Stay-cation is the word again this year - but how do you entertain little bundles of energy during a long, hot summer? By letting them go crazy during brilliant days out, here are a few that are right on your doorstep!
Prepare to you have your mind boggled
The Intech Science Centre and Planetarium is a brilliantly interactive and fun day out. Whether you’re crazy about science or you don’t know the difference between Vo2 and VO5 (one is your bodies ability to transport oxygen, the other makes your hair nice), there’s a stack of engaging activities to keep the whole family entertained.
The centre encourages education through exploration and from the moment you walk in the door, there are objects flying, hovering and gyrating around you.
As with any educational centre, there’s always a danger that a family day out becomes a little ‘school-like’ – but Intech manages to walk the line carefully and educates through fun and letting children get their clammy little hands on everything.
You can turn, wind, watch, build, pump, press and laugh at hundreds of exhibits. In all honesty, at six years old Molly isn’t that interested in the forces in action as her floaty parachuted character is sent up into the heavens, but it gave her some food for thought and just for a second she was puzzled about how a parachute actually worked.
With the Olympics just around the corner, the centre is hosting ‘Push the Limits’, an activity zone dedicated to the science of sport. From measuring sprint speed to using the green screen as a sports reporter, youngsters are rushing around to and fro, learning about the human body and the technology used enhancing performance. Lots of red faces puffing and panting, before standing with hands aloft on the winner's podium.
The Planetarium is also well worth a visit, it delivers a sensual overload. The giant 360º spherical movie screen shows a selection of educational ½ hour films, each catering for a different age group. Even Jack (aged 2) was entertained, before falling asleep as we landed on Pluto.
The café offers a selection of hot and cold food, all reasonably priced – there’s also a large picnic area (inside and out) for those who fancy a spot of self-catering. There are also baby changing facilities and additional events happening throughout the school holidays.
Intech is very popular and on a wet day can be rammed with knowledge hungry youngsters. That said, everyone will come away with at least one golden nugget of knowledge that they never knew before.*
* If Jupiter was hollow you could fit 1000 planet Earths inside!!
Prices: Adults £9, Children
(3-16) £6.50, Family £27.90,
Planetarium Show - £2.20
Parking - FREE
Manor Farm & Country Park
The Perfect Place for an outdoor adventure
Snuggled in one of the most idyllic spots in Hampshire, tucked up against the Hamble, Manor Farm and Country Park is a delightful step back through 600 years of history.
Built in the 1400’s, the working farm welcomes visitors to see farming from a simpler time. It’s an education to get to grips with traditional farming methods through the ages; Molly has a lot more respect for her favourite drink after milking one of the resident cows - ten minutes work for a thimble full!
Activities throughout the day include school lessons, where our WiFi-blessed generation get to sit in a fun Victorian lesson and witness old-school schooling. Discipline and dunces play a major part. Also, keep an eye out for some of the Victorian attired characters walking around the farm, some questionable beards are on show!
Every day there is a chance to meet the animals and depending on the time of year you visit, there’s a good chance you’ll bump into some bouncy lambs or squeaky piglets.
The café on site offers a selection of hot and cold snacks and there are plenty of picnic areas should you decide to take your own lunch.
The Farm sits within the country park, so once you’ve finished your agricultural adventure, the park is a great place to unleash the children and let them run around. There are plenty of trails, some of which run along the shoreline, others with children’s play areas.
It’s also a great location for a great big family BBQ too. Being a wooded area you can’t take your BBQ, but you can rent (£20 for a family sized hearth) for the day and if the sun is shining it’s a lovely spot to sit back relax and enjoy the sizzle of a sausage. Barbeques have to be hired in advance.
Manor Farm and Country Park is a fun and inexpensive day out. The Farm is a good ½ a day's entertainment, but mixed in with a thrash around the country park, you can ensure that the youngsters have burnt off their energy and will be nodding off by the time you hit the road back to civilisation.
For information and details on renting BBQs visit their website.
Prices: Adult £6, Child £4,
Under 3s Free, Family £19
Legoland Windsor Resort
It's huge, miles of smiles... Do you dare ride the Dragon's Lair?
As one of the UK’s best theme parks, Legoland is a whole world of plastic-brick-fun overlooking the elegance and splendor of Windsor Castle.
Before you even think about entering the park, make sure your family devise a strategy of what you want to see – it’s an enormous site, but with a solid overall plan you’ll be able to get around and make the most of the attractions.
The park is clearly marked out into zones, so whether you’re up for riding the Dragon’s Lair in the Knights Kingdom or getting soaked in the Viking’s River Splash, it’s simple to navigate.
From Duploland to Miniland (amazing Lego sculptures of international landmarks), Legoland caters for everyone, from ages 2-62. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or ice cream slurping on-looker, there’s something to float your boat around every corner.
The shows on throughout the day are a brilliant attraction distraction. The must-see ‘Golden Casket’ pirate show delivers pantomime mixed with slapstick, some death defying stunts, a jetski - all ticking along at frenetic pace, keeping young and old enthralled. The Duplo Theatre Puppet Show is also great fun for some classic fairytales, with contemporary twists (ie Elvis making a cameo in the Pied Piper of Hamlyn).
Amenities are dotted throughout the park, you’re never more than a stone’s throw from an eatery, toilet or baby changing area. It’s also impeccably clean, litter pickers cruise the park swooping on detritus before it hits the floor!
As you’d expect, Legoland is very popular and thus very busy. If you can manage a trip outside of the school holidays or weekends, you’ll find the queues for the attractions a lot shorter and you’ll be able to zip around the park without Mexican-styled nose to nose standoffs with others walking in the opposite direction.
If you’re planning to visit during the holidays or weekends and you’re taking children aged 8, it’s worth considering the Q-Bot ticket option. This fast tracks you on to rides ahead of the masses – some queues can be one hour or more, which is a real waste of time during a good day out.
It’s hard work squeezing it all into one day and if it proves too much, you could opt for the brand new Legoland Resort hotel and stretch your adventure out overnight. After all who doesn’t want to spend the night in a Pirate themed room, although you’ll need a few extra golden doubloons to pay for it.
There are a variety of passes available and special offers for the new hotel, but it’s well worth booking online to save yourself 10% from the word Le-go!