Activities, Winter Guide

Indoor family activities

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but when your weekend doesn’t revolve around wearing waterproof trousers then it’s really quite delightful. If the next two months of winter is putting you off exploring the great outdoors with your family, don’t worry. The great indoors will not disappoint. Here are our top picks for quirky, fun places to visit that won’t break the bank.

Rheged Centre, Cumbria

Stay: YHA Alston
Experience Price: Free

Just north of the dramatic fells of the Lake District sits Rheged, the largest visitor attraction ever to open in Cumbria. Named after an ancient kingdom from the Dark Ages, Rheged’s a treasure trove of heritage and culture (not to mention its grass-covered exterior making you feel you’ve stepped into Middle Earth). There’s plenty to keep the whole family happy, from film screenings at the six-story 3D cinema screen to pottery painting workshops, nine independent shops and an indoor play area. Any budding superheroes out there need to be sure to visit the comic art exhibition, where the worlds of Dennis the Mennis, Captain America and Wonder Woman are closer than ever. Browse the work of Marvel and DC’s Ian Churchill and then bring your own comic character to life with a KAPOW in the DIY comic workshop. It’s free to get into Rheged, tickets for the exhibition cost £3.50 (under fours go free).

MAD Museum (Mechanical Art & Design), Stratford-upon-Avon

Stay: YHA Stratford-upon-Avon
Family ticket: £22

As soon as you step foot in this quirky house of fun you’ll be greeted with enough whirling robotics, churning clogs, rolling ball circuits, and crazy sounds to make Wallace and Gromit jealous. Scratch that, they wouldn’t be jealous because all their gizmos are part of the collection, along with Scrapheap Challenge and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

The MAD is chock-a-block full of kinetic art, automata and steampunk contraptions. Modern meets the old fashioned in these highly innovative machines, all of which are beautifully crafted and ridiculously good fun. A family ticket for the museum is £22 and will give you access for the whole day, meaning you can even nip back to the hostel to recover from the excitement, then head back for more (because we can promise you’ll want to head back for more).

The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, Canterbury

Stay: YHA Canterbury
Experience Price: Free

Ever wanted to see a mummified Egyptian cat, a spectacularly decorated South Indian gauntlet sword and roundels of beautiful Dutch stained glass all in one room? Well, now you can.

The Beaney is home to the wonderfully weird and the weirdly wonderful, with exhibits from all over the world and galleries full of enough beautiful artwork to make Peggy Guggenheim envious. There’s plenty for young connoisseurs too, with explorer points scattered throughout the exhibits for children to touch, investigate and play with.

On Saturday 2nd February scientist and author extraordinaire Alom Saha will be teaching a science workshop called ‘Recipes of Wonder’ that will take children from ‘wow!’ to ‘how?’. The workshop is free but it’s a hot ticket, so booking is essential.

World Museum, Liverpool

Stay: YHA Liverpool
Experience Price: Free

Liverpool’s World Museum actually has it all. Roman sculptures? Tick. Rocks from the moon? Tick. An aquarium (that’s totally free!)? Great big tick. But the big attraction (pun intended) is the dinosaur gallery, where you can go nose to nose with life-size casts of these gigantic creatures, walk in their enormous footprints and take a trip through the geological time tunnel to a time when these magnificent beasts walked the Earth. Another must is Liverpuddles, the water-based interactive where children can drive dinky cars around a model of Liverpool and take a bona fide (toy) ferry over the Mersey, all in the name of environmental education. Everything in the museum is free and YHA Liverpool is less than 20 minutes away on foot. If that doesn’t spell a perfect weekend, then I don’t know what does.

If you’ve had a magical indoor adventure of your own, then we’d love to hear from you. Send your recommendations to [email protected]

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