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10 Family Things to Do for Less This May Half-term

You can enjoy discounted entry to a host of family-friendly events and attractions across Britain when you travel by train this May half-term

As the Spring Bank Holiday and half-term break approach, families across the country will be gearing up for a week of fun, exploration, brighter evenings and (hopefully) some sunshine. Whether you’re looking for last-minute ideas to keep the kids busy, or planning a great British day out, let National Rail’s Days Out Guide(external link, opens in a new tab) inspire your week of adventure for less. 

From iconic landmarks to great gardens and marvellous museums, there are many fun and affordable days out to be discovered when you travel by train. Check out our 10 top picks below.

You can also save 1/3 off your rail fare with a Family & Friends Railcard(external link, opens in a new tab), which can be used for up to 4 adults, and gives you 60% off for up to 4 kids aged 5 to 15 years when travelling together. Big savings means more opportunities for half-term fun! 

Family Days Out in London

1. Reptile record breakers at London Zoo

25 May to 2 June: London Zoo is celebrating the opening of their brand-new exhibit, The Secret Life of Reptiles & Amphibians. Many of the reptiles have record-breaking strengths so they’re challenging you to see how you match up against them!    

Nearest Station: London Euston

2. Take a scenic tour of London with Big Bus Tours

Experience the best views of the capital onboard an open-top, double-decker Big Bus on this hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour. New for 2024 is an evening tour and if you opt for the day tickets, you’ll be able to choose between walking tours or a sightseeing cruise along the Thames, too. 

Nearest Station: London Victoria 

3. Fashion and Textile Museum – The Biba Story, 1964-1975 

Until 8 September: Budding fashionistas will enjoy The Biba Story, 1964-1975, which explores how fashion phenomenon Biba blossomed to become the world’s first lifestyle label, sparking a revolution in the way people shopped. Learn how Biba earned its spot as the brand to epitomise 1960s and 1970s fashion.

Nearest Station: London Bridge

4. The Magic Garden at Hampton Court Palace

This half-term, children will love the truly unique play landscape at Hampton Court Palace. The magic garden is inspired by the myths and legends of the Tudor court – a fun and interactive way for your family to explore the history of the palace. 

Nearest Station: Hampton Court

Family Days Out in Great Britain

5. Kent: The Queen’s Joust at Leeds Castle

25 to 27 May:  Visit Leeds Castle over the late May bank holiday for an exciting weekend of exhilarating displays, combat and action, elegant and unusual equestrian, and medieval living and feasting. 

Nearest Station: Bearsted

6. Oxford: Elmer the Elephant at The Story Museum

Wish Elmer the Patchwork Elephant a Happy Birthday this May half-term!  There will be plenty of fun with storytelling, crafts, and themed food in the museum cafe.  

Nearest Station: Oxford

7. Brighton: See the world’s smallest car at Brighton’s Toy and Model Museum

Brighton Fringe takes place between 3 May and 4 June, and the Toy Museum are getting into the spirit with a host of family-friendly shows lined up for half-term, including Meg in the Magic Toyshop, Tales in the Key of Terror, Mariam Morevna & The Moth and It Just So Happened. Plus, don’t miss the opportunity to see the iconic Peel P50 – the world’s smallest car! 

Nearest Station: Brighton

8. Dudley: Made in the Black Country at the Black Country Living Museum   

25 May to 2 June: Celebrate the bostin’ things, people and products that came from the Black Country, from filmmakers and sporting heroes to internationally significant industries. Meet iconic historic characters including Dudley’s Dorothy Round who became a World tennis champion, and Thomas Newcomen, who built the world’s first successful steam engine in Dudley in 1712.   

Nearest station: Tipton

9. Hastings: Family Day at Hastings Contemporary 

30 May:  In the learning studio, Natasha Cossey from Radiator Arts will introduce Walking the Fish 2024, a celebratory parade through Hastings this summer. Help Natasha make a big fish sculpture by decorating individual fish scales. Around the gallery there will be activities, art hunts and lots more. Expect fun and creativity for the whole family. 

Nearest Station: Hastings 

10. Birmingham: Beauty and beats at Birmingham Botanical Garden

Starting 12 May: After exploring the natural beauty housed within the 4 magnificent glasshouses, throw on your dancing shoes as live music returns to the Garden’s iconic bandstand(external link, opens in a new tab) this summer, with performances taking place on the second and fourth Sunday of each month.  

Nearest Stations: Birmingham New Street, Birmingham Five Ways

Plan Your Journey

Family & Friends Railcard

  • For up to 4 adults travelling together with up to 4 kids

  • Just £30 for 1 year or £70 for 3 years

  • 1/3 off rail travel for adults and 60% off for kids

Find out more about the Family & Friends Railcard. (external link, opens in a new tab)

Availability and price of Days Out Guide attractions are correct at time of publication but subject to change.