With a long summer holiday ahead, don't miss our essential guide to the best free days out around Bristol, Bath and across Somerset.
Part of the National Trust Skyline Walk around the historic city of Bath, Long Wood and Larch Wood have plenty to keep your family entertained with a fairy and elf trail through the trees. And when you’ve discovered all the little doors, you can spend hours in the wooden play area with climbing frames, balance beams and one of the best rope swings you’ll ever try.
Free to enter, the M Shed museum covers all the best of Bristol’s history and culture. Kids will love climbing aboard the vintage bus, spotting locations on the giant aerial map, and dressing up in the Bristol Life gallery. There’s plenty of hands-on fun with buttons to push, and great food in the café too. Outside the museum you can see electric and steam cranes from the history of the docks.
Discover more to do around the south-west
At the foot of the Quantock Hills is the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal, and a walk along the towpath is great for nature spotting and watching the boats navigate the locks. At Maunsel Lock you’ll also find the Somerset Space Walk, representing the scale of our solar system. At the lock is a model of the sun, with planets along the towpath for six miles in each direction.
This beautiful Victoria Park in Bath covers 57 acres with botanic gardens and an aviary, but the highlight for families is the enormous adventure playground. Choose from a sandpit with mini diggers, zip lines, slides for all ages from tots to teens, climbing frames and swings – and there’s a refreshments stand and good toilets too. Or you can walk round to feed the ducks on the pond and feed yourselves in the Pavilion Café.
Explore the willow beds of the Somerset Levels at Stoke St Gregory with Coates English Willow; the free circular walking route takes you along the River Tone and to the top of Windmill Hill, with views of Hay Moor and Curry Moor.
You can’t beat a day on the sand when the sun is shining on beaches in Somerset. At Brean there’s around seven miles of beach to explore, or you could stroll the promenade of nearby Burnham-on-Sea. Weston-super-Mare boasts a new pier full of entertainment for a small admission charge, head to Minehead for rock pools, and the Quantock coast of Kilve Beach is great for fossil-hunting.
Spend a day exploring Glastonbury, home to the legends of King Arthur and Guinevere, Excalibur and Merlin, and then climb to the top of the Tor for amazing views across three counties from 520 feet. There’s also free entrance to the Shoe Museum.
Following the sculpture trails in 2013, you can visit the Gromit Unleashed shop at Cribbs Causeway on the outskirts of Bristol, with exhibitions, film screenings and fun activities. It’s raising money for Bristol Children’s Hospital and the Baby Unit at St Michael’s Hospital, and there are still a number of the hand-painted sculptures of Wallace, Gromit, Shaun and Feathers McGraw to see around Bristol and the surrounding area.
There's also a Banksy Walking Tour of Bristol you can follow around the city, to see some of Banksy's most famous early works including Masked Gorilla and Well Hung Lover.
Wells is the smallest city in England, thanks to its 13th century Cathedral. It’s a brilliant place to explore for a day (especially for fans of the film Hot Fuzz); join a free tour of the Cathedral every day of the year except Sundays, spot swans on the Bishop’s Palace moat, and then wander down Vicars’ Close – a picturesque medieval street.
Walk or cycle the 10-mile Strawberry Line route from Yatton to Cheddar, through pretty Somerset scenery: cider orchards, marshes and wetlands, and past steep valleys and hills while the path remains mainly flat. It’s the perfect chance to enjoy the country air away from any traffic.