Places to Visit and Things to Do in the Summer Holidays

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Written by our Web Team

9 min read | 14 June 2024

We all look forward to the summer holidays every year. But, with six weeks to fill, it takes a lot of planning to keep the whole family entertained all summer. 

With that in mind, we’ve put together a handy list of things to do in the summer holidays. From theme parks and live music to free activities and rainy day options, we’ve got plenty of ideas for families to make the most of their summer holidays.

Free things to do in the summer holidays

The cost of family activities can add up, especially during the summer season. Luckily, there are also plenty of low-cost and free options to choose from. Here are some of our top free things to do in the summer holidays.

Head to the park

Whether it’s kicking a ball around in your local park or eating a picnic in a beautiful spot a short train ride away, spending time at the park is a low-cost activity for toddlers and teenagers. It’s a great way to explore the UK. It’s also a fantastic way to get some fresh air.

The UK is home to some wonderful city parks. Hampstead Heath in London and Stanley Park in Blackpool are both beautiful spots with plenty to see and do nearby. 

Leamington Spa's Victoria Park, Pump Room Gardens, and Jephson Gardens are all free. They are also a short train ride away from Warwick if you fancy a visit to Warwick Castle.

Bute Park in Cardiff is also a fantastic option. Right in the heart of the city, it’s inside the historic castle grounds. It’s also within easy reach of restaurants and shops.

Top tips for family days at UK parks 

  • If travelling with young children, choose parks with play areas for extra entertainment

  • Plan your journey ahead of time and book tickets early to save money

  • Choose destinations accessible by public transport

  • Keep an eye out for local festivals and events like Tafwyl at Bute Park, a free Welsh music and culture festival in the summer months

The front entrance of the Natural History Museum of London. 

Explore free museums and galleries

Museums make great day trips. They are a fantastic way to explore and learn new things while also enjoying some quality time as a family. The UK has all sorts of museums, many of which are free to enter. 

The National History Museum in London is a great option for family days in the city. From marvelling at giant dinosaurs to interactive fun, there’s plenty to see and do. Tickets are free but it’s wise to book ahead online.

In Edinburgh, the National Museum of Scotland has plenty of things to entertain children and adults. There’s an interactive science and technology section, a gallery curated for toddlers, and so much more. 

For free outdoor learning, try Sain Ffagan on the outskirts of Cardiff. This national museum of Welsh history covers several acres. From exploring Iron Age roundhouses to seeing animals in traditional Welsh farms, you can fill a whole day here.  

Top tips for visiting the UK’s free museums 

  • Book online whenever possible to secure your time slot

  • Arrive early in the day if possible to allow plenty of time for exploring the exhibitions as well as nearby attractions

  • Book transport ahead of time and research off-peak tickets to save money on travel

  • Exhibitions may change, so research ahead of time to avoid disappointment

Cool things to do in the summer holidays

There are countless summer holiday activities aimed at young kids and families., yet doing them all would need a hefty budget. For the average family, it’s worth picking and choosing the ones your little ones will appreciate the most. 

Here are some of the top attractions for summer days out for little kids.

Peppa Pig World

Based on the ever-popular cartoon, Peppa Pig World is a theme park built for young children. From rides and play areas to toy stores and muddy puddle splash parks, it’s endless fun for young children.

Peppa Pig World is also part of the larger Paultons Park. Thanks to this, if you’re travelling with older kids, there’s plenty for them to enjoy too. 

Information about visiting Peppa Pig World

  • Address: Paultons Park, Ower, Romsey, The New Forest, Hampshire, SO51 6AL

  • Opening times: Times vary depending on the season but generally, summer hours are between 10:00 am and 5:30 pm

  • Public transport options: The nearest train station is Southampton Central (eight miles away). From there, the X7 bus goes to the park (Ower, Vine Inn stop). This service doesn’t run on Sundays or Bank Holidays.

  • Age requirements: The theme park is best suited for children between ages one and six. Some rides include height restrictions.

Blackpool Beach

No list of summer activities would be complete without a visit to the beach. When the sun is shining, you can’t beat family days at the beach. From making sand castles to frolicking in the waves to eating ice cream, it’s one of the best things to do in the summer holidays.

Blackpool Beach is a fun and accessible beach close to fantastic fish and chip shops as well as Blackpool’s thriving tourism scene. 

It’s also close to the famous Blackpool Pleasure Beach theme park. With rollercoasters, Nickelodeon Land and even a ghost train, Blackpool Pleasure Beach is one of the most fun places to go with family.

H4: Information about visiting Blackpool Pleasure Beach

  • Address: 525 Ocean Blvd, Blackpool FY4 1EZ, UK

  • Opening times: Opening times vary so it’s worth checking the website before you go.

  • Public transport options: The nearest station is Blackpool Pleasure Beach, opposite the theme park.

  • Age requirements: The park is suitable for children of all ages, though some rides have height requirements. A responsible person over the age of 12 must accompany all children.

A blue putter lined up to take a shot at an indoor crazy golf course. 

Things to do with teenagers in summer holidays

Teenagers can be a tough bunch to impress. But, with a bit of creative thinking, there are plenty of awesome things to do in the summer holidays for teenagers.

Alton Towers

Alton Towers has been a go-to destination for families and friends for decades. From The Smiler to Oblivion to TH13TEEN and Galactica, there’s no shortage of jaw-dropping and thrilling rides to try.  

There are also plenty of rides and attractions for younger kids - including CBeebies Land. So, if you’re a family with a few different age groups, there’s something here for everyone.

Information about visiting Alton Towers

  • Address: Alton Towers Resort, Alton, Staffordshire, ST10 4DB

  • Opening times: Times vary between seasons and sometimes specific rides have different times. It’s therefore always best to check the website for updates before you book.

  • Public transport options: The closest stations to Alton Towers are Uttoxeter and Stoke-on-Trent. Private bus companies run shuttles from both to the theme park.

  • Age requirements: There are no age restrictions for entry but an adult over the age of 18 must accompany all children under 12. Height restrictions apply on some rides. Children under the age of three enter for free.

Manchester Junkyard Golf

Manchester Junkyard Golf is a crazy golf course with a twist. You’ll putt between two fighting grizzly bears, face off with creepy clowns, and tee off from the roof of a smashed-up mini. All in all, this is an epic course that teenagers will love.

Walk-ins are welcome but slots tend to get booked up. It’s therefore a good idea to book ahead to avoid disappointment. There are also other Junkyard Golf sites across the UK, but Manchester’s is one of our favourites.

Information about visiting Manchester Junkyard Golf

  • Address: 2 First St, Manchester, M15 4RP

  • Opening times: Monday to Thursday 4:00 pm to 12:00 am, Friday 2:00 pm to 1:00 am, Saturday 12:00 pm to 1:00 am, Sunday 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

  • Public transport options: The nearest train station is Manchester Oxford Road (half a mile away) 

  • Age requirements: Under-18s are welcome from Sunday to Thursday before 7:00 pm as long as they are with an adult.

 A family carefully crossing a river whilst hiking in the Lake District.

Fun places to go in the summer holidays

A change of scenery can often do us a world of good. Sometimes it’s fun to hop on a train and explore a new town or city for the day. With that in mind, here are a few of our favourite summer day trip spots in the UK.

The Lake District

Jam-packed with beautiful lakes, mountains, towns and fun attractions, a day trip to the Lake District has something for everyone. 

Killington Lake is a great spot for fishing and water sports. Pooley Bridge is a wonderful place to experience some quaint and historic charm. Or, for a busy hub with shops, restaurants, and plenty of water-based activities, Lake Windermere is a safe bet.

Information about visiting The Lake District

The Lake District spans several different areas, towns, and 76 bodies of water. Therefore, you can’t cover The Lake District in one day. The good news, however, is that you can do several day trips to the area and always see something new.

Popular train routes to The Lake District include: 

  • Manchester to Penrith: One hour and 30 minutes

  • Glasgow to Penrith: Just over one and a half hours

  • Birmingham to Windermere: Just over two and a half hours 

  • London to Oxenholme: Just over two and a half hours 

  • London to Windermere (via Lancaster): Approximately three hours 

Journey durations vary depending on connection times. It’s therefore a good idea to research and book your train tickets to The Lake District ahead of time.

The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is a beautiful area with plenty of scenic country walks, historic villages, and tourist attractions. Spanning 800 square miles, this is another area too big to cover in one single-day trip. 

Top places for families include Cotswolds Wildlife Parks and Gardens, Blenheim Palace, and Dragonfly Maze in Bourton-on-the-Water. Sudeley Castle also has an adventure playground, animal park, and virtual reality experience to keep the kids entertained.

For busy hubs with family-friendly restaurants and shops, Gloucester, Bath, and Cheltenham are all great hubs.

Information about visiting the Cotswolds

As a far-reaching area of the British countryside, the Cotswolds hosts and is near many major railway hubs. Common train journeys to the Cotswolds include:

  • Cardiff to Cheltenham: Just over an hour 

  • London to Moreton-in-Marsh: Approximately an hour and a half

  • London to Gloucester: Just over two hours

  • Birmingham to Bath Spa: Just under two hours

  • Manchester to Cheltenham: Approximately two and a half hours 

Travelling with the family by train this summer

The UK has many fantastic day trip destinations to choose from. To get the most out of your day, use the Avanti Journey Planner to find your most direct and convenient route. 

Book early to get the best deal on your journey. You can also sign up for our Priority Ticket Alerts for tips on when to get the cheapest train tickets. And don’t forget to also explore the savings you can get with a Railcard

If you’re still not sure where to go this summer, check out our destination guides for some extra inspiration.

speeding train

Written by our web team

10 min read | 13 May 2024

Lake District camping opportunities offer an experience like no other. Whether you wake up to a lakeside, mountainous, or valley view, you’ll enjoy this time tucked away from everyday life. You’ll trade in traffic, tech, and the daily grind for pastoral landscapes, rare fauna, and cobblestoned villages.

Here, we’ll explore the Lakes’ plentiful scenic spots to camp. There’s something for everyone, whether you prefer camping, glamping, or campervanning.

Why you should go camping in the Lake District

Two friends enjoy a mountainous camping spot in the Lake District

Camping offers one of the best opportunities to get up and close to Mother Nature. And what better environment to immerse yourself in nature than the Lake District?

When you go camping in the Lake District, you can:

Take in the showstopping scenery.

The Lake District is one of the UK’s most picturesque regions. Moss-coated mountains, mirror-like lakes, and sleepy hiking routes characterise the national park. Given its abundance of natural beauty, the Lakes attract 18.1 million visitors every year.

Even with this many tourists, numerous tucked-away spots allow you to camp with plenty of space to yourself.

Experience the adrenaline of adventure activities.

The Lake District is perfect for a restful break, but adventure lovers will also find a wealth of things to do. For example, the District’s many lakes allow for various kayaking, fishing, and boat cruise opportunities.

Those who prefer dry land will love the walking trails, which cater to all skill levels. These range from mountain climbs to lakeside walks. Other activities in the Lakes include pony-riding, treetop obstacle courses, and white-water rafting.

Disconnect from daily life.

With many of us leading busy lifestyles, slow living can feel impossible. This isn’t the case in the Lake District, where time moves at a more relaxed pace.

A Lake District camping trip is the perfect occasion to forget about your phone and reconnect with nature. The miles of serene hilltops and patchwork fields will give you space to recuperate and recharge.

Enjoy stargazing opportunities.

The Lake District doesn’t have the light pollution of urban areas. As such, the national park is an ideal spot for stargazing. A clear night is all you need to enjoy breathtaking views of constellations across the charcoal-black skies.

Explore the local history.

The Lake District isn’t just about beautiful views. The area is also steeped in a rich history and cultural heritage. There are many historical landmarks to explore, like Ambleside Roman Fort and Castlerigg Stone Circle.

What’s more, the Lake District is home to the former residences of literary greats Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth.

Where are the best Lake District camping sites?

Campers’ multicoloured tents set up in the Lake District

The Lake District is brimming with camping sites to suit all tastes. These sites range from traditional campsites to upmarket glamping parks. There are too many bucket-list Lake District destinations with campsites to list here, but some of the most popular include:

  • Wasdale
  • Ullswater
  • Windermere
  • Coniston
  • Cockermouth
  • Ennerdale
  • Penrith
  • Troutbeck
  • Crosthwaite
  • Keswick
  • Ambleside
  • Ravenglass

We’ll cover all of these towns and villages below.

Lake District camping sites

The Lake District offers innumerable camping sites to suit parties of all kinds. Some provide family-friendly set-ups and allow pets. Others provide a touch of luxury with televisions and heated facilities.

Many allow you to pitch up your own tent or book a static caravan. Three of the most popular Lake District camping areas include:

  • Wasdale: Towering mountains and England’s deepest lake make this civil parish a popular location for campers. Wasdale is also near Scafell Pike, which many campers like to visit as it’s the tallest mountain in England.

If you’re bringing family, campsites like Church Stile Farm and Holiday Park are ideal, offering a playground and allowing dogs.

  • Ullswater: Many campers select this lake to enjoy the peaceful setting and water activities. The Ullswater Steamers are especially popular. They run on most days and stop at old-world locations like Howtown and Glenridding.

Campers looking for an accessible campsite can opt for The Quiet Site, which is easily reachable from the M6 but far enough away not to hear road noise.

Those hoping to unwind after a busy day will love nearby campsites like Hawkshead Hall. Sitting at the head of Esthwaite Water, this Lake District camping site offers a TV room and a heated shower block.

Wild camping in the Lake District

Wild camping appeals to many nomads. Heading into the depths of the countryside and pitching up with no one for miles is on many travellers’ dream trip lists. Given the Lake District’s immense beauty, it’s no surprise that so many people hope to go wild camping here.

Can you do wild camping in the Lake District?

Unfortunately, it’s illegal to go wild camping in the Lake District unless you have permission from the landowner. You could get a fine if you camp on land belonging to the Lake District National Park. Because of this, you’ll need to find private land and ask the owner for permission to stay.

This isn’t only the case in the Lake District. Wild camping without permission is illegal everywhere except for Scotland and Dartmoor National Park, one of the UK’s biggest national parks. That said, both of these options offer countless wild camping opportunities for those looking to get up and close with nature.

As a lot of Snowdonia’s land is privately owned, it may also be easier to get permission to camp here than in other areas.

Where can you pitch your tent in the Lake District?

With permission from the landowner, three popular locations to pitch your tent in the Lake District include:

  • Holme Fell, Coniston: Many wild campers pick this location to enjoy the views of Coniston Water and the local winding walks. Holme Fell itself is only 317m tall, making it an easy walk with several secluded wild camping spots. There’s also a reservoir about halfway up, which is perfect for wild swimming.
  • Haystacks, Cockermouth: This hill in Buttermere Valley offers lots of sheltered space for wild campers to pitch tents. Campers who love fishing and walking particularly love this area as there’s plenty of opportunity for both.
  • Ennerdale Valley, Ennerdale: One of the Lake District’s remotest places, this valley attracts campers who want to escape daily life. Untamed hills and woodlands sprawl throughout the area, where wild campers can find many hidden gem spots to pitch up.

Glamping sites in the Lake District

While camping isn’t for everyone, glamping can accommodate those who prefer a few home comforts while on holiday. The Lake District offers scores of glamping options suited to couples, families, and friends.

Rainproof pods keep guests comfy even in the wetter weather. On top of this, many accommodation providers include luxuries to make stays extra special.

Here are three popular Lake District areas to book a glamping holiday:

  • Penrith: Those looking for a glamping getaway with lots of history will love Penrith. Walks aside, there’s a 14th-century castle and plenty of ancient artefacts to see at Penrith and Eden Museum.

Glamping providers like Camp Eden provide rustic bell, bedouin, and Royal Indian Shikar tents in the nearby area. Guests can also enjoy late-night campfires and wood-fired pizzas.

  • Troutbeck: This idyllic location makes for the perfect escape, with glamping pods overlooking the mountain Blencathra. Troutbeck’s mini hamlets follow a valley road, where you’ll find traditional slate cottages and lots of green spaces.

Glamping providers include Ewe Love Camping Pods, which offers three pods on a small working farm. Given the small number of accommodations, you’ll be in the quietest of quiet spots. The pods even have en-suite bathrooms and underfloor heating.

  • Crosthwaite: This Lyth Valley location is one of the prettiest in the Lakes. Beyond this charming location, the busier Windermere, Ambleside, and Kendal are all within a short drive. Each of these offers several things to see and do.

Glamping pod provider Damson View Glamping provides luxuries like king-sized beds, towels, and toiletries, and firepits.

Campervan sites in the Lake District

Like with wild camping, you can’t show up in the Lakes and park your campervan wherever you like. This means you’re limited to campsites. However, many Lake District camping sites welcome visitors in campervans or motorhomes.

Some of the most popular spots for those staying in campervans include:

The town teams spectacular scenery with plenty of things to see and do — ideal if you have rainy weather. In this case, there’s an old-fashioned cinema, an independent brewery, and a theatre overlooking Derwent Water. Time it right, and you also can visit the Keswick Mountain Festival.

Park up at campsites like Castlerigg Hall Camping and Caravan Site, which has its own shop, campers’ kitchen, and lounge.

  • Ambleside: Like Keswick, this Victorian town blends majestic countryside with many things to do. From the Armitt Museum to Rydal Mount and Gardens (home of William Wordsworth), the local to-do list is endless.

Ambleside is also famous for its Lakeside Pier, a great spot to enjoy fish and chips overlooking the water.

Park up at campsites like Low Wray National Trust Campsite, one of the sites that allows barbecues.

  • Ravenglass: This pretty village has a maritime legacy that dates back by almost 2,000 years, when the Romans guarded the coast against Barbarian invasion.

Today, you can explore the local bath house, narrow gauge railway, and the Hawk and Owl Centre at Muncaster Castle.

Park up at campsites like Ravenglass Camping and Caravanning Club Site, a coastal site with a motorhome service point.

Can you sleep in your car in the Lake District?

You can sleep in your car, but only if you park on a formal campsite. Much like with wild camping in the Lake District, you’ll need permission from the landowner to park up and sleep in your car.

Planning your Lake District camping trip.

Once you’ve picked your Lake District camping site, it’s time to plan your trip. These five checks will make sure everything is in order, ready for your stay.

  • Remember to pack your camping essentials: Beyond your sleeping bag and tent, you’ll also need a first-aid kit, a strong rucksack, a torch, and bug spray. Other essentials could include a camping stove, sunscreen, toilet paper, hand sanitiser, and a rubbish bag.
  • Come dressed for the occasion: You’ll need strong, comfortable hiking boots, rain gear, and warm layers in case of cold weather. Slip-on shoes will make life easier for late-night toilet trips, too.
  • Schedule a supermarket sweep on the way: Buying groceries can prove expensive from corner shops in the Lake District. Stop en-route in a larger town like Kendal or Windermere to pick up ingredients and snacks.
  • Read your campsite’s rules: You’ll need to know what the etiquette is before heading out. Check-in and check-out times will vary from site to site. Some sites allow campfires and others don’t. There may also be rules about party sizes, animals, and noise.
  • Check all your gear and supplies are in good working order: Make sure there aren’t any tears in your tent and that you have all the poles. You’ll also want to make sure your torch has batteries and that your camping stove works.

Planning your Lake District camping trip with Avanti.

Mountainous view from the Catbells in the Lake District

As one of the UK’s top camping locations, the Lake District is full of tranquil spots to enjoy alone or with loved ones. Either way, you can take an Avanti train to the Lake District.

Our trains stop at key destinations like Oxenholme, Penrith, and Carlisle. With some careful planning, you won’t have far to go to reach your camping site from these stations.

Get the best deals on trains to the Lake District with our Best Fare Finder. If you’re booking in advance, you can also sign up for Priority Ticket Alerts to find out when the cheapest tickets go on sale. You can also save one-third on ticket prices with our Railcards.

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