15 family-friendly things to do in Somerset
Stuck for what to do over six whole weeks of summer? No sweat: here's the Muddy guide to family fun stuff in Somerset
1 Learn about Somerset’s past – and how to hula hoop
The Somerset Rural Life Museum in Glastonbury, housed in buildings around an awesome medieval tithe barn (grain store), tells the story of rural life in Somerset, with a recreated farmhouse kitchen and galleries focusing on village life, food, schools, celebrations, beliefs and creativity. Over the hols, there are all sorts of family activities with festival themes, like hula hooping and juggling. Adults: have a peep at the Music, Mud, Mayhem: Photographing Glastonbury Festival exhibition.
2 Make bug hotels and spot birds
Discover the birds and other wildlife at the internationally important Avalon Marshes, on the Somerset Levels. Wander around on your own, watch birds from little hides dotted around or join in their programme of summer activities, which include mini-beast safaris, dragonfly walks, nocturnal parties, wildlife crafts (bug hotels) and a guided Sweet Track Trail exploring the area’s ancient history.
3 Walk to the top of the Tor
Climb 158m to the top of the iconic Glastonbiry Tor to reach the remains of St Micheal’s church tower and the far-reaching 360 degree views of the Somerset Levels, Dorset, Wiltshire and Wales all around.
4 SUP in the centre of Bath
Every kind of paddle boarding – sit down, stand up (SUP), on a giant paddle board, with your dog – plus raft-building, canoeing, kayaking and more in the centre of Bath and further afield, with Original Wild‘s team of Adventure Experts led by ex-Royal Marine Kyle Worgan.
5 Let’s jump!
Bounce over to Airhop in Bristol (very close to Cribb’s Causeway, just sayin’) and Flip Out near Wellington, for wall-to-wall trampolines, obstacle courses, wipe-out zones, giant inflatables, dodge ball and more.
6 Ride a steam train
All aboard for a ride through the Somerset countryside. The West Somerset Railway runs 20 miles between Bishop’s Lydeard and Minehead and Brunel K Beagle is on the platform Weds and Sun during the hols. The East Somerset Railway near Shepton Mallet runs through the Mendips with Peppa Pig, George but not Boris) in attendance on Sat 6 August and a nostalgic The Way We Were weekend on Sat 27 & Sun 28 Aug. The Somerset & Dorset Railway is near Midsummer Norton.
7 Stay cool in subterranean caves
Underneath Cheddar Gorge’s spectacular craggy limestone peaks lie two of Britain’s oldest show caves, with stalactites (going down) and stalagmites (going up) as well as evidence of Britain’s earliest inhabitants. Stone Age kids’ activities are included in entry tickets to Cheddar Gorge & Caves throughout the summer.
8 Buckle up!
The UK’s largest collection of the world’s greatest cars and bikes at The Haynes Motor Museum in Sparkford, includes everything from the 19th century Benz Patent Motorwagen to today’s super cars. As well as the collection, there are kids’ activities, trails, an outdoor play area for littlies and karting for older kids and adults.
9 Take to the lake
Kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and sailing on the beautiful Wimbleball Lake lying between the hills of the Exmoor National Park; archery, high ropes, walking, cycling and camping shore side.
10 Get arty
Bristol’s harbourside contemporary art gallery the Arnolfini is always worth a visit. Every Tues and Weds throughout August they’re running forest-inspired family workshops alongside their latest exhibition celebrating what lies above and below the forest floor, Forest: Wake This Ground.
11 Be enchanted by Tarr Steps
Tarr Steps, the ancient clapper bridge dating back to around 1000 BC, crossing the river Barle, in Exmoor National Park, is one of Somerset’s most magical places. Paddle in the shallows, walk along the wooded bank, have a picnic or a pub lunch in the family-friendly Tarr Farm Inn.
12 Climb a folly
The 49m high King Alfred’s Tower AKA The Folly of King Alfred the Great in the woods near Bruton on the Stourhead Estate, is now open at weekends. Climb to the top for great views of Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset, follow a route round the Stourhead Estate or even make a start on the 28-mile Leland trail which leads to Ham Hill Country Park in south Somerset. Great coffee, ice creams and cake from The Alpine Coffee Co caravan.
13 Make like a Roman
Ancient Romans came to worship the goddess Sulis Minerva and bathe in the warm thermal waters that still spring forth. Today at the Roman Baths, in the centre of Bath, you can explore the well-preserved complex and ruined temple, walk on real Roman pavements. There are audio tours, costumed guides and free kids activities throughout the summer.
14 Step aboard an aircraft carrier
Europe’s largest collection of naval aviation – helicopters, jets and a Concorde prototype – at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton, is launching a state-of-the-art Aircraft Carrier Experience this summer. The immersive experience follows the pioneer years of the First World War all the way to the modern Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers of today.
15 Cycle the Solar System
Cycle a true-scale model of the Solar System on the towpath of the Bridgwater to Taunton canal, with sculptures representing each of the planets along the way. Although the route is 14 miles long, you can start midway at Maunsel Lock near North Newton (where there’s a nice tearoom) and set off in either direction.