TripAdvisor reveals hidden gems for family half term fun

Swap the long queues at popular attractions, for these highly rated but lesser known places in the UK for some stress-free half term fun

Half term is here, that time again to frantically think of things to do to keep the little darlings entertained and out of 'screens' way.  And, if the thought of endless queues for rides and tours at the more popular attractions fills you with dread, TripAdvisor has come up trumps with ten half term hidden gems that are just as highly rated at 4 bubbles (that's stars in usual review talk) than the usual suspects for instance The Tower of London or Edinburgh Castle (although in fairness they are good too).

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 Using bubble ratings, booking and review data, TripAdvisor analysed over 1,800 bookable UK attractions on its site to identify the top places to visit which will have fewer crowds and smaller queues to tackle this October school holiday.

 All of these 10 attractions have a listed score of 4/5 bubbles:

Thames Rockets, London

boating in thames river

(Image credit: TripAdvisor)

The original, fastest and most exhilarating sightseeing boat for kids to explore the river Thames today. Filled with unique sightseeing adventures, this adventure is one not to be missed. One reviewer said: ‘Great fun for kids and adults.’

Book now: tickets from £34.80

National Railway Museum, York

national railway museum with vintage rails

(Image credit: TripAdvisor)

For a fantastic day out for the whole family in York, visit the award winning National Railway Museum. Get up close to over 300 years of fascinating history in York's only National Museum.  One reviewer said: ‘Enjoyed it so much we went again the next day!’

Book now: tickets from £38.00

Beatrix Potter’s House Hill Top, Near Sawyer

Beatrix Potter’s House with white windows

(Image credit: TripAdvisor)

Hill Top was Beatrix Potter's most beloved place, packed full of her favourite things and left just as she wanted it for visitors to enjoy. You will see why she loved it so much and used it and the surrounding countryside as inspiration for many of her famous children's tales. One reviewer said: ‘This place is amazing, the history of Beatrix Potter and her life took my breath away.’

Book now: tickets from £46.00

Dover Castle, Dover

dover castle

(Image credit: TripAdvisor)

The most iconic of all English fortresses commanding the gateway to the realm for nine centuries. Climb the Great Tower, meet the characters and immerse yourself in vivid medieval interiors. Then delve deep within Dover's White Cliffs to witness the drama in the Secret Wartime Tunnels. One reviewer said: ‘Unmissable castle. We spent a fantastic day at Dover castle.’

Book now: tickets from £67.00

Scudamore’s Punting Company, Cambridge

boating near punting company

(Image credit: punting company)

Founded in the early 1900s, we are Cambridge’s oldest and friendliest punting company. One reviewer said: ‘A great way to unwind with the family.’

Book now:
tickets from £16.00

HMS Warrior 1860, Portsmouth

hms warrior in dockyard

(Image credit: TripAdvisor)

As you arrive at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the stunning sleek, black lines of Britain's first iron-hulled, armoured warship will take your breath away. Warrior, launched in 1860, was the pride of Queen Victoria's fleet and she was the largest, fastest and most powerful ship of her day. One reviewer said: ‘Took my friend’s kids to see this. They loved it.’

Book now: tickets from £28.00

The Alnwick Garden, Northumberland

alnwick garden with blue flower plants

(Image credit: TripAdvisor)

The Alnwick Garden is one of the world’s most extraordinary contemporary gardens. From poisonous plants and treetop walkways to glorious roses and towering delphiniums, the Duchess of Northumberland’s vision for a forgotten plot is now a truly 21st century experience full of imagination and fun, all brought to life with water. One reviewer said: ‘A great place to visit. The cascade water fall is amazing. A good place to let the children run around.’

Buy now: tickets from £42.00

Blenheim Palace, Oxford

blenheim palace with white windows

(Image credit: TripAdvisor)

Blenheim Palace is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture that boasts over 300 years of history to discover. This World Heritage Site is set within more than 2000 acres of Parkland landscaped by 'Capability' Brown. One reviewer said: ‘Blenheim Palace is a true family venue… it has about everything for the day out.’

Buy now: tickets from £24.90

Mary Arden’s Farm, Stratford Upon Avon

mary ardens farm with garden

(Image credit: TripAdvisor)

Mary Arden's Farm was the childhood home of Shakespeare's mother. Today you can experience all the sights, sounds and smells of a working Tudor farm, just as it would have been when Shakespeare was a boy.  One reviewer said: ‘Lots for the children to see, many animals and friendly staff.’

Book now: tickets from £14.00

Pitts River Museum 

pitts river museum with sculptures

(Image credit: TripAdvisor)

The Pitt Rivers Museum is one of Oxford’s most popular attractions, famous for its period atmosphere and outstanding collections from many cultures around the world, past and present. One reviewer said: ‘This place is a real treasure. It is not set out like the usual museum. You feel you have entered an ancient uncle’s loft’.

Book now: tickets from £24.99

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Hayley Coleman from TripAdvisor commented: “We know that keeping the kids entertained can feel like a full-time job during school breaks. The last thing parents want is for long queues and big crowds to add more stress, which is why our list of bookable half term hidden attraction gems comes highly recommended. Boasting top-ratings families can be sure they’ll have a great day out."

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So what are you waiting for, better start making the packed lunch.


Rachel Homer has been in the interiors publishing industry for over 15 years. Starting as a Style Assistant on Inspirations Magazine, she has since worked for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines and websites. After starting a family, she moved from being a content editor at to be a digital freelancer and hasn’t looked back.