Kids indoor activities for rainy days

It’s one of the many challenges of parenthood - how do you keep a flock of kids 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.

Family playing snooker on the Billiard table

Avebury, Wiltshire 

Avebury is famous for the prehistoric stone circle that surrounds the village, but did you know that there are plenty of secrets to uncover inside the manor and museum too? Take a wander through the house with its rooms decorated for five different eras: from the Tudors through to the 20th century. Much of the furniture was built when the house was refurbished, so you can lie on the beds and play snooker in the Billiard Room.

The indoor play area The Ride 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 

Know any budding young farmers? Why not bring them down to the farmyard at Castle Ward where they can practice driving mini tractors around the barn, or dress up as farmyard animals. Whatever the weather there'll be plenty to keep them occupied: even farm-themed board games.

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.

Mother and child climbing the stairs at Dyffryn

Dyffryn Gardens 

The house at Dyffryn has been transformed with a twist; everything has been designed to be touched and played with. Pretend to be the Lord or Lady of the manor as you challenge your family and friends to a game of billiards. Have a go at sewing in the morning room, play the piano in the Blue drawing room, enjoy a good book in The Red library or have a go at the typewriters in conference centre.

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 and you’ll get to find out how Ickworth’s servants would have lived. For a really immersive experience, come along to one of the regular ‘living history’ days to meet the volunteer performers who dress up as servants and act out their stories. Don’t forget to look out for the secret back stairs, and see if you can find out 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.

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.

Housemaid at work at Lyme

Lyme Park, Cheshire 

Travel back to the Regency period when Thomas Legh, the Indiana Jones of his day, lived at Lyme. Head to the Dressing Room to try on Regency regalia, have a go at billiards in the Long Gallery and play in the Nursery bedroom. You can also discover the mysteries of the ancient worlds that Thomas explored on his adventures and take a peek at some animal mummies.

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.

Children scrubbing in the Apprentice House kitchen

Quarry Bank, Cheshire 

There’s something magical about exploring the huge mill at Quarry Bank: hearing the working machines clatter and feeling the ground shake under your feet. Even if the rain keeps you inside you can still take a look at the huge waterwheel in action, or have a go at interactive engineering challenges in the Brain Power gallery. Join a family tour of the Apprentice House to see how the mill’s child workers used to live and find out if you would have been passed as fit to work at Quarry Bank, or sent back to the workhouse...

A dog by the fire at Sticklebarn in Langdale Cumbria

Sticklebarn, Cumbria 

One of Langdale’s biggest secrets is our rainy-day cinema. It’s an ad-hoc thing, organised according to the weather. Basically if it’s a Saturday or school holidays and it’s raining, we will be showing a family favourite at 4pm. The films are free to watch, so you can make the most of it and settle in for popcorn, board games and family bonding time.

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 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!