There’s nothing like a day out with the family, especially in the summer. With the stop/start of the last two years seemingly behind us (fingers crossed), it’s time for families to get back to doing what they do best: having fun and making memories at some of the many attractions you can find all over the country.

And since we’re certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to options, how do you know which family attractions are worth your time? And what about the distance you’re willing to travel? Do you go for somewhere close to home? Or will somewhere further afield catch your eye?

To help make scheduling your summer plans a breeze, we’ve looked at family attractions up and down the country, compiling a list of the best ones by region and category. Which are the ones you should check out and which are the ones to avoid? Read on to see what we found out…

What went into our research?

To find out which family attractions in the UK were the best, we compiled a list from a range of sources including Wikipedia and TripAdvisor. We then ranked each entry on six factors:

  • Average review score (calculated by combining reviews on Google and TripAdvisor)
  • Onsite dining
  • Onsite parking
  • Child ticket price
  • Adult ticket price
  • Family of 4 ticket price

This gave us an index of the top family attractions across the UK, which we then split into the following attraction types:

  • Aquariums
  • Children’s museums
  • Theme/amusement parks
  • Water parks
  • Zoos

We also split the results into regions to help families find attractions in their area.

Top 10 Best UK Family Attractions

best family attractions

With an impressive index score of 86/90, we’re officially crowning the Royal Air Force Museum in London as the UK’s best family attraction. Touted as a “great day out for the family” by one review, the museum scored highly across all our index factors.

Not far behind, the Camperdown Wildlife Centre in Scotland took second place with a score of 81, while The Hawk Conservancy swooped in at number three with 80 – a score also shared by the Centre for Computing History and Scotland’s Dynamic Earth, an Edinburgh-based attraction that tells the story of planet Earth from the big bang to the present day.

Top 10 Worst UK Family Attractions

worst family attractions

The scores may suggest otherwise, but there’s nothing that’s necessarily bad about the attractions on our list. Since our index was scored on several things, it’s worth noting things may be somewhat skewed. It’s likely that the entrants above were on the pricier side of admission, accounting for their comparatively lower scores.

Top 10 Best in West Midlands

family attractions west midlands

When it came to attractions in Brindley’s neck of the woods, The Birmingham Nature Centre took the region’s top spot with 80/90 – no mean feat considering there were three other zoo/wildlife attractions vying for the number one spot. Described as “a little treasure tucked away in Birmingham” in one review, it promises to be a top day out for anyone in the region.

Bigger names like Alton Towers and Drayton Manor also featured in our list, offering families a more popular, renowned day out – though it’s interesting that they’ve been beaten by something less well known.

The Best Family Attractions Per Region

Keen to find out which family attractions came out on top in your local area? Take a look at our chart below to find out…

family attractions by region

Top 5 Best UK Free Family Attractions

free family attractions

As the cost of living, gas and electricity rises, some families are bound to be feeling the pinch right now. But that doesn’t mean you have to fork out for a great day out together. As our top five shows, there are plenty of family attractions spread around the country that don’t cost a penny.

And with scores in the seventies and eighties, visitors were clearly impressed with what they have to offer: of the Leeds Discovery Centre, one reviewer gushed “what a gem of a find!” – a real diamond in the rough, we’d say.

Top 10 Aquariums

best aquariums

For subaquatic adventures, the North West’s Lake District Coast Aquarium is the UK’s top aquarium. With “beautiful, well-established tanks of various fish and other sea creatures”, it’s sure to offer an incredible experience for both kids and parents alike.

Scotland has an impressive showing two, with three of its aquariums making an appearance in the top ten: the MacDuff Aquarium, the Sea Life Centre in Loch Lomond, and Deep Sea World in North Queensferry – all with strong index scores in the 60s.

Top 10 Children’s Museums

best childrens museums

The UK’s overall best attraction, The Royal Air Force Museum, takes the number one spot once again here, but the country as a whole is clearly well-equipped with educational attractions that anyone can enjoy. London, Scotland, the South East, Northern Ireland and Yorkshire were all well represented here, with museums catering to a range of interests, including science, aviation, and computing.

Top 10 Zoos/Wildlife Attractions

best zoo and wildlife parks

For curious minds interested in exploring other species, Camperdown Wildlife Centre in Scotland offers plenty for little ones to immerse themselves in. With a score of 81/90, it takes our top spot here. 

Top 5 Water Parks

best water parks

If you’re heading to Wales, then there are plenty of ways to make a splash. Three out of our top five can be found in the area, including the number one water park, the Cardiff International Pool. Described by one reviewer as “a great leisure pool, with really good slides”, this twisty-turny attraction is great for getting everyone’s adrenaline going.

A special mention to our second-place spot Alton Towers Waterpark too – an incredible adventure land filled with all sorts of rapids, water slides and bubbling pools that was described as “absolutely amazing” by one reviewer.

Top 10 Theme/Amusement Parks

best theme and amusement parks

It might not be the most pulse-racing place on our list, but Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre still comes in number one for the UK’s best theme/amusement park. Offering a glimpse into old-timey fairground rides from days gone by, it’s a “fantastic place to visit for the whole family and all ages”.

For younger kids looking to experience hair-raising rides for the first time, our second-place attraction The Big Sheep does just that. Offering everything from train rides and tractor safaris to North Devon’s biggest, fastest, and highest rollercoaster, The Rampage, reviews called the attraction the “best day out for families” – we can’t argue with that!

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