Easter seems to have past in a blur. 2 weeks of fun, excitement and for most of us up to our necks in chocolate. 2 weeks can seem like a really long time to fulfill your child with exciting things to do, something that will keep them busy and not moaning about being bored (something I'm yet to experience) but it's not always easy. Money can be a huge factor - as it seems you don't get a lot for the pound now a days - but its surprising some of the things you can find on your doorstep or a little further a field that cost virtually nothing and sometimes, even free. I, personally, like to go a further a field and discover new places, having lived in my home town all of my life I feel I've seen everything it's got to offer and a change of scenery is always nice for the parent as well as the child/children. Children do have a few holidays left before the lengthy 6 week Summer holidays and even though a few of those weeks could be filled with an holiday away its still nice to know there's many affordable or free day trips that can fill some of that time too. Over these past 2 weeks I've been to some places I've visited so many times I've lost count and many new places that I'll definitely revisit in the future. Some of them are around an hour to an hour and half away from my home and based within the North West. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't search for various places near, or a drive away, from your own home.
Williamson Park is a place I've wanted to visit for well over a year. It's based in Lancaster, around an hour from my home and is the most gorgeous park with views overlooking Morecambe Bay. The park is free to enter, though, you do have to pay for the car park (parking on the road outside is optional if there's any spaces). Situated inside is a butterfly house, mini beasts and small animal zoo. This is very reasonably priced and again optional, a family ticket costs £12 whilst adult is £3.80 and children £2.80. There's a cafe, park and gift shop in the grounds too. Williamson Park is pretty big with plenty of paths to walk and explore. It can also be a 2 in 1 trip if you fancy a short drive over to Morecambe bay, something we did.
Blackpool and St Anne's are the nearest beaches to my home and around 45 minutes drive away. Blackpool is pricier of the 2 with its numerous arcade machines and not forgetting the pleasure beach etc, but apart from petrol money either one of these places could be a free day out. I prefer the quiet St Anne's for peace and sandy beaches. It's the perfect place to take an homemade picnic, the kiddies buckets and spade and just lie down and forget about everything for a good few hours.
Malham Cove is a place I've visited numerous times in the last 2 months. I've recommended it and dragged anyone I can along, mainly so I can go again. Its the most beautiful, tranquil place with amazing views. There's waterfalls, nature and so much beauty its really hard to take it all in. If you're a huge Harry Potter fan (like myself) you'll of seen the lime-rock of Malham cove in Deathly Hallows Part 1 - A scene both Emma and Daniel featured in. This is another free day out perfect for couples or children of most ages and depending on where you park the only change you'll part with is the car parking fee.
I think museums are a great place to visit during half term. There's so much you can learn from various museums across the UK or further a field and its really great to further educate your child by showing them certain pieces of artifacts, and so on, that they probably wouldn't see at school. The great thing about museums are most of them are actually free so there's a huge choice to choose from. And there great for those rainy days too. We recently visited the World museum at Liverpool. Its spread out over 5 floors with a topic on each floor, the first floor being an aquarium.
One of my favourite places, and where I use to work, is Southport. Southport is such a pretty town with great shops and a great coastline. It's not got the best beach ever but it's nice enough to walk across - more so towards Pontins where a sand castle is manageable. There's a decent sized park, numerous cafes, crazy golf and ride amusements. My highlight was this boat ride which the children loved, it was £10 for 20 minutes and we managed to drive fully around 4 times. It's a very pretty place on a warm sunny day and ice creams are a must!
Apart from parks and indoor play areas that are all on my door step I'm most fortunate to be surrounded by the most beautiful country side. Walking and nature are two of my loves and I love that I'm in walking distance to 2 of these places (up/down my street). The middle photo is a place called Barley and these bizarre and rather random brooms are to do with the Pendle witches. This is an hidden gems trail, great for getting children involved and an absolute freebie.
One of my most favourite places to go is Billy Bobs Parlour. This is an American type diner with great foods and fabulous ice cream. There's also a children's play area, so eating isn't necessary. The play barn is just £1 per child for a 2 hour play and the other play section is completely free. This is based near Skipton in the Yorkshire dales and next to another of my favourite places... Bolton Abbey.
Bolton Abbey is near Billy Bobs parlour and is a beautiful and fun day out. The car park is pretty pricey at around £7 but its well worth the charge for a full day out, plus, if you spread that out at an head it works out insanely cheap. I can't think of a more inviting place - apart from the beach - on a nice, sunny day. We love to bring a picnic along and really enjoy the sun. There's lots of beautiful walks too.
So there you have it, an insanely long post with lots of pictures but hopefully some inspiration for you to save some money and maybe search online for free or cheap places for you and your family or friends to visit at weekends or in the holidays. These are just a few places based in the North West and not to far from my home.
All photography was taken by be.