By Parkdean Resorts on 22/02/2023
There’s a lot to be said for discovering your very own secret garden or hidden treasure of a day out. The UK is home to hundreds of attractions and sights that will make you feel like you’ve stepped straight into a real-life fairytale. To celebrate magical Britain, we've compiled a guide to free and cheap holiday days out with a fairy-tale twist. Some are simply stunning to look at due to their natural beauty, whereas others will immerse you in a world of fantasy and magic.
Free magical days out in the UK
Explore our top picks for free magical days out, with just parking to pay for at many attractions.
Kelburn Castle, Ayrshire
- Price: Free (parking is £5)
Scotland is well-known for its magnificent mediaeval castles and estates. Yet, Kelburn Castle is certainly one of a kind. The first thing you’ll notice is the colourful south side of the castle. This is the result of an international graffiti project, transforming the exterior of the historic landmark into a modern work of art. Young explorers may want to follow the Gruffalo trail, bringing the popular children’s book to life. Or you can take a stroll through the Secret Forest, filled with magic and mystery around every corner - although, you'll have to find the hidden entrance first! Once inside you'll discover a mythical world with houses for giants, the crocodile swamp and the monster's grotto.
Check their website for details on other events including superhero and fairy-themed weekends. Only a short ride from Wemyss Bay Holiday Park, Kelburn Castle should definitely be on your wish-list for a magical day out.
- Price: Free
This town in Perthshire is like something straight from a classic novel. With beautiful village gardens, stunning woodland and the iconic Black Spout waterfall, as well as vintage boutiques in the town to explore - Pitlochry is a great place to stop by all year round. Explore the magical natural beauty of the River Tummel - a great location for fishing. Savour the breathtaking views of the town's scenery from the summit of Queen’s View or head on a woodland walk to explore the magnificent falls of Bruar.
When staying at Tummel Valley Holiday Park, a magical day out in Pitlochry is just a short drive away at the other side of the Loch. As the town’s slogan says ‘Four seasons, more reasons’.
Cader Idris, Snowdonia National Park
- Price: Free (parking is £2.50 for up to 4 hours)
Situated in the heart of picturesque Snowdonia National Park in Wales, lies spectacular Cader Idris mountain. Its name is derived from the meaning ‘Chair of Idris’, taken from legend of a Welsh giant carving the mountain into the shape of an enormous seat. You might want to rethink pitching your tent here overnight, as legend warns that anyone sleeping on Idris’s seat will wake up as a madman or poet! The glacial lake Llyn Cau which surrounds Cader Iris is also rumoured to be bottomless.
If you’re staying at Brynowen Holiday Park on Wales’ west coast, Cader Idris is just over 20 miles away. With spectacular walking trails, why not pack a picnic and enjoy a magical day out to see the seat of the giant for yourself?
Cheap magical days out in the UK
If you’ve got a little bit of spending money for your next holiday, here are some of our favourite fairytale-themed activities which offer deals on family tickets.
The World Of Beatrix Potter, Bowness-On-Windemere
- Price: Family admission (2 adults and 2 children) £26, children (3-16) £5.00, Adult £9.00
Beatrix Potter’s stories of Peter Rabbit and his friends have enchanted children and adults alike for over 150 years. The World of Beatrix Potter in the Lake District celebrates these characters in a stunning museum-style park. This is ideal for younger children who are just discovering the Peter Rabbit stories and want to explore the wonderful imagination of Beatrix Potter.
For parents and grandparents who want to soak in the atmosphere while the children explore, there’s even an award-winning tea room on site.
All of our holiday parks in the Lake District are within easy reach of The World of Beatrix Potter, located in the heart of lively Bowness, however, if you’re staying at Fallbarrow Holiday Park, it’s just a few minutes’ walk away.
Gypsy Wood Park, North Wales
- Price: Family admission (2 adults and 2 children) £35
Gypsy Wood is a fun park and animal park rolled into one, with the addition of a few fairies, elves and even a unicorn! It’s all part of the make-believe spirit. Pick up a map to find all of these magical sightings on the ‘Fairy Hunt’. The whole park can also be seen on board the mini train known as ‘Woody’s Railway’ which stops at the home of the Fairy Princess.
There’s also a chance to see and feed the animals on site: from pot-bellied pigs to pygmy goats and even alpacas, it’s a great day out for animal-loving families who want to do something a little different while spending their holiday in Wales. For younger children with extra energy, there’s also an adventure play park area. Nature lovers, looking to explore the natural beauty of North Wales, will enjoy the designated walks and trails around the park.
Gypsy Wood is just 45 minutes’ drive from Ty Mawr Holiday Park, and is a great stop off if you’re planning a day trip to Anglesey.
Magical things to do in the UK on a bigger budget
Whether it’s a special occasion, or you fancy treating yourself on one day of your holiday, check out our selection of exciting magical attractions that cost a little more to visit.
- Price: Adults: £21.50, Children: £21.50
Described as ‘The Curious Treehouse Adventure’ BeWILDerwood is an adventure park where every member of the family can get involved. From exploring the parks and woodlands, taking a boat ride down ‘Sccaaaaary’ Lake, conquering the labyrinth-like mazes, or even daring to take on the zip-wires (which mum and dad can also enjoy) – BeWILDerwood will captivate you in the storybook-like world of trolls, magical swamps and witches. BeWILDerwood also encourage visitors to submit their own art, poems, and stories inspired by the park.
Mother Shipton’s Cave, Knaresborough
- Price: Easter/May/Summer/Halloween - £33 per Car (max 5 people per car) and £12 per additional passenger and £12 per pedestrian. Term time - £28 per car and £9.50 on weekdays, or £33 per car or £12 per pedestrian on weekends
There is a tangible air of a mystery around this spot. Not only is it England’s oldest tourist attraction, but the centrepiece of Mother Shipton’s Cave is the ‘petrifying well’ believed to turn everyday objects into stone. This is even more peculiar when you notice it actually resembles the skull of a giant. Mother Shipton herself was well known for being able to predict the future and creating remedies. Up the steps from the petrifying well you'll find the wishing well, where previous visitors have actually sworn that their wishes came true.
The interactive tour is ideal for those fascinated by Shipton’s story - and for the younger members of the family there’s also a children’s play area with an adventure playground. While suitable for all ages, families with older children will get the most out of the attraction, due to limited pushchair access.
Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall
- Price: Adult garden admission £18.50, Child garden admission £8.50, and family garden admission (2 adults and up to 3 children) £48
This is a real life secret garden which was lost for decades after the estate was left during World War I, only to be re-discovered in the 1990s. Thanks to its ongoing restoration, the Lost Gardens of Heligan is now one of the must-visit sites of Cornwall. Famous for its ‘Mud Maid’ and ‘Giant’s Head’ sculptures, the magic of the garden has to be seen to be believed. With acres of gardens to explore, you might end up in ‘The Jungle’. That’s right – Heligan has an outdoor jungle garden complete with Britain’s longest Burmese rope bridge and the country’s only pineapple pit! It’s also worth checking their website as there are often events taking place in the gardens including live theatre, wildlife walks, and historical tours.
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