School’s out for summer, so herein lies the big question; are you ready to take on six weeks of entertaining little ones? No? Never fear! Your trusty friends here at Visit Herts have plenty of ideas to keep the whole family smiling, and what’s more, with a wealth of things to do right here on your doorstep, you needn’t travel very far to make the most of what this season has to offer.
From animal antics to movie magic, and family experiences in the great outdoors, this summer is packed with enough adventure to keep the kids away from their phones. So, take peek and start planning your memorable staycation in Herts…
Shop, dine and play all summer long courtesy of our friends at atria Watford. Whether you choose to book a lane at Hollywood Bowl with the kids, reserve a table to catch up with friends over cocktails at The Florist, indulge in a leisurely weekend brunch at Cote Brasserie, or simply treat yourself to a new outfit from a whole host of high-street retailers, you’re sure to find everything you could possibly need (and more) under one roof at atria. What’s more, when you’re in need of a little breather from all that excitement, simply sit back, relax, and catch up on all the latest sports at atria’s Big Screen, located in the centre between 1st July and 31st August.
A quintessential English manor fit for a Queen - Hatfield House was once the childhood home of Elizabeth I and is now a treasure trove of historic mementos, period detail, and sumptuous scenery, offering visitors a rich and varied day out. This summer, Hatfield Park, along with the site’s woodland walks, will be open every day throughout the school holidays, with advance online bookings automatically receiving a 10% discount off of full ticket prices. Pack a picnic and sprawl out in the sunshine with loved in the grounds of this fine Jacobean house, or why not indulge in a holiday treat at The Coach House Kitchen (salted caramel chocolate tart, anyone!?)
Six weeks with restless little ones is enough to ignite the fear factor into any parent but fear not, for we think we’ve found the answer you’ve been looking for. Two words: Knebworth House. That’s right, with over 250 acres of parkland, 28 acres of formal gardens, 72 life-sized dinosaurs, and an Adventure Playground – not to mention the historic house itself – we reckon this Herts icon has enough on offer to tire out even the most active of adventurers! The Park, Gardens, Adventure Playground and Dinosaur Trail will be open every day throughout the school holidays, making this fairy-tale country house truly the perfect backdrop to your summer staycation.
With over 800 animals to spot, outdoor play areas, their popular World of Dinosaurs attraction, and a brand-new after-hours event programme, Paradise Wildlife Park can only be described as… well paradise… for families looking to indulge in a wild day out in Herts this summer. Once you’ve met the meerkats, braved the big cats, and made pals with the primates, settle down every Friday and Saturday evening from 30th July to 28th August to relish sunset in Paradise. Sip an ice-cold refreshment with friends and family as you experience the animals in a truly unique light, all while enjoying a packed programme of accompanying entertainment including African drummers, acoustic sets, wildlife stilt walkers and face painting.
Usually be jetting off for a European city escape right about now? There’s no need to hop on a plane to get your fix of thriving culture, intriguing history, or fabulous food & drink. In fact, you needn’t stray too far from the M1 for all this and much more. Whether you’re local, or visiting for a short break, there’s plenty to see, do, and soak up in stunning St Albans. Discover home-grown talent at one of the city’s many local markets (including Charter Market, and the brand-new Young Traders Market), book a date in the diary to join any of an exciting array of summer events (we recommend ear-marking History Alive and the Festival of Culture), or simply shop til’ you drop and soak up what this charming city has to offer over the coming weeks.
We’ll whisper it just in case we scare it away, but the welcome arrival of this sunny weather (ssh!) has got us itching to head outside and explore more of our charming county by foot this summer. Luckily for us, our friends at Thameslink and Great Northern (in partnership with AllTrails) have pulled together a fun list of family-friendly walks in Herts – all within a mile of their stations. Gather together your loved ones and start your adventure by train with Thameslink and Great Northern, before embarking on a plethora of family-friendly routes across Hertfordshire which come complete with view hand-curated trail maps, driving directions, detailed reviews, and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers just like you.
From Fairlands Park Circular to Broxbourne Woods Trail, it’s time to lace up and put your best foot forward…
All aboard the Hogwarts Express! That’s right Potterheads, additional tickets are now available for Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter this summer. Step inside the wizarding world of Harry Potter and discover the filmmaking magic as you go behind the scenes of this iconic film franchise. This summer The Studio are shining a spotlight on all things Slytherin in their special feature ‘A Celebration of Slytherin’, which runs until 15th September. Paying homage to some of Slytherin’s most esteemed witches and wizards, a number of original costumes belonging to the Malfoy family will be on display allowing you to see how the designs changed to depict their rise and fall in power. See the Slytherin common room up-close and step into the Great Hall to be greeted by a sea of famous green house banners.
Manifest a little magic when you book an utterly unique glamping break at North Hill Farm this summer. Who’d have thought a rural retreat could be reached quite so close to central London!? Situated in the heart of the stunning Chess Valley countryside, North Hill Farm offers a variety of B&B accommodation, glamping, and camping facilities – all just a short broomstick ride from Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. For an added splash of sorcery, we recommend spending the night in the site’s perfectly Potter-inspired glamping unit, Hagridd’s Hideaway.
Travel through time and discover the fascinating archaeological site and museum of Welwyn Roman Baths. Unfortunately, you can't actually bathe here (we know you were thinking it…) but you can still see the layout of this well-preserved bath house which once ran as a private villa for local farmers. Let the little ones dress as Romans or complete the quizzes to become real history buffs. With special family tours and craft activities to look forward to throughout the summer, this is the perfect place to keep a smile on everyone's face!
School might be out for summer, but if your family has an eager explorer in its midst, you’ll want to head straight to the Natural History Museum in Tring for a day of delightful discoveries! This marvellous museum’s latest exhibition Animal Mummies: What’s Inside? Will transport you to ancient Egypt where you’ll have the chance to examine animal mummies given as gifts to the ancient Egyptian gods and see how modern technology allows Museum scientists to study them today. Scans and X-rays reveal the untold stories of these revered creatures and the way ancient Egyptians lived with these animals and preserved them after their death.
With a whole host of events confirmed for the summer so far, we've got a busy couple of weeks coming up here in Herts. From Insta-worthy cinema nights under the stars to food festivals that are bound to whet all types of appetite, why not check out our round-up of the county’s unmissable dates for your diary?