British summer holiday guide: family-friendly adventures and events

From forest schools to open air theatres and literary fun, we've put together a guide on the best summer family-friendly holiday activities and days out across the UK, plus craft ideas suitable for children.


Here is our summer holiday guide on the best family-friendly activities and days out across the UK, plus crafty ideas suitable for children.

Events and days out

The National Garden Scheme, various locations

Visit a family-friendly garden this summer. Children often go free and can enjoy a range of outdoor activities such as mazes, wildlife quizzes, boat rides and pond-dipping.
Pond dipping class

Open Air Theatre, the National Trust, various locations

Several National Trust properties are hosting outdoor theatre performances throughout the summer holiday, such as the classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Sense and Sensibility. Pack a picnic and enjoy a play on a warm summer evening.

Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire. One of the properties having an open air theatre this summer. Getty.

RSPB Reserve family events, various locations

The RSPB is running fun educational activities for children at venues across the country, such as family fun days, wild beach days, wildlife photography workshops and masterclasses all geared for children.

Seven-spot ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) (Getty)

Night Safari, various locations

For any child over eight years-of-age, this is an exciting chance to dive into the natural world and hunt for bats, owls, and other nocturnal creatures. Running at Kielder Castle and Hamsterley, plus other locations.

Barn Owl, Tyto alba, hunting over grazing marshes ©Alamy
Barn Owl, Tyto alba, hunting over grazing marshes ©Alamy

Forest and adventure camps

Summer camps can give children a taste of adventure and freedom, the chance to learn new skills and build their confidence and make new friends.

Here is a selection summer forest camps taking place across the UK this August, which are suitable for children of all ages.

Learn bushcraft skills in a fun, safe environment this summer/Credit: Getty

Beach Days

Britain’s best beaches

Fancy a day on the coast? The UK is spoilt for choice when it comes to stunning beaches. From the spectacular Isles of Scilly to the rugged beaches of the Scottish Highlands, here is our guide to the most beautiful beaches in Britain.

Beach, Sandwood Bay, Highland Region, Scotland, UK, Europe
Beach, Sandwood Bay, Highland ©Getty

Wild Beach Days, Suffolk

Suffolk Wildlife Trust is running several Wild Beach events suitable for children. Enjoy a family morning of pirate adventure, or alternatively send your little ones on a 1-3 day holiday camp for full days of nature-based fun activities. From beach-combing, to den-building to rock pool dipping there is lots for children of all ages to enjoy.

View along the beach at the edge of Beachy Head, Eastbourne, East Sussex/Credit: Getty

Outdoor family adventures

Cook dinner on the campfire

Food from the campfire always seems to taste better! From S’mores to kebabs, campfires are a great way to encourage children to learn essential outdoor skills.

Roasting marshmallows around a campfire is a great family activity. Getty

Explore Britain’s coastline or waterways by kayak or canoe

Head down to the sea or a river and try your hand at canoeing or kayaking. It’s a great way to exercise and can help you destress and reconnect with nature. You can do it on any stretch of water, but you can’t beat paddling along your local coastline.

A family kayak into the sunset

Summer foraging and fruit picking

The late summer is a perfect time to forage for berries such as blackberries and wild strawberries. Alternatively, the UK has a number of ‘pick your own’ soft fruits which children will love.

Strawberry farm
Pick your own strawberries at one of the UK’s farms/ Getty images

Go for a bike ride

Pump up your tyres and peddle through the countryside. Cycling is a great way to reconnect with nature and get off the beaten track. Take a ride on a local cycle path, or if you’re a bit more ambitious, why not take a family bikepacking trip somewhere local.

The countryside is home to many cycling paths with beautiful scenery/Credit: Getty images 

Enjoy a wild swim

On a warm summer’s day, it doesn’t get much better than taking a dip in the sea, lake or river. If you live in a big city, don’t be put off as there are many wild swimming spots near London.

Wild swimming has grown in popularity in recent years/Credit: Getty images 

Sleep under the stars

Pitch a tent and spend an evening beneath a starry night-sky. Wild camping allows you to escape the constant buzz of modern life and get back to basics. While not legal in some parts of the country, there are a number of smaller campsites in secluded locations, where you simply pitch up and savour the tranquility. Alternatively, kids will love sleeping in the back garden for a mini adventure.

Wild camping
Grab your tent and sleeping back and embark on a wild-camping trip/Credit: Getty images 

Ride a horse

There are many ways to explore the countryside, but horse riding is a fun way to explore – especially when it involves galloping across a sandy beach. Many stables offer beginner riding lessons or cross country rides, so why not give horse riding a go?

Explore the countryside atop a beautiful horse/Credit: Getty images

Gaze at the night sky

Cast your eyes to the skies and see how many different constellations you can see. Gaze at the stars from your back garden, or, for a really memorable experience, head to one of Britain’s national parks for stunning starry skies.

There are few more captivating sights than a starry night-time sky/Credit: Getty images

Fish for you supper

Cast your rod and reel in a catch in a lake or river. You may not always catch something, but the serene surroundings will certainly make up for it. Britain is home to many traditional, idyllic fishing villages.

Grab your fishing rod and cast it out at your nearest stretch of water/Credit: Getty images 

Go on a family walk

Get back to nature with a beautiful countryside walk. Walking is a great way to spend time together as a family and explore your local landscape. With blooming flowers, warmer weather and buzzing wildlife, summer is the perfect season to take a long walk in the countryside.

For more walking inspiration, check out our walking section

Pack a picnic and head for a summer walk/Credit: Getty

Give geocaching a go

Enjoy hiking, the countryside and treasure hunting? This might be the hobby for you. Download the free app and find one of many secret geocaches hidden in the countryside. Read our guide on how to go geocaching and start hunting.

Download the app and start hunting geocaches today/Credit: Getty images 

Visit the literary countryside

Visit the countryside that inspired your favourite literary novels such as Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice. Put yourself in the shoes of your favourite characters and immerse yourself in their fictional world. Travel back in time with these historic days out, or walk in the footsteps of some of Britain’s greatest poets.

Read your favourite novel in the place where it’s set/Credit: Getty images 

Experience a sunrise and sunset

Get up early and experience sunrise, then watch it set later that evening. Wherever you are, set your alarm clocks early and make the most of the natural daylight.

Marvel at the beauty of the countryside at sunrise and sunset/Credit: Getty images 

Go rockpooling

Searching for a fun coastal adventure to keep the kids happy over the summer holidays? Rockpooling and hunting for crabs is an easy way to have fun with the family and introduce children to the wonders of marine ecology. Discover how to find and study crabs in rockpools in a few easy steps, plus learn more about rockpools and the equipment you need to get started.

Children love exploring rockpools along the shoreline/Credit: Getty
Children love exploring rockpools along the shoreline/Credit: Getty images

Go on a wildlife safari in your garden or local park

Beetles are a fascinating group of insects found widely throughout the UK – become an amateur coleopterist with our guide to some of Britain’s most beautiful beetles, from the striking rose chafer to the deceptive wasp beetle. Take a look under a rock or fallen tree branch in your garden or local park and see what species you can spot.

Oil beetle
Oil beetle/Credit: Getty images

Craft projects for rainy days

Children will love crafting these fun summer projects

Flower Pressing

Flower Pressing is a great way to preserve and study the beautiful flowers grown in UK gardens. Once you’ve pressed your flowers, you can continue the creativity and make them into greetings cards or bookmarks.

Pressed flower heads/Credit: Getty images
Pressed flower heads/Credit: Getty images

Pebble Decorating

Decorating pebbles is an easy summer activity, simply collect pebbles from a trip to the beach and decorate them when you get home. Once decorated, they can be used as paperweights or decorations, and make for great gifts for the family.

Similarly, you can grow your own herbs and create pretty, decorative pebble labels.

Alternatively, why not make your own pebble domino set?

Make your own pebble dominoes, a perfect homemade gift

Make a garden fairy lantern

Create an enchanting garden fairy jar with foraged mosses and plants – it’s a fun and crafty way to spend an afternoon and will leave you with a magical lantern to light up your night

Create your own fairy jar
Create your own enchanting fairy jar