With families feeling the squeeze this summer, we’ve come up with a list of fifty free or cheap days out – costing under £20 for two adults and two children.
We'd love to hear your tips for thrifty days out this summer too – please email any suggestions to [email protected]
1. London museums – A family day out in London for less than £20? Surely not. Avoid the sadly prohibitive cost of an overland train by driving to an outer tube station (our favourite is Southfields) and get the tube to South Kensington. Kids ride free on the tube and adult fares are just £3 for a single journey (tap your card or phone on the Oyster pads). Once at ‘South Ken’, visit the Science Museum, Natural History Museum or V&A. Or take the short walk to Tate Britain and enjoy the works of Britain’s finest artists. All are free to visit. Take a packed lunch and enjoy the delightful scenery of neighbouring Hyde Park. Parking on-street near Southfields is free on Sundays. Tube tickets start from £3 for a single journey.
2. Ceramics Cafe, Farnham – Find your inner artist and paint your own masterpiece at Farnham’s Ceramics Cafe. This small shop located in Downing Street is bursting with creativity and offers a relaxed and friendly atmosphere for all. A two-hour studio session costs £2, plus the cost of ceramics (£10 to £25). Web: http://www.ceramicscafe.com/
3. Farnham Maltings, Farnham – The Maltings is offering activities and shows this summer, at the Maltings itself and on the road across Farnham. Some of the highlights include drama games sessions with expert Alisha Bond at Brambleton Hall in Wrecclesham (free), Crafty Kids sessions at the Museum of Farnham (£3.50 children, adults go free), and painting and storytelling sessions across Upper Hale and Badshot Lea (free). Web: https://farnhammaltings.com/
4. Treasure Trails, various locations – Fancy becoming an explorer for the day? Download a Treasure Trail map (or order a printed version) and go snooping for clues around locations including Farnham, Odiham, Guildford, Godalming, Alton, Haslemere, Selborne, Woking, Petersfield, Midhurst, Alresford and many more. Trails are designed for ages six and up, and are suitable for the whole family – combining local history and scenic views. Trails take around two hours to complete and cost £9.99 at www.treasuretrails.co.uk
5. Everyone is Family sessions, all Everyone Active leisure centres – Alongside swimming, the Waverley and East Hampshire leisure centre operator is also offering lots of other fantastic family activities for just £2 this summer, including climbing, racket sports, soft play, athletics and more. There’s an activity for everyone to get involved! Running until August 31, you can plan ahead too as the £2 activities are available to book up to one week in advance. Find our more at the website.
6. Frensham Great Pond, Frensham – The Great Pond may be off limits at the moment because of high levels of harmful algae in the water – but that may just keep a few of the London day-trippers away. Here’s hoping... Enjoy the small sandy beach and peaceful surroundings, stretch the legs and take a walk around the common to enjoy the bustling wildlife and stop off for a coffee or ice cream at the Snack Shop, located by the car park. Parking free for National Trust members, £6.50 all-day parking Monday to Sunday for everyone else.
7. Dapdune Wharf, Guildford – Enjoy the scenery by the River Wey at Dapdune Wharf. There are plenty of activities on offer this summer, including the Summer of Play, running from August 1 to 31, from 11am to 5pm every day. There is something for everyone with an array of sporty games including badminton, mini golf and frisbee, as well as arty workshops and creative theatre for all ages. There is also an opportunity to try your hand at canoeing and paddle boarding on August 18 and 25, provided by Surrey Outdoor Learning and Development. Parking free for National Trust members, otherwise £8 all-day parking Monday to Sunday. Canoeing and paddleboarding sessions cost £7.50.
8. Dinos Rock at The Friary, Guildford – Embark on a prehistoric journey with the Friary’s latest guests: the dinosaurs. Lifelike models of these creatures will be scattered throughout the centre and free fact sheets available to download or grab in-centre, challenging kids to discover more about each dino and learn some new facts along the way! Running up until September 3, this event is completely free.
9. Chertsey Museum, Chertsey – Okay, so this is a little further out. But with extensive collections displaying intricate histories of Runnymede, local artwork and archaeology, as well as various family-friendly events this summer, Chertsey Museum is worth the trip. Summer holiday activities are running throughout August, with creative crafts such as decorating teacups and making fans and kaleidoscopes, all at a low cost, varying between £2 and £4.50 per child. Web: https://chertseymuseum.org/
10. Rotary Young Photographer Competition – The Rotary Club of Farnham is offering an exciting opportunity to all young photographers between the ages of ten and 18 over August. Entrants aged 13 and under can enter photos under the theme of Animal Antics, while older children aged 14 and over can snap shots within the category of People and Places. Cameras or mobile phones can be used, so get creative! There’s free entry and details can he found at https://tinyurl.com/4sbkfxp7
11. Monsters, Myth and Magic Exhibition, Fareham –Head down to Westbury Manor Museum before September 10 and experience the wonders of the Monsters, Myth and Magic exhibition exploring the story of the Anglo-Saxons. This interactive day is sure to excite any inquisitive mind with dressing up, colouring in, games and quizzers all included. Free entry, parking starts from £1.40 for two hours.
12. Alice Holt Forest, Farnham – Spend a day in the forest at Alice Holt. Children can play freely in the multiple play areas on site, with perfect fields for picnicking. Looking for a more active day? The trails have you covered, with the website (https://www.forestryengland.uk/alice-holt-forest) detailing all the free trail routes available for walkers and cyclists. Bring a picnic and finish your day in the sun! Free entry, parking starts at £3 for an hour or £12 for the whole day.
13. Geocaching – Join the nation’s biggest treasure hunt this summer with geocaching. Download the free app or sign up for free online and start exploring your local geocaching points in your local area. Bring some unused toys along with you and trade them out at all the points you find! This activity is sure to keep your children entertained during and after the day out! Sign up is free, all routes tend to be walkable.
14. Hobbycraft craft sessions – Hobbycraft has all your creative needs covered thus summer with their skill-building activities sessions running throughout the summer holidays. Simply look online at their website for sessions and book ahead. Sessions start from keyring making to making your own pen pot. Sessions from £5 to £8 per child. Web: https://classbento.co.uk/videos/special/hobbycraft-workshops.mp4?v=1
15. Junk Model Sports Creation, Farnham Library – Farnham Library is letting the creativity of children run free this summer with their Junk Model Sports Creation activities running Monday, August 14 and Tuesday, August 22. Suitable for all children aged five-plus. Pre-book at the library help desk, with all materials being provided on the day! £1 per child.
16. Dinton Adventure Golf, Wokingham – We’ll be honest, we struggled to find a crazy golf course for less than £20. But Dinton Adventure Golf ticks the box – just! Offering 18 holes, all following a wildlife theme, the course is a real adventure. Adults and children are certain to be challenged as the course poses a series of obstacles before reaching the finish. Prices start from £14.85 for three players or £19.80 for four players. Web: https://www.dintonadventuregolf.co.uk/
17. Garden camping – Fancy an activity that means you don’t even have to leave the house this summer? Why not try garden camping? Move your mattress and bedding into a tent and spend the night as though you’re camping in the wilderness. Complete the night with marshmallows or s’mores, before spending the night under the stars.
18. West Wittering, East Sussex – Spend the day at The Times’ newly-proclaimed best beach in the south east and feel as though you have escaped to a tropical paradise (British weather permitting). Simply bring along a beach picnic and the only cost you’ll have to pay is parking. The sea as well as lagoons are sure to leave you spoilt for choice of where to swim! Free entry on to the beach. Parking prices start from £9.30 when you pre-book online at https://www.westwitteringestate.co.uk/
19. Frimley Lodge Park, Frimley – Spend the day more locally at Frimley Lodge Park and enjoy what the park has to offer for free! Boasting two parks for children explore, alongside numerous trails suitable for anyone and everyone: plan ahead by looking at their trail maps online. You will be delighted to find a miniature railway within the park which you can also take a journey on. Parking and entry are free. Rides on the railway start from £1.50 for a single journey or £12 for ten rides.
20. The Light- box, Woking – Visit the Lightbox Gallery and Museum in Woking for a fun-filled family day out. Alongside the wide range of exhibitions available and café offering delicious drinks and bites, there are lots of games and activities suitable for all the family on offer this summer. Free entry. Web: https://www.thelightbox.org.uk/
21. Waverley Abbey, Farnham – Wander around the impressive remains of the first Cistercian monastery founded in Britain this summer and explore all that Waverley Abbey has to offer. Including the remains of a vaulted refectory and stunning abbey grounds, the site has also been used in recent years for large feature films, most famously, Elizabeth and Into the Woods. Bring the whole family (dog included!) and experience the history of this wonderful site. Entry is free during daylight hours and bring along a picnic to enjoy in the beautiful grounds.
22. Farnham Castle, Farnham –Overlooking Farnham, the castle, which was founded in 1138 by Henry of Blois, offers many attractions to all visitors. Take a tour of the keep, the very centre of the castle which boasts marvellous views over Farnham and surrounding areas, as well as the exhibition room, which offers a wide history of the 900 years of the castle. Entry to both is free. Afterwards, take a stroll through the neighbouring Farnham Park, and find a sunny spot to sit down with a picnic with the whole family. Free entry to keep and exhibition.
23. Box Hill, Mickleham – One of the most popular areas for hikers and ramblers in Surrey, Box Hill is a great spot to take kids this summer. With various trails, ranging between two and eight miles, there is something for everyone, whether it’s a quick walk in the fresh air or an all-day event. There is also plenty to keep the kids entertained, with natural play trails, den building, tree climbing, stepping stones and much more. Take a picnic with you and enjoy lunch looking over the Surrey Hills or grab a bite in the Visitors’ Centre Café. Free entry.
24. F for Farnham Haunted Audio Walk – Are you a fan of the spooky and unnatural? Take a 90-minute walk around Farnham, Surrey’s most haunted town, and listen to the voices of the past and the stories of the scary happenings that have taken place there. Simply download the Farnham Town Council’s Trails app to access the audio, and discover a new, ghostly history of the town. Suitable for older children. App is free to download.
25. Music in the Meadow, Farnham – Every Sunday throughout July and August, Gostrey Meadow in Farnham town centre is offering an array of live music. Genres span from pop and rock to brass bands, and even covers of popular songs from the past couple decades, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones! Bring along your own picnic or enjoy the selection of cakes and nibbles at the charity tea tent. Free entry.
26. Fun Time Thursdays Guildford – Running from August 10 to 31, your kids can find a new activity in Guildford each Thursday. From mandala bracelets and dinosaurs to circus and crafts – there’s something for everyone , and it’s completely free! For more information on each event check out the following website: https://www.experienceguildford.com/fun-time-thursday/
27. Hayling Island, Hampshire – Sunny summer’s day? Why not head down to Hayling Island with the kids to enjoy a day on the beach? Stretching over three miles and with a mixture of sand and shingle, find a comfy spot on the beach and set up camp for a day of swimming, building sandcastles and relaxing. Bring your own beach picnic or head up to the shops and cafes to top up on snacks for the day ahead. Free entry. Parking starts at £3 per day.
28. Dinosummer, Farnborough - Princes Mead shopping centre is hosting events every saturday this August. Get involved with the dino artwork, stories and even meet Captain John Voyage and his dinosaur! Free to attend.
29. The Arc, Winchester – Visit the gallery at the Arc in Winchester and discover the vast collections ranging from archaeology to transport vehicles and boasting touring exhibitions each year to immerse the local community in Hampshire’s rich culture. Special exhibitions have a charge, but remaining exhibitions are free to enter. The Arc also advertises workshops and kids’ events in and around Winchester over the summer, including reading and drawing workshops in the nearby Children’s Library. Free entry. Web: https://www.arcwinchester.org.uk/
30. Mercedes-Benz World, Weybridge – There is lots to see at Mercedes-Benz World this summer, with a vast variety of attractions and display to delight. With Formula 1 racing screenings, simulators and over three floors of exhibits, you can spend the entire day here! Bring your own packed lunch or enjoy the Recharge Café on the ground floor. Free entry and parking. Fees may apply on selected driving experiences.
31. Fun Fridays , Alton – Alton Town Council has begun this year’s ‘Fun Fridays’ experiences again, continuing until September 1. Every Friday, Alton will be hosting free children’s entertainment ranging from magic shows to Zumba Kids. Each session will take place from 2pm to 3pm in Alton Public Gardens. Free entry. Web: https://altonevents.co.uk/
32. Summer Reading Challenge, Hampshire Libraries – Ready, Set, Read! Until September 16, Hampshire County Council in association with The Reading Agency will be presenting the summer reading challenge. Free to enter, the aim is for children to read six books in order to receive an eco-friendly medal and certificate. Stickers can be earned along the way and the chance to win a Samsung Galaxy Tablet is up for grabs! Free entry.
33. Stoke Park, Guildford - Just outside of the town, Stoke Park has everything you need for a summer day out! With a splash pad, skatepark, playground, tennis courts, mini golf and refreshments this is the perfect place to spend a sunny day. Free entry, but mini golf costs £4.50 per adult and £3.00 per child.
34. Bushy Park, London - This historic Tudor park used to be a favourite of king Henry VIII for its wild deer. A bit further out but with the chance of seeing deers roaming around, along with the streams, ponds, playgrounds and sandpits this vast park is well worth the journey. Free entry.
35. Anglo-Saxon Festival, Alton - Curtis Museum is hosting a day full of Anglo-Saxon history and archaeology. Ancient crafts and some timed displays will be occuring throughout the day. The event will be held on Saturday, August 12, from 10am until 4pm.
36 Lavender Fields, Selborne – Located at Hartley Park Farm off the Alton to Selborne road, this sweet-smelling spot is the perfect place to relax with the whole family. The fields themselves are now in flowering season – accepting visitors from 10am to 5pm every day excluding Sunday, when it closes at 4pm. A range of products of all uses can be bought from their very own shop and well-behaved dogs as well as picnics are welcomed in their designated areas! Free parking and entry is £4 for adult, £2 for under-16s (bug hunt kit included).
37. Durleighmarsh Farm pick your own, Rogate – What’s better than coming home with a punnet of fresh fruit you have picked yourself? Durleighmarsh Farm’s pick your own is now open seven days a week from 10am to 4pm. Crops currently available include blueberries, plums, raspberries, blackberries, red and black currants. This season there is an entrance fee of £2 per adult (aged 15-plus) and £1 per child (aged two to 14). Crop updates at: www.durleighmarshfarmshop.co.uk
38. Xplorer Family Trail – Add a sense of adventure to your family outing with a free trail, using simple maps either downloaded or collected on the day, as you, as a family, can work together to find each marker around your chosen park – combining both physical and mental activity while learning a few fun facts along the way! Upcoming dates include Monday, August 14 at Farnham Park or Tuesday, August 15 at Snoxhall Fields, Cranleigh. All take place from 10am to 12.30pm. Free entry. Web: https://www.xplorer.org.uk/
39. Haslemere Educational Museum – Not only can you venture into the world of living and natural history at Haslemere Museum but now, for the summer, two exhibitions have opened where you can delve into British wildlife and Haslemere’s own observations from when the establishment was founded. Visitors will also be encouraged to explore the wildlife within the museum’s own gardens. Both exhibitions are on until the second of September. Free entry – donation advised.
40. Winkworth Arboretum –Competitive when it comes to games? Especially when it’s with your family and friends? The National Trust’s Summer of Play will test your abilities with recreations such as giant Jenga and lawn darts. Using a Winkworth Winners scorecard, you can discover which member of the group is the champion after a day’s worth of exploring the site and playing each round. A family ticket with one adult costs £18.
41. Godalming Museum – Engage in the seas of our world with Godalming Museum’s new exhibition running until September 24, featuring trails and activities to encourage a better understanding of the impacts our waters have. The museum also has family seaside crafts events running every Friday in August from 10am to 4pm. Free entry, donation advised.
42 Space2grow, Farnham – Reconnect with nature by resting your mind. This acre of wonders run by volunteers connects people to themselves and the environment around them via a wildflower meadow, river and pond. Afternoons in the Acre allows families to book their own experience in the garden – openings will be running every day from 3.30pm to 6pm throughout the summer. To book email [email protected]
43. Southwood Country Park And Cafe, Farnborough – This central hub in the middle of 57 hectares of green space is the perfect activity for any family wanting a chilled-out day including an incentive for the kids. The Southwood Cafe itself has a park which you can see from the comfort of an indoor or outdoor seating area. There is an open shower station especially for mucky pups (dogs, that is!). A car park is available right next to the hub. Free entry.
44. Painshill Park, Cobham – Take a trip back in time to 18th-century England where, taking a stroll around the Serpentine lake, you can immerse yourself not only with the beautiful landscape but the varying architectural style of each building. With dogs welcome (on short leads) and plenty of wildflower meadows for play, this park is filled with gems even without its most obvious feature: the crystal grotto. With more than 10,000 crystals filling its walls, this sanctuary reflects light off the lake’s waters – just one of the beautiful photo opportunities of Painshill. Tickets (when booking online) are free for under-fives with adult tickets costing £10.
45. Guildford Castle and keep – With stunning views of Guildford and the surrounding area, this castle is famous for its vibrant floral displays. As it is situated just off the central shopping area, your trip may be convenient for picking up a thing or two in central Guildford itself – or perhaps just simply sticking to the land’s enrapturing character. Hosting band concerts and featuring a bowls green and life-sized Alice Through The Looking Glass statue. Grounds are free entry, but a family ticket for the castle keep is £11.40.
46. Jane Austen Families’ Walk , Chawton – Chawton is a pretty village which the great author herself loved –and she wrote many of her books there too. Enjoy games, dressing up, crafts and plenty of stories and knowledge shared about Austen’s own life on various dates this summer. Two experts on the subject will lead you through the event and squash and biscuits will be offered in the learning hub after. The walk is aimed at children aged over eight, but all are welcome. Family ticket of two adults and up to three children is £16.50 at https://janeaustens.house/
47. Farnham Park, Farnham – Within the summer months this central park is all-green with 320 acres and rolling grasslands and fields. The perfect picnic spot, the park has a glorious view of Farnham itself, and offers a remarkable and peaceful view of sunsets. The children who go there absolutely treasure the castle-themed playground located at the bottom of the hill.
48. Dinton Pastures Country Park – Situated in the heart of Wokingham, this site of woodland, meadow and lakes is the perfect family getaway from home life . Featuring multiple trails, the park is open 365 days and features and activity centres where families can choose to hire out kayaks, stand-up paddleboards or dinghies. Free entry to the country park and its trails – one double kayak fitting two adults and a small child between them costs £17 to hire for 30 minutes.
49. Guildford Museum – Apart from visiting the museum’s collections itself, distract yourself while trying out a water-themed craft activity at the Guildford Museum this summer. On August 18, from 10.30am to 11.15am, you and your kids can immerse yourselves in a story followed by either dragonfly or fish craft. Suitable for over-twos on a first-come, first-served basis.
50. Queen Elizabeth Country Park, near Petersfield – Whether you’re after a low-cost activity for little ones to enjoy, a refreshing drink with a view in the café or a unique art exploration in the great outdoors, QECP has it covered. A full day’s parking is £6. Find out what activities are on offer at: https://www.hants.gov.uk/thingstodo/countryparks/qecp