Affordable May half term ideas for families

Monday 13th May 2024

The May half term holiday is arguably one of the best on the school calendar. That’s all down to the (hopefully) warmer weather which gives you plenty of reasons to get outdoors and enjoy some fun in the sun.

Luckily, there are plenty of things to do closer to home with the kids, especially if you’re up for a family day out by train!

From picnics in the park to a trip to the beach, take a look at some of our favourite May half term ideas across our network.

1. Check out the free kid-friendly activities at Glasgow’s museums

Rainier days call for some exciting indoor activity options. Instead of staying cooped up at home with the kids, why not pull on your raincoats and check out some of the fun museums in Glasgow?

A museum trip is easily one of the best rainy day half term holiday activities thanks to the fact the majority across the North and Scotland are free to enter. In Glasgow, this is definitely the case – with options varying from brilliant science exhibitions to those that focus on natural history.

Many of Glasgow’s museums have fun interactive exhibits just for kids too. Make your way to the iconic Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum where kids can gaze at amazing displays about long-extinct animals or even have a go at wrapping up an Egyptian mummy. Alternatively, why not go on a Global Treasure Hunt around the Riverside Museum’s various history-focused exhibits?

Kelingrove museum

2. Cycle along the Liverpool waterfront

If Liverpool is your nearest city, why not hop on the train for the day with your bikes? Make your way to the city’s majestic Mersey riverside where you’ll not only be able to take advantage of the numerous free museums, but also enjoy a family bike excursion along the water’s edge.

Cruise south past the iconic Wheel of Liverpool and along Kings Parade towards Coburg Dock where you’ll be able to pick up the Trans Pennine Trail. You can then cycle leisurely down the wide pathway that’s been designed specifically for bikes and pedestrians.

Otterspool Promenade is a good stopping point thanks to its children’s play area and café where you can grab some refreshing drinks or snacks. If you’ve brought a picnic with you, find a sunny spot on the grass to sit down and relax. Afterwards, you can return the same way you came or take a detour through pretty Festival Gardens which features two Japanese-style pagodas.

Liverpool waterfront on a sunny day

3. Tuck into a picnic in York’s Museum Gardens

Craving a picnic in the sunshine? If we’re lucky enough to be blessed with a warm May half term, you’ll have the perfect excuse to pack up the kids’ favourite treats and head outdoors.

York is a particularly lovely destination for a picnic thanks to its range of pretty public gardens, many of which are situated in the shadow of grand historic buildings. One of the best has to be the free-to-enter York Museum Gardens. This beautiful spot is often blanketed in flowers by late spring, and it sits just steps from some of the city’s most noteworthy landmarks, including York Minster and the River Ouse.

Lay out a blanket on the grass or grab a bench and devour your tasty al fresco feast. Afterwards, you could even head into the Yorkshire Museum for a bit of shade and to discover more about York’s Roman and medieval past. There's also the option of exploring the ancient towers overlooking the gardens which form part of York’s City Walls.

A girl and her mother reading a book on a picnic blanket with fruits and a croissant visible

4. Visit Ouseburn Farm in the heart of Newcastle

Have a few animal lovers in your family? A trip to Ouseburn Farm is an absolute must. The city farm lies just a short stroll east of Newcastle city centre in the Ouseburn neighbourhood and it’s a lovely spot for little ones to get up close with their favourite farmyard creatures.

From pigs, chickens and goats to guinea pigs and reptiles, Ouseburn Farm is home to a truly magnificent menagerie. The entire place is run as a charity and it’s totally free to visit. The farm often extends its opening hours during school holidays, plus they sometimes run special events in collaboration with other local businesses. Why not keep an eye on their website to see if there’s anything on during the 2024 May half term?

Two goats sticking their noses out of a fence at a petting zoo

5. Enjoy a day out in nature

If we're lucky enough to get some good weather, you don’t want to waste it! The North and Scotland are blessed with loads of gorgeous green spaces, from National Parks like the Lake District to city parks like Glasgow Green.

If you're keen for an active half term, you can hop on a train to Carlisle, Penrith or Oxenholme for easy access to Cumbria's best walking and biking trails. For a beach day, take a trip to Scarborough or Cleethorpes, where you and the kids can enjoy an affordable day out followed by a trip to the chippy.

For a city break with some lush green areas, fun play areas as well as a bit of history, you've got loads of options - why not take a look at Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park, Liverpool’s St James Mount and Gardens, or Sheffield Botanical Gardens.

Windemere, Lake District

Feeling inspired to get out and about this half term? You can book train tickets for the whole family in advance, either here on our website or the TPExpress app. Also, don't forget about the Family & Friends Railcard if you travel together often.

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