The popular saying goes that the best things in life are free, and we agree that you needn't spend a fortune to enjoy some great quality time with your loved ones. Admission to pricey attractions, parking and food and drink can all add up on family holidays, however, Somerset offers some great options if you're looking for some more affordable things to do.
If you're planning to have your next family holiday in Somerset, we have some fantastic ideas of family-friendly attractions and activities which won't break the bank – some of them are even completely free. Take a look at our days out ideas below for some inspiration on where to go next.
Learn something new at a museum
Kids and adults alike can learn something new and interesting from a museum, with many of these fact-packed attractions across Somerset offering free admission. The Museum of Somerset is located within Taunton Castle and displays a number of amazing treasures, from the largest collection of Roman coins found in Britain to precious jewellery made in Somerset during the Bronze Age. Meanwhile, Bristol is packed full of excellent free museums, including the M Shed, which tells the story of Bristol from prehistoric times through to the present day. Many of the working exhibits, including cranes and trains, can be seen outside even when the museum is not open.
Spend the day at the beach
Blessed with a beautiful coastline along its northern edge, Somerset is home to some great beaches where you can enjoy a cheap day out with the kids. At 7 miles long, Brean beach boasts one of the longest stretches of sand in Europe – plenty of space for your children to run around on. Its vast size also means it's a popular destination for sports such as kite surfing, and dogs are also welcome to come all year round. Weston-super-Mare beach is another popular spot, great for a classic seaside day out with all the amusements, kiosks and activities you could need.
Explore Exmoor National Park
To the west of the county you will find part of the gorgeous Exmoor National Park, a great place to go to experience the outdoors as a family. It's a place that offers endless opportunities for walks, wildlife spotting and sight-seeing. Tarr Steps is one of our favourite spots – kids will love crossing this famous ancient clapper bridge over the River Barle. Wimbleball Lake is another place great for families, with walking and cycling trails, woodlands, open spaces and activities on the water including canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding.
Following on from the Exmoor theme, you'll also encounter some adorable Exmoor ponies in this part of Somerset at the Exmoor Pony Centre. Based near Dulverton, the Centre is free to enter (donations gratefully accepted) and is home to around 20 ponies. Meet the ponies in the yard, the paddocks or the indoor pony petting pen on a rainy day. The volunteer-run South West Deer Rescue is another great attraction, where you can book a tour and get up close with five different species of deer. Tours are free although donations are gratefully received to help care for the deer.
Walk or cycle around Somerset
For those who have more active little ones, Somerset is a great family destination as it offers some great opportunities for walking and cycling. The Bridgwater and Taunton Canal is home to a lovely and flat trail running for 16 miles, suitable for all abilities, and incorporates the unique Somerset Space Walk, with models of planets set along 6 miles of the trail. For challenging climbs and great views from the top, the Quantock Hills are the place to go, while for coastal scenery you can't go wrong with the Somerset stretch of the England Coast Path, which currently runs from Brean Down to Minehead.
Soak up city sights
Somerset is home to two cities of its own, Wells and Bath, while the bustling city of Bristol is also right next door. Each is great for exploring and they are packed with a variety of attractions and things to see. Be dazzled by Wells' famous cathedral, while the Bishops Palace, a medieval palace surrounded by 14 acres of gardens, is also well worth a visit. Bath is equally historic and is home to some exquisite Roman architecture as well as some interesting museums, such as the Fashion Museum. Over in Bristol, there are some iconic sights to see including the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the Harbourside area and the SS Great Britain.
Frolic in a forest
Get closer to nature with a day out at one of Somerset's national forests. Castle Neroche, on the edge of the Blackdown Hills, is a historic forest home to the remains of an impressive Iron Age hillfort as well as a motte and bailey Normal castle – a fantastic playground where kids are free to use their imagination. Meanwhile, the Great Wood is found in the Quantock Hills, where you can enjoy a leisurely 2-mile stroll among the majestic Douglas firs. You can also tuck into a picnic here, go wildlife spotting or even explore the woods by bike or on horseback.
Fun on a farm
No holiday to the Westcountry is complete without a visit to a farm, and Somerset offers some great affordable options for a day out on the farm. The Cowtastic Farm Park and Playbarn, between Wells and Bath, is suitable for both indoor and outdoor fun. Take a trailer ride around the farm and meet the friendly residents, including lambs, pigs, donkeys and goats, before running wild in the farm-themed indoor play area. Bristol and Bath are also home to small city farms, bringing rural life to an urban environment. Hartcliffe Farm is one example – free to enter, there are plenty of friendly animals to meet, as well as an aviary and a play area.
Check out some incredible beauty spots
Some of Somerset's most spectacular beauty spots needn't cost you a penny, and both you and the kids are sure to be wowed by the sights. Cheddar Gorge is perhaps one of the most famous tourist attractions – at 3 miles long, it's one of the longest gorges in the UK. Take a clifftop walk to soak up the views in full or climb Jacob's Ladder to reach an excellent vantage point. The mystical and spiritual Glastonbury Tor is also well worth visiting. Conical in shape, this striking hill has been at the heart of local life for thousands of years.
Have a historical day out
Somerset is a county steeped in history and it has a variety of places to go that will transport you back in time. Forde Abbey near Chard is a spectacular medieval monastery, with some well-preserved 12th-century features, beautiful furnishings, amazing treasures and 30 acres of award-winning gardens – a place you and your children will love exploring both inside and out. Head to Nunney Castle near Frome for a fairytale escape. Free to enter, exploring the tall towers and the surrounding moat is great fun.
Map of attractions
Find all the great days out we've suggested in the handy map below.
If you've been inspired to have your next breakaway in Somerset, explore our range of family-friendly cottages in Somerset and find the perfect place to base your upcoming adventures.