Three times three of Somerset’s best
One thing is certain when touring the great county of Somerset - there's no shortage of great places to visit and things to see and do.
With such a huge range to choose from, we've come up with our top three places in each of three categories - family days out, natural landscapes, and museums for those interested in cars, bikes and planes.
Three top family attractions in Somerset
There’s a great choice of venues for a memorable day out with the family here, and we’ve selected three that should be on anybody’s shortlist.
The spectacular caves of Wookey Hole are a Somerset institution, with an amazing underground experience combining with above-ground attractions including the Paper Mill with its Victorian Penny Arcade and Hall of Crazy Mirrors, adventure golf, and soft play areas. There are over 20 individual attractions included in the ticket price (£18 adults, £12 children) with worthwhile discounts available online.
The rare opportunity to feed giraffes by hand, walk through a meerkat enclosure, and get up close to lemurs and other exotic wildlife makes Longleat one of the most famous wildlife adventures in the country. From the famous stately home with its Capability Brown gardens to the adventure park housing everything from penguins to stingrays, this is a place that seems able to deliver a new surprise at every turn. Admission isn’t the cheapest, though, at £31.50 adults and £22.40 for children, although discounts can be found.
Rides and splashes aplenty are to be found at Brean Leisure Park, including the Fun City theme park, Brean Splash waterpark, a golf club, and a pub and entertainment venue. Fun City is free to enter, with its 40-odd rides and attractions paid for by tokens or with an unlimited access wristband (£22.50). It includes the Astro Storm roller coaster, children’s river boat rides, and fairground classics like the dodgems. The indoor Splash pool complex features waterslides and a sunbathing area, with admission for anyone over 8yrs from £4.80 to £9.00 depending on season.
Three natural wonders of Somerset
You could build an entire geography syllabus around the natural landforms of Somerset, with the UK’s greatest gorge, wonderful picturesque hills, and rugged upland moors.
The dramatic cliffs of Cheddar Gorge were created when the ice ages ended, leaving behind an incredible landscape of 450ft cliffs and deep mysterious caves. This place is a magnet for sightseers and adventurers, with rock climbing and caving among the more energetic activities undertaken here. More gentle walks will still provide the spectacular views. One side of the gorge is National Trust, while the other is owned by the Longleat people and so combined tickets are available.
The Mendip Hills, just 20 miles south of Bath and Bristol, rise to over 1000 feet and offer far-reaching views towards Exmoor, the coast of south Wales, and Salisbury Plain. This area is rightly designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Here picture-perfect stone cottages nestle in the landscape of ‘combes’ (distinctive valley formations) forming an outdoor playground for horse and bike riding, walking, and climbing.
Lovers of wild nature will revel in the delights of Exmoor, tucked into the west of Somerset on its border with Devon. Here are England’s highest sea cliffs, enigmatic waterfalls, and a landscape dotted with medieval towns, villages, and characterful harbours. This National Park is famed for its wild ponies and red deer.
Three museums for petrolheads
There can’t be many counties in the UK that are home to so many top museums, and we’ve selected three of our favourites for a bit of engineering exotica.
First up is the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Ilchester, which is reckoned to house Europe’s largest collection of naval aircraft. It offers a very memorable and immersive simulated aircraft carrier deck experience, designed to give a flavour of this most extreme of aviation environments, and is also home to the very first Concorde aircraft ever built. Adult admission £14.00.
The Helicopter Museum at Weston-super-Mare is reckoned to be the largest collection of rotorcraft in the world, and the only one in the UK. Among the 70 aircraft here are a terrifying Russian gunship and an enormous 26-seat Super Frelon. 15-minute helicopter flights are also available at £45, adults admission to the museum is £6.50.
Back on the ground, the Haynes International Motor Museum is billed as the UK’s largest exhibition of great cars. You've read the manuals, and this is your chance to see the vehicles in the metal. With over 400 cars and bikes ranging from tiny bubble cars to exotica like the Jaguar XJ220, there’s something here to get any petrolhead’s pulse racing. There’s even a whole room dedicated to red sports cars – 50 of ‘em. Adult admission is £13.50.
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