Ride the flying Scot, Dorset
The famous engine will turn 100 next February, and to kick off its centennial celebrations, the locomotive will steam up and down the historic Swanage Railway for half a year.
The public will be able to book tickets to drive behind the Flying Scotsman in a rare Pullman scenic car, which operated with the Flying Scotsman in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with options for breakfast, afternoon tea or champagne. Young train nerds may prefer the ability to stand on the platform while the locomotive is on static display at Swanage Station on October 20 and 21 (and October 27-November 6).
£ 10 viewing, £ 39 return, free for under 5s not occupying a seat, swanagerailway.co.uk
He plays in Peter Pan’s garden, Dumfries
During his school years, author JM Barrie often played in the garden of Moat Brae, an elegant townhouse in Dumfries. Those visits, he later claimed, founded “the genesis of that nefarious work” Peter Pan. Saved from demolition in 2009, the building was bought and restored by the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust, opening as a visitor attraction and the National Center for Children’s Literature and Storytelling in 2019. Information is playfully revealed and younger visitors can chase Light up fairy dust around an attic bedroom, or perform your own shows with costumes, before going wild in a pirate-themed adventure playground.
Adult £ 8, child £ 6, family (2 + 3) £ 20, moatbrae.org
Celebrate the “real” Halloween in Hampshire
Halloween is a highlight of fall for most kids, but few know it has its roots in Samhain. Celebrated on the same dates, this fire-focused Celtic festival marked the start of the darker half of the year, and parties have been held to welcome spirits, fairies, and mortal souls. For half a semester, Hampshire’s living history museum, Butser Ancient Farm, runs a Samhain-themed children’s trail around its ancient buildings and free craft activities. On certain dates there is also the possibility to meet a gang of Vikings or join a Roman legion.
Adult £ 10.50, child £ 6.50, family (2 + 2) £ 27.50, butserancientfarm.co.uk
Wildlife sighting near Cardigan
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This mottled green corner of Wales looks even more spectacular in autumn when the woodland and waterways paths around it turn bronze, yellow and gold. About a mile from Cardigan, connected by a riverside path, the center overlooks the Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve. Red deer, kingfisher, and otters in heat are among the highlights of fall wildlife, but the center is also home to an adventure playground and a brilliant little café serving homemade cakes and bowls of hot chickpea and spinach curry.
During this semester, kids can also sign up for clay modeling workshops, mini beast hunts, family nature walks, or a Halloween trivia course around the reserve.
Free entry, events £ 3- £ 4 per child, welshwildlife.org
Visit “the grandfather of skyscrapers”, Shrewsbury
Erected in 1797 but only reopened last month after a major renovation, Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings main building, classified as Grade I, was the world’s first multi-story cast-iron structure. He is often nicknamed the grandfather of the skyscraper, and his place in industrial history is imaginatively told through an interactive exhibition for families. There’s a free mid-term children’s activity program and a vegan café on-site.
Spend a day then heading to Harlescott, a 10-minute drive north, for a kids’ session (starting at £ 15 each) on the inside walls at the excellent Climbing Hut.
Adult £ 7.50, child £ 5 but free during semester, family (2 + 3) £ 23, shrewsburyflaxmillmaltings.org.uk
“The world’s first children’s country house”, Derbyshire
Opened on Saturday, just in time for the middle of the semester, this groundbreaking project sees the National Trust’s Sudbury Hall and Museum of Childhood transformed into the world’s first children’s country home.
The visitor’s entire experience at this South Derbyshire stately home was designed with and for children. Young visitors will be encouraged to dance in the saloon and recline in the Long Gallery to spot grasshoppers, unicorns, boars, and dragons in the plaster ceiling, while mid-term craft activities include the making of leafy lanterns.
Free for members, or from £ 11 adult, £ 5.50 child, £ 27.50 family (2 + 3), reservations required, nationaltrust.org.uk
Tales of Shipwrecks and Treasures, Cornwall
From the only intact barrel of coins ever recovered from a shipwreck to the necklace worn by Kate Winslet in the movie Titanic, there’s a huge amount to dive into at this new museum on the south coast of Cornwall.
The exhibits cover a thrilling mix of science, history and adventure. A particular highlight is the Shackleton Experience, which takes visitors into the frozen tunnels beneath the museum to get an immersive sense of life as one of the first polar explorers.
From October 22-30, visitors can explore the exhibits by lantern light along a special Halloween trail.
Adult £ 12.50, over 5 £ 8, shipwreck charlestown.co.uk
Discover ancient Egypt, Norwich
Egyptomania will be a hot topic this fall, with the imminent – and much delayed – opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, just outside Cairo.
Closer to home, Sainsbury Centre’s new Visions of Ancient Egypt exhibit explores how legendary figures like Tutankhamun and Cleopatra have influenced the cultural imagination over the past few centuries.
Children can borrow art materials to create their own interpretations of the exhibits or sign up for themed creative workshops throughout the fall (donations required). To let off steam later, grab a pocket map of the sculpture park (free admission) and head out.
Free for members, otherwise £ 14 adult, £ 7 child, sainsburycentre.ac.uk
Food for thought, Suffolk
There was a surprise in April when Stowmarket’s Museum of East Anglian Life was renamed the Food Museum. But when you browse through the 40,000 items in his collection, the change makes sense: from wartime recipe cards to carts of corn that were traditionally plowed into the ground in hopes of a good harvest, most exhibits are somehow related to food.
Located on a farm with sheep, pigs, horses and chickens, the museum also hosts workshops and exhibitions. Mid-term highlights include a chance to try squeezing apples in juice and an orchard-themed stop-motion animation seminar.
Adult £ 12, child £ 8, family £ 35 (2 + 3) £ 35, valid for 12 months; extras for workshops and events, foodmuseum.org.uk
Dolphin Watching, Aberdeen
Torry Battery, overlooking Aberdeen Harbor, is one of the best places in Europe to spot bottlenose dolphins, with a resident population that can be spotted year round. Helping visitors find and interpret local wildlife, the new off-grid Greyhope Bay Center is a community facility that hosts beach cleanups, rock collection sessions, and zero-waste processing workshops.
Head out for a stroll around the remains of the 19th-century battery itself (built in 1860 as a training ground and barracks), then stop at the downtown café to spot dolphins through floor-to-ceiling windows on mascarpone, pear and honey cruffins or blackberry and banana porridge.
Free general admission, pre-booked seminars around £ 5 adults and £ 3 children, greyhopebay.com