Cheap UK family days out with the kids: 20 ways to have fun on a budget in the school holidays!

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Updated July 2023

It’s great to get out and about when the children are off, and make the most of your time together, making memories! But, it can be really expensive if you don’t plan carefully and make the most of the deals and discounts on offer. 

Here are 20 ways to have school holiday fun on a budget…

1. Head to the cinema

Most cinemas offer weekend movies for junior rates, and this often extends to weekdays too during the school holidays. A cinema trip is a great way to entertain the kiddies indoors in the winter or on a rainy day! Odeon, Cineworld and Vue offer these screenings for just a few quid per ticket.

You can also exchange your Tesco Clubcard Vouchers for cinema tickets, to see the new releases without spending a penny. For up to 40% off of cinema tickets, 7 days a week, you could also sign up to Kids Pass for a £1 trial.

full cinema


2. Make the most of memberships

National Trust and English Heritage memberships can be a great investment; once you’ve signed up you can use them time and time again for free days out. Often it’ll only take a visit or two to make it worthwhile money-wise, and payments can be made monthly so that they don’t seem too overwhelming – family memberships are usually about a tenner each month. It’s a great idea for the Christmas list too; adventures rather than things.

For home-educating families, you can get a year’s National Trust family membership for a discounted rate of £50 – which can be used term-time. And, English Heritage allow free entry to their sites, just as they do for school visits – just be sure to give a few weeks notice as they’ll need time to approve the visit and send you an entry permit.

tintagel castle, cornwall, english heritage, frugal mum family, view


3. Get a Blue Peter Badge

With a Blue Peter Badge, children can gain free entry to over 200 Blue Peter Badge attractions around the country such as theme parks, zoos and castles – making days out a lot more affordable.

For a family of two adults and two children, this would save around £40 on a trip to the Tower of London, or the local zoo. There are lots of ways for the kids to earn their badges, check out my article on Blue Peter Badges for more info.

blue peter badges image


4. Find a Groupon deal

Groupon deals can be a fab way to have a fun day out without spending lots of money. Use their ‘Local’ section to get the best offers close to you. In our local area I’ve seen…

  • Bowling for two for £6, or for four at just £10
  • Clip n Climb session for £9
  • Zippos Circus for under a tenner
  • Play Centre entry for £3.95 (one child), £6.95 (two children) or £8.95 (three children)

bowling alley


5. Head to the library

Your local library is a great place to look for things to do. Often during the school holidays, they’ll run free story-time sessions or craft workshops – just be sure to do a bit of research in advance because (as with anything free) spaces may fill up pretty quickly! The kids can also take part in the reading challenge; which is a good way to motivate them to read regularly over the summer.

painty children's hands


6. Visit the beach

The beach is one of our favourite places – the kids don’t care if the water’s cold, they’ll build sandcastles for hours and collect more pebbles then they can carry home! We always come back filthy and windswept but it’s such a lovely way to spend an afternoon. We love sports too, so beach rounders, frisbee and football are a must – pack some supplies and enjoy a free day at the seaside!

frugal mum children at beach


7. Enjoy in-store workshops

Pets at Home run free small-animal workshops throughout the year, including during the school holidays. These are designed for children aged 5-11 years – see what’s available near you.

Hobbycraft run craft workshops year round, usually for around £5 depending on what’s being made – the perfect way to keep the kids busy when the weather’s bad. Check out what’s available at your local Hobbycraft.

Dobbies Garden Centre run free plant and nature themed workshops, suitable for children aged 4-10 years; take a look at what your local Dobbies has to offer.

white rabbit in hands


8. Try geocaching

You can easily find a geocaching trail nearby, with just a few clicks on your phone. It makes a long walk a little more purposeful, and the kids enjoy it because it feels like a treasure hunt!

Lots of country parks offer geocaching activities too – it’s just £5 per family at our local park and they provide the geocaching equipment, a route planner to complete and clipboards. So, pick a route to follow, pack up a picnic and enjoy an afternoon exploring.

brockhill park, geocaching, kent, hythe, frugal mum and children


9. Visit a museum

Don’t forget that so many museums offer free entry – London, in particular, has a lot to choose from. Some are more child-friendly than others; check out my post on the best free London Museums for a family day out. If you’re not near the capital, have a quick search online to see what’s available in your local area.

london, natural history museum, dinosaur, frugal mum children


10. Check out the children’s centre

If you have a local children’s centre, see what activities and clubs are on offer during the summer holidays. Many activities will be subsidised (or even free) – so craft activities, play sessions and family fun days can be a great way to keep everyone busy on a tight budget.

children crafting


11. Head to the woods

A trip to the woods is always a hit with the kids, whatever the time of year. Pop your wellies on, build dens, search for fairies and, if you’re really lucky, you might even find a rope swing! Why not collect some bits to use in collages or craft projects too, and create some nature art when you get back home.

bluebells, woodland, forest, frugal mum children


12. Save with Kids Pass

Sign up to Kids Pass for a month’s trial for just a quid!  Enjoy the perks and either continue your subscription or cancel prior to your trial ending to make sure no further charges are taken. If you want to continue your subscription, you can do so for just a few quid each month – allowing you to enjoy the huge savings available year round. Take a look at my Kids Pass article for more information.

kids pass advert


13. Find a new play park

Most kids love a trip to the park, but visiting the same old places can get a little dull. To mix things up, ask other parents to recommend new parks, or search online to see what’s about. There are loads of brilliant free parks about, so pack up a picnic and try somewhere new!

 frugal mum children, coastal park, lower leas, folkestone, kent


14. Make the most of Tesco Clubcard

If you’re a Tesco shopper, you can benefit from using your Tesco Clubcard points for free meals and days out. These points can be collected through Tesco services too – such as Tesco Mobile or through a Tesco Credit Card, so you can collect them even if you do your weekly shop elsewhere.

Points can be exchanged for theme parks, zoos, farms, castles and even trips to London. Read my post on Tesco Clubcard days out to make the most of your points.

zsl london zoo, frugal mum children, lemur


15. Host a party

A sure-fire way to keep the kids entertained is to invite their friends over! A few snacks, a couple of water pistols and some disco music is a cheap and cheerful way to have a fun afternoon at home without spending much at all.

children having party


16. Visit the capital

There are loads of FREE things to do in London with children, even if you’re not a fan of the museums. From to playgrounds, to lidos, to farms and zoos – there’s something to entertain everyone. Make sure you read my post on 10 freebie days out in London for more info.

changing of the guard, buckingham palace, frugal mum children, london


17. Explore a country park

There are so many gorgeous country parks dotted all over the country – each offering a new (free!) adventure. Whether it be woodland walks, streams, lakes or large green spaces, it’s always a winner for a family walk. Many have trails too, to keep the kids entertained, or themed activities dependent on the time of year, so be sure to check out what’s on offer before you visit.

muddy children, brockhill park, hythe, kent, frugal mum children


18. Visit a free farm

Lots of farms offer free entry, so you can have a day with the animals without spending a penny. A quick google in your local area will reveal which ones are free, so pack a picnic, put your wellies on and make some furry friends!

lambs cuddling on bed of straw


19. Swim at a lido

There are actually quite a number of outdoor pools and paddling pools around – a quick internet search will help you to discover what’s in your area! Most are inexpensive, and some are even free! If the good old British weather is being kind, pop your swimsuits on and head to your nearest one for a dip!

children swimming in pool


20. Have fun at home

If you’re exhausted, or the weather is grotty, you might just want to snuggle up at home! Download my printable 30 day activity calendar for lots of ideas on how to keep the little ones busy at home!

frugal mum, activity calendar ideas, entertainment, summer, school holidays, at home

Or get building with my printable 30 day lego calendar!

frugal mum, activity calendar ideas, entertainment, summer, school holidays, at home, lego challenges


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