Boy and girl run through corn maze (C) iStock

The summer holidays are here. You’re probably pulling out your hair, wondering how to keep the young ones happy – well, read on for some inspiration.

School’s out. We’re heading for the best time of year for children – but a gruelling one for parents. What are you going to do with them? And when will you hear those dreaded words: “I’m bored”?

Fear not. We have seven day trips below, guaranteed to keep the kids happy all summer long: with everything from mazes to steam trains.

Added bonus? By visiting these open gardens, you’ll also raise life-saving money for the British Red Cross.


Birds of prey and brass bands

A man holds an eagle (C) iStock

Did you know that 13 towns in the UK are called Whitchurch? We wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. But the exciting bit is that people from all these towns are coming together this month for a special weekend. Prepare for processions, music, entertainment, country fairs, birds of prey, hot air balloons, sporting challenges and brass bands.

Go to: Whitchurch, Hampshire

Open: 18-19 July

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Midsummer picnic

man and woman relax at picnic (c) iStock

Picture this scene for a picnic: beautiful trees, shrubs, and landscaped lawns stretching all the way to the Thames tributary. Bring your finest spread to the lovely grounds of Wargrave Court, where 20 musicians will play in front of your feast. This could be your Jane Austen moment (if there aren’t any tantrums or fights to spoil things).

Go to: Reading, Berkshire

Open: 19 July, 12-5pm

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Treasure in Wales

Maenan Hall gardens

These gardens are a massive hit with holidaymakers, as well as locals. And that’s not surprising. Feast on the vibrant summer colours as you have a wander around. Your little ones will enjoy the treasure hunt – and there’s a prize and refreshing drink at the end.

Location: Llanrwst, Conwy

Open: 16 August, 10.30-5.30pm (last admission 4.30pm)

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Lose yourself in a maze

Boy and girl run through corn maze (C) iStock

This large, award-winning garden is in the grounds of historic Barton Manor (former home of Queen Victoria). There’s a large lake with some huge fish to spot, plus some subtropical planting and a hedge maze to explore.

Location: East Cowes, Isle of Wight

Open: 29 August, 2:30-5pm

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Safari for youngsters

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It doesn’t take long to find the feline theme in this garden – it starts with the large cat sign at the entrance. Soon you’ll see some real cats – two giant Maine coons and a red Burmese – and some ornamental ones, too. When you’ve all had your fill of those, the youngsters can explore an idyllic wood, stream, pond and a field full of donkeys.

Location: Hexham, Northumberland

Open: 30 August, 2-5pm

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Vintage cars in Cornwall

A vintage car

Look in the old barns and you will discover a magnificent collection of vintage cars – much better than the toy ones. But you should also leave time for this enchanting cottage garden, which sits on the beautiful Roseland Peninsula. Relax on tranquil lawns or visit the small orchard, with unusual ducks and chickens that seem happy to amuse.

Location: Truro, Cornwall

Open: 6 September, 2pm-5pm

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Thomas the steam train

Steam train passing under a bridge (C) iStock

Combine a visit to this inspirational three-acre garden with a trip to the Tanfield steam railway, just one mile away. You’re sure to see stunning countryside – whether it’s from your carriage window or these ten imaginatively themed plots.

Location: Gateshead, Tyne & Wear

Open: 12 September, 11-4pm

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