such as The Lion King, to the edgy and educational Horrible Histories, there’s something for everyone. If being on TV is more your kids bag, then why not sign up to Applause Store and be in with a chance of bagging your family free tickets to a TV show. Just keep your eye on the show calendar.

8. Explore a literary location

things to do with the family

If you’re a family of bookworms, then an escape to a literary location is the perfect plan. From the rural beauty of the Lake District that inspired Beatrix Potter, to the cityscapes of Bath and Oxford that sparked classics from Dickens and Jane Austen, you can explore the places that bring your family favourites to life.

The city of Edinburgh was the first to be given the UNESCO City of Literature accreditation and it’s clear to see with traces of literary legends dotted all across the city. Get immersed in the written word from The Elephant House Cafe where J.K Rowling penned her Potter novels, to the annual Edinburgh International Book Festival where books and characters are celebrated by a whole community.

Pay a visit to the forest that inspired one of the most legendary bears of all time- Winne the Pooh. A.A Milne found the inspiration for the honey-loving bear and his adorable gang in Ashdown Forest in East Sussex. Take a walk through One Hundred Acre wood for yourself down the meandering pathways and open grasslands and discover the wildlife and woodland creatures that sparked a literary legacy.

There are many more city and rural literary locations to discover across the country, check out our blog for more staycation inspiration.

Hotels in Edinburgh   Hotels in Sussex

9. Go behind the scenes

things to do with the family

It’s not just books that have been based on real life UK locations, some of the most iconic film and TV scenes are shot right on your doorstep and you can see them all for yourself. 

Take a walk on platform 9 and ¾ at Kings Cross station. As well as a fantastic photo opportunity on one of the world’s most famous platforms, there’s also a gift shop so your kids can stock up on their favourite Potter merchandise. Meanwhile, over at Paddington station, you can visit the Paddington bear shop for a themed keepsake and see where Paddington first met the Brown family in the 2014 film.

Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean has featured in a number of TV and film productions but perhaps most notably, Star Wars. The enchanting woodland area was used in many scenes from The Force Awakens as well as the TV drama adaptation of Merlin.

You can see our list of film and TV locations to visit here.

Hotels in Central London   Hotels in South Wales

10. Go on a foodie adventure

things to do with the family

The summer season means that fields up and down the country will be bursting to life with yummy fresh fruits. Pick your own farms are popular with families wanting something unique and fun to do and there’s nothing better than tucking into delicious fruit you’ve picked yourself.

Millets Farm in Oxfordshire offers fields of fantastic fresh berries, veg and flowers at your fingertips. As well as plenty of outdoor spaces, there’s a farmhouse kitchen where you can sample some local produce, and a farm shop so you can take some home with you.

The Steve Harris pick your own farm in Hampshire has been a popular hub for strawberries since the Victorian times and it’s still just as popular today. As well as your choice of delicious strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb and vibrant sunflowers, you can stop off at Meon Shore Hide nearby to tuck into your fresh fruit pickings and admire the resident wildlife.

Hotels in Oxford   Hotels in Hampshire

Why not choose one of our Travelodge hotels as a base for your activities. Kids under 15 eat breakfast for free