‘You Can Even Pee On A Shark’: UK Readers’ Best Children’s Museums | Day trips

Winning tip: an injection of knowledge, Leeds

If you want children to realize that they are not taking life for granted and help them understand the contribution that science, medicine and vaccinations can make to life in these times, the Thackray Museum of Medicine in Leeds is a must see. Recently revamped, it features a Victorian street full of real smells and insects, and shows the impact of cholera and smallpox before vaccines were available. There are discussions, exhibits, games, and information about the health heroes over the years who have – and still are – made our lives safe. My daughter has become fascinated by medicine since her visit a few years ago.
Adults £ 11.95, Children £ 8.95, Under 5 free (tickets last 12 months), thackraymuseum.co.uk
Nigel cox

Life through a lens, Edinburgh

Photograph: Tolo Balaguer / Alamy

The Camera Obscura and World of Illusions Edinburgh experience (right next to the castle) presents a unique view of the city. With over 100 interactive exhibits across five floors, it’s completely kid-friendly, with no “do not touch” signs and tons of visual gags. There is even a forced perspective room where toddlers can have fun overlooking their older siblings: they can dance with their own shadow, merge their face with that of a monkey, use their head on a tray and pee on a shark.
Adult £ 16.20, child 5-15 £ 12.60, free for children under 5, camera-obscura.co.uk


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Pencil it in, Keswick, Lake district

An old box of colored pencils at the Keswick Pencil Museum
An old box of colored pencils at the Keswick Pencil Museum. Photograph: Pascal Mauger / Alamy

The Derwent Pencil Museum in Keswick is a magical little museum that charmed me when I was little and which begins again in adulthood! See the world’s first pencil after entering the museum through a replica of a graphite lead, believed to have served as the source of the pencil industry over three centuries ago. Then have your own set of pencils made with your name engraved on them.
£ 14.50 for two adults and two children, derwenart.com
Lauren Norris

Mom is the word, Haslemere, Surrey

Stuffed birds in display cases at the Haslemere Educational Museum.
The Natural History Gallery of the Haslemere Educational Museum. Photograph: Gillian Pullinger / Alamy

Haslemere Educational Museum is a natural history museum with local charm. Its rich and diverse collections include a vast array of fossils and an incredibly huge Japanese spider crab. Just when you think you’ve reached the limit of your pleasant discomfort, you reach the Mummy Room with its cat and crocodile mummies adorning the walls. Perfect for parents of small children with Gerald Durrell inclinations.
Admission by donation
Lemon balm

Engine Room Drama, Anglesy

Ford Classis cars at the Anglesey Transport Museum.
Classis Fords at the Anglesey Transport Museum. Photograph: Steve Nicholls / Alamy

The island of Anglesey, lined with beaches, already has a unique charm for a day out with the family, but how about a visit to Tacla Taid Transport museum? It takes place in a replica of a cobbled street from the 1940s, where children and adults alike can take a fascinating journey through the history of transport through time. You can also choose to stay at the glamping site in your own converted military truck.
Adult £ 7, child £ 4.50, family £ 20, angleseytransportmuseum.co.uk
Amye hughes

Got mail, central London

play post office for children at postal museum

Sorted! At Post Museum get my vote. It allows your little ones to participate in all stages of the postal journey: frank letters and parcels, carry mail in bags, push bags into carts, lift pulleys and send the bags into chutes. There’s also a well-oiled slide to bring future postmasters back to the start. A ride on the postal train is another option.
child 0-8, £ 4, Adult £ 16, 3-15 years £ 9, museepostal.org

Step back in time, Chichester, West Sussex

timber frame buildings at the Weald and Downland Living Museum
Photograph: Paul Weston / Alamy

Anyone who wants to see, touch, and even feel what life used to be like should head to the Weald and Downland Living Museum – a museum with rural buildings ranging from early medieval England to the Victorian era, and a multisensory and vivid presentation. There are also farm animals to visit, a play area in the woods to burn energy, and hands-on activities and traditional games in one of the barns if it rains.
family ticket £ 42, wealddown.co.uk
Heidi russenberger

Follow that train, Walthamstow, London

1967 Victoria Line wagons at Walthamstow Pumphouse Mmuseum
1967 Victoria Line train cars at the Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum. Photography: Andrew Mason

A huge steam engine stands at the entrance to the small, indoor-outdoor Walthamstow Pumping Station Museum. Two 1967 Victoria Line cars, one original and one refurbished, sit side by side with the driver’s cab open to future train drivers. Firefighter Frank shows off the fire engine featured in TV shows such as Burning in London. He is surrounded by uniforms and helmets, fire extinguishers and more than 200 models of engines. There’s a penny farthing bike, a 1954 bus undergoing renovations, and a model of the first gasoline-powered car. Planes hang from the ceiling and a miniature railway is being built. The volunteers speak enthusiastically to everyone.
Free admission, walthamstowpumphouse.org.uk
Helene jackson

To the rescue, Sheffield

Police mannequin at the Museum
Photograph: Pete Hill / Alamy

The National Museum of Emergency Services offers a comprehensive story and celebration of the development of the UK’s highly regarded emergency services. It’s located in a historic combined police, fire and ambulance station in Sheffield city center, and kids can get on a fire engine, try on different uniforms (ours loved the outfits nurse!) save material. Competent and friendly volunteers are always nearby to bring the exhibitions to life and share their experiences with the little ones.
Adult £ 8, 3-15 years £ 6, visitnesm.org.uk

Yarn spinning, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

Old blackhousevillage on the shores of the Isle of Lewis
Photograph: Getty Images

Gearrannan Black House Village on the Isle of Lewis is a living museum with the entire settlement preserved to reflect the lives of coastal farmers. Each house bears the name of the last family who stayed there; two are furnished for day visitors with authentic furnishings, while the rest can be booked as lodges. By traveling through time, you can see how a traditional township has survived. Peat smoke wafts around the village as fires burn in the railings, the fisherman sings his songs, and the weaver spins Harris Tweed on a Hattersley loom, bringing the Hebridean heritage to life for the next generation.
Vanessa wright

Hey! Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria

An old lifeboat and a wave-like stone wall outside the Dock Museum in Barrow in Furness
Photograph: Ashley Cooper / Alamy

The Quays Museum to Barrow-in-Furness is a must for everyone – free entry and parking! There is no board for walking but a suspension bridge over a dry dock. See archaeological treasures from the Romans to the Victorians and learn all about social, technical, architectural and maritime history. Understand the quiz. Don’t overlook the theater, but watch the movies. See stunning model ships and ring the ship’s bell. Have a good meal and enjoy the outdoor adventure playground and picnic area before walking along the scenic canal. What a day !
Free entry, dockmuseum.org.uk
Jackie Donson

Radio remote control, Porthcurno, Cornwall

Morse code machine at the PK Museum of Global Communications

Cornwall is perhaps better known for its pastries and surfing than for being the birthplace of modern communications, but 150 years ago the first international telegraph cable was brought ashore at Porthcurno, connecting Britain to the India, then to other parts of the British Empire. It was also in Cornwall that Guglielmo Marconi carried out his revolutionary experiments. The PK Museum of World Communications is a great place to get kids to learn about all of this and more. There is so much to do, including going underground to explore a top secret bunker that hid the Porthcurno Telegraph Station during WWII. End your tour with an ice cream alongside one of the country’s most beautiful beaches.
Adult £ 9, 5-18 years £ 5.50, pkporthcurno.com
Layla astley

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