February half term is nearly here and if you’ve got days to fill, well, you’re in luck – there’s plenty to choose from wherever you live. So, dig out your wellies/swimsuits/snacks (delete as appropriate) and take your pick of these super-fun days out.
OK, not a quiet day out, but these play centres in areas including Watford, Edinburgh and Glasgow has our deputy ed’s seal of approval. For older children there are play frames, climbing walls and sometimes go-kart tracks, while toddlers will adore sensory fun zones with slides and ball pits. Visit gambado.com to find out about membership.
Sea Life Centres, nationwide
Think rock pools to spy on all the creatures, pretty epic fish/turtles/sharks to check out and hands-on demos. Some venues including Scarborough have mini golf, too, while Brighton has a glass-bottomed boat and London has just opened a new crab exhibition – having the surname Crab (or Crabbe) will get you in for free there on 15/16th February.
Hobbycraft sessions, nationwide
Whether your child’s in the mood for face painting, mask designing or pom pom making, check out the craft sessions happening at Hobbycraft stores between 11am and 3pm each day. The added bonus? They’re free and you don’t have to book. Ideal for last-minute rainy day panic.
Zippos Circus, London
February sees the start of the new Zippos Circus tour – head to Brent Cross Shopping Centre for the first leg (19th Feb until 2nd March) and to see The Rastellis clowns and incredible strongman Hercules. Prepare for a slightly in-awe toddler. Tickets from £7.
IWM Duxford, Cambridgeshire
Give your little one a taste of days gone at this museum set in a WW1 and WW2 airfield. The half term line-up includes storytelling sessions and crafts, where your toddler can make badges and paper aircraft. Children under 15 go free.
Trelissick Garden, Cornwall
Introduce your toddler to nature and creepy crawlies on the Family Wild Walk at this spectacular (and pushchair-friendly) venue, which also has an art gallery, café and picnic area for you to enjoy after the walk. Boots and anoraks recommended, obvs. 19th February, from £4.30 for garden entry.
Corfe Castle, Dorset
Bring your toddler’s favourite cuddly toys – half term here sees a zip wire set up so Ted can bravely whizz down to the ground from the top of the castle. Then you can go for a walk, medieval fancy dress session or mess about in the playground to unwind afterwards.
Tree Fu Tom live, London
Three words for you. Tree. Fu. Tom. *Toddler goes crazy*. Thursday 20th and Friday 21st see the CBeebies’ character’s first ever live show at the London and Stratford City Westfield shopping centres. With several performances each day and free TFT goodies, you’ll get major mum points.
Plymbridge Woods and Plym Valley, Devon
It’s all about getting to know nature here. Head over on 18th February so your child can make a bird, bat or bug box for National Nesting Week, or use the scenic walk for some super-cute photo opps with your toddler. #nofilter
The Argory, Northern Ireland
This historical estate dates back to the 1820s, and boasts 320 beautiful acres. Dig out your toddler’s wellies (let’s face it, you’ll probably need them) for the snowdrop walk and then warm up afterwards in the tearoom. Child entry to the grounds from £1.36.
Manchester Museum, Manchester
Gear your toddler up for the cinema release of Rio 2 in April with the Birds and Flight exhibition, where he can find out about feathered friends from around the world and even make a paper one to take home. The museum is also hosting sea-themed craft sessions over half term, inspired by its coral exhibition. Free entry.
Sefton Park, Liverpool
This beautiful park with a lake, playground and plenty of grounds to explore is the ideal place for a chilled family day – look out for the Peter Pan statue. For a bit more action, mini adventurers will love the interactive Treasure Island performance and watching the famous tale of pirates and treasure. Fancy dress welcome and tickets £4 with under-ones free. Photo credit: Audrey Walker
Satrosphere Science Centre, Aberdeen
To infinity and beyond! Your child can channel Buzz Lightyear with an amazing planetarium show (narrated by Rupert Grint – although he won’t actually be there, soz), or visit on 20/21 February for a Little Scientist day to learn about materials, magnets and forces. Under fours go free.
Belsay Hall, Northumberland
Your toddler can don her finest fairy wings and explore this medieval castle and gardens, looking for scenes from famous fairytales including Three Little Pigs and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Perfect for boosting her imagination. Entry from £4.70.
Library of Birmingham, Birmingham
Choose from a packed schedule of child and family friendly activities at this epic building, including badge making, film clubs and interactive performances. Or just use it as a great chance to pick out some new books for your baby or toddler. Hello, story time.
Treasure Trails, nationwide
Explore Brighton by downloading a special trail pack, full of facts and clues for the kids to crack. The route is pushchair friendly and self guided, so you can divert wherever you like – perhaps to the pier, aquarium or just for a mosey around the shops. Visit treasuretrails.co.uk and choose from more than a thousand trails around the UK.
LC Waterpark, Swansea
With umpteen slides and rides for older kids, as well as an interactive pool (complete with mini slide, tipping bucket and fountains) for little ones to enjoy, this is ideal for a family day out. There are also swimming lessons for children up to four years old. Under threes go free while it's £4 entry for children between four and 15.
Stadium tour, Manchester
Introduce mini Man City fans to the club on its new stadium tour. OK, so your toddler may not be up for choosing his dream team yet, but it’s a great chance to look round, walk through the player’s tunnel and get some family snaps. From £10.
Cardiff Castle, Cardiff
Head to the heart of the Welsh capital for the half term schedule at the castle, which includes a Meet the Birds of Prey event on 24th and 25th February, as well as art and drawing sessions. Children under five go free.
Seven Stories at The National Centre for Children's Books, Newcastle Upon Tyne
If you’re looking to boost your child’s literary side and reading skills, check out the Judith Kerry and Enid Blyton exhibitions before they finish on 23rd February, and meet the children’s authors hosting fun events for under fives on 18th and 23rd.
No matter how much we keep trying to drag out our summer wardrobe, grey skies and drizzle prove that autumn is well and truly here. Welcome back, boots!
But the rainy weather definitely doesn’t have to put a stop to getting outdoors with your baby or toddler. That fresh air hit is still important (research shows it can help encourage sleep) and jumping in puddles and catching raindrops is brilliant fun when you’re two.
So, dig out that waterproof mascara – and kit your baby out for rainy days.
Every parent knows the importance of planning ahead; from the new school shoes, to your little one’s education, you want to fill their future with hopes and dreams. Yet are you one of the 80% of adults here in the UK that has no life cover?