The summer holidays are slowly coming to an end, yet you’ve got to entertain your energetic offspring. The capital obviously has lots to offer but if you want an escape that’s further afield then you won’t go far wrong with these options to the west of London. Perfect days out, no matter how old you are…
It’s always been popular, but now it’s got the royal stamp of approval (Meghan Markle stayed here the night before her wedding) it’s likely to be even more so. Don’t let that put you off. There’s plenty of space – 375 acres to be precise – for everyone and things to keep all ages entertained. The Yew Tree maze is a must (and you may even bag yourself a quick break as your kids find their way to the centre and back out again). There’s a storybook play den for the under 8’s, a natural play area for older children, a water garden, a six acre Parterre stretching from the historic and infamous Cliveden House Hotel to the river Thames, boat trips, walking trails and summer events specifically designed for children. Literally, something for everyone – if the weather’s good! Oh and good news if you’ve got a dog – there’s currently a trial going on so dogs are allowed in almost all areas of the estate.
Continuing the royal wedding theme, why not spend a day getting to know this historic market town – home, of course, to the Queen? This is a good option if you don’t drive as it’s probably easier to get to on public transport. Why not start your day at Windsor Castle where there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained. See the State Apartments and Queen Mary’s dolls’ house, relive the wedding of the year at St George’s Chapel and see the spectacle that is the Changing of the Guard. (11.00 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) There are arts and crafts activities for children throughout the summer months.
Outside the castle and if you have older children and visit on the second Thursday of the month you may be interested in a new event – tea and cake with a British Army Veteran who’ll share their experiences of war. This is organised by Royal Windsor Tours and tickets can be bought from the Information Centre or online.
If being outside and at one with nature’s more your thing then head to Windsor Great Park. With a Royal history spanning over 1,000 years there’s plenty to see and do. Younger children will love the animals on the Totem Pole at Virginia Water lake, or the play area on the Obelisk Lawn. There’s a fantastic new café and restaurant in the Virginia Water Pavilion and an Environmental Centre where you can see up close the wildlife and natural heritage this great park has to offer.
For those of you with younger children, Odds Farm is a must. Rain or shine it has it all. Aside from the obligatory animals, there’s soft play, an outdoor adventure playground and new this year – a water play area – suitable for swimsuits and bare feet in the sun or waterproofs and wellies in the rain. Tractor and trailer rides, mini golf and an adventure maze complete the line up and throughout the summer holidays there are theatre performances, arts and crafts and games for everyone to enjoy. If some farm action is on the cards then older children might prefer Peterley Manor Farm – where you can pick your own fruit throughout the summer – choose from strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, whitecurrants and blackberries. And after you’ve worked up an appetite you can enjoy brunch or lunch in the Wild Strawberry Café.
Not far from Odds Farm and Cliveden is Bekonscot – the world’s oldest model village. You can’t spend a whole day here but there’s plenty to see and do. There’s the model railway which runs through six miniature towns all stuck in a 1930’s timewarp, a ride on railway, over an acre of perfectly manicured gardens and a children’s play area. If you do want to make a day of it you can combine your visit with a two and a half a hour boat ride from Windsor – taking in the sites on your way. https://www.bekonscot.co.uk/
And from mini models to those of all shapes and sizes at the UK’s favourite children’s theme park. With 55 rides and attractions there’s sure to be something for everyone at Legoland Windsor. You can definitely fill a full day here – and even stay overnight. Pirates, Pharaohs, Knights and Vikings grace this land and new for 2018 there’s a Lego reef, a mini America attraction and even a Round the World tour. If you buy your tickets in advance online they’re cheaper and look out for adults go free vouchers on cereal and chocolate packets over the coming months. Read our latest review here.