Ten family-friendly museums to visit this half term

With this year’s International Museum Day (18 May 2017) just around the corner, we’ve put together a top ten of the most popular family-friendly museums in the UK – all perfect for a fun-filled, educational day out this half term.

How we chose our top ten

We picked out a selection of museums popular with families and gave them a social media score by adding together the number of Twitter followers, Instagram posts and hashtags, Facebook likes and tags. We also listed how many Trip Advisor reviews each museum has, in case you want to hear how great they are from other families. 

Thinking of something to do this half term? Download our handy guide on the UK's top 10 museum's according to social media. 

1. British Museum, London

Free entry

Social media score: 3.8 million
Twitter: 1.24m followers
Instagram: #britishmuseum 289,349 posts
Facebook: Nearly 1.3m likes and 966,583 tags
Trip Advisor: #1 of 314 museums in London, with 50,366 reviews

With more than 6 million visitors a year, the British Museum is the most popular visitor attraction in the UK. It offers a range of fun activities for kids, from free trails that take them on fascinating journeys of discovery around the museum, to themed activity backpacks (with a returnable £10 deposit) featuring kid-friendly challenges like writing your name in Egyptian hieroglyphs.

British Museum

Highlights that kids, and grown-ups, won’t want to miss include an ancient Egyptian mummified bull and the museum’s star attraction the Rosetta Stone – the inscribed stone that helped scholars decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs.

The Court Cafe, under the magnificent roof of the Great Court, is great for grabbing a quick sandwich, while the Great Court restaurant has a kids’ menu and serves afternoon tea when you’ve finished trekking around the exhibits.

Natural History Museum

2. Natural History Museum, London

Free entry

Social media score: 3.7 million
Twitter: 2.02m followers
Instagram: #naturalhistorymuseumlondon 12,523 posts
Facebook: 418,258 likes and 1.3 million tags
Trip Advisor: #5 of 314 museums in London, with 23,890 reviews

You could spend a whole day roaming around this treasure trove dedicated to the weird and wonderful natural world. Permanent exhibits include a life-size model of a blue whale – one of the museum’s star attractions – and cabinets of curiosities such as resin deer lungs. What child, or adult, wouldn’t be spellbound? Current exhibitions, which have an entry fee, include Wildlife Photography of the Year and Sensational Butterflies, where kids can discover fascinating butterfly facts and follow a trail through a tropical house fluttering with the winged beauties. 

All the restaurants and cafés are family-friendly; kids, in particular will love the fun dinosaur-themed T.rex Grill, where they can tuck into burgers, pizzas and puds.

Combine your visit with a wander around Hyde Park, which has plenty of playgrounds for little ones and is just a 10-minute walk away.

3. V&A, London

Free entry

Social media score: 2.3 million
Twitter: 1.21m followers
Instagram: #vamuseum 23,280 posts
Facebook: 572,031 likes and 528,300 tags
Trip Advisor: #3 of 314 museums in London, with 21,477 reviews

This chic museum, next door to the Natural History Museum, is known for its super-stylish fashion and cultural exhibits (which have a separate entry fee). It also has an impressive selection of paintings, jewellery, ceramics and furniture spanning several centuries, with enough to keep slightly older kids wide-eyed in wonder for a good few hours.

V&A Museum in London

You can pick up a free family trail (there are three to choose from) with puzzles, drawings and games to help bring the museum to life. And there are hundreds of hands-on exhibits throughout the museum (marked on the museum map with hand symbols) that families can explore together.

For half term, from 27 May 27 to 4 June, the free Imagination Station will showcase artworks created for iconic bands, with families encouraged to design their own album cover.

Roman baths

4. The Roman Baths, Bath

£15.50 adults/£9.80 ages 6-16 (under-fives free)

Social media score: 325,988
Twitter: 8,355 followers
Instagram: #romanbaths 58,071 posts
Facebook: 20,657 likes and 238,898 tags
Trip Advisor: #1 of 34 museums in Bath, with 14,840 reviews

This beautiful site is where ancient Romans actually used to ‘take the waters’, luxuriating in the natural 46°C temperatures. Now it’s an impeccably preserved insight into the 400 years these baths were in use – you can even see the remains of the changing rooms. Kids will love meeting and learning from the costumed characters, whether a Roman soldier or a slave girl – and there are family activity trails to help you explore the baths.

Included in the entry ticket is an audio guide and a guided tour, so that kids can learn all about the Roman history. You can even taste the natural spa water, believed to have medicinal properties, at the end of your visit.

5. Beamish Museum

Beamish, £19 adults/£11 ages 5-16 (under-fives free)

Social media score: 311,538
Twitter: 25.8k followers
Instagram: #beamishmuseum 14,124 posts
Facebook: 94,885 likes and 176,729 tags
Trip Advisor: #1 of 1 museums in Beamish, with 5,119 reviews

More like a village, this open-air museum is a sure-fire hit for kids of all ages. Recreating life in the North East in the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s, it’s an enchanting and fascinating trip back in time. Ride the electric trams and steam train, and visit a 1940s-style farm.

A highlight is the sweet shop in the 1900s town, with cinder toffee and bon bons to tempt you – and the kids, of course. For a healthier option, head to the Tea Rooms and pick up a picnic bag.

Beamish Museum
National Museum of Scotland

6. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Free entry

Social media score: 263,984
Twitter: 51.2k
Instagram: #nationalmuseumscotland 1,494 posts
Facebook: 72,731 likes and 138,559 tags
Trip Advisor: #2 of 92 museums in Edinburgh, with 12,754 reviews

Nature, art, science – and dinosaurs. What’s not to love? From gaping up at a life-sized skeleton cast of a Tyrannosaurus Rex to learning about monsters of the deep, this place will bring out the child in everyone. There are galleries and activities tailored towards children, plus a calendar of special events for kids of all ages. The Balcony Café serves sandwiches and snacks for children, and home bakes and fresh soup for grown-ups.

While you’re in Edinburgh, take a tour around 16th-century Palace of Holyrood House, stroll around Holyrood Park or hike up Arthur’s Seat to gaze down on the beautiful city.

7. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

Free entry

Social media score: 239,382
Twitter: 33.6k followers
Instagram: #kelvingrovemuseum 8,195 posts; #kelvingroveartgallery 4,971 posts
Facebook: 51,008 likes and 141,608 tags
Trip Advisor: #1 of 50 museums in Glasgow, with 9,845 reviews

Home to a rich collection of paintings – you’ll find Dali’s masterpiece Christ of St John of the Cross –while the natural history highlights include dinosaurs and Sir Roger the Asian elephant. There’s also a spitfire hanging from the ceiling, with giraffes and other stuffed animals below, plus a Mini Museum for under-fives. The KG Café serves breakfast, lunch and snacks, and has a separate children’s menu. While you’re in the city, don’t miss Glasgow Botanic Gardens, a gorgeous outdoor space with glasshouses filled with tropical blooms. It also has a Children’s Garden, where kids can learn all about growing their own food.

Kelingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Royal Yacht Britannia

8. Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh

£15.50 adults/£8.50 ages 5-17 (under-fives free)

Social media score: 120,550
Twitter: 7,501 followers
Instagram: #royalyachtbritannia 3,523 posts
Facebook: 10,700 likes and 98,826 tags
Trip Advisor: #1 of 92 museums in Edinburgh, with 14,500 reviews

The Royal Yacht Britannia has sailed more than 1m miles around the world with the Queen and Royal Family on board. Now it’s berthed in Leith, Edinburgh, and visitors can wander around the decks of this famous ship for a glimpse into royal life at sea. The opulent State Apartments are the star attraction, while an 11-foot LEGO replica of the ship is a highlight for kids. Afternoon tea in the Royal Deck Tea Room is a must. Pack more into your visit with a Royal Edinburgh Ticket, which covers admission to the yacht, Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyrood House, and two days of unlimited travel on Edinburgh Bus Tours (£52 adults/ £29 children).

9. Brunel’s SS Great Britain, Bristol

£14 adults/£8 ages 5-17 (under-fives free)

Social media score: 73,468
Twitter: 10.5k followers
Instagram: #ssgreatbritain 10, 024 posts
Facebook: 7,313 likes and 45,631 tags
Trip Advisor: #1 of 31 museums in Bristol, with 5,201 reviews

Launched in 1843, SS Great Britain is one of the world’s most important historic ships and the first great luxury liner. Everything on board is designed to recreate her glory years. Walk the luxury Promenade Deck, where first-class passengers mingled and danced, see the on-board bakery and galley stores, and breathe in scents of oil and coal in the engine room, which houses a full-scale working model of the original engine. You can even dress up in Victorian clothing. Stop for lunch or a snack in the bright and spacious Dockyard Café Bar, alongside the ship, where kids can tuck into one of the special lunch bags.

Brunel's SS Great Britain
York Castle Museum

10. York Castle Museum, York

£10 adults (16 and under free with a paying adult)

Social media score: 13,270
Twitter: 8,107 followers
Instagram: #yorkcastlemuseum 2,474 posts
Facebook: 2,689 likes
Trip Advisor: #2 of 32 museums in York, 6,264 reviews

Take a step back in time at this museum, which explores hundreds of years of York’s history. The interactive galleries keep younger visitors engaged, while the star attraction is a reconstructed Victorian street, with a schoolroom, police cell and authentic shops. You can also visit the 18th-century prison buildings the museum are housed in, where past inmates, including the legendary Dick Turpin, are brought to life. Special children’s boxes packed with a selection of tasty treats are available in Café 68, which has huge windows offering glorious views of the Eye of York and Clifford’s Tower.

There’s a lot to explore on this list, and it can be expensive keeping the kids entertained in the school holidays. So if you’re heading out in your car to visit these museums, you’ll need to search for a great deal on your car insurance so you can spend those pennies you saved on days out with your little ones. 

All prices and social media data quoted is correct at 26 April 2017
This top 10 list of family-friendly museums is based on social media activity, therefore some parts of the UK and Northern Ireland may not be represented.

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