The days might be short and the weather on the chilly side, but that doesn't mean you have to stay at home this winter. There are plenty of family-friendly and reasonably priced activities and things to see across the country, so why not give the kids a break from the TV or games console and have a day out that the whole family can enjoy?
If you're close to the capital, there's a whole range of museums that the kids will enjoy and that are completely free. The Natural History and Science Museums are both within a short hop from each other, are both absolutely free, and are jam-packed with intriguing artefacts and interactive exhibits that the kids will love. Meanwhile, older, art-loving children might enjoy the wonders of the art world on show at the National Gallery or Tate Modern, while at the British Museum there are countless amazing and ancient items and cultures to explore.
Jorvik Viking Centre
The historic city of York is certainly picturesque, but if you're looking for something the kids will enjoy too, Jorvik Viking Centre is a must. Visitors can wander through the reconstructed Viking village as well as view the remains of 1,000-year-old buildings and objects recovered during excavations of the area. The Centre runs several exhibitions which vary at any one time, and the kids will love coming face to face with a Viking warrior. Jorvik isn't a free day out, but at less than £50 for a family of four, it's well worth a visit.
Housed in the author's home village of Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire, the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre is aimed at children between the ages of six and 12, and it's a fantabulous way to pass a day if the weather's cold outside. There are three interactive galleries, including a look at Dahl's school days, the Solo gallery, tracking his journey from Africa to author, and the Story Centre - the museum's creative hub. Here, kids are encouraged to get creative, making stop-frame animation, creating a character or take part in arts and crafts. It's great fun not only for the kids, but also for any adults out there who spent their childhood absorbed in Roald Dahl's fabulous books, and at just £21 for a family ticket including two adults and up to three children, it's not bad value either.
Old-fashioned seaside fun
A trip to the seaside might not be your idea of a winter day out, but if you're close to a town that boasts a pier, there's usually plenty to keep the family entertained. The penny arcades will keep children occupied for hours and you won't need to spend a fortune, while many piers boast fairground rides for older kids or teenagers that are willing to brave the frights and the cold. In many big seaside towns, you'll also find an aquarium or Sea Life Centre. Though entry usually costs in the region of £15 per person, Sea Life Centres often have offers such as 40 per cent off if you search for vouchers online (or use your Tesco Clubcard vouchers), and it does mean you marvel at the underwater world in warmth and comfort.
Take in a movie
When the kids are driving you mad and the weather is keeping everyone indoors, a trip to the cinema can be a lifesaver. And thankfully there are cinemas up and down the country offering cheap and (hopefully) cheerful kids' tickets. Sign up for a free myCineworld account and children can see a film for just £1.35 on a weekend or school holiday morning (or £2.70 if it's a 3D movie). Vue Cinemas have a similar deal where kids aged between two and 12 can pay just £1.75 with the Kids AM offer (selected mornings), and Odeon kids' screenings, again on weekend and school holiday mornings, offer tickets for £2.50.
Have you found a cheap but fabulous, family-friendly day out in your area? Let us know below...