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School's out and there are six long weeks to fill. Thankfully, Staffordshire favourites are now back open.
There have been a few changes - for most indoor sites, even free ticketed ones, bookings are essential this year, and covid measures such as masks and social distancing may be in place. Check before travelling in case of cancellations.
Some are local, others are a little further afield and there are options for free days out, others where a single adult ticket is under £10, £20 and a blow the budget section for when you're feeling flush.
Days out for free
Blow off some steam at beautiful green flag site Branston Water Park in Burton. The perfect place for a picnic, it's a great spot, with tables surrounding the lake.
There's no swimming, but there is a great play park. Plus, it's free admission and free parking, so there's no excuse not to enjoy the sunshine.
Slightly further away, Hem Heath Woods - the perfect place to take the kids for an afternoon of walking and exploring.
Situated near Trentham, this woodland encompasses four distinct woods - The Oaks, Newstead Wood, Newpark Plantation and Hem Heath. The beautiful reserve provides a wonderful green oasis.
Entry is free. Dogs are welcome but must be on leads.
Cheddleton Flint Mill is a wonderful example of Staffordshire's heritage and history as it used to grind flint for the pottery industry. The site features the water mill, a small museum, a period cottage and the Caldon Canal, so there are plenty of places for the children to explore. Admission is free but donations are very welcome, as the Mill depends upon these to meet its day to day running costs.
There's plenty to do at Westport Lake for people of all ages. Families can walk around the lake - it's about a mile - and a great spot for bird-watching. There is also a children's play area and regular activities for the whole family to enjoy, plus a cafe with panoramic views of the water. They now offer offering outdoor seating for the cafe, too.
Entry is free, and there is a free car park next to the visitor centre. It's also accessible by bike.
There are lots of interesting places to discover in the Churnet Valley many of which are well away from roads and villages. You can take the kids on an adventure through the woods of Deep Hayes Country Park or visit Froghall Wharf where you can visit the tea room or take your own picnic on sunny days.
For an easy day out in the city, Central Forest Park is a quick and easy option.
With 24-hour pedestrian access, there’s no need to plan ahead - grab a picnic and a frisbee and set off for the day.
Teens can make use of the skate park on site, too. It is the largest in Europe and the space is perfect for fans of rollerblading, BMX and skateboarding.
There’s a host of sculptures nearby, too, like Tree Stories, which reflects the area’s mining past.
For rainy days, Potteries Museum & Art Gallery is a great free option to learn about the history of the area’s ceramics industry.
It's also home to the biggest ever discovered trove of Anglo-Saxon archaeological finds. Complete with stunningly preserved jewellery, armour and household items, this is a must-see for history buffs.
With a whole host of different activities, Amerton Farm in Stowe by Chartley, Stafford, is a great place to take the little ones.
They can feed baby animals, play in the playbarn and go on the special railway. There's also a bakery, toy shop and a barn cafe, although at the moment you need to pre-book a table.
Arty types will love Airspace Gallery, a super-cool cultural space, gallery and studios, led by and run by artists. From their base in Broad Street, they champion local artists and run a programme of interesting events through the year.
Or, see a different side to Stoke-on-Trent by exploring the 40 installations which are part of the sculpture trail throughout the city.
Whether you choose to do it by foot, on a bike or in the car, you don't have to do it all in one go as it's been helpfully split into geographical clusters.
Or you can view the trail by the three different themes associated with each work - great people, local history and inspirational.
Brampton Park in Newcastle-under-Lyme is a green flag park with sensory and rose gardens to explore, a great playground with a giant sandpit and a water play area as well as an aviary and a pond. Following building work the sandpit and aviary are due to re-open at the end of July.
There's also a family friendly museum and art gallery, with free admission, which includes a Victorian Street scene and 1930s/40s house where you can take a step back in time and a toys gallery with teddies, dolls and games up to 150 years old.
Stafford Castle has loomed high for more than 900 years, with the site first being built on by the Normans in 1100 AD. Discover the rich history of this site and take in the spectacular views.
The site itself extends to over 26 acres and with a visitor centre and car park there's lots to do. The centre has hands on items including arms, armour and costumes to encourage a 'hands-on' approach to history.
Under a tenner per adult
Based at Whittingham Barracks, near Lichfield, The Staffordshire Regiment Museum preserves the history of the regiment. Follow its story from its formation in 1705 to today.
You can see what life was like for the young men who went to fight in WW1 with realistic full-scale reconstructions of the trenches. The museum is full of fascinating artefacts too, including the Bible which stopped a German bullet, as well as a helmet which saved an officer's life.
There's also a wonderful tribute to the regiment's heroic Victoria Cross winners, with information on the 13 men and their staggering acts of bravery. Adult tickets are £5, concessions and children are £4 each, and there's a family ticket for £13 for two adults and up to three children or concessions. Under threes go free.
Rudyard Lake is a two and a half miles long and located in thickly wooded hillsides, making it a haven of peace and tranquillity.
It offers walking, boating, sailing and fishing for visitors, and you can hire a rowing boat for 30 minutes for £10.
Owned by the National Trust, Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses high sandstone ridge and hill fort is spectacular. Here you can visit the restored houses built into the rocks where you can soak up the atmosphere of the homes and listen to expert guides tell you about the history and heritage of the area - families lived in the houses right up until the 1960
Children can also explore the nearby countryside of Kinver in the south of the county and the Iron Age Hill Fort and also follow the adventure trails. There is also a tea room inside one of the rock houses so you can treat the kids with a cake and drink. Adult entry is £6.50, children are £3.25, and there's a amily ticket (two adults, two children) for £16.25. Single adult family tickets are £9.75. National Trust members and under fives are free.
Demonstrations are still taking place at the Gladstone Pottery Museum, and screens have been fitted in these areas. While there are no have-a-go activities to throw pots, make bone china flowers or decorate pottery at the moment, you can still buy pottery to paint at home in the shop, or pick up air-drying clay if you want to have a go at shaping your on designs.
Adult tickets are £7.75, children £5.40, concessions £6.20, and there's a family ticket for £23, admitting two adults and two children.
Meet the endangered Barbary macaques living in Staffordshire at Trentham Monkey Forest. Roaming around the forest with these primates is a truly unique experience, as only around 8,000 exist in the wild today. The natives of Morocco, Algeria and Gibraltar were first re-homed at the park in 2004, and since then, the attraction has been dedicated to monkey research.
Advance tickets are £9 for adults, £8.25 for concessions, £6 for disabled people, £7 for children and carers and under threes go free.
Apedale Country Park is is a wonderful place to take the children for a day of fun as there is plenty to do for kids of all ages.
The centre, a former mine in Knutton, near Newcastle, offers family nature trails and pond dipping as well as guided walks, educational activities and special projects. There is also a light railway and mine tours as well as a free museum. Tickets for the light railway are £2.50 for adults and £1.50 for children with a family ticket costing £6.
The ruined Mow Cop Castle is perfect for little ones who dream of being princes and princesses. The ruined eighteenth century folly, set against the dramatic backdrop of the Staffordshire/ Cheshire border is an ideal place for pretending to rule over their rugged North-West kingdom, and for adults, the surrounding countryside is ideal for an afternoon ramble.
The National Trust website includes suggested walks around the area, complete with video guides and added information.
Days out under £20 per adult
Meet the pigs, sheep, cows and goats at the National Forest Adventure Farm. It's a chance to learn more about how farms take care of the animals and there are chances to feed them. There is also a 10-acre maize maze, soft play area, go-karts, an assault course, mini-golf and jumping pillows.
Adult and child tickets are £14.99, over 60s and people with disabilities pay £11.99 and carers and under twos go free.
Always a favourite with families, Biddulph Grange Gardens is a perfect place for a sunny day out - in particular the Stumpery and The Pinetum areas of the grounds.
The Strumpery is a magical place consisting of a sunken path which has upside down tree roots along the way, while the Pinetum is an area of monkey puzzle trees, firs and spruces and is entered via a curved stone tunnel - a magical adventure for both adults and children.
There are collections of rhododendrons, summer bedding display and the oldest surviving golden larch in the country, brought from China in the 1850s.
Adult tickets are £11, children are £5.50, and there's a family option for two adults and two children for £27.5. Alternatively, for one adult, and two children, it's £16.50.
The Churnet Valley Railway is also a major attraction the kids will love as they can experience riding on a steam train and taking part in the various activities the railway holds through the summer.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner menus have been designed to celebrate the area's thriving food and drink scene, with options such as the Moorlander Breakfast Train.
Those preferring to take a scenic railway ride without dining can still do so by booking a Froghall to Ipstones return journey. Tickets for this are £16.20 for adults, £14.40 for over 60s, £10.80 for children aged four to 15 and there's a family ticket for £46.80. Under fives and dogs travel free.
Take a trip back in time at Shugborough, there's vast range of things to do, and lots to learn about days gone by.
The stately home is four miles outside Stafford and there's a rare breeds farm, beautiful gardens, a working Victorian kitchen and the staff wear authentic dress.
There is also shops and a lovely tearoom, great for a slice of cake in the afternoon. Adult tickets are £12, children £6 or there's a family ticket with two adults for £30 or a single adult and two children for £16.
Trentham Estate has a shopping village, stunning gardens, 140 free-roaming Barbary macaques at Trentham's Monkey Forest and a high rope adventure at Aerial Extreme.
Spanning over 725 acres there are activities to suit all the family – from a stroll around the mile long lake or in the woodlands, to counting fairies, enjoying a sensory delight on the barefoot walk or hopping a ride on the miniature train. Adult tickets are £12.50, with a range of concessions, including seniors/students at £10.50, children at £9 and a family with two adults and two kids for £35. Under fives are free.
Walk on the wild side at beWILDerwood, on the Cholmondeley Castle estate, which features treetop walkways, magical treehouses, huge slides, extra long ziplines, mazes and adventure trails
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The park is based on the Boggle at BeWILDerwood stories by author and creator Tom Blofeld, and the experience revolves around the magical characters that live in the trees and the woodland - with the adventure brought to life by storytellers on the site.
It bills itself as 'a wild and imaginative adventure park with magical treehouses and a cast of intriguing characters' with the adventure brought to life by storytellers on the site.
Adult tickets start at £19.50, with children at £17.50 and kids under 92cms go free.
Blow the budget
With three nearby Go Ape sites - more if you want to travel slightly further out - this forest adventure is the perfect tiring and screen-free activity for little monkeys.
From tree-to-tree crossings, bouncy nets and even Segways, Go Ape sites have all the adventure boxes ticked. Whether you want to push yourself to your limit or spend some quality time in the trees, you'll be sure to make memories with the whole family.
The Cannock, Buxton and Delamere sites are now all open. As a guide to pricing, Cannock's treetop challenge is £34 for all ages, the treetop challenge is £19 for all ages, and the segway tour is £35. Minimum weight and height restrictions apply.
Brave Tornado Alley, make a splash in the wave machine and try your hand at the 18-hole adventure mini golf courses at Waterworld, which has been refitted during the pandemic's closure and now has new areas open.
Combined tickets for Waterworld and golf are £25.50 per person, or £20.50 for Waterworld itself. A family of five ticket is £97.50 for two adults and three children, or six (again with two adults maximum) for £117.
It pays to book ahead at Alton Towers, with its 40 rides and attractions now open. A one-day pass to the theme park starts at £34 when booked ahead, rather than £53 on the day. Under threes go free, and there's a rainy day guarantee - where you get a free return visit.
Advance waterpark adult prices start at £16.50 (£12.50 for kids) and nine holes of crazy golf are £5, or £4 for children.
The most-visited zoo in the UK, Chester Zoo is a full day out, with 35,000 animals and 128 acros of zoological gardens. Adult tickets are £26.36, with children's at £21.36, students and older people at £24.54 and carers and under twos go free.
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