These days out are ideal for football fans of all ages, from soccer-themed birthday parties to free tours
Across the UK you can indulge your love of the beautiful game. Watch the Women's Super League, visit the fantastic free National Football Museum, or even take a day trip to watch a match in France!
1. National Football Museum
A brilliant day out for football fans of all ages, the Museum’s six floors are not just home to the Hall of Fame and brilliant temporary exhibitions but, in their Football Plus+ elements, plenty of interactive displays too: try your hand at taking penalties or commentating; test how your reflexes match up to a top goalkeeper or have your photo taken with the FA Cup. In all, a massive and magic journey, with searchable commentary archives, specially made films, memorabilia from across the world – and a football-themed café.
Entry is free, though FootballPlus+ activities carry a small charge.
Enjoy a free day out admiring the silverware and exploring soccer's history at Manchester's National Football Museum.
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2. Wembley Stadium tour/museum
Enjoy a day out at the home of English football and hear stories of Wembley’s stadiums new (opened in 2007) and old (1923). Get inside the England dressing room and the press box , then stand in the tunnel, imagining the big match nerves, and climb the 107 steps to the Royal Box like an FA Cup – or, if you have a long memory, World Cup – winner. Included in the ticket is the Exhibition of Champions, celebrating the history of the UEFA Champions League and its predecessor, the European Cup, with memorabilia including Graeme Souness’ three winning medals from Liverpool’s 1980s triumphs and David Beckham’s shirt from Manchester United’s last-gasp win against Bayern Munich in 1999.
Adults: £19. Under-16s: £12, Family: £54.
Walk in the footsteps of football's giants as you take a tour of Wembley Stadium.
3. Watch the FA Women’s Super League
Across the UK
See top-flight football without the cost and aggravation of buying tickets six months in advance: you can get into a Chelsea-Arsenal game, for example, for just £6. With the women’s top division now fully professional for the first time, standards and stakes have risen steeply in recent years, but the atmosphere remains friendly and laidback and it’s a great family day out: you can send the kids off at half-time to buy their own hot dogs – and, often, the players will come and sign autographs for young fans at the end of the match.
The Women's Super League games offer top-standard matches for a fraction the cost of a men's game.
4. Sleep in George Best’s bedroom
The late Manchester United and Northern Ireland legend was arguably the greatest British player of all time. Now, fans can immerse themselves in his world by staying at George Best’s childhood home. The 1940s Belfast terrace was the Best family home until 2008 and, though modernised in part, remains similar to when Best lived there until he was spotted by a Man Utd scout in 1961, aged 15. The family have donated photos and memorabilia, including school reports, to add to the period atmosphere.
The experience has won rave reviews from guests and the three-bedroom accommodation costs as little as £70 a night.
George Best's former family home in Belfast is now a hotel, decorated with memorabilia from his life.
5. Go and watch the French First Division
Take a day trip with a difference. Lille's football team are pushing for the French Ligue 1 title this season and tickets to games start at just 13.50 euros (seats in the family section are 18 euros) and are often available on the gate (though it's probably best to book in advance…). Lille is only 1 hour 20 minutes from London on the Eurostar and if you book far enough in advance you can get a seat for £27.50. So, you could have a day trip to a foreign country AND see top-flight football for less than the price of a ticket to Chelsea – and still be home in time for Match of the Day. It’s already a Thing – there’s even a comprehensive website with tips on this and other foreign football trips.
In under 90 minutes you can travel from London to Lille and enjoy a match in the French Ligue 1.
6. Scottish Football Museum
Housed at Hampden Park, the home of Scottish football, the collection of over 2500 items in the Scottish Football Museum tells the story of football north of the border. For a long time Hampden was the biggest stadium in Europe, with the sound of the ‘Hampden roar’ famous across the world and the stadium tour brings to life some of the great moments of the ground’s past: the 1937 Scotland-England game, for one: it was seen by an estimated 170,000 fans, still the biggest-ever crowd at an international game.
Stadium Tour and Museum: Adults £13, Under-16s: £5.
Tour the Scottish Football Museum to witness thousands of items of footballing history.
7. Soccer birthday party
Across the UK
Football. Cake. Medals. Football. Trophy. More cake. A goody bag. The recipe for a dream birthday party for football-mad kids of any age, from 5 to 95. All the national five-a-side chains offer kids parties, including Powerleague, the Soccer Factory and Goals, where prices start at £130 for a two-hour party for 10 kids, or go to £205 including all the trimmings.
Any young football fan will enjoy a soccer-themed party, usually with a qualified coach included.
8. Free football walking tours
London and Sheffield
Highbury stadium closed in 2006 after 93 years as the home of Arsenal – but a free-to-download football app brings a lost world to life, with Gunners fan and comedian Ian Stone talking you through the club’s stories and sights over the course of a walk that takes 60 minutes – or more if you call at all the suggested pubs.
Sheffield, meanwhile, lays claim to being the home of football. Find out why with another free, walking-guide football app that takes you on a four-mile route around an 1855 map of the city, tracing how the influence of the 95 clubs of Victorian Sheffield can be seen in world football even today.
Take part in a free walking tour of significant football locations across the UK.
9. Go non-league
Across the UK
Further down the football pyramid, you can turn up half an hour before kick-off, get your kids in for £2-3 (adult tickets range from £12-13) and watch a high standard of semi-pro football, often featuring one or two former Premier League players. You get to see fiercely competitive games close up, often from pretty much pitchside and, with more relaxed licensing regulations, enjoy a drink from the bar while you do. Rather than being urged to stay in your seat by stewards, you can generally walk all around the ground seeking out your favourite view, too. In all, it is a much more relaxed fan experience than the big leagues and nicely suited to taking younger families. This searchable non-league football map reveals the possibly surprising number of football-watching opportunities in your area.
Non-league football matches cost little to watch, and can be a great way to start kids' love of the game.
10. Stay at the Shankly Hotel
What Bill Shankly himself would have made of it is anyone’s guess, but this central Liverpool Shankly-themed hotel is based around the famously no-nonsense manager, who turned the team from second-flight 1950s also-rans into one of the best in Europe. There are Shankly quotes on the walls (“There’s two teams in this city: Liverpool and Liverpool Reserves”) and the Shankly family have donated memorabilia from their own collection including Shankly’s MBE, his letters to and from fans (and his typewriter), his original Liverpool contract – and even a telegram from Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon.
Stay in Liverpool at the Shankly hotel, designed as a tribute to one of football's greatest managers.