I've been blogging over the years about many of the places I've been to with the kids and some of the things we have done. With the holidays here and the summer holidays not a million miles away, I thought I would collate a list of some of the places I have been. I have tried to mention how practical some of these places have been in terms of accessibility (wheelchairs and prams), child-friendliness, places to pray and finding halal food where relevant (or where I remembered to mention).
I hope you find some inspiration here insh'Allah and I would love to hear your suggestions in the comments too. I will keep adding to this list over time and add a button to the sidebar so it is easy to find insh'Allah.
Last year we had English Heritage membership which allows both me and hubby and up to 12 (!) children to visit their properties for free for fifteen months. Our first two trips (to Dover Castle in Kent and Audley End House and Gardens in Essex) pretty much covered the cost of the membership and we still have a few months left, so plan to make the most of it. The other option is National Trust membership which would also give access to land and properties owned by them, something we will think about as an alternate when the English Heritage membership ends in July. I would suggest looking at their websites to see what kind of attractions or places are covered by either memberships and see if they are worth it for you.
Places To Go
Our trip to Loch Lomond, including the lovely village of Luss which had a secluded glebe was one of my families favourites (we returned in 2013, my post here). I would certainly recommend a visit to Scotland's Trossach's National Park which Loch Lomond is located in as well as Tarbet and Inveruglas which we stopped at and the lovely Falls of Falloch.
Loch Lomond seen from the village Luss.
Hubby at either Tarbet and Inveruglas (I can't remember which) in the Trossachs.
The very cold Falls of Falloch which my dad-in-law decided to take a dive into...
During our two trips to Scotland we also went to Edinburgh Castle, strolled around the streets of Edinburgh during the 2013 Fringe Festival, saw the Falkirk Wheel and visited Glasgow's Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery.
One of our fave trips ever was to Cornwall (my overview here) - beautiful, child-friendly with an eye on conservation ans preserving the environment and with so much to do. We visited Fistral Beach in Newquay, the National Seal Sanctuary at Gweek, the Eden Project (here, here, here and here), St Ives and St Michaels Mount which is one my favourite places. The three days we spent were just not enough despite our well-planned itineraries.
Flowers overlooking Fistral Beach above.
The Eden project below
In one of the domes at the Eden project above
Our trip along the Jurassic Coast in Dorset for beaches and fossil hunting, stopping at Lyme Regis, Lulworth Cove and Durdles Door, which is simply stunning, the ruins at Corfe Castle and sandy Bournemouth Beach.
The ruins of Corfe Castle
Our trip to the Lake District including Lake Windermere, Ambleside and Castle Wray.
I loved our trip to Kew Gardens and plan to go there again this holiday (also here, here, here)
You can read about our tip to Hever Castle where we watched jousting here and here.
Audley End House and Gardens in Essex which we enjoyed., including the Organic Kitchen Gardens.
Audley End House above.
Leeds Castle (also here, here and here) in Kent which wasn't cheap, but had a lot to do and see, plus when we went you could visit any time again for a year within the cost of the same ticket, so if you plan t make multiple visits, then I would say is worth it.
Clacton beach which I didn't enjoy so much.
We found quite a bit to do during a day at Dover including Dover Castle (here and here), the South Foreland Lighthouse where we flew kites and the famous white cliffs. I think Dover is a good option if you are on a tight budget and do a bit of research in advance.
Barleylands Farm and Sunday Market in Essex is fun if you are not too far away.
Go fruit-picking (especially during strawberry season). We love to go to Hewitts Farm in Kent (another post here and another here). It's a nice place to spot wild flowers too. The very pretty Orpington Park is nearby so we often take our picnic there as Hewitt's charge for their barbecue area.
Just a stroll through the park on a spring day. Or take your paints and sketch book. I did this with Little Lady a few years back and it is still one of her favourite memories.
We like driving around London now and again (like when we are picking someone up from the airport) and seeing the lights. It's handy too because thee kids get over-excited and then all fall asleep on the way back.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has re-opened recently and I am keen to visit as I have heard good things. We went during the Olympics (here, here and here).
Greenwich is great if you are on a budget and don't want to travel far out of London, also everything is near each other: The Rose Gardens, The National Maritime Museum, The Planetarium, The Queens House which houses art, all of which are free. The Prime Meridian (which has the GMT line) and the restored Cutty Sark ship are also here (there is a charge for these).
Find a boot fair in the countryside nearest you (here, here, here). Oh okay, you'll enjoy this one too, but the kids will love getting cheap books and toys (you can see some of the craft hauls I've found for myself as well as other loot here) for next to nothing.
(Some of the loot we have picked up in the past from boot fairs.)
Visit a forest or woodland near you, we have Epping Forest which has been has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (the age of the forest and the range of habitats it contains make it a valuable area for wildlife) and the lovely Hainault Forest and Farm which we hope to visit soon to see the spring baby chicks and lambs.
Visit Lee Valley Park.
Check on your local Council's website or at your local library, museum or masjid for a local exhibition (here, here, here, here, and here).
Visit an art exhibition, I love local art (here and here).
Visit a stately home or local restored heritage building. We often visit Valentines Mansion.
The kitchen at Valentines Mansion above
A bit out of the way, but if you ever visit Pakistan, we enjoyed our trip to the Wagha Border.
Things to Do
Let the children experiment with photography using your camera or phone. It can be so interesting to see what catches their eye.
This was the result of experimenting with interesting objects, light from the window one morning and the camera on my phone.
Creating a kids craft box.
Throw the kids a mini garden party or teddy bears picnic or even have an indoor picnic. We also love to have midnight feasts (although these tend to be late evening rather than midnight).
Card making - there are some frugal suggestions for materials here and here. Or bead craft or designing and colouring a t-shirt.
Make a nature basket or nature table (we had less space so went for the basket).
Trying to grow something (here, here, here, our strawberries here and other veggies here) or make your garden lovely (here, here and here). My kids have had a patch each in the past and loved tending to it and checking it everyday, although you'll have to stop them from drowning everything by watering it all the time.
Experimenting with henna.
10 Great Ideas for Fun with Kids.
Make a den with whatever comes to hand. We've had dozens of variations of this over the years in almost every room of the house.
Get them to write a letter to someone.
Go ice-skating (we usually only think of this in winter).
There is a post about some of our favourite toys here. A list of our favourite books here and some Islamic books we use here.
Creating a dress up box and playing at dress ups for Red Nose day, for Book Week, or just because it's fun.
In our house we have come to love board games and jigsaw puzzles despite the squabbling and cheating.
Or you could make them do chores. What? It's an activity isn't it? Certainly makes my lots think twice about whining about being bored (although it can backfire).
Sometimes its nice to let the kids take the lead and be silly.
If they love reading, get them to keep a journal of the books they've read. They can write reviews or just a note on what they have read. They'll be so proud of how many books they've read and they can take it in to show their teacher.
You could create a sandpit (although I am seriously never going to let them do this again).
Throw a summer party or go to one.
Create a journal for the children to work through. I made one for my daughter and she treasures it.
I would love to hear your ideas, how do you keep your children occupied during their weekends and school holidays, what are their favourite things to do?