Ten great days out for summer
If you're planning what to do this summer, we've got 10 suggestions of places with something for everyone – from animals by the seaside to museums exploring the sea and sky.
Looking for sunny days out to please all ages? There are hundreds to choose from across the UK, but we've selected 10 that stand out to us this summer.
Whether you want to dive into maritime history or take to the skies with stories of aviation; make some new furry friends in the grounds of beautiful houses or combine a visit to the seaside with a dollop of history, these 10 museums, galleries and historic places are all free to visit with a National Art Pass.
Fascinate the whole family with a trip to a city rich in history, and learn about its Roman past at Canterbury Roman Museum. You’ll not only find Roman antiques galore, but the remains of an actual Roman town house around which the museum is built. It contains the UK’s only remaining Roman pavement mosaic that’s still in place – and if you’ve had your fill of the Romans, you can wander pretty streets and relax by the River Stour.
If you need to cool off in the summer heat, where better to take some fresh coastal air than at this charming museum dedicated to the maritime heritage of Cornwall? Artefacts including whale-tooth carvings, old telescopes and log books tell the stories of the sea, and there’s also a play zone for kids based around the exploits of ships like the HMS Bounty.
- East Lothian
From the ocean to the open air, and from the south coast to the Scottish lowlands: the National Museum of Flight charts the history of aviation from the First World War to the present day, with lots of examples of military and civil aircraft, memorabilia and the chance to get close to Concorde.
This manor house set among park and woodland boasts a sculpture trail, outdoor musical instruments, stables and a beekeeping centre, so there’s plenty to keep everyone occupied over the summer. Meanwhile the house itself offers visitors the chance to experience Victorian country life ‘above and below stairs’.
This summer you can explore medieval and walled gardens, enjoy an open air cinema and see an exhibition of Quentin Blake’s illustrations for The BFG at Torquay’s most historic building. And if the weather’s not looking so good, eight galleries inside tell the story of this former monastery from 1196 to the present day, and include several pencil sketches by Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones.
- South Glamorgan
Explore 2,000 years of history at one of Wales’ most significant heritage sites, which dates back to the building of a Roman fort around the end of the 50s AD. Keep an eye out for the Animal Wall, which flanks the castle and is populated by a host of watchful creatures carved into stone, from a pair of lions to an anteater, pelican and seal.
Little adventurers will enjoy the tale of 18th-century explorer Captain James Cook, as told by this museum dedicated to his life and story. Themed galleries explore life on board ship, the science behind Cook’s voyages and more, and you can see a collection of items relating to Cook’s personal life including possessions and memorabilia from his journeys.
- East Yorkshire
Discover a dramatic day out by the seaside at Sewerby Hall, which looks out over Bridlington from a clifftop – and even pay a visit to the on-site zoo! While capuchin monkeys and lemurs will keep everyone entertained outside, inside a recent refurbishment means this beautiful Edwardian house looks how it would have done in 1910, and features furniture from the Victoria and Albert Museum.
- Isle of Wight
If you’ve ever visited Kensington Palace, you’ll be interested to see a very different side to Queen Victoria’s life: her holiday retreat. With its own beach and children’s cottage, this palatial seaside home on the North coast of the Isle of Wight offered the monarch and her family a place of respite and repose – and will hopefully do the same for you.
You might know Shakespeare inside out, but you’re bound to unearth something new at one of these five family homes. All within a short walk or drive, each distinctive house plots a point in the Bard’s life, from his mother’s childhood farm via his future bride’s cottage to his daughter’s Jacobean residence. And of course, you might want to pop by the Royal Shakespeare Company for a play too.