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Cool attractions in uncool towns
  • This is one of Britain's biggest exhibition spaces. A walk in the country can be combined with the opportunity to take in works of art from Britain's best sculptors, including Henry Moore, Anthony Gormley and Barbara Hepworth. Some of the works are permanent, while others are installed temporarily. This can mean one month the grounds are filled with giant rabbits, another month something entirely different. Find out more: ysp.co.uk

  • Billing itself as a science adventure centre, MAGNA allows kids (and big kids) to operate a JCB, make explosions in a quarry and get soaking wet in a water-themed outdoor adventure playground. It's all about making learning about the earth fun, and just about everything is interactive. Find out more: visitmagna.co.uk

  • In a shiny new glass building, the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art has quickly become one of the best galleries in the country. It has an ever-rotating roster of exhibitions, while the permanent collections house plenty of pieces that will divide opinion, start conversations and make cynics look at modern art in a different way. Find out more: visitmima.com

  • This was formerly known as the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, which better describes what it's about but doesn't exactly trip off the tongue. It houses one of the best photography collections in the world, a five-storey IMAX cinema and exhibitions including one on make-up in the Hammer horror films. Find out more: nationalmediamuseum.org.uk

  • At the National Space Centre, wannabe astronauts can learn about the planets, watch hi-tech multimedia shows in a massive dome and visit a mocked-up satellite station. There are also plenty of exhibitions on orbiting earth, space travel and the star systems – most of which involve lots of lovely buttons to press. Find out more: spacecentre.co.uk

  • Billed as the world's only submarium, The Deep is a little bit more than a bog standard fish zoo. Aside from the massive tanks filled with sharks, rays and other aquatic monsters, there's the world's only underwater lift and a whole section devoted to the joys of slime. At the end of the journey, there's a futuristic science-fiction style lab in which visitors can simulate driving along the ocean floor. It's all very good fun and kids in particular will love it. Find out more: thedeep.co.uk

  • For a museum that explores life in one of England's grimmest areas, this is surprisingly good fun. It has an olde worlde fairground, a cast of characters demonstrating what life was like in the past and even the chance to venture into an underground coalmine. Find out more: bclm.co.uk

  • The great unsung heroes of World War II were the workers of the national code-breaking centre at Bletchley Park. Through perseverance and sheer genius, the chaps and chapesses at the top-secret centre managed to intercept and break German codes, saving thousands of lives as a result. They invented the world's first computer in the process. The machinery is now on display, alongside exhibitions about the fascinating codebreaking story and the National Museum of Computing... Find out more: bletchleypark.org.uk

  • At the National Space Centre, wannabe astronauts can learn about the planets, watch hi-tech multimedia shows in a massive dome and visit a mocked-up satellite station. There are also plenty of exhibitions on orbiting earth, space travel and the star systems – most of which involve lots of tempting buttons to press.