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 are our top indoor adventures for rainy days.

The art room at Allan Bank in Grasmere

Allan Bank, Cumbria  

Have a dress-up and play day at Allan Bank, where we have a playroom full of traditional toys, board games and a dressing up box. Learn how to use a weaving loom in our newly-refurbished crafts room. Or take inspiration from the panoramic views and have fun with paints in our art room. There’s also a kitchen at the grade II listed villa, where you can help yourself to a hot drink. Rainy days are starting to sound more appealing.

(Between 4 Nov-12 Dec 2019 the house is open Fri-Sun only)

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 

There's a mini Bellmount Tower to clamber up at Belton House’s indoor play area. Enjoy coffee and cake while the kids explore the hanging walkways, tunnels and slides at this wooden adventure play café. Or you can find crafts, traditional games and more in the 17th century estate's Discovery Centre. And for under 5s, there's the regular Button Bucks toddler group.

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 practise 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.

A family peer at rocks in a collector's cabinet in the saloon at Calke Abbey

Calke Abbey, Derbyshire 

Uncover secret messages, crocodile skulls and strange collections at Calke Abbey. Over in Squirt's Stable, children can get hands-on with their exploration of the country estate’s story in themed bays through the ages. Investigate Sir Vauncey’s study to discover books, butterflies and lots of rocks. Or try on some costumes and enjoy an afternoon of traditional games and crafts.

Visitors in the Gallery at Cragside, Northumberland.

Cragside, Northumberland 

Seek out Lord Armstrong's secret electrical laboratory or visit the Young Engineer’s zone and experiment with the magnetic marble cascade and colourful cogs. Try your hand at your own engineering project and get creative with LEGO™ and more. It’s open weekends and school holidays so head indoors and engineer your own fun, whatever the weather.

(The house is only open on weekends only from 4 - 30 Nov.)

Mother and child climbing the stairs at Dyffryn

Dyffryn Gardens, Vale of Glamorgan 

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 tap on the typewriters in the conference centre.

Costumed education assistant with children building a wooden house at Erddig

Erddig, Wrexham 

Explore the upstairs-downstairs life of Erddig. How many bells can you count in the servants’ quarters and what would they all do? Have-a-go history days take place throughout the year for an even more hands-on experience. And if your youngsters want to play the piano, they can take centre stage in the drawing room. Just ask the room guide and they are welcome to fill the house with music.

A child tries on period costumes at Ickworth in Suffolk

Ickworth, Suffolk 

Why do you think the Earl Bishop threw spaghetti out of his window? You’ll have to discover the secret back stairs at Ickworth to find out. Learn about the life of a 1930s servant in the basement of the classical Rotunda. And 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.

See if you can spot the builder mice around the house

Killerton, Devon 

Keep an eye out for the builder mice hiding around the house at Killerton, or head for the dressing-up box in the laundry room to get a feel for life in Victorian times. We'll be closed from January to early February, but we'd love to welcome you indoors and out of the rain for the rest of the year.

A boy plays with a Victorian toy at Lanhydrock in Cornwall

Lanhydrock, Cornwall 

How many clocks can you spot in this sprawling Victorian family home? Furnished with children in mind, you’ll find lots of traditional toys to play with in the old school room and slates to practise your handwriting on. Or get hands-on at our touch and discover tables, where you can identify creepy crawlies and learn to fold napkins. Lanhydrock will be closed in January and the house is shut from 4 Nov - 30 Nov, but we look forward to welcoming you in for the rest of the year.

Little boy dresses in Edwardian costume at Lyme, Cheshire

Lyme Park, Cheshire 

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. Or follow in the footsteps of Thomas Legh, Lyme's very own Indiana Jones, with a children's trail. You'll learn stories of his globe-trotting adventures through the treasures that he brought back home. The house is closed on some days, so please check our opening times beforehand.

Children scrubbing in the Apprentice House kitchen

Quarry Bank Mill, 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 see the giant waterwheel in action or discover 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 fit to work, 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.

Father and his son look at toys through the ages at the Museum of Childhood in Derbyshire

Museum of Childhood, Derbyshire 

Do you dare to crawl into a chimney or venture down a mine tunnel? At the Museum of Childhood, you’ll have the chance to experience what life was like for children who worked through the ages. You can explore the amazing toy collection of Betty Cadbury, discover an upside-down child’s bedroom and go back to school in our Victorian classroom. Sit up straight, it’s time to play. Please note that in November and December, we're open Friday to Monday.

Two girls dressing up in period costume at Tredegar House

Tredegar House, Newport 

Dance your way through the ages at the flamboyant Tredegar House, from the dazzling 17th-century Gilt Room to the 1930s bedroom of the eccentric 2nd Viscount Tredegar. Dress up in costume, play games and create stories with shadow puppets in the Parlour. Or hunt out intricate oak carvings of lions and griffins, before going downstairs to explore the servants’ quarters. We'll be closed here in January and February, but open for fun the rest of the year.

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!