Indoor adventures for rainy days

It’s one of the many challenges of parenthood - how do you keep a flock of hyperactive children amused on a rainy day? Because, let’s face it, even the best laid plans can be ruined by a sudden downpour. Never fear, we’ve got a few ideas up our sleeves. Here's our top indoor adventures for rainy days.

Children writing on the walls at Allan Bank

Allan Bank, Cumbria  

Allan Bank has a playroom full of traditional toys, board games and a dressing up box, sure to keep the family entertained for hours and no need to worry about the mess. In the Art room, take inspiration from the views from our windows and get creative. We have all the materials you need to draw and paint as well as some helpful tips.

Indoor play area at Belton House

Belton House, Lincolnshire 

Belton House’s indoor adventure play area has tunnels to scramble through and a mini Belmont tower to climb. Kids can run off some energy while grown-ups enjoy cupcakes and coffee at the café. We also hold our popular under 5s toddler group, Button Bucks, on the first and third Thursday of the month.

Three boys dressing up with capes and hats

Beningbrough, Yorkshire  

Beningbrough's interactive galleries are open all year round and offer the chance to dress up as one of the many characters who shaped Beningbrough’s past. Everyone can get hands on in the sculpture room, and there’s also a pre-school playroom for the smallest members of the family. If your talents lie in portraiture why not sit the whole family down for your very own digital portrait?

Children playing with toy horses at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

Calke Abbey, Derbyshire 

Squirt’s Stable is divided into themed bays that tell the story of Calke Abbey through the ages. One bay recreates a Victorian natural history collector’s camp, where children can investigate the specimen cabinets and equipment for gathering butterflies and fossils. There's also a dressing up bay and a reading bay. Inside the house are fascinating and often strange possessions, from crocodile skulls and stuffed birds, to carriages.

Fun in the barn at Castle Ward, County Down

Castle Ward, County Down 

Children can drive a tractor at Castle Ward. Yes, you heard us right – children in charge of tractors. The kids can get a taste of the farmyard at Castle Ward, County Down, whatever the weather. They can drive mini tractors around the barn and at can dress up as farmyard animals and play farm board-games.

Child quill writing

Coleridge Cottage, Somerset 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge lived in this cottage for three years with his family, and penned some of his best works here. When they moved in on New Year's Eve 1796 they found the house already occupied by mice but Coleridge thought it was 'against his hostly duties' to set traps. Today you can spot mouse-hunt cards around the cottage and discover their nibble sized facts. While you’re here why not dress up in Georgian costume and have a go at writing your own poem with a quill and ink?

Visitors in the Gallery at Cragside, Northumberland.

Cragside, Northumberland 

Visit the Young Engineer’s zone next to the Visitor Centre and experiment with the magnetic marble cascade and complicated cogs. Try your hand at your own engineering project and get creative with LEGO™, cogs and more! It’s open weekends and school holidays so head indoors and engineer your own fun, whatever the weather.

Costumed education assistant with children building a wooden house at Erddig

Erddig, Wrexham 

Erddig is a great place to take cover from the rain and for the children to learn about upstairs-downstairs life. Have-a-go history days take place throughout the year. And if your youngsters want a go at playing the piano, they can take centre stage in the drawing room. They just have to ask the room guide, and they are welcome to fill the house with music.

Volunteer costumed interpreter in the kitchen in the basement at Ickworth, Suffolk

Ickworth, Suffolk 

Visit the basement of the Rotunda at Ickworth and you’ll see how servants lived here. Children can touch everything and play 1930s games in the servants’ hall. If you visit on one of our ‘living history’ days, you and the kids will hear the servants’ stories from volunteer performers, who dress up and act out scenes from the past. Join a family tour to find out about our magical stumpery, use the secret back stairs and learn why the Earl Bishop threw spaghetti out of his window.

See if you can spot the builder mice around the house.

Killerton, Devon 

What better place to escape the rain than Killerton, where we’re nearing the end of a major conservation project to repair the leaky roof. Keep an eye out for the builder mice hiding around the house, or head for the dressing-up box in the laundry room to get a feel for life in the Victorian times. October is also the last chance to see our exhibition about Sir Richard Acland, whose political believe led him to give Killerton and his other estates to the National Trust.

The Boudoir, attached to Lady Robartes's bedroom at Lanhydrock, Cornwall

Lanhydrock, Cornwall 

Lanhydrock is a sprawling Victorian family home, with plenty to keep young visitors interested on a rainy day. Get hands on at our touch and discover tables, where you can learn to fold napkins, brush hats, identify creepy crawlies and dial the old telephones. Kids also enjoy playing with the Victorian toys in the family school room and practising their handwriting on slates.

a volunteer take a victorian school lesson

Museum of Childhood, Derbyshire 

Climb a chimney, visit a Victorian schoolroom and explore the exhibitions of toys through the ages. Budding storytellers can create their own characters and stories in the performance area. If the rain eases up you can explore the Outdoor Adventure Gallery and play jacks and marbles along a Victorian street.

ondensor mule made by Taylor Lang of Stalybridge (1926)

Quarry Bank, Cheshire 

Children love the clattering, hissing and clanging of the machinery at Quarry Bank, which runs every day the Mill is open. Expert demonstrators are on hand to help you and the kids imagine the working conditions in the late 18th century. Once you’ve taken in the sights and sounds of the Mill you can see what it was like to be an apprentice, by touring the Apprentice House, built to house the pauper children who worked here.

Little boy in Victorian costume

Springhill, County Londonderry 

The costume closet exhibition includes a magical wardrobe, complete with amazing costumes to try on for girls and boys aged up to 12. Come along and dress up as a Victorian detective, a medieval princess, King Henry VIII, a tin soldier, a Victorian nanny, a Japanese princess or even a 1920s' gangster.

Two girls dressing up in period costume at Tredegar House

Tredegar House, Newport 

Travel through the ages at Tredegar House, from the dazzling 17th century Gilt Room to the 1930s bedroom that once belonged to the eccentric 2nd Viscount Tredegar. Hunt out intricate oak carvings of lions and griffins, explore below stairs in the servants’ quarters or create shadow puppet stories in the New Parlour.

Children learning about Winchester City Mill on a miller's guided tour

Winchester City Mill, Hampshire 

Visit Winchester City Mill to see our team of volunteer millers in action. The mill harnesses the power of the river Itchen to turn waterwheels, gears and millstones to produce traditional wholemeal flour. There are regular baking demonstrations and interactive activities exploring how the mill works.

Children in the rain

Rainy days are great for trying some of our 50 things challenges too 

Of course, if you don't mind getting a little bit wet, then you don't have to stay indoors on rainy days. These are perfect times to tick off heaps of our 50 things to do before you're 11 ¾ challenges like running around in the rain, hunting for bugs, or exploring inside a tree. Don't forget your wellies though!