This is our ultimate Great British Bucket List. From Viking strongholds in York, Cream Teas in the Cotswolds, royal occupied castles, the origin of fairytales, enchanted forests and so much more.
Great Britain is the island consisting of England, Scotland, and Wales, which together with Northern Ireland makes up the United Kingdom. It is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world.
This British bucket list focuses largely on England because that is where most of our time will be spent. Knowing full well that Scotland and Wales deserve a British bucket list of their own with the variety of amazing places and activities on offer, we first need to research more to do them justice.
British Bucket List Goal
We’ll spend at least 5 months of the year in the United Kingdom, which means we have time to explore. A list of 50 places we must try to visit at least once in the next five years. Goal set. Check. Is it a realistic goal? Don’t know yet but please stay patiently tuned in to find out. Five months (April to August) gives us about 22 weeks each year. I think we can leisurely explore these 50 destinations over five years. It should be easily done if we try to do two every month.
1. Legoland, Windsor 👍🏻
Berkshire. Paired with a stay at one of the Legoland hotels this will be an amazing experience for us as a family.
Brendan and I love Legoland. We’ve already gone twice. Once on our own before we got married, because we love amusement parks and arcades. We loved it so much we couldn’t wait to return with a child of our own one day. Even if only for a rematch in the parent-child races and games we enjoyed a little too much judging by the evil eyes we got when we won… without a child. We’re just big kids after all. Finally, Nick was born and he’d barely given his first steps before we had him at Legoland! We won again of course and could celebrate without being judged this time. Fair game I say. We have to go again. This time it’s for the children. For real.
Update: We can check Legoland off the list, because we took the kids on a spur of the moment decision in April while we stayed in Ascot. However, it will remain in place because it seems we only went to find out how NOT to do Legoland. Another visit is in order where we will plan our visit, stay in the Hotel and do it all over again. The right way.
2. Windsor Castle
View from the Long Walk. We will be staying in the area this April. I want to take time to visit a section a day of the castle and gardens over a few days so that the children can take more of it in. Visiting a big place like Windsor can be too much for me, nevermind the children. I often end up skipping bits. Especially towards the end of a tour when everyone is tired of being elbowed and queuing for photos. You’re hungry and you want to go home. I don’t want to miss any parts of Windsor Castle. Let’s do this slowly.
Read about our date night in Windsor here.
3. Paulton’s Park & Peppa Pig World
Romsey, Hampshire (near Southampton). Kate is in her Peppa Pig phase at the moment big time. I wanted to take Leah when she was two, but we never got round to it. Being a family that loves to play, we will all enjoy this outing tremendously, but it will be a treat to see what Kate makes of it. It could be the best day of her two-year-old life or the worst!
4. London / Whipsnade Zoo
Junior Zookeeper for a day program will be the ultimate experience for Nick & Leah. We really hope to do this for them sooner rather than later!
5. Leadenhall Market, London
Leadenhall Market in the City of London was used as Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, whilst the entrance to wizard’s pub, the Leaky Cauldron, is in real life an optician in Bull’s Head Passage.
6. The Victoria and Albert Museum, London
(often abbreviated as the V&A) in London is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. Leah will love this. It was founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Also has a branch called The V&A Museum of Childhood with toys and history from every childhood.
7. Tate Modern Art Museum, London
Family interactive art displays and programs. Climb to the top for a spectacular view of London.
8. Madame Tussaud’s, London
We’ve been there a few times, but the children haven’t been. They update the statues every now and then and the children will absolutely love it. Except for the scary haunted house! Best to avoid that part with the kiddies.
9. Run through the wall to Platform 9¾
Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station is in the arched wall between platforms 4 and 5. The real-life entrance is at platforms 9, 10 and 11 on the west side of the station where you’ll find a trolley disappearing into the magical realm through a wall with the sign: Platform 9¾
10. Buckingham Palace, London
Tour & Changing of the Guard. I’ve been outside many times, but never seen the Changing of the Guard or been on a tour. The monarchy has become fascinating to me since binge watching The Crown on Netflix when we arrived in England. The show brings the Queen’s story to life beautifully and I can’t wait for season three and four to air in 2019.
11. Warner Bros Studios Tour, London
We decided that the children could watch the first few Harry Potter movies since it is so big in the UK and so that know what it is all about. We didn’t allow it before because it is scary! The movies were filmed at destinations across the country, many of which are on our British bucket list. Having a butterbeer at the studio and seeing behind the scenes secrets will be amazing.
12. Musical Theatre, London.
Take the children to watch The Lion King in London. It will be a very different experience for them from our local theatre productions back home in George and well worth seeing the astonishment on their little faces.
13. Swan Lake Ballet, London
To see a prima ballerina in action and experience a world class production such as Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House in London, will be something extra special. Tickets range from £70 to £300 and as part of the summer season entertainment, shows run from mid-May to mid-June.
14. Gloucestershire Cathedral
Harry Potter film location: Gryffindor Common Room.
15. Birdland, Gloucestershire
Midway between Cirencester and Stratford-upon Avon at Bourton-on-the-water. GL54 2BN
16. Puzzlewood, Gloucestershire
Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean. Gloucestershire. Film location of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1Shakespeare’s final home: Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire
17. Bewilderwood, Norwich
Family adventure park in Hoveton, Norwich
England’s only UNESCO City of Literature and Black Beauty originated here.
19. The World Museum, Liverpool, Merseyside
The World Museum in Liverpool has extensive collections covering archaeology, ethnology and the natural and physical sciences. Special attractions include the Natural History Centre and a planetarium. Entry to the museum is free.
20. Eureka, West Yorkshire
The National Children’s Museum is an interactive educational museum for children in Halifax, West Yorkshire
21. Bronte Parsonage Museum, Yorkshire
Bourton-on-the-Waterworth near Bradford in Yorkshire. The museum is close to the Brontë Waterfalls and the Brontë Bridge, considered to be the sisters’ favourite places in the village of Haworth where they grew up.
22. Whitby, Yorkshire
A seaside town and port with a strong literary history including Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It’s home to the ruins of Whitby Abbey, where Cædmon, the earliest recognised English poet, lived.
Nine miles north of Whitby lies Runswick Bay, an impossibly sweet village, comprising of 90 cute honey-coloured cottages capped with red tiles. Closer inspection of the beach and bay, stretching north to the head of Kettleness, reveals wooden huts, rock pools, picturesque staircases carved out of the cliffs and – at Kettleness – impressive fossils dating back 180 million years.
23. The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Yorkshire
The YSP is an open-air gallery in West Bretton near Wakefield in West Yorkshire, England, showing work by British and international artists, including Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. The park’s collection of works by Moore is one of the largest open-air displays of his bronzes in Europe. This is a special one for Leah.
24. The Deep Aquarium. Hull, Yorkshire
Europe’s deepest viewing tunnel in an aquarium.
25. Goathland Station
Climb aboard the North Yorkshire Moors Railway where you can enjoy a ride through picturesque countryside before pulling into Goathland Station, which doubled as Hogsmeade station in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
26. Ride the Hogwarts Express
Ride the Hogwarts Express from Fort William, Scotland on a train called the Jacobite.
27. DH Lawrence Birthplace Museum, Nottinghamshire
The birthplace of a literature heavyweight.
28. Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest, Nottingham
Bring the fairytale legend to life and visit the enchanting forest where the story began.
Discover Tolkien’s childhood playground. Sarehole Mill believed to be the inspiration behind Hobbiton and the Shire. Walk the Tolkien trail. Visit Moseley Bog woodland, which is recalled in Tolkien’s description of the “Old Forest”.Content provided by Marketing Birmingham
30. Think Tank Science Museum, Birmingham
Science is a cornerstone subject in our homeschool system and a place like the Think Tank Science Museum will be a great place to experience.
31. Ashdown Forest,Sussex.
The home of Winnie the Pooh. Play pooh sticks over a bridge in Ashdowne forest. Something all children should do before they’re 12.
32. Tandem Bike Brighton, East Sussex
Hire a tandem bicycle to explore Brighton and Hove, East Sussex
33. Famous Five Adventure, Corfe Castle, Dorset
Nick’s Granddad, Brian, bought him the Famous Five series and he loved reading them. Going on a Famous Five adventure will be a highlight for him and this Definitely deserves a spot on our Great British Bucket List.
34. Portland Lighthouse, Dorset
The Portland Lighthouse is a functioning lighthouse at Portland Bill, on the Isle of Portland in Dorset and was first lit in 1906. The lighthouse and its boundary walls are Grade II Listed.
To date, the lighthouse guides passing vessels through the hazardous waters surrounding the Bill, while also acting as a waymark for ships navigating the English Channel.
Tours of the lighthouse last approximately 45 minutes and visitors are able to climb the 153 steps to the top of the lighthouse.
35. Durdle Door, Dorset
A natural limestone arch on the JurassicCoast near Lulworth in Dorset with a secluded beach. A must-see landmark.
While in Dorset, near Lulworth Cove, is another secluded beach to visit on the Jurassic Coast is Man O’ War Beach. Less crowded, and less accessable with a steep 800-metre long footpath from the clifftop car park and 150 steps, it is a great and safe swimming spot with clean shallow water.
36. Story Museum, Oxford
Alice’s Day is on the 1st of July every year. Alice’s world comes to life in the city as the Story Museum puts on a fairytale festival. A visit to the Story Museum makes our list, but it will be extra special if we can be there for the festival.
37. Christ Church College, Oxford University
Harry Potter Film location
38. Canterbury Tales, Canterbury
Experience a family-friendly medieval reconstruction of 14th century England in Canterbury.
39. Wookey Hole, Somerset
Underground World in Wells, Somerset
40. Isles of Scilly
For an amazing Birding and Wildlife experience.
41. Lake District Tour, Cumbria
I’ve always wanted to visit The Lake District. One of the best areas of outstanding natural beauty in England.
42. Swallows & Amazons, Cumbria
Swallows and Amazons landscape cruise in Derwentwater, Cumbria. Watch the family friendly Swallows and Amazons movie to see what it’s all about.
43. Houseboat River Cruise
For a different view to this fairytale country. I’ll settle for a trip anywhere in Britain, but one of the astonishingly beautiful more historical areas such as the Cotswolds would be a treat. As long as I can keep Kate inside and safe from the sides my nerves will last long enough so we can get this one under the belt.
Did you know that it would take you 11 years to navigate all the waterways of England!
44. Alnwick Castle, Northumberland
Alnwick Castle is another Harry Potter filming site – Madame Hooch’s broom flying lessons. Play Quidditch.
45. Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire
Recognise Hogwarts’ interiors, including Professor Snape’s classroom. See if we can spot Horace Slughorn’s home from The Half-Blood Prince as we explore the village. Lacock is close to the beautiful city of Bath.
46 A Traditional English Cream Tea
Castle Combe, nestled in the picturesque Cotswolds, has been described as the prettiest village in England. Near the city of Bath and just a 20 minute drive away, spend one morning exploring the romantic stone village. Top it off with a traditional English cream tea.
You don’t have to find Castle Combe to enjoy a cream tea or a traditional afternoon tea. Windsor offers cream teas fit for the Queen. In fact, most places in England do. It’s an English tradition, after all.
47. Lizard Peninsula
The Lizard is the most south-westerly point of the British mainland and has its own unique landscape and stunning views.
On the south coast of Cornwall, two miles north-west of Lizard Point is a hidden beach called Kynance Cove. A treasure often missed by travelers in the rush down the A3083 to Lizard Point. Look for the discreet sign on the right pointing you to Kynance Cove.
48. The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall
Near Mevagissey in Cornwall, are one of the most popular botanical gardens in the UK. The gardens are typical of the 19th-century Gardenesque style with areas of different character and in different design styles.
49. Yorkshire Parishes
Ancestry research in Bingley and Bradford. This makes the list because it’s personal and I’ve been burning to get there for more than ten years. I hit a research wall in 2007 and need to visit those parishes to get information pre-dating +-1760.
50. Jorvik Viking Centre, York
York was the first Viking stronghold in Britain. Visit the museum and excavation site where an unusual amount of well preserved Viking artifacts dated 900AD shows Viking life in detail.
LITERARY HOT SPOTS TO VISIT IN ENGLAND
Some of these literary hotspots are on our bucket list, but not all. It’s a resourceful little map though, isn’t it?
Photo Credit: This awesome interactive map of the literary hotspots in England and some of the content in this post is from Visit England.
Photo Credits: If not otherwise stated the photo sources are Wikipedia and Visit England.
BUCKET LIST ITEMS DONE AND TICKED OFF
- Avebury Circle
- Musical at the London Palladium: How to solve a problem like Maria’s winner perform The sound of music by Sir Andre Lloyd Webber.
- Tintagel Castle
- The Science Museum
- Natural History Musem
- Tower of London
- London Hop-on-Hop-off bus
- Cardiffe Hop-on-Hop-off bus
- Madame Tussauds
- Loch Ness & Aberdeen
- Blenheim Palace.