Your favourite autumn family days out
The nights are drawing in and there’s a real chill in the air, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to hibernate.
Autumn is here for you to enjoy with all its colour and conkers. Here’s a selection of the best places to visit for families this season, chosen by those who know best: children and their parents.
‘Mount Stewart is a ten minute drive from our house so we go often and every time without fail we see something new. We might climb rocks or trees, jump over a stream or follow a family of ducks. The views are breath-taking and we always come home happy.’
- Niky M, visitor
Children can let off steam in the many gardens surrounding Mount Stewart. Look out for red squirrels and other wildlife as you go. Pick up a tracker pack from reception, which includes binoculars, puzzles and a host of outdoor activities for children. Also this autumn, don’t miss our Festival of Light, when we will be illuminating over 200 trees.
'I like walking around the castle and climbing up the turrets, then going back to the café for a hot chocolate and a piece of cake.'
- Iona Howells, Kids’ Councillor
This is a real fairy-tale castle, with spiral staircases, battlements and a look-out tower. Children can let their imagination run riot, listening to gruesome tales told by our miller, baker and other colourful characters from the past. You can also uncover Bodiam’s secrets with our adventure map and feed our ducks with food from the shop or ticket office.
‘Coniston is the setting for the Swallows and Amazons stories. Have your own adventures here complete with pirates, sharks and pemmican cakes.’
-Mel G, visitor
The Lake District is the perfect setting for autumnal adventures. Coniston has a lot of quieter roads and trails, which provide wonderful family-friendly cycling or walking routes. You can also hire electric bikes locally if you want a helping hand with all those hills.
Children always enjoy a trip on the Steam Yacht Gondola, where they can learn about the boat’s steam engine and watch from the open viewing windows as the engineer feeds the firebox with ‘green’ blazer log fuel.
‘This October half-term we will go to East Head by bike and hope to find Lisa, the ranger. Obviously there will be lots of barefoot walking and sandpooling - aka rockpooling without the rocks. Hopefully there will still be lizards to track on the sand dunes.’
- Francesca Carrannante, Kids’ Councillor
Beaches aren’t just for summer. Playing in the dunes, catching a crab and going on a barefoot walk are just as much fun in cooler weather. If you're lucky you might even spot the odd seal. The soft sand here is perfect for sand art and beach games and as summer departs it makes way for some glorious autumn sunsets over the estuary.
‘We went on an October half-term getaway with the family to one of the National Trust's finest places. We went rockpooling, exploring, discovering, saw magnificent views and gathered an abundance of memories.
- Lara M, visitor
Lindisfarne Castle stands on a crag 100 feet above the sea and has always been the biggest draw to this corner of Holy Island. To get to the island you have to cross the sand so make sure you check the tide times before you set off.
Explore the castle with our family trails or see more of the island whilst rockpooling, birdwatching and flying your kite. The castle is open for the season until Sunday 3 November.
‘I like climbing trees and seeing all the different colour leaves.’
- Sophia Tarling, Kids’ Councillor
Blickling Estate is beautiful in the autumn, as the trees start to turn. There is plenty to see on this 4,777 acre estate, during family walks or cycle rides. The Great Wood is a brilliant place for building dens and make sure you check out the fallen tree on the way up to the Orangery for creepy crawlies.
‘We've had some fab family days out here - exploring inside the castle and then letting Max wear himself out in the grounds, while we admire the peacocks and Capability Brown's glorious landscape.’
- Janie B, visitor
Powis Castle is a great stomping ground for children in autumn. Follow our wilderness walks through the woods and look out for bird and bat boxes.
Inside the castle is a trail for children, where they can follow hidden clues. You can refuel at the restaurant, where children's lunchboxes and meals are available.
‘My favourite place to visit at half-term is Croome because there are lots of places to explore and it looks really pretty when all the leaves have changed colour.’
- Keira Bickley, Kids’ Councillor
There certainly is plenty to do at Croome. Children can explore the remains of a secret wartime air base, follow our discovery trail in the house, design their own plate or join a canoeing session.
Budding pilots can let loose at our RAF themed playground, which is complete with a parachute swing and lookout tower. Or would-be David Attenborough’s can pick up an explorer pack, which contains park trails, binoculars and a bug hunting kit.
‘I took the kids to this hidden Roman Villa. It’s well worth a visit to see and the kids can even make their own mosaic.’
- Vince H, visitor
Water shrines, bathhouses and mosaics await you at Chedworth Roman Villa. Children can delve into ancient Roman life at these intriguing ruins. They can try brass rubbing, Roman table games, dress up as a Roman and discover what a sponge on a stick is really for.
There’s a wide range of family events on this autumn: from a Roman Hallowe'en, to craft events and mosaic workshops. After your visit kids can run off any excess energy in the woods above the site. Just ask at reception for a map.