50 free things to do from your caravan in 2019
50 free things to do from your caravan in 2019
Make the most of 2019 with our guide! We've gathered 50 free things you can do in 2019 when out in your caravan.
Natural History Museum, Kensington, London
The Natural History Museum is one of London's most popular visitor attractions. Self-guided trails take you through the highlights. The Dinosaur Trail explores fossils and life-size recreations of dinosaurs with their skeletons.
In the Blue Zone, you'll see huge mammals and marine invertebrates – the highlight being a huge blue whale! Explore the forces of nature in the Earth Hall with a fiery red globe and a stegosaurus.
Then find out about human evolution, volcanoes, earthquakes, rocks and geology.
The Green Zone begins in the impressive Hintze Hall, where you can walk underneath a 25.2-metre blue whale skeleton.
You can also see creepy crawlies, fossils, birds, minerals and gems. Finally, don't forget the Darwin Centre, where you can enter the futuristic Cocoon, and explore novel features of the natural world.
Stratford-upon-Avon Food Festival
With mouthwatering delights in abundance, the Stratford-upon-Avon Food Festival in September always draws a good crowd. Tantalise your taste buds with samples of oil and relishes. Try home-made wines and brews.
Explore new and unusual curries, fancy nuts and antipasti, or sample cakes and puddings.
Speciality meats and local farm produce will inspire your culinary imagination. While entry is free, we can't guarantee you won't exchange a few notes for delicious fayre to devour back at the caravan. It'd be rude not to!
Cadair Idris is Wales' second most popular mountain after Snowdon and the country's highest mountain outside the Snowdon range. It's located just outside Barmouth, and there are various routes to the summit.
One of the most popular is the Pony Path ascent from Dolgellau. The route follows a pretty stream through wooded glades and heather heath, taking you past grazing sheep onto a mountain range. It's pretty gentle up to that point.
Then it gets steeper, more uneven underfoot, and you're much more exposed, so take layers so you can wrap up when you need to. From the top you can see down a sheer cliff to a Llyn Cau lake below – the views are stunning. There's a shelter for anyone who gets stranded or wants a respite from the wind.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Yorkshire Sculpture Park celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, with an eye-catching collection of 80 figures, sculpted by the artist, Zak Ové. The display is called "Black and Blue: The Invisible Men and the Masque of Blackness".
The two-metre-tall figures, striking in appearance, stand like a futuristic army, who've perhaps beamed down from a spacecraft into this classic 18th- century English parkland. Their presence is powerful, fascinating, maybe even intimidating to any youngster who thinks they might come alive!
However, Ové says they're a tribute to African culture (not aliens!), and he seeks to "reignite and reinterpret lost culture using new-world materials while paying tribute to both spiritual and artistic African identity". His work is on display until 3 June 2018.
The remarkable Yorkshire Sculpture Park has hundreds of artistic creations all around its grounds, a stunning location for a leisurely walk. It also offers yoga and meditation classes.
Rutland County Museum
Rutland County Museum takes you through the history of Britain's smallest county. Explore Rutland's rural living in the 19th century, with a recreated kitchen from 1903, an exhibit on Victorian wash days, a knitting machine, a brewery, and a collection of displays looking at everything from farming equipment to earthquakes.
The exhibitions take you through the ages: the Romans, the Dark Ages, medieval England, the Tudors, the Stuarts and on to the development of Rutland Water reservoir in the 1970s in the face of protests from some locals. The village of Nether Hambleton disappeared beneath its waters in 1977, after the dam was finished in 1976 and the waters rose.
Today, it's a popular location for watersports, a wildlife haven and a great place for walking, cycling and picnicking.
The Fairy Pools, Isle Of Skye
About 40 miles from the bridge that joins the Scottish mainland to the Isle of Skye are the famous 'Fairy Pools', which attract walkers from around the world, to see the swirling currents in a stunning mountainous setting. The Fairy Pools walking route takes you along a stream of cascades, through a great landscape, so alluring in its beauty that some people like to go 'wild swimming' in the water.
You can walk for over a mile, following the swirling, pelting cascades at every turn, and then continue into the hills and on through the valleys if you wish. It does get boggy, so most people return to the car park after satisfying their curiosity.
The National Museum of Cardiff
The National Museum of Cardiff has a mixture of temporary and permanent exhibitions, designed to appeal to people of all ages and interests. There's a dinosaur gallery, a geology gallery, collections of artwork, sculptures, photography, and natural history.
The Clore Discovery Centre offers kids the opportunity to handle items including insects, fossils and Bronze Age weapons. There's also a programme of talks for those who want to learn more about specific collections.
Free exhibitions and activities include:
- Who Decides?
- Contemporary Art for Everybody
- The Wonderful World of Worms
- Highlights of Art
- Daily Guided Tours at 12.30pm.
- Highlights of Science
- Daily Guided Tours at 1.30pm.
Walthamstow Wetlands, Europe's biggest urban wetlands, opened to the public in October 2017 following a £8.7m spend, turning the old Engine House into a visitor centre, with a café, toilets, viewing platforms and shop. The money also funded landscaping improvements, a new car park, and other necessary works.
You can walk to the Wetlands from Blackhorse Road tube station and entry is free (car parking charges apply). Walk or cycle around nine reservoirs and look out for the wildlife, from swans to songbirds; from fish to amphibians.
Birdwatching and fishing are favourite activities here; you need a licence to fish. Why not relax and immerse yourself in the beautiful landscapes; there are 211 hectares to explore. It's great for an active family outing or a gentle stroll.
Bedruthan Steps, Newquay
Huge granite rocks stand proudly near the shore of Bedruthan Steps Beach, and according to local folklore, they are stepping stones for the Giant Bedruthan.
The Bedruthan Steps onto the beach are steep, narrow, and cut into the cliff, so they're hazardous and should be used with care. The beach vanishes under the sea at high tide, so you can only enjoy it during low tide and need to take care, so you're not trapped when the tide comes in.
There are coastal erosion and the potential for falling rocks, so be careful, but it is also a fabulous location, with great views from the National Trust café on the clifftops. The coastal path takes you past coves, headlands, and resorts and is among the prettiest stretches of the
Visit a Nuclear Power Station
Sizewell B Power Station in Suffolk has a visitor centre. Find out how the power station works and see a scale model of the interiors behind the impressive dome. The centre belongs to EDF Energy. There are models of the uranium fuel rods, which create heat by a process called nuclear fission.
The visitor centre is designed to appeal to children and adults alike, with interactive tasks and challenges, information boards, and free beverages. The exhibition stresses the importance of safety.
The dome on the nuclear reactor is designed to withstand huge impacts; a plane travelling at 500 mph turns to dust on impact. If anything goes wrong inside, no radiation should escape.
The Visitor Centre requires notice, but if you want to go on the free tour of the plant, you must give at least four weeks' notice.
T 01728 653974 or email [email protected]
Ilfracombe's Verity Statue
One thing you can't miss when you visit Ilfracombe is Damien Hirst's controversial statue of a pregnant woman, Verity. She towers 66-feet high over the harbor, much to the annoyance of some residents – and to the delight of others.
Officials had the statue lifted onto Ilfracombe's Pier in 2012, amid protests from some locals who felt it was distasteful understandably, as half the sculpture reveals her anatomy and looks more like something out of a horror film than a work of art.
Fortunately, Ilfracombe also has many more traditional delights to offer visitors, with long, sandy beaches, stunning bays, secluded coves, parks and gardens, and St Nicholas' tiny 14th-century Chapel, on the top of the hill overlooking the harbour.
Avebury Henge, Wiltshire
Avebury Henge is the biggest stone circle in the UK and is believed to be around 5000 years old, more ancient than Stonehenge. Archaeologists believe its original purpose was for fertility ceremonies and rituals to do with the changing seasons.
Early belief in an underground world and the forces of spirits led Neolithic man to use the site as a place of worship. Archaeological digs have found artefacts indicating that communities lived nearby.
Construction of the henge started around 3000 BC with the digging of a deep ditch and chalk bank, which created a strange saucer effect on the landscape. It wasn't until 200 years later that over 170 sarsen stones were hauled to the enclosure and erected in three circles, with two smaller circles inside the main one.
Access to the standing stones is free, and there are shops, a museum, and a café nearby.
National Science and Media Museum, Bradford
The National Science and Media Museum in Bradford has collections relating to the science of light and sound, looking at iconic items from the world of photography, cinematography, television and new media. Inside you can see the world's earliest known surviving photo negative, the first television footage, and the camera that recorded Britain's first moving pictures.
The Wonderlab, pictured, gives visitors the opportunity to get hands-on and explore the world of media through touch and experimentation.
There are 20 'mind-bending' experiences, from a mirror maze to a laser tunnel. The museum has three cinema screens, including an IMAX theatre, and they screen movies from around the globe. Bradford is recognised as the first ever UNESCO City of Film.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London is a vast open space comprising 560 acres, with playgrounds, cafés, waterways, and beautiful parkland. Entry is free, and on this vast estate, you'll find the London Stadium, the Copper Box Arena, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, the London Aquatics Centre, Lee Valley VeloPark and Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
You can watch or participate in sports, admire the iconic venues, enjoy the adventure playgrounds, or relax in the beautiful surroundings. Artworks and sculptures are displayed around the park, to inspire visitors with a spirit of creativity and adventure.
Boat tours are available along the park's waterways, you can hire a swan pedalo, or adventurous youngsters can ride the world's longest slide! Charges apply for some attractions.
Hadrian's Wall was erected by the Romans, starting in 122AD, and was supposedly built to keep the troublesome Ancient Britons and Picts at bay. It was a display of Rome's power, marking the edge of its vast empire.
Hadrian's Wall is 73 miles long, so you could perhaps do it in a week by hiking with a tent on your back or caravan along its length over a few days! It stretches from the Solway Coast in the west, to Wallsend in the east, along some of Britain's most dramatic landscapes. A 'Hadrian's Wall Path' opened to the public in 2003 and has since become a popular walking route.
The wall is interrupted in places by Roman forts, old quarries and crags. Steel Rigg takes you over a bluff, towards a lake, set in the fantastic countryside. Cawfields Quarry and Walltown are attractive, too. The wall is free to visit, but there are charges at the car parks.
Abergavenny Food Festival
Abergavenny Food Festival takes place in September yearly. It's a big event, attracting 30,000 visitors. There are demonstrations by celebrity chefs, new foodie concepts and ideas – they like to push the boundaries.
This year there will be many dips and tasters to sample, delicious takeaways, authentic international cuisine from specialist chefs, artisan cheese makers, chocolatiers, beers, wines and speciality foods. Accompanying these tempting delights will be stalls selling kitchen gadgets and promoting lifestyle ideas.
Abergavenny Food Festival is the longest- running food festival in Wales. There's something here for every taste!
Giant's Causeway, Ireland
The Giant's Causeway is Ireland's best-known World Heritage Site. Enjoy free parking at Portballintrae, then follow Causeway Coast Way for 1.5 miles.
If you park at the Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre, you have to pay for access to the Visitor Centre and exhibitions. Access costs £10.50 per adult or £26.25 per family. That's why it's worth walking if you're not that interested in the Visitor Centre. Access to the Giant's Causeway itself is free.
The Giant's Causeway is a fantastic feat of nature, created by a volcanic eruption about 60 million years ago. The result, when the lava cooled, was a vast landscape of around 40,000 interlocking basalt columns.
Today around 850,000 people visit the attraction yearly.
When you visit, check out the rock pools for limpets, sea anemones and cushion starfish. Birders should look out for the fulmar, rock pipit, wheatear, oystercatcher, guillemot and whitethroat.
The Wellcome Collection, London
The Wellcome Collection explores different approaches to medical care, including pioneering techniques.
The Medicine Man exhibition follows Henry Wellcome's travels around the world, displaying items related to life, medicine and death. There's a chair that looks like a torture instrument, described as "a chair equipped with blades for performances by mediums"!
Tribal masks and a scold's bridle hang on the walls and the gallery displays paintings, glass eyes, prosthetic limbs, surgical instruments, statues believed to have healing powers, and many other weird and unusual items, including Charles Darwin's walking stick.
The Medicine Now gallery looks at public health today, with an extensive collection of modern diet books, a sculpture representing obesity, magnified sculptures of pathogenic microbes, an exhibit about phantom limb syndrome, and examples of MRIs.
Nearest Tube: Euston Square.
National Museum Of Ireland
Admission to all four sites of the National Museum of Ireland is free. They are the Museum of Archaeology, the Museum of Decorative Arts & History, the Museum of Country Life, and the Natural History Museum.
Inside, you'll find fantastic collections of artefacts, temporary and permanent exhibitions and hands-on exhibits for the kids. Highlights include 'Irish Fauna' and 'Mammals of the World' in the Natural History Museum.
There are workshops and crafts in the Country Life Museum. Explore Prehistoric Ireland, Medieval Ireland, Viking Ireland, and Ancient Egypt in the Archaeology Museum. And enjoy themes and traditions in the Decorative Arts & History Museum.
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is a fabulous event in the heart of London with Christmas markets, food and drink, ice skating and a funfair offering adrenaline rides and merry-go-rounds for the kids.
Theatrical shows, Cinderella on Ice, a Magical Ice Kingdom, and a Circus Megadome mean you'll never get bored! Don't miss the bar made from ice, the Sooty Christmas Show, and the Giant Observation Wheel.
Visit Santa's workshop, too! Entry to Winter Wonderland is free, but we recommend booking for some chargeable attractions, including the ice skating, theatre shows, the Christmas circuses, and the giant observation wheel.
Diana, Princess Of Wales Memorial Playground
This pirate ship is the brilliant centrepiece in the middle of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens, London. The playground is free to use and has a sensory trail, teepees, a sandy beach, toys, and fun sculptures.
Peter Pan inspired the design, and it encourages exploration and learning through play. Over 1m people visit yearly. All children must be accompanied by an adult. When the playground reaches capacity, the organisers bring a queuing system into operation.
Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre explores the myths and legends of Robin Hood and reveals historical evidence for a real outlaw named Robin Hood – or Robard Hude.
Head into the forest, and you'll come to the Major Oak, a huge tree, estimated to be around 1000 years old. It has a waistline of 33 feet and is thought to weigh approximately 23 tonnes.
According to legend, Robin and his merry men used the tree as their meeting point and hid in the hollow of this tree when the Sheriff of Nottingham came looking for them. Today its boughs need props to stay upright.
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, is a big museum across five floors, with galleries including money and textiles, ancient cultures, artwork and sculptures. As you step through the grand entrance, a long gallery lined with statues from the ancient world draws you inside.
Rows of deities and mythical creatures lead to the Egyptian Gallery, full of archaeological treasures: mummies, pottery, models of animals, ancient tombs, and hieroglyphics carved in stone. The Gallery of European Prehistory, nearby, covers the period from 1.8 million years ago, to 100 AD.
There are human skulls and information about the first Europeans: homo georgicus, homo antecessor, homo heidelbergensis, and homo neanderthals. Some of their jewellery, weapons and cauldrons are on display.
There's a model of a late Neolithic lakeside village in the Alps, with thatched houses on stilts to prevent flooding. The museum's galleries depict all regions of the world, looking at crafts, culture and architecture. Fascinating!
Bethlam Museum Of The Mind: 'Bedlam'
Bethlem Museum of the Mind in London explores the history of mental health care and treatment, through art, historical objects, and archive materials. The Bethlem Royal Hospital first opened in 1247; it moved several times and still provides care to the mentally ill today. In the beginning, it was a general hospital providing alms, but it became a specialist clinic for the insane, and by the 14th century it was being called 'Bedlam'.
Intended as a sanctuary for people in need, it gained a reputation for neglect and mistreatment. In 1598 it opened its doors to the public and became part of the visitor tour of London, alongside the Tower of London, the royal palaces, and London Zoo.
Many people saw it as nothing more than entertainment, but others saw it as their charitable duty or a moral lesson. Today, exhibitions explore its history, modern treatments, and
Dunwich Heath, on the Suffolk Coast near Southwold, is a National Trust landscape with lovely walks, abundant wildlife, and a café serving delicious cakes. There are two giant deck chairs outside the restaurant; hilarious if you try to sit up in them!
It's good to visit in the summer when the heather is in bloom; the vibrant purple flowers bring the landscape to life. Little rabbits appear on the footpath as you walk. The rabbits then hop off as you get closer, bobbing their little white tails up and down.
Dunwich Heath will leave you feeling rejuvenated. The flowers, the wildlife, the coastal views, the National Trust café, shop, bird hide, information boards, and sense of tranquillity - they all combine to lift your spirits.
Kids will enjoy messing around on the oversized deck chairs, and so might some adults! Look out for lighthouses along the coast.
St Fagan's National History Museum
There's something for everyone at St Fagan's, with acres of gardens and hidden treasures. Explore the Iron Age village, the tannery, the workman's institute and the post-war prefab. Then get right up to date with a modern 'eco' house, full of the latest technology to demonstrate how you can generate fuel and minimise your carbon footprint.
The museum has an old textile mill, complete with demonstrations of textile making, and glorious water gardens. The manor house dates back to 1580 and boasts grand interiors that reflect the lifestyles of the Earl of Plymouth and his family, who gave the castle and its grounds to the Welsh people in 1946.
Whether Victorian villages are your thing, or you prefer to explore the lives of ordinary Welsh people at different times in history, St Fagan's offers a great day out for everyone. Free entry, but £5 parking applies.
Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford
The Pitt Rivers Museum has various archaeological objects and artefacts in its collection, exploring the customs and cultures of indigenous people from around the world.
The museum has now grown to house over half a million fascinating pieces from its beginnings with 18,000 objects. The museum is an integral part of the University of Oxford, and it's involved in teaching.
Walk through the low-lit galleries to see glass cabinets full of weird and beautiful pieces of history. There's little monetary value in some items, but many have a fascinating story to tell about unfamiliar cultures and human history.
The building is architecturally impressive, and it's worth spending time immersing yourself in a gallery that interests you, rather than trying to do everything, especially if you're short of time.
Rosliston Forestry Centre
Kids will love the Rosliston Forestry Centre, in the National Forest Derbyshire, because it has a brilliant free adventure playground with a giant owl climbing frame.
There're loads of exciting play equipment for the kids and children with limited mobility can enjoy the wheelchair swing, wheelchair merry-go-round, accessible slide, and trampoline! Visitors pay for parking.
While you're there, you can go for woodland walks and explore the trails. Alternatively, there are some paid-for attractions: you can have a go at falconry and archery, join an astronomy group, and have lunch in the café.
Salisbury Cathedral & Magna Carta Exhibition
The Gothic architecture of Salisbury Cathedral makes it well worth a visit. Entry is free, although they welcome a voluntary donation of £7.50 per adult, if you can afford it.
Inside, the organisers adorn the cathedral with beautiful stone and wood carvings, statues, and ornate decor. Stay for a service to get the full experience, complete with church choirs, pomp, and ceremony. Occasional art exhibitions add another dimension.
Walk through the cloisters to the Magna Carta exhibition, also free. The scribes wrote the Magna Carta in Latin on a sheepskin canvas. There's a translation of the text and a commentary about King John. The Magna Carta enabled British people to obtain freedoms we still enjoy today; people cannot be held indefinitely without trial, and the monarch and parliament both have to work within the law.
Rest and Be Thankful – The Trossachs & Loch Lomond
Rest and Be Thankful is a beautiful, tranquil valley in the Trossochs National Park.
Curious cows and nervous sheep might surround you as you walk down the winding road through this stunning natural landscape. It has a pretty stream, fantastic views, wildlife and birds of prey.
There's a viewpoint from the main road (A83) looking down to the old valley road - a former military road built in the 1750s.
A commemorative stone marks the spot. Park at the top and walk into the valley, immersing yourself in the calming scenery.
National Railway Museum, York
There are loads to see at the National Railway Museum in York, the UK's largest railway museum. The collection covers 300 years of railway history and houses one million items that "changed the world."
Visit the Engine Halls full of locomotives. There are many historic trains and some modern ones. Highlights include the Mallard, a replica Rocket, and the Shinkansen, Japan's high-speed bullet train, which set the standard for high-speed trains across the globe. You can take a 'behind the scenes' tour if you wish.
Follow the story of ambulance trains during the First World War. Go inside a historic railway carriage and soak up the atmosphere inside the ambulance trains. See a hospital ward, a pharmacy and a nurses' mess room. They were built to take sick and injured soldiers to safety, and there's an audio-visual experience on the topic, too.