Summer activities for kids

Discover what’s happening across the UK this summer - visit the best family-friendly events & attractions and get ready for a summer to remember!

Activities for the kids summer holidays UK  

Are you starting to think about the long summer break ahead and how to keep everyone entertained? At Explore Learning, we believe in making every summer holiday the summer of possibility. From beach days, park days, adventure days and rainy days, we’re here to help you get the most out of summer


A list of summer activities for kids

If you’ve been frantically googling ‘summer family events near me’ and aren’t sure where to start then look no further. We’ve put together a fabulous A-Z of things to do with your kids this summer. Below you’ll find a range of activities for summer to please all of the family, from older kids to little ones, during the school holiday.

Art days - The summer is a great time to get artistic. Whether making a nature picture using twigs and leaves, cracking out the water colours or visiting a local art gallery. There’s plenty of inspiration to be had. For an experience that takes art to a whole other level check out the Van Gogh immersive experience available this summer in London, Bristol, York and Leicester (booking required). 

Beach days - You’re never far from the sea in the UK and we have some beautiful beaches to explore. Grab your bucket and spade and whether you’re building sandcastles or searching for sea creatures in rock pools there’s something for everyone. 

Climbing - Have you had a go at climbing before? It’s a great way to get fit and try something new. You could try a dedicated climbing centre such as Clip ‘n climb who runs climbing activities throughout the UK suitable from 4 years old to adult. For an outdoor climbing adventure the National Trust has a number of recommended sites to try bouldering, abseiling and more. 

Donkey sanctuary - The Donkey Sanctuary runs sites caring for donkeys and mules throughout the country. They are free to visit and a great way for children to learn more about these wonderful animals and their unique personalities. 

Escape room - Ideal for teens and older children, an escape room can challenge the whole family to solve puzzles and work together as a team. Something to keep in mind when you need to make a rainy day into a day to remember. 

Fossil hunting - Why not tie in a beach visit with some fossil hunting? All you need is a bucket for collecting and a little patience before you find your first ammonite or dinosaur tooth. Check out some of the best places to find fossils in the UK.

Glamping - Fancy trying a night under canvas without needing all the camping gear? Why not find a glamping site near you in a bell tent, yurt or shepherd’s hut? It's a fun way of getting closer to nature with some home comforts still available. 

Horse riding - There are many wonderful horse-riding schools throughout the country offering you a chance to try riding for the first time or go on whole day treks. Look out for special holiday clubs or try a guided trek for the whole family.

Ice cream parlours - Visiting an ice cream parlour takes this summer treat to a whole other level. You can picture it now, loads of unique flavours to choose from, toppings and extra special cones. What will you go for? 

Jousting - Imagine stepping back in time and experiencing some medieval jousting! This is definitely not something you’ll see everyday. Often held at local castles or open air museums and combined with medieval festivals they are educational as well as entertaining. English Heritage offers a range of living history events perfect for families throughout the year.

Kite flying - Head to a nearby open space on a breezy day with a kite. It takes a bit of practice and you'll need to be careful of those around you. How long can you get it to fly for?

Lido - A Summer day is the ideal time for some outdoor swimming. Some local leisure centres have outdoor pools and in many parts of the country lidos are making a comeback. You’ll need a hot day to make the most of it. They are not all as warm as Stonehaven Lido in Aberdeenshire where the water is heated to 29 degrees. Most will offer a very quick way to cool down! 

Maze - Do you have memories of getting lost in a maze? It’s a childhood must and there are some exceptional mazes throughout the country to try out when you’re out for a family day this summer.  

Nature walks - The National Trust offers a host of nature walks and summer family activities. There’s always a big focus on adventure. Enjoy a day outdoors with time to play. Getting out into nature, listening to bird song and exploring new trails is a great way to minimise screen time and boost wellbeing. 

Outdoor cinema - Change movie night up a bit and look for an outdoor cinema event near you. Don’t forget blankets, a picnic and maybe a couple of portable chairs. 

Pond dipping - With a net and bucket there are all sorts of fascinating creatures to be found in a pond, lake or stream. If you’re not sure where to go, the RSPB offer organised pond dipping events at their reserves throughout the country. 

Quoits - Get out the garden games! Quoits is a classic game, easy for everyone to play and takes up very little space with some rope rings and a score board. Ideal to take with you when you’re visiting with friends and family too. 

Rainy days - Rainy days needn’t be a write off this summer. Take them as an opportunity to have a sort out at home. Get crafty, play some board games or take a look at our free resources.

Splash pads - Councils are opening up more and more of these play areas for kids - perfect for a bit of summer fun. They are normally free water features in town centres or parks ideal for kids to run in and out of and cool down on sunny days.

Theatre - Theatres are open again and there are a host of family friendly shows to see. If you’re heading into the West End then check for any ‘kids week’ promotions. Kids (17 and under) go free in August when accompanied by a full paying adult.  

Upcycle - Summer is an ideal time for a craft project. Giving new life to something that would otherwise be thrown away can leave you feeling very satisfied. There are so many ways to reimagine the items in your home.

View - Seek out an amazing view. From Durdle Door to Loch Ness, the White cliffs of Dover to  Stonehenge there are some beautiful places to see in the UK. Take a picnic, sit back and relax. How does a great view make you feel? 

Water sports - From hiring a pedalo to trying out paddle boards there are many locations now offering kids chances to take to the water. This is especially great for teens looking to try something new.

‘X’Explore a cave - There’s something mysterious about caves, especially those filled with stalagmites and stalactites. Check out places such as Treak Cliff Cavern in Derbyshire or Cheddar Gorge and caves in Somerset, for an underworld experience.   

Yoga - Look out for kids yoga events happening near you. Perfect for promoting good health, posture and well being as well as finding your inner calm. Maybe it will inspire a new habit.

Zoo - Elephants, giraffes and tigers. There are many top family friendly zoos in Britain where animals are taken great care of. They are a great educational opportunity for children to learn more about animals, the care they need and the threat to their wild habitats. 

Two children looking through the glass at some monkeys in a zoo.

Summer holiday activities for toddlers

Toddlers love a playground, soft play and splash pad. For a day out, farms with petting zoos and play barns are great and you might also consider theme parks like Peppa Pig world with a toddler focus. However most toddlers will be more than content with a sprinkler in the garden and some building blocks they can carry, hide, put together and topple over. Most of all toddlers love spending time with you and don’t really need to go anywhere to have the best of times.

Summer activities for 12-year olds

We’re often asked how to support a child through the summer holidays. Especially when they are at that transition age between being a child and a teenager. We find that this is actually a fabulous age for doing everything. 12 year olds are able to do everything on the A-Z list and hopefully don’t feel too grown up yet to see spending time with their families as uncool!

Summer activities for teens

Our top tips for engaging teens with summer activities are:

  • Give advance notice of your plans

  • Book things in for afternoons and evenings

  • Ask for ideas of what they’d like to do

  • Give them a budget and task them with planning a family adventure

Summer family events near me

With the cost of transportation on the increase, staying close to home may be the most attractive choice this summer. Family fun doesn’t need to be visiting a theme park. It can be a BBQ with friends, a water fight with kids in the garden, a game of rounders in the local country park. 

Visit your local library and leisure centre to find out what family friendly events they have planned for summer. These are often free but may require pre booking.

Free summer activities for kids

While childcare costs can make summer a bit of an expensive time, when it comes to fun activities for your children you can actually do a lot for free!

We’ve put together this list of free summer activities for kids that are both fun and educational to help you get started:

  • Go on a nature walk: Take your kids on a walk and encourage them to observe and identify different plants and animals in their natural habitat. It's a great way to get them to appreciate nature and learn about the environment.

  • Visit a local library: Libraries are a treasure trove of free books, movies, and activities for kids. Most libraries offer summer reading programmes and other fun events for children of all ages. Why not see if your nearest library has any fun activities for kids this summer?

  • Have a garden picnic: Pack some sandwiches, fruit, and snacks and have a picnic in your garden. It's a fun way to spend an afternoon and enjoy some quality time together as a family.

  • Visit a museum: Many museums offer free admission or have special programmes for children during the summer. It's a great way to expose your kids to art, history, and culture.

  • Go on a treasure hunt: Create a list of items for your kids to find around the house or in the neighbourhood. It's a fun and engaging way to get them to explore and use their problem-solving skills.

  • Organise a community sports tournament: Get together with other families in your area and organise a friendly sports tournament. It's a great way for kids to stay active and socialise with other kids!

  • If all else fails, go online: You’d be surprised how many free events for kids are likely running in your area. Look at neighbourhood social media pages or even just hop on Google!

These are just a few ideas to help keep your kids engaged and active this summer without spending a penny. With a little creativity and imagination, you can create a fun and memorable summer for your family.

Fun Summer Activities for Kids at Home

We like to think of summer as a great time for children to get out in the sun and have fun. The reality in the UK is we’re likely to have more than a few rainy days, and you might not always be able to get out for a day trip.

Fortunately, there are plenty of fun and engaging summer activities for kids that you can do right at home. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Create a summer scrapbook: Encourage your kids to document their summer memories by creating a scrapbook. They can include photos, drawings, and mementoes of their favourite moments.

  • Have a backyard water day: Set up a sprinkler or a small pool in your backyard and let your kids splash around in the water. It's a great way to stay cool on a hot summer day.

  • Build a fort: Use blankets, pillows, and furniture to create a cosy fort in your living room or backyard. Your kids will love having their own secret hideaway.

  • Have a movie night: Set up a DIY movie theatre in your living room by creating a cosy seating area and screening a family-friendly movie. Don't forget the popcorn!

  • Get cooking: Get creative in the kitchen and make some easy homemade food with your kids. This can be a great way to help them carry on practicing maths over summer, while still having fun and learning practical skills.

  • Have a family game night: Spend a fun evening playing board games, card games, or video games with your family. It's a great way to bond and have fun together.

Pop into your local Explore Learning centre and collect some of our free summer resources to take with you on your days out or support you when you're working at home and needing some kid entertainment.

Whatever you choose to do, we hope your summer is a rich, fulfilling experience full of memories and family fun.

More summer activities for kids questions

How do I entertain my kids this summer?

Here are a few ideas to keep your kids entertained during the summer months:

  1. Plan outdoor activities: Take advantage of the nice weather by organizing outdoor adventures such as picnics, bike rides, nature walks, or visits to local parks.

  2. Engage in arts and crafts: Encourage creativity by setting up art stations with supplies for drawing, painting, or making crafts. Look for DIY project ideas that align with your children's interests.

  3. Explore local attractions: Research nearby attractions like museums, zoos, or amusement parks that offer kid-friendly activities and exhibits.

  4. Organize playdates: Arrange playdates with other parents and their children. This allows kids to socialize, play together, and share their summer experiences.

  5. Encourage reading: Visit your local library or set up a cosy reading corner at home. Encourage your kids to explore different genres and participate in summer reading programs.

How can my kids curb their boredom this summer?

Here are a few strategies to help your kids beat summer boredom:

  1. Encourage hobbies and interests: Help your children discover and develop their hobbies. Whether it's playing a musical instrument, learning a new sport, or pursuing creative writing, hobbies can keep them engaged and entertained.

  2. Offer a variety of activities: Provide a range of options to choose from, such as board games, puzzles, cooking or baking projects, or even learning a new language online.

  3. Set up a routine: Establish a daily routine that includes a mix of scheduled activities, free playtime, and relaxation. Having structure can help prevent boredom and provide a sense of stability.

  4. Foster imaginative play: Encourage your kids to use their imagination through role-playing, building forts, or creating imaginary worlds. This can spark creativity and keep them entertained for hours.

  5. Plan day trips or outings: Research nearby places of interest, such as a local beach, water park, or hiking trail. Day trips can break the monotony and provide exciting experiences for your children.

What are some affordable summer activities for kids?

There are several budget-friendly options for summer activities. Consider activities like backyard camping, building a DIY obstacle course, having a water balloon fight, or organizing a movie night at home.

Are there any educational summer activities for kids?

Yes, there are plenty of educational activities for kids during the summer. You can explore science experiments, visit museums or science centres, enrol them in summer classes or camps focused on academic subjects, or encourage them to read educational books.

How can I balance screen time with outdoor activities during the summer?

To find a balance, set specific screen time limits and encourage your kids to engage in outdoor activities. Plan outdoor excursions, designate tech-free times, and offer incentives for spending time outside. Engaging in fun outdoor activities together can help reduce excessive screen time.

What are some indoor activities for kids on rainy summer days?

On rainy summer days, you can have indoor scavenger hunts, build blanket forts, engage in arts and crafts projects, bake cookies or cakes, play board games, or video games, or have a movie marathon with popcorn and snacks.

How can I keep my kids active and fit during the summer?

There are various ways to keep your kids active during the summer. Encourage them to participate in sports camps, swimming lessons, dance classes, or martial arts. You can also plan family hikes, bike rides, or simply play outdoor games like tag, soccer, or frisbee.

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