With autumn half-term around the corner, families have some time left to plan another quick holiday before the weather gets cold. While you can certainly pack your bags to visit another country, there’s no reason to leave when you haven’t seen all of the unique hidden gems in the United Kingdom.
Even if you can’t get away for a few days, you can still treat the kids (or just yourself) to a fun, festive day out to enjoy the changing weather and the rich culture and history the country has to offer. Check out these seven ideas to inspire your own fun autumn holiday with the family.
The United Kingdom has so many fascinating ghost walking tours that it’s hard to pick just one. Some popular and family-friendly ghost tours include the Oxford Ghost Trail or Ghost Walks of Bath. The Oxford Ghost Trail is a theatrical street tour through the city’s popular sites with humorous, yet ghoulish stories along the way. The Ghost Walk of Bath stops at various sites famous for strange sights and sounds while you get to know the unique, picturesque ancient Roman city. With such beautiful geography and cityscapes to see in either city, the £10 or less price tag per person is worth the day out.
The Harry Potter London Film Locations Tour is another budget-friendly family outing that’s perfectly suited for autumn half-term. This free, self-led walking tour guides you step-by-step through the various filming locations and noteworthy places located throughout the city. Since there are so many places to stop along the way, you could really use two days to see everything. Download or print the tour directions here.
Any of the U.K.’s medieval castles are worth visiting, but one of the best choices for an autumn visit is the Jamaica Inn at Cornwall. Jamaica Inn is famous for its illicit past when smugglers used it as a means to hide things like textiles, tea and tobacco to avoid paying high taxes, not to mention the various paranormal and other spooky sightings inside the inn. The museum costs less than £4 to visit, but if you can afford to stay overnight in one of the haunted rooms, you might see what’s so scary about the location!
There are so many world-class institutions across the U.K., from London’s Natural History Museum and Science Museum to Scotland’s own National Museum. Even better, many have extended hours that correlate with the autumn half-term, so you don’t even need to take a day off to take the kids for a visit. Find the nearest participating Museum at Night here, or if you can’t make it during autumn half-term, you can still find other late-night museum events. Prices vary by event and location.
If your kids are older or are particularly curious about medicine, the Old Operating Theatre Museum is an eye-opening experience that will make them appreciate life in the 21st century. This actual operating theatre was used before anaesthesia, modern sterilization techniques and indoor heating or cooling, and the Herb Garret was used to store medicine and dry herbs. You can see the upper rafters where medical students observed the undoubtedly agonizing surgeries. The theatre is housed in a 17th century church with very narrow, twisting stairs that might not be accessible to all visitors. Admission for the theatre, museum and an informative lecture is £6.50 for adults and £3.50 for children under 18, though you can take advantage of a family pass for £15.
Another creepy, yet interesting historic site worth visiting is the Victoria Tunnel located in Newcastle upon Tyne. This landmark was initially created in the 1800s as a coal wagonway but was later converted to a World War II raid shelter. You can see some of the old-fashioned wooden beds and furniture used by terrified wartime citizens taking cover underneath the tunnel. Some modern-day visitors have even reported paranormal sightings and creepy, unexplained events in the area. Regular admission is £8 for adults and £4 for children aged 8 — 15, though tours aren’t suited for younger children.
If you need to lighten the mood, make a fun trip to the bustling and bright Diwali festival in Trafalgar Square for a fun change of pace. Each year, the actual date changes, but the celebration marks the beginning of the fiscal year in India. The tradition symbolises light over darkness through forgiveness, love and joy. The annual event features music, dancing, plenty of food and other performances with free admission.