Are you planning a family holiday in the West Country and want to discover the best days out in Somerset? If so, here are some of our best ideas to help you plan your trip.
Somerset is a beautiful, rural county in South West England. It is a diverse county with a rich history, spectacular nature and beautiful sandy beaches. It’s an ideal location for a family holiday as there are so many fun things to do in Somerset.
In this post, we’ll share some of our best things to do in Somerset, including places of interest, historical sites and top attractions for families.
Hit the beach
One of the best free days out in Somerset is a trip to the beach. Somerset has a beautiful coastline with a choice of fantastic beaches. Whether you’re looking for a secluded cove or long sandy beach, there is something for everyone.
Weston-super-Mare is one of the popular seaside resorts in North Somerset. Weston is an archetypal Victorian resort with a Grand Pier and donkey rides on the beach. It has a long golden sandy beach, which is ideal for families. However, you must check the tides if you’re going in the water, as the sea can go out a very long way.
Of course, Weston-super-Mare isn’t the only lovely beach in the area. Somerset has many other beautiful golden beaches, such as Minehead, MIddle Hope and Burnham-on-Sea.
Not far from Weston-super-Mare you’ll find Brean Beach with 7 miles of golden sand. Or you could head to Blue Anchor Bay if you want to hunt for fossils.
Have a magical day out in Glastonbury
Although Glastonbury is intrinsically linked with its famous music festival, it’s actually a fascinating town in its own right. To be honest, it’s also one of the most quirky places to visit in Somerset.
One of the first things to to do in Glastonbury is climb Glastonbury Tor. This iconic hill will give you panoramic views over Somerset and its surrounding counties. It is a very spiritual location and has many associations with Celtic mythology.
From Glastonbury Tor you can walk down to the main High Street. Make time to stop at The White Spring and Chalice Well on the way. These two natural springs have the geological phenomenon that one runs with white water and the other with red.
You’ll also pass Glastonbury Abbey, one of the most significant abbeys in English history. This could be because legend claims it’s the burial place of King Arthur. You can visit the medieval abbey or just take a tour of the grounds. They often have interactive activities for children.
From Glastonbury Abbey, you can walk to the town centre. Glastonbury is an intriguing, mystical place with strong links to legend and folklore. This is even more apparent in its High Street, with its eclectic choice of weird and wonderful shops. You’ll also find a good choice of cafés and eateries.
Explore Cheddar Gorge
No visit to Somerset would be complete without a visit to Cheddar Gorge in the Mendip Hills.
At 3 miles long and 400 feet deep, Cheddar Gorge is England’s largest gorge and one of England’s most impressive natural wonders.
It’s worth the steep walk to the top, where you’ll have magnificent views for miles around.
The limestone gorge has a road running through it and I recommend driving through for a view of these impressive cliffs from the bottom.
The Cliffs Walk
One of the best ways to appreciate the immenseness of Cheddar Gorge is to do the Cliffs Walk.
This circular walk is 3 miles long. The trail starts in the lower gorge area, opposite the National Trust Information Centre in Cheddar. It begins with a steep ascent on a rather stony path. Later, the path levels out allowing you toenjoyviews from both sides of the cliffs and down into the gorge.
Cheddar Gorge is a treat for nature enthusiasts, with a diverse habitat and variety of plants and wildlife. If you’re lucky, you will spot feral goats and Soay sheep who freely roam here.
Geocaching at Cheddar Gorge
If you are visiting Cheddar Gorge with kids, you can find a fantastic geocaching trail on the cliffs. Without any spoilers, you’ll find some interesting hiding places and unique caches to be found. Watch out for muggles though!
If you’re a geocaching novice, find out more in a beginner’s guide to geocaching. You don’t know what you’re missing!
Have afternoon tea in Cheddar Village
After a clifftop walk at Cheddar Gorge, head for the picturesque village of Cheddar , where you can stop for tea and scones. We enjoyed a lovely cream tea at Cafe Gorge. It’s best to avoid the weekends, as it can get busy.
Of course, you can’t leave Cheddar without buying some of its famous cheese. You could also get some local cider to go with it.
A visit to Cheddar Caves
Another idea for one of the best days out in Somerset is a visit to Cheddar Caves. It was here that Britain’s oldest complete skeleton, the aptly named Cheddar Man, was found in 1903. He is estimated to be over 90 000 years old!
Cheddar Caves themselves are an astounding 500 000 years old! That being said, the largest of the caves, Gough’s Cave wasn’t excavated until the 19th Century.
Nowadays, a visit will take you on an underground tour of the ancient caves. You can explore the astounding geographical features hidden in these immense rock caverns.
Tour the tiny city of Wells
Whilst you are in Somerset, you must visit the city of Wells. In fact, Wells is England’s smallest city (excluding the tiny City of London) and has a population of only 12 000 inhabitants.
Wells is an attractive, medieval city on the southern side of the Mendip Hills and has a history dating back to Roman times.
Well’s most popular attraction is its magnificent cathedral. This spectacular building was built between 1175 and 1490. It was the first cathedral in England to be built completely in the new Gothic style.
Admission to Wells Cathedral is free, but you can buy a ticket for a climb up the spiral staircase to the tower. Here you can take the High Parts Tour and go behind the scenes of the cathedral.
As well as the impressive architecture, take time to admire the cathedral’s stunning clock. Wells’ Cathedral Clock is an astronomical clock and is one of the oldest surviving clocks of its type. A tour up the tower will give you access to the space behind Well’s famous clock.
Visit the Bishop's Palace & Gardens
Close to Wells Cathedral is The Bishop’s Palace & Gardens. This moated medieval palace was the former home of the Bishop of Bath and Wells for over 800 years.
In addition to the ancient palace, visitors can enjoy 14 acres of landscaped gardens, with waterfalls, ponds and an arboretum. There are often family events in the school holidays, such as gardening, crafts and story telling.
Hunt the witch of Wookey Hole Caves
Not far from the city of Wells is a village called Wookey Hole. The village is home to one of the UK’s most popular family attractions, Wookey Hole Caves & Attractions.
In fact, Wookey Hole Caves have existed for millions of years, but a full excavation didn’t take place until 1914. Nowadays, a guided tour of the show caves takes about 45 minutes and departs every 20 minutes.
Wookey Hole is one of the best things to do with kids in Somerset. Although the show caves are not dissimilar to Cheddar Caves, there are 20 additional attractions for children.
Plus Wookey Hole has its own Wookey Witch! I went as a child and still remember the legend.
Adults might be more interested to hear about the 400-year tradition of how Wookey Hole cheese is matured in the caves.
Things to do at Wookey Hole
Today, Wookey Hole attractions include a live circus show, animatronic dinosaurs, 4d cinema, a monster mill, a magical mirror maze and a cave museum.
There is also a giant King Kong, a play castle, a mystic fairy garden with fairies, dragons and elves, a paper mill, a valley of the dinosaurs and a pirate zap zone.
On top of all these attractions, there are woodland walks and picnic areas for you to explore at lunch time.
As Wookey Hole is predominantly inside or underground, it is probably one of the best rainy-day days out for families in Somerset.
Wookey Hole Hotel
Adjacent to the Wookey Hole attraction is the family-friendly Wookey Hole Hotel. This has a range of family rooms and offers hotel and attraction ticket packages.
Exmoor National Park
Another great day out in Somerset is a visit to Exmoor National Park.
Exmoor is one of England’s smallest national parks, but has 267 miles square of beautiful wild and rugged landscape stretching over Somerset and Devon. This vast natural space covers open heather moorlands, farms, and ancient woodland. Plus, it has its own wild Exmoor ponies who roam wildly here.
It is a perfect destination if you enjoy walking or want to enjoy some breath-taking natural beauty and countryside. Furthermore, Exmoor has 37 miles of rugged coastline if prefer a coastal hike.
West Somerset Railway
If you prefer the stunning views at a more leisurely pace, take a nostalgic ride on the West Somerset Railway. This heritage steam railway runs for 20 miles from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard.
Children under 5 can travel for free and they offer a discount for family groups. Remember, it is cheaper to buy your tickets online in advance.
Step back in time in Bath
Another of the best days out in Somerset is a visit to the city of Bath.
This beautiful, historic city became a World Heritage Site in 1987. It is a popular day out, with most people heading for its most famous attraction, the Roman Baths.
The Roman Baths is one of the original Roman spas. They were built nearly 2000 years ago on the site of some unique thermal springs, which provide the spa with natural hot water. When you visit you’ll have a fantastic audio guide, giving you an insight into life in Roman Britain.
There are plenty of other historic attractions to see in Bath and it is worth investing in a ticket for the hop-on hop-off bus tour, so you can get round the city easily. The Royal Crescent is a great place to see some of the finest Georgian architecture in the UK.
As well as historic sites, Bath has a choice of museums and art galleries. In addition, it has plenty of green space in its many parks and public gardens. For instance, these include the Royal Victoria Park, Sydney Gardens and Prior Park.
If you prefer to walk, you could try the Bath Skyline Walk. This 6-mile circular walk will lead you on the hills around Bath, giving you fantastic views looking down on the city.
Take a tour of Haynes International Motor Museum
For motor enthusiasts, the Haynes International Motor Museum in Sparkford is definitely one of the best days out in Somerset.
Haynes Museum showcases a massive collection of cars and bikes and other automobilia from throughout the ages. It has British and world classics and some modern-day super cars. Even if you’re not a motor enthusiast you’ll be impressed.
Things to do for kids at Haynes Museum
Haynes Motor Museum is very modern and has made a good effort to provide something for all the family.
There are trails for children to follow whilst looking at the cars. In addition, there is a fun dress up zone, where you can try on clothes from bygone eras.
When the kids have had enough of cars, Haynes Museum has several indoor and outdoor play areas. It also has a construction zone, climbing frame, vintage games and go karts for older kids.
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